Economy continues Campus Crossroads delays

Stores currently situated in the construction site are continuing business as usual.

Campus Crossroads , a development planned for the block between Oak and Ontario streets on Washington Avenue , has been repeatedly delayed by the construction company for reasons relating to the economy. Winston Hewett, a spokeswoman for The Opus Group , a Minnetonka-based real estate company developing the site, said the most recent delay places completion of the project around fall 2012. The Minnesota Daily reported in July 2008 that the company originally planned to begin construction in spring of 2009, with completion planned for fall 2010. Then, in November 2008, the construction company announced a six-month delay to this timeline. So far, the building is set to contain one floor of retail space and seven floors of student housing , according to the Mid-America Real Estate Group, which is working with Opus to find tenants for the future property . âÄúThe current economy that weâÄôre in, for the capital market, has completely melted down âĦ what that means is that there is no lending of new commercial real estate development happening,âÄù Hewett said. Hewett explained that the inability to obtain capital has caused numerous additional problems for Opus and its developments. âÄúWithout any capital, there are no buyers, and lenders are not refinancing,âÄù she said. âÄúThose short-term construction loans are just not available right now, and thatâÄôs impeding development across the country.âÄù To illustrate the overall effect of this problem, Hewett said Opus had 34 million and 35 million square feet in development in 2007 and 2008 respectively. However, in 2009 that figure has dropped to 4.8 million square feet. Hewett said the Opus Group saw this problem coming. âÄúWe took our foot off the gas pedal, if you will, for real estate development projects 18 months ago, because we saw a slowdown in the market coming âĦ but we did not anticipate a complete lockdown on capital,âÄù she said. âÄúIn our 56 years in business, weâÄôve never seen anything like this.âÄù The Campus Crossroads development will eventually displace Harvard Market , Photo Dock and Oak Street Cinema . The project would have also displaced Campus Pizza , but the restaurantâÄôs owner Jim Rosvold decided to move across the street when he first heard of the future development. Although the new location is up and running and has increased business with a new full liquor license and more space, Rosvold said he is currently losing a couple thousand dollars a month on rent for the old location. âÄúI have mixed feelings âĦ part of me is excited weâÄôre in a new place, part of me is frustrated we left the home we were in for 50 years,âÄù Rosvold said of the move. Rosvold is also a director at the Stadium Village Commercial Association , a resource for Stadium Village business owners. âÄúI think weâÄôre all kind of frustrated, but I canâÄôt really speak for them,âÄù Rosvold said, in reference to the repetitive delays Opus has given to the stores situated in the future construction site. Brad Mateer , the owner of Harvard Market, said the store is running as usual. âÄúWe are fully staffed, we have full stock and we are selling like you wouldnâÄôt believe,âÄù he said. Oak Street Cinema and Photo Dock are following a similar philosophy. Photo Dock owner Jeff Rasmussen said the store is continuing business normally, with no plans to move out in the near future. Ryan Oestreich , a manager at the cinema, said the theater is continuing programming until the company hears more from Opus.