The Osborn370 tower in downtown St. Paul could soon have a little sibling thanks to the YMCA.
The former Ecolab headquarters at 370 N. Wabasha St. was purchased in 2017 by a group of investors who have rebranded the 20-story, 210,000-square-foot tower as a business hub and incubator.
The tower is built on a podium that extends east to the corner of East Fifth Street and Cedar Street, and it is on that base that the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities is considering building a new home for its downtown St. Paul branch.
The YMCA is in discussions with the owners of Osborn370 about a possible project at the site, which is across Fifth Street from the Green Line’s Central Station, spokesperson Joan Schimml confirmed via email.
“The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities has completed a study of the downtown St. Paul market, and a location closer to Fifth and Cedar is a more optimal and central location to best serve our community,” she said.
The property is managed by Minneapolis-based Schafer Richardson, which shares leasing responsibilities with St. Paul-based Grand Real Estate Advisors Group/Westridge Properties. Grand Real Estate partner Tanya Bell said the proposal would be a good fit for the property.
“They’re obviously a well-respected institution, and we think they could be a fantastic fit,” she said in an interview. “We think Osborn370 is actually having some success bringing in what we call entrepreneurial nonprofits, which YMCA certainly is.”
The current downtown YMCA branch is four blocks to the northeast, where it has space in the Galtier Towers complex at 172 E. Sixth St.
The organization is not announcing details about the cost and size of the proposed building, but it has sought and received a $25,500 transit-oriented development grant from the Metropolitan Council for site plan analysis, financial modeling and stormwater plans.
Part of the money will go to determining how best to utilize the existing podium, which was built with the rest of the tower in 1968, Bell said.
“The building was structured to [build] upon. Originally it was intended to build a second tower there,” she said. “The exploration is really what does the existing structure allow in terms of what’s there, what it allows to get built.”
Discussions about the project have been ongoing for “quite some time,” Bell said, but it’s too soon to estimate a timeline for the project to move forward. The property has a lot to offer, she said, noting the nearby light rail station as well as the main Osborn370 tower, which according to CoStar is 65 percent occupied.
“It’s got good real estate bones,” Bell said. “The question is, do the economics work right, does the program fit properly.”