Thor Construction proposes $30 million project in north Minneapolis

Fridley­based Thor Construction, one of the biggest black­owned businesses in Minnesota, is pitching plans to build a new headquarters and multitenant structure on the Near North Side of Minneapolis.

The $30 million­-plus proposed project, which would be located at the intersection of Plymouth and Penn avenues, would be one of the largest private developments in the area.

In an interview Tuesday, Thor CEO Ravi Norman called the plans tentative because they are subject to approval by neighborhood groups, the city and Hennepin County. Public officials indicated discussions are in the early stages.

“We feel confident that this is the right move for us, as a successful minority­owned company, to put our stakes down in a part of the city that is yearning for private­sector investment and commercial real estate development,” said Norman, who runs a company of 150 full­time employees with annual gross revenue of more than $150 million.

“We’re putting in place a showcase building for the North Side of Minneapolis, with the idea of opening other businesspeople’s eyes and minds to the North Side as a viable place to invest,” said Richard Copeland, Thor’s founder and owner, said in a prepared statement.

Copeland, who lived as a child near the proposed development site, founded Thor 36 years ago.

Norman said the project would be privately financed, though it is talking to Hennepin County about incentives.

Thor also may build a parking ramp on a lot adjacent to its proposed headquarters that would serve Hennepin County through the planned expansion of the NorthPoint Health clinic, the nonprofit facility at 1313 Penn Av. N. that is the largest health provider in north Minneapolis.

Hennepin County is in discussions with the city to acquire the city­owned parcel where Thor Construction proposes building the 92,000­ square­-foot headquarters and business center. The site is a long­vacant lot on which a proposed grocery store development fell through last winter.

“We’re not asking the city or county for much in the way of incentives,” Norman said. “Our parking ramp would support the NorthPoint expansion.”

Hennepin County Administrator David Hough confirmed the talks with the city on the land and the interest by Thor.

“The County Board has approved in concept a capital improvement project at NorthPoint of $65 million; remodeling and expansion,” Hough said. “It serves 22,000 patients; about 88,000 visits a year.

‘We’re in conversations with the city. NorthPoint has a surface lot. [A parking ramp] would serve the development. If we have retail, parking and office space there, great. [But] we don’t have any agreements formalized yet or approved by policymakers. We’re at the preliminary stages of making it happen. I will have to go back to the County Board several times.”

Norman said the proposed new home of Thor Construction also could function as “an innovation hub for minority entrepreneurship on the North Side.”

Norman expects to soon approach north Minneapolis Council Members Blong Yang and Barb Johnson to solicit their support.
“I only know what I’ve heard about it in the wind and that it involves NorthPoint,” Yang said Tuesday. “It could be very good. … But I can’t comment in detail until I see the proposal and the numbers.”

Thor, which operates development, construction management, concrete and sustainability arms, said 90 percent of its work since 1980 has been for Fortune 500 companies.

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