By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Monday, for the first time in four years, people will be going to their offices inside the old Dayton’s building in downtown Minneapolis.

Ernst & Young is the first to move into the building. It’s been empty since Macy’s closed in 2017.

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The building has been a downtown Minneapolis anchor since 1902. But with office buildings all over the city largely empty for the last two years, some wondered if anyone would ever move in.

For four years, Don Kohlenberger has had an impossible job inside a Twin Cities icon: Guiding a century-old department store into the Dayton’s Project.

“This building has a personality,” Kohlenberger said. “If it were a human, it would be very needy.”

(credit: CBS)

Six floors of office space waiting. They’ve built much of it out to help companies get a feel for what could be. Kohlenberger said it’s a matter of when, not if, businesses will come back to downtown Minneapolis.

The building features amenities like a fully-furnished workout room where the spin bikes overlook Nicollet Mall, a library for quiet space, an event space for meetings and happy hours and one of the best rooftop views in town.

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Links to the past are everywhere. The mosaic at the entrance to the offices is from an old promotional postcard.

“What we’ve tried to do is have a lot of touchpoints,” Kohlenberger said.

The shimmering elevator doors probably look familiar, too.

“We wanted to keep as many of these type of things as possible,” Kohlenberger said. “Why replace something that worked perfectly fine?”

The lower level and first floors are set up to be retail. The remake of the old JB Hudson store revealed original tile floors, travertine stone on the walls and the original safe.
Kohlenberger’s ultimate vision?

“A rent-paying tenant,” he said with a laugh.

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Retail will be a part of the future of the building. A market of local makers, The Departments at Dayton’s, will open Thursday.

Jason DeRusha