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Old Posted Sep 5, 2005, 4:33 PM
MNMike MNMike is offline
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Upscale future for Ivy
Dan Mitchell, Star Tribune
September 5, 2005 REAL0905


The historic Ivy Tower will become part of a top-tier luxury hotel and condominium complex called the Ivy Hotel + Residences, to be built near the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. will make the Ivy the ninth Luxury Collections hotel in the United States. Starwood also owns the Sheraton, Four Points, Westin, St. Regis and W hotel brands.

Other Luxury Collections hotels include the well-known Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. and the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Most are in resort areas and vacation destinations, which makes the Minneapolis location unusual.

When completed, the complex will incorporate three buildings -- two new towers attached to the historic Ivy Tower itself, which will contain hotel rooms including suites that will fetch up to $2,000 a night.

Developers Jeffrey Laux and Gary Benson chose the Luxury Collections flag in part because "the positioning had to be very, very upscale, and at that level, you don't have that many choices," said Paul Wischermann of Wischermann Partners Inc., which will manage the property.

The kicker was the opportunity to use Starwood's reservations system, which will attract upscale business travelers who regularly stay at Starwood hotels to take advantage of discounts and other perks, Wischermann said. "We believe the tie-in with Starwood is a major advantage."

Room rates will range from about $180 to $300 a night.

A 17-story, 136-room hotel will be built just east of the tower. A 22-story building containing 86 luxury condominiums will be built to the north. The buildings will all be connected, but the complex is configured to make the buildings "read as individual" from the outside, Wischermann said. Despite the height of the new buildings, the design is aimed at keeping the 1930-built Ivy Tower -- considered to be one of the city's architectural jewels -- as the centerpiece.

All 86 condominium units have been sold, at prices ranging from about $550,000 to more than $800,000.

The city is providing up to $9.5 million in tax increment financing for the project, which means bonds will be issued and paid off using tax proceeds from the increase in the property value. As part of their agreement with the city, the developers will make 18 of the condo units affordable housing.

The complex will include a 17,000-square-foot, full-service spa and athletic center, 4,000 square feet of meeting space, a "destination" restaurant and upscale shops.

Construction is slated to begin in about a month, with completion set for the spring of 2007.

Wischermann, through a partnership with Ryan Companies, is a developer of the Sheraton Hotel that will be part of the Midtown Exchange, the massive redevelopment of the former Sears property on Lake Street in South Minneapolis.
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