by Nick Halter

One of the largest plots of surface parking remaining in downtown Minneapolis is in line for a major development that would reshape the neighborhood near U.S. Bank Stadium.

The key to the project is Thrivent Financial, the not-for-profit financial services organization that owns nearly 4.5 acres of surface-parkings lots behind its downtown headquarters at 625 Fourth Ave. S.

Thrivent plans to sell roughly 1.25 acres next to its headquarters to 625 Development LLC, a group that includes Doug HoskinTony Janowiec (both partners in Interstate Parking) as well as Hempel Cos. of Minneapolis.

That group is planning a five-level, 600-stall parking ramp that would be used by Thrivent employees. The ramp would be wrapped in 55 apartments and 4,500 square feet of retail space, Hoskin said.

Because the parking ramp would provide spots for its employees, Thrivent would no longer need a 2.5-acre surface parking lot that consumes an entire block next to the Minneapolis Armory, which is at the tail end of a major renovation. It also would free up a 0.63-acre lot next to the Sexton Lofts building.

“We’ve determined that now is the time to optimize the value of this property for our members,” Randy Boushek, chief financial officer at Thrivent, said in an e-mailed statement .“With the rapid development of East Town, the neighborhood surrounding U.S. Bank Stadium, we decided the time was right to get the greatest value by selling the surface parking lots for development for a different purpose. Creating a new parking solution for our employees is a top priority and is the next step in the process.”

Hoskin and his architect, Minneapolis-based ESG Architecture & Design, met with the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association last week to discuss the plans, but didn’t ask for support yet, said neighborhood coordinator Christie Rock Hantge. She said they’re expected to be back in August or September with more firm plans.

The plans could create an interesting debate at City Hall, where the City Council is pushing hard for less parking and more transit in downtown. While the council may not like a 600-stall ramp, it will surely love the removal of so much surface parking.

The city itself is planning to tear down the nearly 1,000-stall, 501 Fourth Avenue South ramp and replace it with a new city office building, further cramping the supply of parking in downtown Minneapolis. That ramp is next-door to Thrivent.

The team of Hoskin, Janowiec and Hempel have partnered on several projects here and in Milwaukee. They’re redeveloping Century Plaza as well as the Treasure Island Center, which is the old Macy’s building in St. Paul.

John Breitinger of Cushman & Wakefield is assisting Thrivent on its real estate decisions related to the parking lots.