By Frederick Melo, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Two large Zambonis are days away from buffing the ice of the TRIA Rink, the Minnesota Wild’s new rooftop practice arena atop the former Macy’s Department Store building in downtown St. Paul.
Schedules are still being drafted, but youth leagues and the Hamline University men’s and women’s hockey teams likely will lace up during the first week or two of January. Open skating — as well as Wild team practices — are expected to follow.
The goal is to draw between 600,000 and 700,000 spectators a year to visit downtown St. Paul’s newest attraction — a skywayconnected, 1,200-seat, covered rooftop ice rink a block from Metro Transit’s Green Line light-rail station.
With ice time limited amid competing events at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center, the Wild have long been forced to cobble together practice time at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights and elsewhere in the western suburbs.
“We were practicing more in Edina, because a lot of our players live over there,” said Jeff Pellegrom, the Wild’s chief financial officer, during a recent building tour. “But this is the perfect solution for us.”
It’s a new use for a remodeled facility— which also sports a new name, Treasure Island Center, to reflect one of its leading corporate sponsors.
But hockey isn’t the only offering at the remodeled building.
After Macy’s vacated the space in 2013, the St. Paul Port Authority partnered with Minneapolis-based Hempel Cos., the majority stakeholder, to jointly convert the former department store into a six-level commercial destination and parking ramp.
A two-level Walgreens opened at Sixth and Wabasha streets about six weeks ago, shortly after the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency moved roughly 250 employees to the fourth floor.
By April, a Tim Hortons doughnut shop and Stacked Deck Brewing will open onto Cedar Street. Also at that time, a restaurant — Cancun Billy’s — is expected to start serving up margaritas.
Additional confirmed tenants include the Hempel Cos., which will maintain a skyway-level office; the St. Paul Police Department and a TRIA Orthopedic Clinic. Artist Terrence Fogarty’s giant outdoor hockey mural at Sixth and Cedar is about one-third complete.
The building, which spans 540,000 square feet, including an 800-stall parking ramp, opened as a Dayton’s Department Store in 1963.
Randy McKay, a principal with Hempel Cos., is a former owner of the Frauenshuh Cos., which built out the downtown St. Paul home of Lawson Software.
“This one’s pretty unique,” said McKay, who acknowledges that none of his other office projects have set aside roughly 100,000 square feet of space for a National Hockey League team or converted retail floors that once held jewelry counters into parking stalls. “There’s not that many parking areas with terrazzo floors, I can tell you that.”
The building sits on a 16foot-slope from Wabasha Street down to Cedar Street.
As a result, Walgreens — which opens onto Wabasha Street at ground level — is officially located on Levels 2 and 3. The only level completely below grade is Level 0, where the Wild’s workout rooms are still under construction. A large section of the former department store has been converted to parking.
The Port Authority bought the property in early 2014 for $3 million, at the request of the city, and invested $5.5 million to prepare the building for redevelopment, including asbestos removal and sealing.
The Port Authority and Hempel Cos. are developing and managing the site together through the joint venture Go Wild LLC, with RJM Construction as the general contractor. Most, but not all, of the 31,000 square feet of leasable space has been accounted for.
Here’s a tour:
LEVEL 0: MINNESOTA WILD WORKOUT SPACE
Located completely below grade, Level 0 is home to the Wild’s workout and physical therapy facilities, including a room reserved primarily for the 40-foot-dash. A clean line-of-sight will allow trainers and physical therapists to work one-on-one with athletes while keeping an eye on the team as they do the dash.
A lounge area, with television and fireplace, allows the athletes downtime. A giant Minnesota Wild emblem will cover the ceiling of the locker room. The Wild space spans 27,000 square feet.
In addition, Level 0 includes at least 53 parking spaces for the team and 38 contract parking spaces where Macy’s old River Room and jewelry and cosmetic counters once stood. Throughout much of the parking area, the department store’s original terrazzo flooring is still visible.
LEVEL 1: ST. PAUL POLICE
On street level along Cedar Street and below-grade along Wabasha Street, Level 1 is home to 11,400 square feet of office rooms and meeting space for the St. Paul Police Department. A large gathering room fits 50 or 60 people. The police department recently vacated a public safety annex building on 10th Street and relocated to a new training facility on Lafayette Road, but certain functions will remain in the heart of downtown.
Level 1 is home to 72 contract parking spaces and 38 leased parking spaces. Another 11,500 square feet of space will be dedicated to Tim Hortons doughnuts, Cancun Billy’s and Stacked Deck Brewing, which will open onto Cedar Street through four large garagebay doors. The tenants are expected to open by April.
LEVEL 2: NEW WALGREENS
Rather than lease space within Treasure Island Center, Capital Real Estate paid $2.5 million to buy the footprint of the state’s second two-level Walgreens store. The pharmacy and convenience store opened at the corner of Sixth and Wabasha streets in November, spanning nearly 13,000 square feet of retail space on Level 2 alone.
The lobby next door leads toward the TRIA Orthopedic Clinic, which will offer sports medicine, sports surgery consultations and rehabilitation services such as physical therapy. TRIA is the official medical team of the Wild. The pre-existing parking ramp sits along Cedar Street. Some 7,000 square feet of space is still available for lease on Level 2.
LEVEL 3: WALGREENS, OFFICES
Connected to ground level by escalators, the second floor of Walgreens spans nearly 6,400 square feet at skyway level. A skyway connection leads to Wells Fargo Tower, which offers a clean view of the city’s new Palace Theatre concert venue on Seventh Place. The Hempel Cos. will maintain an office and event space. Some 6,000 square feet of space is still available for lease on Level 3.
LEVEL 4: MINNESOTA STATE OFFICES
Minnesota Housing Finance Agency occupies all of the leasable space along Level 4 — 62,300 square feet of office space dedicated to 250 employees.
LEVEL 5: ROOFTOP ICE RINK
The official NHL-sized ice rink — called TRIA Rink at Treasure Island Center — can seat 1,200 spectators. There’s disability seating and a drink rail, as well as a glassy view over Wabasha Street that captures a good share of the downtown skyline looking southwest. Adjoining the rink are locker rooms dedicated to Hamline University and visiting teams, as well as a Zamboni storage area. The Wild space spans 59,000 square feet.
Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172 and email@example.com, or on Twitter at @FrederickMelo.