St. Paul First National Bank building owner selling entire downtown portfolio – Star Tribune

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Downtown St. Paul’s largest property owner is seeking a single buyer to purchase its six office buildings, two parking ramps and a nearby restaurant, a transaction with potential to transform the capital city’s central business district.

Madison Equities is marketing 1.6 million square feet of office space in some of St. Paul’s most recognizable high-rises, including the historic First National Bank Building. The company’s owner and longtime driving force, Jim Crockarell, died in January, leaving the properties to his wife, Rosemary Kortgard.

“I have not talked to anybody that has come up with another example of where you could, in a major U.S. city, buy a third of a downtown area in one transaction,” said Steve Lysen, first vice president for broker CBRE. “This is a super unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

In addition to the First National Bank Building, the listing includes downtown’s Alliance Center, 375 Jackson Square, the U.S. Bank Center, the Empire Building and Endicott Arcade, Park Square Court, the Stadium Ramp and the Capital City Ramp. The building that houses the Handsome Hog and an adjacent surface parking lot in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood are also for sale.

According to an offering memorandum, the portfolio does not have a formal asking price, and cash offers are encouraged.

Madison Equities will consider offers for a portion of the portfolio or individual buildings. But Lysen said the company is targeting a single buyer to avoid eight separate lowball bidding contests.

“We’re trying to find somebody that will roll up their sleeves, buy the entire portfolio, build a hotel, do some conversions, do some creative things to fill up the space — and maximize the value for the community, get bodies downtown, create tax base,” he said.

Crockarell, who grew his St. Paul portfolio over decades, was a controversial figure in the downtown ecosystem, at times clashing with the city, labor unions and other property owners.

The four office buildings in use are all roughly half occupied, according to the memorandum. The Empire Building was placed on the city’s vacant building registry in early 2023.

Crockarell had planned to turn the Park Square Court building, near Mears Park, into a boutique hotel belonging to Marriott’s Tribute portfolio. Financing for the project never came together, but the site is “shovel-ready” for a future developer, Lysen said.

Ideally, he added, Kortgard would sell the downtown portfolio by the end of the year.

Though CBRE just started spreading word of the listing Tuesday, it’s already attracting national attention. Lysen said he and his business parters, Chris Gliedman and Mike Marinovich, plan to start sending the information to “a huge number of people all over the world” starting Wednesday.

“The person that we’re looking for is a unique person,” he said. “There aren’t that many of them around. So we’re going to tell the story to anyone that will listen, and hopefully we can find the right fit for a buyer.”

This story will be updated.

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