1SQ: Metro Plains, LLC

Every city has its landmarks. In St. Paul, 1600 Spruce Tree is one of them.

At the corner of University and Snelling, the green, tiled building sticks out on the Avenue, eliciting curious looks and double takes from passersby. The building opened up in 1988 and houses office space while also acting as a branch office for the city’s Community Corrections Adult Services Division.

Spruce Tree Center
Spruce Tree Center on University Avenue and Snelling Avenue

The Spruce Tree building hosts Metro Plains Management, LLC, the company that renovated the 1919 Building on University Avenue with help from the NMTC program.

As the story goes, developer Marie Slawik wanted the Spruce Tree Center to look like, well, a spruce tree. She pulled a tube of lipstick from her purse when talking to an architect and said that would be the structures’ accent color. Then, after brandishing her forest green business card, she explained that the color would be the building’s main hue.

Mike Koch of Metro Plains is happy to tell this story. He’s even more excited to talk about the 1919 building and the positive impacts it’s had for workers in the Midway and the greater St. Paul community.

Further down University Avenue, the 1919 Building is home to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), AARP offices, Ramsey County Mental Health and the ALS Foundation, among other tenants. The building was renovated in 2017 and has since added roughly 150 new jobs at the site. In total, 300 living-wage jobs were either created or retained thanks to the project.

The 1919 Building received NMTC allocations to complete the renovation, which covered approximately 105,000 square feet of the building.

“It was a fair amount of work, but we also invested in amenities like a new conference room, a bike storage area, and a mothers’ room for breastfeeding moms, amenities that today’s customers require,” said Koch.

“We think the Midway is a great place to invest because of its location.”

“Our costs to deliver these services aren’t nearly as expensive as downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul, but yet you can get to either downtown if you have business there quickly and easily,” he said.

Read about the other organizations and their impact, by clicking the links below: