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How The Dayton's Project is moving forward amid COVID-19

The Dayton's Project is ready for its first tenants but COVID-19 has put those plans on hold.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — So much history is tied to the Dayton's building on Nicollet Mall. Now the iconic building is entering a new chapter during a historic moment. 

"It's been a multi-year journey. We've taken a 100-year-old-plus building and converted it from a department store to modern office and retail and what you're seeing today is the culmination of that," said Brian Whiting, president of The Telos Group, LLC. The Chicago-based real estate services firm is one of the developers of The Dayton's Project

The 1.2 million-square-foot site is ready for its first tenants but COVID-19 has put those plans on hold. Prior to the pandemic, they were in negotiations with tenants and planned on announcing them in April. 

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In response to COVID, they've designed office space to be flexible.

"Throughout corporate America no one is making a decision on real estate unless they absolutely have to," Whiting said. 

RELATED: Andrew Zimmern to open food hall, market in Dayton's Project

The lower level, first and second floors will be dedicated to retail and a food hall curated by celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern. Floors 3-12 will be office space. The seventh floor features amenities for tenants, including a fitness center, library, lounge and rooftop terrace. 

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The Dayton's Project's rooftop terrace on the seventh floor.

Despite working from home becoming the norm during the pandemic, Whiting said he's confident companies will want office space in the future. 

"We are a social animal and the reason why progressive office space where everyone is together has developed is because that's where the innovation comes, that's where the culture comes," Whiting said. 

But in response to COVID, they've designed office space to be flexible in size. 

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The Dayton's Project's fitness center on the seventh floor.

"They need to be bigger, we can make them bigger. You need to make them smaller, we can make them smaller. So we've designed that flexibility already into the design," Whiting said. 

The more than $200 million project is investing an additional $7 million to create pre-built office space. 

RELATED: Tips for returning to a changing workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic

"We've eliminated nine months of the work, a lot of the design headache and a tremendous amount of the cost by doing it so that when people come back, those spaces are ready to accept them," Whiting said. 

Credit: KARE 11
The Dayton's Project's library on the seventh floor.

According to Whiting, they don't have a timeline for when tenants and retailers could be moving in to The Dayton's Project but he said they have the wherewithal for a couple years. 

Whiting added, "People ask me what's the new normal and I always say, 'Well, the new normal is going to look a lot like the old normal did.' So it's not a question of what it's going to look like when COVID passes, it's really a question of how long that's going to take and the steps that we're taking in between that time to mitigate the distractions of COVID in the meantime."