From barren ground to skyline gem
A long-vacant quadrant of Minneapolis’s east side is now home to Wells Fargo’s office towers campus — an addition to the city’s skyline and an anchor for further development.
From vacant land in east Minneapolis, Melinda Rush has seen an office towers complex gradually rise in the city’s skyline. The bustling high-rise where she now works has turned that part of town into a vibrant center of activity, she says.
“It has been fascinating to watch a lifeless part of downtown Minneapolis grow into a beautiful two-building campus,” says Melinda, who works for Wells Fargo in the new office complex. “Everyone who has seen it is impressed with the thought and care that went into creating it.”
After four years of planning and construction, the dual 17-story towers are a showcase for Wells Fargo and also a symbol of revival for Minneapolis’s once dormant Downtown East area, city and company leaders say. Eventually, the towers will house as many as 5,000 Wells Fargo team members. It is Minneapolis’s second largest downtown employer after Target Corp.
Wells Fargo celebrates the new towers in a grand opening ceremony on Wednesday, July 20. The event will be attended by CEO John Stumpf, other company leaders, and a lineup of state, local, and community officials.
“This area is being transformed,” says Dave Kvamme, Minnesota Great Lakes lead region president. “And it is thrilling to see these two buildings come to life for our team members.”
The 1.1 million-square-foot complex — with its array of daylight-splashed windows, classic design, eco-friendly features, and skyway link to the rest of the area — stands amid a revitalization of what the city is now calling “East Town,” as part of a rebranding campaign.
That lift has been a long time coming, but well worth the wait, says Steve Cramer, CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. He recalls East Town’s past heyday as the city’s Mill District and the unfulfilled development potential of the old Metrodome stadium, which was adjacent to the district. It is now the site of the new U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings.
“The Metrodome was an island on the edge of downtown, with little or no connectivity to it,” he says. “That has all changed now and Wells Fargo is a key part of that change. It is the connective tissue between the core of downtown, the Vikings’ new stadium, and all the other development going on around that core.”
Once Wells Fargo’s new site became a reality — team members began moving into the first tower in March — it didn’t take long for other developments to line up in East Town, Steve says. New restaurants, entertainment venues, apartments, and hotels are in the works, he says. Additionally, The Commons — the city’s new park — will open by the end of the month.
“It is a completely new environment there now,” Steve says. “Even locals who don’t see that part of town very often are marveling at the remarkable and positive change.”
Jim Montez, senior director of the Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq real estate brokerage in Minneapolis, says the new Wells Fargo complex serves as a magnet that is bringing new players into East Town.
“You can’t underestimate the magnitude of the impact that this significant corporate presence of Wells Fargo has made,” he says.
At the groundbreaking ceremony in 2014, CEO Stumpf noted Wells Fargo’s expansion in Minnesota and its historic ties to Minneapolis, the headquarters of Norwest Bank before its merger with the company. “We look forward to many, many more years together, growing here in Minnesota and across all the places we do business,” he said.
Environment as priority
Richard Henderson, head of Wells Fargo’s Corporate Properties Group, says being eco-friendly was one of the key values that guided the project planning, including features such as a light harvesting system, green roof technology, sustainably-grown building materials, and a green “moss wall” in the towers.
The project was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council for energy savings, water conservation, and other pro-environment measures.
Among other accomplishments, Richard’s team helped the new project obtain LEED® Platinum* status, the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating for energy savings, water conservation, and other pro-environment measures. It is one of the largest being added to Wells Fargo’s growing inventory of Platinum facilities.
“Sustainability was a key priority,” he says. “We challenged the design team to raise the bar on what we would do with this project. And it worked.”
Another major change is the implementation of a bright, modern open work environment and other design elements that are part the company’s Workplace 2020 initiative. For team members, the new design means a variety of collaboration spaces, far fewer walled offices, and lower workstation panels, Richard says.
As a result, there is far more collaboration among Community Banking, Business Banking, Institutional Trust, Treasury Management, Corporate Properties and other business units that have moved operations into the complex.
“This is a big culture shift,” says Bill Hailey, Wells Fargo’s senior project manager. “In the past, these business units were walled off from each other, there was little interaction, and it was very difficult to collaborate. Now they mingle, talk, bump into each other, and work together every day.”
That has become a daily reality for Melinda Rush, who has worked in the new complex since April.
“It has been the most interesting thing about moving into the new buildings,” she says. “I found out that many people I have commuted to work with on my bus for years were also my co-workers. That sense of community has been growing as each group has moved in.”
* LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The Minneapolis campus is expected to receive Platinum approval in the fall.