St. Paul Port Authority takes preparatory step toward old Macy’s building sale

By transferring the Macy’s site to its nonprofit affiliate, St. Paul Port Authority is ready for joint ventures as well as an outright deal.

The St. Paul Port Authority plans to sell the downtown Macy’s building and site for $1 to its nonprofit subsidiary Capital City Properties, pending board approval Tuesday.

By legally handing over the reins to its subsidiary, CCP, the agency says it will be better positioned to act quickly if and when a deal materializes for the 2.25-acre site and 540,000-square-foot structure.

“Our first option is to sell this thing for $3 million, and then we are out,” said Tom Collins, the port authority’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. “Barring that, we have five developers possibly interested in being a joint equity partner.”

The Port Authority formed CCP in 1991 to handle its joint partnerships when repossessing property or foreclosing on businesses. By operating these partnerships through CCP, the agency avoids inheriting the employees of the developments or businesses.

A year after the Macy’s shuttered its store operations in 2013, the Port Authority purchased the property in order to prevent stagnation on the prominent downtown block, bordered by Wabasha and Cedar streets, and 6th Street and 7th Place.

Collins also said the port authority has been in discussions with five private companies interested in being the master developer of the site. He confirmed that Bloomington-based Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate Group is among them. Collins wouldn’t name the others, but said two are local and two are national firms.

A representative of Frauenshuh didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The authority announced in April it sold a small portion — 28,000 square feet — of the retail space on the site to a company affiliated with Minneapolis-based ­Capital Real Estate, a firm with a history of developing Walgreens stores.

“We are working through our prospective tenant agreement. I am just not announcing the tenant name yet,” said Allison Kern, vice president at Capital Real Estate, adding she hopes to make an announcement by early August.

No other official deals have been announced, but the Minnesota Wild have made known an interest in building a hockey practice facility on top of the ­building. However, details of such an arrangement have not been nailed down.

“The Wild is looking for assurances that the whole building will be redeveloped in a way that will be complementary to the practice facility,” Collins said. “We look at it the other way, as the Wild attracting tenants to the space.”

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