Recap | University Real Estate Challenge

April 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm

University of Northern Iowa - NAIOP University Challenge Winners

The winning team from the University of Northern Iowa

NAIOP Minnesota hosted the 2013 University Challenge on April 18 at the Radisson Blu located next to the Mall of America.  Despite the monstrous snow fall that commenced a couple of hours before the event, our NAIOP members showed their Minnesota toughness and came out to cheer on their favorite team.

The challenge was to come up with an idea for the development of the two lots lying between 9th and 10th Streets on Marquette Avenue in downtown Minneapolis (the parking lots next to the music score that is painted on the wall).  This year was particularly difficult as the judges threw in a thirty foot setback from one of the buildings and an access easement that runs between the two parcels, making the options that much more limited. Despite the complications, each team came up with an impressive proposal.

The three that made it to the final round out of the five initial proposals were Marquette University, the University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Northern Iowa had the winning design.  Their idea was a building that included 280,000 square feet of office space on top of a hotel and parking.  The project effectively utilized all of the features of the property, allowed for good access from all three adjacent streets, took advantage of a higher rental rate for the floors over 20 stories, and provided a simple and clean design.


Marquette University also submitted a proposal that was clean and provided for a good use of the property.  Their idea was to have luxury apartments on top of a boutique hotel and additional parking below.  The boutique hotel was particularly interesting in that there are not many independent boutique hotels in the Minneapolis area. The judges seemed to be concerned with additional apartments in the metro area, which may be the reason why this design was not selected.

The most courageous design was from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Their idea was to acquire the Schmidt Music building that lies adjacent to the parcel to the southeast and expand the project.  The idea included a Wolfgang Puck on the top floor, 725,000 square feet of office space below the restaurant, retail space and a childcare center with an outdoor play area below the office space, and parking on the bottom.  Although the project was very creative, the judges ostensibly deemed it a little too ambitious and cost prohibitive in this market.

Cocktails and food followed the competition, and many stuck around despite the weather. The proposals submitted by the teams will be available on the NAIOP Minnesota website shortly.

Entry filed under: Programs | Events.

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For more information about NAIOP Minnesota, visit www.NAIOPMN.org.

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