Star Tribune: COVID will leave lasting changes in Minnesota office and apartment projects

COVID-19 is altering Minnesota commercial real estate in subtle ways — from a boost in office subleases to quick construction pivots to adapt offices and apartments to allow tenants to safely gather outside in the winter or toil away indoors.

Doran Cos. was building its new Birke apartment complex in Minnetonka last summer when the coronavirus forced it to rethink its “amenities deck.”

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising that people avoid socializing indoors, the developer scrapped original designs and opted to heat the deck concrete to allow 125 future tenants to more comfortably use the outdoor BBQ grills, hot tub, fire pits and seating well into December and January.