The following are two unedited emails from David Wellington to the team in response to the events of late-May 2020, followed by progress updates on the rebuild.
From: David Wellington
Subject: Re: Lake Street Update
Date: May 28, 2020 at 9:45 AM CDT
To: WMI Staff
Steve and I wanted to let you all know that several of our properties were impacted by the actions of some people after the protests at the 3rd Precinct which is across the street from Minnehaha Crossing and Midtown Corner.
Greenway and Blue Line Flats don’t appear to have been impacted but some of our tenants at Greenway are staying closed today and the Blue Line LRT has been shut down.
The impacts are as follows:
Midtown Corner (Under construction): This building was set on fire last night and was still burning this morning. Only the first story is still standing. Six Sigma the building to the North caught fire as well.
Minnehaha Crossing – people unlawfully entered the Aldi’s, stole goods and vandalized the store – it doesn’t appear that the school was impacted. Fixed assets is on site cleaning up. The Wendy’s was set on fire and burned down.
Lake Street Station – retail windows were broken (except the dental office was spared). No one entered the living space of the residents.
Hi-Lake Shopping Center – Most tenant spaces were unlawfully entered, goods were stolen and the property vandalized Dollar General had a smoldering fire this morning.
Damage continues along Lake Street as far West as Uptown and East to at least Walgreens – a Metro PCS building just east of Minnehaha Crossing was burned and US Bank was also vandalized.
All staff are safe and several people have been on site this morning accessing damage and talking with our tenants. There was relative calm this morning, but we do not know if this event if over. We ask that you not visit the properties unless you have a need to do so, and also request that you stay off of social media regarding this event. The events that are continuing to unfold are part of an important and big conversation – for Minneapolis, our state and the country. While our properties have been impacted that is not the most important part of this story in the long run. There are other voices in the community that need to be heard and WMI’s connection to this conversation should not be the lead story.
We also want to thank Sherri, Vicki, Ken, Casey, Kim and Dave for their work last night in attempting to protect human health and property and for their efforts this morning to sort out next best steps and reaching out to our partners and tenants. We will keep you all informed as best we can in the coming days and weeks and will likely need to shift some of our staffing resources around a bit to help manage the follow-up work required to stabilize and rebuild with our tenants and partners.
From: David Wellington
Subject: Re: Lake Street Update
Date: May 29, 2020 at 5:52 PM CDT
To: WMI Staff
Team - The last few days have been incredibly disorienting for us all. Our community is reeling as the protests, violence and vandalism escalated for the third night running. Our company faced additional setbacks this morning. Below is an update to the impacts on our buildings, attached are some photos for context:
Greenway and Blue Line Flats - continue to be relatively unscathed with the exception of a dumpster fire in the south parking lot at Greenway that was put out by Vicki’s onsite team.
Midtown Corner - Still burned down - sadly that was not a dream. Insurance claims are now in process. Demolition of the building to ensure safety to those around will commence as soon as the National Guard allows our contractors onsite (Monday/Tuesday).
Minnehaha Crossing - Aldi store was breached again Thursday night and additional vandalism to the freezer cases and other fixtures was reported but unconfirmed by our team. The school was also breached with extensive vandalism and theft reported but unconfirmed by our team. The Wendy’s is also still burned down - Minneapolis public works staff tipped the exterior walls into the building yesterday to enhance the site safety.
Both Midtown and Minnehaha Crossing properties are currently within National Guard perimeter. It does not sound like that will change this evening.
Lake Street Station - The property lost power during the riots last evening. Extensive damage to the utility infrastructure from fires will make re-powering the property difficult and time-consuming. Smoke from fires at neighboring properties including Hi-Lake Shopping Center have impaired immediate air quality significantly. Many heroic efforts over the last 36 hours by Sand Companies staff and our team (including heavy lifts from Sherri, Vicki, Kim, Dave, Casey and Ken) ensured that all residents interested in relocating to hotel rooms off-site have done so or are in-transit now.
Hi-Lake Shopping Center - The shopping center suffered from major fires last night in several of the different attached buildings. Roughly 50,000 SF of the 150,000 SF property has burned extensively. The majority of the rest has seen additional vandalism and theft but our team has not been able to establish the extent of the interior damage.
As was widely reported the 3rd Precinct for the Minneapolis Police Department was abandoned then subsequently breached and ransacked by protestors around 11:00pm Thursday night. Additional damage dozens and dozens of businesses up and down Lake Street as well as other major retail nodes were widely reported. For a more complete list please see the Star Tribune’s tracking page here.
Penn Lowry - Though not in our South Minneapolis portfolio, Penn-Lowry, as well as my sister Laura’s clinic on West Broadway, saw extensive damage, vandalism and looting.
While on-site today at Hi-Lake and Minnehaha I had numerous conversations with firefighters, police and national guard who share our disbelief. I also witnessed dozens and dozens of neighbors sweeping up the debris and detritus. Our bond to these neighborhoods is strong.
Through this difficult turn of events you all have shown unbelievable grit, commitment, passion and calm under immense duress. Steve, Kathy and I are supremely grateful for the incredible efforts you have all made as we work through these historically painful events.
We are thankful that everyone on our team remains safe and hope we can all stay healthy.
Please be careful this weekend.
David Wellington | Executive Vice President
Wellington Management, Inc. | 1625 Energy Park Drive #100 | St. Paul, MN 55108
With the original building permits in hand, the project team proceeded quickly to demolish the remaining concrete foundation and started reconstruction in August. Thanks to the unwavering dedication of our general contractor, Watson-Forsberg, and many subcontractors, Midtown Corner is on-track to be completed in fall 2021. Pre-leasing will begin later this spring.
Tenants at Minnehaha Crossing — including Universal Academy charter school, Aldi, and Quruxley restaurant — sustained more than $2M in damage. The Wendy’s restaurant in the parking lot was one of many Lake Street buildings that was set on fire and declared a total loss. The rebuilding efforts at Aldi and Universal Academy commenced in July and concluded in September, Aldi reopened the last week of September, and the school has been holding modified sessions per state orders. Quruxley restaurant was preparing for its grand reopening just prior to the riots and will be opening soon. A new Wendy’s restaurant is under construction and will be completed in the spring.
Lake Street Station
We restored the power to the building within a couple of days and moved the residents back into their apartment community.
Hi-Lake Shopping Center
After successive nights of arson, the majority of the Hi-Lake Shopping Center was declared a total loss. After several months of work with our insurance company, the staff at the City of Minneapolis, our lender, designers and our superb construction team at R.J. Ryan, we commenced rebuilding the shopping center that will now be home to many of its previous tenants, as well as a new Burlington retail outlet. The shopping center will be delivered to tenants for their improvement work later this spring.
Our Northside neighbors witnessed similar destruction to many buildings in their community, including the Penn Lowry shopping center that we own and manage in the Jordan neighborhood. The Aldi grocery store thankfully remained intact and reopened the following week. All Washed Up Laundry and M&T Beauty Supply were both looted and damaged but reopened in late July. Family Dollar experienced significant water damage and required a full interior rebuild. The retailer reopened its doors on October 1st.
Our team is deeply indebted to our community partners, contractors, subcontractors and others for standing with us throughout our rebuilding efforts. We look forward to this ongoing partnership as we open the long-awaited Midtown Corner, reopen retail space, and continue to invest in our North and South Minneapolis communities.
Read Part I of this story, Lifting Up Lake Street.