Could the Foshay Tower go condo?

Share this:
December 13, 2004 // UPDATED 4:53 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

St. Paul-based McGough Construction is examining new uses for the Foshay Tower -- possibly for condos.

Brad Wood, vice president of corporate services for McGough Construction, said the construction firm is in the very early stages of investigating new uses for the 821 Marquette Ave. icon. Other concepts include new retail and office uses, he said.

Despite being at the early stage of the feasibility study, Wood spoke with enthusiasm about the Foshay Tower's potential.

"It's an interesting building with a great history. People are attracted to that kind of thing. The thought of having a condo in the old Foshay Tower is kind of exciting," Wood said, adding the building's "historical significance" makes the review a worthwhile pursuit.

Basant Kharbanda, a local engineer and entrepreneur who owns the Foshay tower with his wife Veena, said he has not entered into a redevelopment contract with McGough, but confirmed that he's discussing new possibilities for the 32-story Art Deco office tower with the firm.

Kharbanda said he would be making a decision about moving forward on new plans for the tower later this month.

As for McGough, Wood said the firm is a long way from deciding anything.

"We've basically had an opportunity to look at that building," Wood said. "We've essentially got a couple of people looking at whether there's an opportunity to make any of that work. We're far from prepared to make an announcement."

In a Downtown that is increasingly condo-saturated, a Foshay residential conversion would add to the 50 condos projects now in the pipeline for the Downtown area, according to Skyway News research (see page 7).

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Foshay Tower was the first skyscraper built west of the Mississippi River and the city's tallest high-rise until 1971.

Wilbur B. Foshay, a wealthy real estate developer in the public utilities business, originally developed the Foshay Tower. Foshay held a three-day grand opening party that included a performance by John Philip Sousa's 75-piece band, before losing money in the 1929 stock market crash, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.