Bricks & Mortar

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fifth Avenue Live


St. Cloud’s Fifth Avenue is a boulevard of dreams for Brian Schoenborn ’92.

A self-professed entrepreneur in a lawyer’s body, Schoenborn is helping transform Fifth Avenue in St. Cloud into a signature thoroughfare that links the intertwined fortunes of campus and community.

“Fifth Avenue will scream St. Cloud State. It will scream ‘We’re proud of our university,’ ” Schoenborn said.

Schoenborn is part of the development team that is constructing the first phase of the Fifth Avenue Live development that promises to remake both sides of Fifth Avenue from Ramsey Place north to Minnesota Highway 23.

Scheduled to open in August, the development includes a pair of four-story buildings that will house a 12,000-square-foot St. Cloud State Welcome Center, a 455-student housing complex and 19,000-square-feet of retail space. The university will lease the Welcome Center and housing from the Wedum Foundation, a Minneapolis-based non-profit that develops housing for students and seniors.

The housing complex will be a mix of studio, two- and four-bedroom units, with most being four-bedroom, said Steve Ludwig, vice president of administrative affairs.

Students will access the underground parking, floors, rooms and elevators using a key fob, an authentication device similar to a smart card.

Private bathrooms and laundry facilities in each fully-furnished unit add to what university officials describe as a “high-amenity, high-value” living experience.

“This is state-of-the-art, 21st century housing,” Schoenborn said. “It’s the type of housing that is popping up on great campuses all over the country.”

The 40-year-old Schoenborn is also highly involved in St. Cloud State’s $30 million renovation and conversion of the National Hockey Center into a regional events venue. Tentatively named the National Hockey and Event Center, it will anchor the south end of Fifth Avenue and will host national acts and performers who for years have flown over or driven past St. Cloud on their way to Fargo and Duluth, Schoenborn said. In a concert configuration the center would hold about 8,000, thanks in part to new seating on the west end.

“It will be a cultural and social centerpiece for our region,” said President Earl H. Potter III. A spring 2011 kickoff is planned for an official fundraising campaign to secure donations. Naming rights, sponsorships, private donations and $6.5 million from the 2008 Legislature will fund the project.

Fans of the men’s and women’s hockey programs also will benefit from the project and enjoy new amenities, including:

  • A glass-enclosed atrium
  • Improved concourse, ticket, concession, restroom and pro shop areas.
  • Updated sound reinforcement and lighting.
  • Luxury suites on four sides of the arena.

“Everything people have loved about Husky hockey will be there, but it will be a more professional experience,” Schoenborn said.

“It’s going to help every corner of the University,” Schoenborn said. “The high tide raises all boats.”

About Brian

Two bachelor’s degrees from St. Cloud State / president of the Student Government Association / University of Minnesota law degree / counsels businesses in sports, entertainment, high technology and manufacturing as managing partner of Leonard, Street and Deinard / married to Debra (Yeager) Schoenborn ’99 / co-owner of the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League / counsel to Minnesota Hockey / past president of the St. Cloud State Alumni Association / named a rising star by Minnesota Law & Politics magazine / recognized in 2006 by ROI magazine as a 5 Under 40 business leader / board member of the St. Cloud Area Economic Development Partnership

Fifth Avenue Live

The price tag for transforming St. Cloud’s Fifth Avenue into a signature boulevard could top $165 million.

“It really will become an interface between St. Cloud State and downtown,” said Brian Schoenborn ’92, who created the Fifth Avenue Live moniker based on a similar project on the East coast.

Schoenborn and members of St. Cloud’s Coborn family are part of an investment group planning $100 million in mixed-use development on both sides of Fifth Avenue from Ramsey Place north to Minnesota Highway 23.

The first phase of construction is located on the former Coborn’s grocery store site on Fifth Avenue.

“The welcome center will be the University’s new front door,” said President Earl H. Potter III. “Our students, our families, our alumni, our friends – all will benefit from convenient access to an information clearinghouse.” Two classrooms, a gift shop, art gallery, conference room and offices for a number of the University’s most public programs are planned.

The student apartments will be on the upper floors of the north and south buildings. Retail will be on the ground floor of the north building.

Anchoring the south end of Fifth Avenue will be the tentatively named National Hockey and Event Center. Converting the 20-year-old National Hockey Center into a regional events center capable of hosting national touring acts is the goal. It also will host other athletic events such as basketball and wrestling.

Near the north end of Fifth Avenue, city officials are planning a $34 million expansion of the Civic Center. Demolition of the former St. Cloud Library began in October to make way for the expansion.

“Public-private partnerships are critical to a community’s future,” said Potter. “Fifth Avenue Live is evidence that St. Cloud has become a community of shared visions, a place where business leaders, university staff and city officials work for the common good.”

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