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Linking logs: 7-story wood office building planned for North Loop

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Another new building is planned for Minneapolis' blossoming North Loop neighborhood, but this one's different – the seven-story office building won't be made of concrete or steel like most new office buildings.

It'll be made of wood.

Wood construction is "stuff that was done 100 years ago, but really hasn't been done since then," Bob Pfefferle, director of Houston-based Hines, which is developing the property, told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.

The Business Journal says Butler Square (completed in 1908) and the Ford Center (built in 1913), both in Minneapolis, were both constructed using large timber logs. Hines' building, which is being called T3 for the three elements that are key to the site – timber, transit and technology – will be made from engineered wood, which looks like heavy timber.

The Star Tribune says it will be the first commercial property in the United States to use engineered wood for its structure and interior.

Engineered wood and wood construction in general is considered more environmentally friendly and sustainable compared to other building materials because wood is considered a renewable resource. Not only are wood buildings said to be greener, but they also can be constructed faster, the American Wood Council says. However, the upfront cost of some materials tends to be more expensive.

The developer plans for the 210,000-square-foot building to fit with the feel of the North Loop and Warehouse District neighborhoods, but with just a touch of modernity. It will include offices, a shared rooftop deck, a bike repair and storage facility, a fitness center, retail space and underground parking, the Business Journal says.

No tenants are lined up for the 316 Third Ave. N. property, which Hines has owned since 2012. The parcel borders two of the developers existing properties, the Dock Street Flats apartments and the Union Plaza office building, according to Hines' website.

Hines is confident it will break ground on the building in the spring and wrap up construction in 2016.

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