Neurology academy breaks ground on new headquarters

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May 9, 2011 // UPDATED 4:59 pm - May 19, 2011
By: Raya Zimmerman
Raya Zimmerman
After 10 years of a stagnant economy, the Mill District will house Downtown’s first substantial building in 10 years — and hundreds of children will benefit.

The American Academy of Neurology, the world’s largest professional association of neurologists, will relocate their headquarters from St. Paul to the vacant lot across from the Guthrie Theater. And they will donate 1,000 bike helmets to children at a North Minneapolis bike festival Saturday.

The multi-colored helmets read, “LoveYourBrain.org,” promoting safe bike travels.

The gesture coincides with a groundbreaking ceremony held at the building site on Thursday. The academy won city approval in October for the new building.

Catherine Rydell, executive director and CEO of the academy, said the city has been “wonderful to us and very helpful” throughout the planning process. She also said the development was a “fabulous business decision for the academy.”

“We hope to become one of the best neighbors in the whole neighborhood,” she said.

The building will bring 140 new jobs to the riverfront, Rydell said. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2012.

Mayor R.T. Rybak said “there’s absolutely no downside” to the new establishment and noted its significance as the first major construction project to the Downtown area since the city’s economic downturn after 9/11.

There were several other bidders for the lot, Rydell said, however the academy’s partnership with Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that provides affordable space for artists, sealed the deal. She said the other companies’ building plans did not fill the entire lot, an important determining factor the city required in the selection process.

The academy’s new space entails a five-story, 62,000 square foot building at 201 Chicago Ave. It was funded using the City of Minneapolis Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, which are funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 designed to spur capital investment.

Artspace’s new building, situated in the back of the lot bordering Washington Avenue, will cover approximately 85,000 square feet and will be used for housing and commercial purposes.

“It will be a great opportunity to provide housing in the city and affordable living and work space for artists,” Stacey Mickelson, vice president and government relations of Artspace said.