Building a stronger Midway

Midway’s industrial sector still one of hottest spots in Twin Cities


Throughout the history of the Midway neighborhood, manufacturing has held a very important place. As technology and products have changed, so, too, has the evolution of the buildings and the companies within.
While the Midway can still boast a significant number of manufacturing/industrial jobs, many of the older buildings have been renovated to other uses. Some, such as the Fisher Nut Building and the former American Can location, have converted to mixed use with both office space and manufacturing and changed names to the Wycliff and Priorworks, respectively. Other locations now have housing, whether with a converted old building or a new build.
What’s the future of the industrial sector in the Midway? We asked this question to a panel of experts at our recent Economic Development meeting, held at the newly expanded Minnetronix Medical. Moderated by John Young, Forte Real Estate Partners, the panel included: Tonya Bauer, Saint Paul Port Authority; Peter Mork, Capital Partners; Joe Schultz, Forte Real Estate Partners; and Steve Wellington, Wellington Management.
As we go further into this K-shaped recovery, where many businesses and industries are hurting while others are thriving, there is no doubt industrial/manufacturing companies are doing well. The last two years exacerbated the already rising trend of online shopping, and as such the importance of warehouse space. With the supply chain problems, many parts and products have been harder to get and having an easy access to what you need is a serious benefit.
Costs of industrial space has risen dramatically, both locally and nationwide. This, combined with the unpredictable costs of supplies (examples being lumber, various metals, glass) can make projects difficult to budget. Brokers are also working with many clients two years before they need to find new space.
Industrial space can be difficult to find for several reasons. In addition to the limited number of buildings zoned for industrial, each potential tenant has their own list of needs: ceiling height, garage door, loading dock, floor plan and more. This is part of the reason many are cautious to convert industrial buildings to other uses. Once its gone, its hard to get back or replace in another parcel.
Minnetronix Medical has been located along Energy Park Drive for many years, but was faced with a decision: stay and expand, or leave? After careful consideration, they chose to stay and grow from 120,000 to 160,000 square feet. Part of their rationale is knowing that their 400 employees are spread out and the site is centrally located. This is one of the most referred to benefits of the Midway neighborhood.
The final question of the day was simply, “The future of the Midway: optimistic or pessimistic?” All panelists agreed they’re optimistic. With the central location and numerous buildings created for industrial uses, it was no surprise. The Midway continues to be one of the hottest spots in the Twin Cities for industrial businesses. History has shown it always has and while the products may change, our neighborhood has always been a place for good paying jobs in a diverse group of manufacturers.


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