United Properties Seeks WELL Certification for North Loop Project

The emerging rating system measures a building’s health and wellness for employees and resident.

United Properties Seeks WELL Certification for North Loop Project
A rendering of the Nordic project. (Photo courtesy of United Properties)
Minneapolis-based United Properties is developing the mixed-use Nordic project in the North Loop area of downtown Minneapolis with an eye on wellness. United Properties is seeking WELL Building Standard Certification, an emerging health and wellness rating system for buildings, from the New York-based International WELL Building Institute.
The Nordic will be the first newly constructed—and largest—WELL Certified project in the state of Minnesota.
Commercial real estate pros are more familiar with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which has become an increasingly popular “green building” ratings system to gauge sustainability. The Washington D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council awards LEED certifications. LEED projects are increasingly common since the rating system debuted in 2000.
WELL Certification considers at a number of factors including air quality, light, comfort, fitness and even mental health.
“LEED I would say focuses more on the building itself and the sustainability of the building—where you got your materials from [and] energy consumption,” said Gordy Stofer, vice president of development for United Properties. “WELL, however, focuses more on the human experience in the building…How healthy is the environment for the worker?”
Stofer said that many elements of LEED certification have now become part of standard building codes. Stofer said that although the Nordic is being designed to meet LEED specifications, the developer is not seeking LEED certification. As with LEED, buildings can’t be WELL certified until the project is completed and reviewed.
The Nordic is anchored by approximately 200,000 square feet of office space, but also includes ground-level retail space and a 410-stall parking ramp. Stofer said that construction will be complete in early 2019. United Properties also partnered with Minneapolis-based Greco on Sable, an adjacent 57-unit boutique apartment project on the Nordic campus.

A rendering of the Sable boutique apartment complex near Nordic. (Rendering from United Properties)

The project also includes a 15,000-square-foot public plaza, which Stofer calls “the most meaningful amount of green space to date in the North Loop.”
So far, United Properties has just one signed office lease: growing Minneapolis-based digital marketing firm Ovative/group. Stofer said that the project is drawing strong interest because many companies are drawn to the North Loop area, but can’t find space to lease in the neighborhood.
IWBI’s web site currently lists a total of four WELL projects in Minnesota: the Nordic, The 428 project in downtown St. Paul, the office remodel of the design firm Cuningham Group’s Minneapolis office and the Well Living Lab in Rochester, a collaboration between the Mayo Clinic and New York-based Delos to study the connection between health and indoor environments.
The 428 project is a renovation of the former Woolworth’s building in downtown St. Paul. Pat Wolf, owner of St. Paul-based Commercial Real Estate Services Inc. which is developer and property manager for the project, said that she expects The 428 will be the first building in the state to have both WELL and LEED certifications.
Minnesota has been among the leaders in LEED projects. For 2017, the USGBC ranked Minnesota sixth nationally among the top states for LEED, based on per capita certified gross square footage of space. During 2017, 13 million square feet of LEED projects were certified in the state.
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