Why this recognition has us feeling like a STARR


Here at SullivanDay we finally feel like we’re past the holiday blur. I think that’s partly because our holiday season started the first week of December—at the Minnesota Shopping Center Association’s annual STARR Awards ceremony, to be exact.

This year, we took home a STARR Award in the Design & Aesthetics Renovation / Remodel, Exterior Retail Over 20,000 SF category for our work on the Tonka Village Shopping Center. We are incredibly honored. The project was a challenging endeavor for all involved, so ending the year with another reminder of its success was very sweet indeed.

STARR Awards, if you aren’t familiar with them, recognize excellence in the retail and shopping center industry. In our award category, the judges look at a project attributes such as the “before and after” story, innovative design, construction approach, and tenant mix, to name a few.

Tonka Village has been around for decades and is a favorite shopping spot among residents of Excelsior. Its renovation certainly did make for a compelling success story. When we started the project in late summer 2015, we immediately discovered challenges with the 1960s structure. The roof was failing, there were dips in the front walkway canopy, and the aesthetics were very dated.

Our team hit the ground running right away. We stabilized the front canopy and replaced its columns with helical piers, all while maintaining access to the retail storefronts. Fixing the roof kept us on our toes at every step. Immediately we could tell the snow resting on it was loaded wrong and that cracks were present. Never a good sign!

We tore portions off, opened up the roof membrane, and constructed a sloped roof on the back of the parapet (protective wall at the edge of the roof) to alleviate the snow-loading issue. Once the structure was sound, we went about updating aesthetics such as paint and lighting. It was truly a major overhaul, and we hope it will keep Tonka Village and its tenants around for decades to come.

Receiving an award is never something we take lightly, and we are very grateful to the MSCA and our colleagues for the recognition. Like every year’s ceremony, there are so many exceptional projects recognized; it’s a great feeling to be included in the pack.

Punch Bowl Social – St. Louis Park

Punch Bowl Social bar and restaurant is a unique food/entertainment hybrid that started out in Denver, Co., in 2012 and has since expanded to locations throughout the country. Billed as a “gastro-diner” chain with hipster flair, Punch Bowl Social offers a locally sourced menu directed by a James Beard Award-winning culinary partner, craft beverages, and countless entertainment options ranging from karaoke to bocce ball. When the chain announced it was building a 24,630-square-foot outpost in St. Louis Park, we were pleased as (adult) punch to get the call.

Our Approach

Punch Bowl Social’s construction partner is based in Denver, so they needed a local general contractor to provide onsite supervision and assist with project management—this was the role we filled. Our responsibilities included everything from coordinating with local subcontractors to developing and updating the schedule to overseeing the permit process.

The construction work involved building out a vacant retail space to accommodate the many elements of Punch Bowl Social, including its 3,000-square-foot kitchen, 5,100-square-foot bowling area, and 1,000-square-foot bar area. Construction began in March 2016 and we were able to turn over the space to the owner in late September of the same year, allowing for a mid-October opening date—ahead of the holiday party season.

The Results

Punch Bowl Social has become a favorite hot spot among fun-loving adults in the Twin Cities and it’s appeal is quickly spreading—with the help of the Sullivan|Day team. Thanks to the success of the St. Louis Park (Minneapolis) project, Punch Bowl Social has hired us to perform the same role in constructing locations outside of Minnesota, starting with Stapleton, Co., and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Four ways the construction process is like brewing beer

This beer season (or autumn, as some call it), I had the opportunity to savor a delicious Oktoberfest from our friends at 56 Brewing. As I was thinking about the work that went into this particular Marzen-style lager, it hit me: the construction process is not so different. Continuing to savor the delicious brew, I came up with four distinct ways it parallels brewing beer. I’ve listed them here to give you insight into how our process works:

You can’t start without a plan.
Brewing beer is not “add a little of this, a little of that”; it requires a well-thought-out recipe. In fact, some breweries even have laboratories that break down the chemical process of their recipes to ensure it is perfect time and time again. Likewise, the first step in our process is design. While we don’t go to the lab, we do rely on architects and engineers to put together a set of plans. With these in hand, we work with a team of really smart people to make sure the project follows each one to spec.

Adaptability is key.
If something goes wrong during the brewing process, a brewer’s first reaction is never to toss the whole batch! They do their best to salvage the beer, which is the same approach we take when hurdles arise on projects. Whether it’s delayed materials, subcontractor snafus, or the good ol’ Minnesota weather, we don’t throw up our hands; we find ways to keep the project forging ahead.

Repetition is the name of the game.
Just like in brewing, construction essentially requires the same steps on each project. There’s a certain order we must follow no matter what. For example, we can’t install plumbing fixtures before we put up walls, just like a brewer can’t bottle a beer without fermenting it. And in both processes, there’s something new to learn every time—something that can be carried on to the next beer or building.

It’s really, really fun.
Brewing beer and constructing buildings are two hands-on activities that give you something to show for your work. Even though I’ve been in this business for a long time, I still get a kick out of seeing a major project milestone take shape. It’s incredibly satisfying, much like our brewery friends describe the first tasting pour from a tank. But the absolute best step in brewing and construction is the very end: watching customers’ faces light up after taking a sip of your beer or walking awed clients through their newly finished building. Both call for raising a glass.

Five Fast Facts: Broadway Liquor Outlet Project

After two plus months of construction, we’re getting ready to raise a glass to the grand re-opening of Broadway Liquor Outlet, a wine, beer and spirits emporium located in North Minneapolis. Here are five fast facts you should know about the project.

  1. Broadway Liquor Outlet is a third-generation family business. Rising up in a post-Prohibition world, the Minneapolis location has served thirsty customers since 1948. From in-store tastings to a VIP wine club, you can expect top-notch service at this neighborhood institution.
  2. Their former retail space was on a city parcel that was totally wiped out by the North Minneapolis tornado in 2011. This summer, we served as the general contractor on the build-out of the brand’s new retail space—which happens to be on the same city parcel. Thankfully, Broadway Liquor Outlet didn’t have to close their doors for very long after the tornado; they’ve been operating in a location across the street for the past five years.
  3. The new retail space is in Broadway Flats.  To revitalize the tornado-stricken parcel, the developer and city went forward with plans to use it for a mixed-use development called Broadway Flats. Designed to provide much-needed workforce housing in the neighborhood, Broadway Flats boasts four floors of condos atop 19,000 square feet of retail space.
  4. Broadway Liquor Outlet isn’t your typical neighborhood liquor store. The space occupies more than half—9,000 square feet—of Broadway Flat’s retail space. It’s safe to say their selection of fine wine, beer and spirits is hard to beat.
  5. Customers can look forward to shopping in a well-appointed, industrial-chic space. While perusing the store’s expansive selection of adult beverages, be sure to note the space’s exposed concrete and steel building structure. And don’t miss the unique mezzanine area, which serves as office space for the store’s owner.

For more on Broadway Liquor Outlet, visit blompls.com.

A day in the life of a general contractor: Orange you glad it’s summer?

As a general contractor, we field a lot of questions; it’s just part of what we do. But lately, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about the accent wall in our office. Which isn’t entirely surprising, being that it’s bright. It’s front-and-center. And it’s, well, orange. Really, really orange. Admittedly, the shade is not a typical choice for office décor.

Here’s how it came about:

Although it would have been fun, the decision to go orange wasn’t an artistic whim. When we rebranded last year, we felt it best represented Sullivan|Day. We’re not your traditional “screws and nails” contractor; we’re a happy, easy-to-work-with group that takes our work seriously, but ourselves? Not so much. For us, this particular color said it all. And yeah, “Day” is in our name, so there’s that, too.

So, we painted over our formerly blue accent wall in February of this year, added a living room console and vinyl records (because, why not?), and haven’t looked back since. As an added bonus, I’m convinced the newly luminous wall offset our risk for seasonal affective disorder throughout the gray March days.

But with summer now in full swing, we haven’t had to worry about a lack of vitamin D. We’ve been attending plenty of outdoor events such as golf tournaments, beer festivals and even a Habitat for Humanity workday. Of course, given the nature of our business, the season has been busy with lots of “ground-up” work as well. We were especially excited to begin work on a 10,000-square-foot addition for Little Newton’s in Plymouth. Lots going on!

In the midst of it all, we keep (happily) reminding ourselves that summer isn’t over yet. August lies ahead and we’re ready to make the most of it—even if the Twins lose on our annual company outing to Target Field. Before long, fall will be on the horizon. That we can’t deny. But in our office, summer will live on—in the form of a vibrant, sunny hue.

MSCA Newsletter: Sencha Tea Bar

For the MSCA April 2016 Newsletter, Steve contributed an article on a recent project: Sencha Tea Bar. Below is a re-post of the article.

If you are looking for a change to the daily coffee or soda drive-thru routine, look no further than the newly re-branded Sencha Tea Bar chain. Founded in 2001 as the Tea Garden, the six store chain, with five locations in the Twin Cities and one in Madison, Wisconsin, is nearing the completion of the brand makeover.

Sencha Tea Bar is a locally owned, family business which allows guests to experience “your tea, your way.” The management team partnered with the design firm Shea, Inc. to design a prototype store that would expand the existing customer base and increase traffic during the earlier day parts with a renewed focus on loose leaf tea.

The Uptown location was chosen to be the first to undergo the transformation in the Spring of 2015. One of the signature components of the new design is the rotating tea rack over the bar that contains over 125 different canisters of loose leaf teas. A variety of seating options are available, from comfy lounge seating to stools at the bar, most in close proximity to an electrical outlet and a USB charging station for your laptop and phone. The new fixtures and finishes create a simple, yet sophisticated atmosphere for the new tea bar experience.

Along with the new name and new look are new menus and products to sample. The award-winning drinks range from colorful, tropical bubble teas to a global expanse of traditional loose leaf teas. You can cozily sip your favorite drink at each of the tea bars, or take home any of the expansive list of loose leaf teas, and become your own tea master at home.

There are delicious food and snack items to sample as well. Whether you need your morning  beverage to get you going or a place to hold an afternoon meeting, Sencha Tea Bar now offers a more interesting option than the corporate coffee guy on the corner. Sencha Tea Bar – It’s Tea Time.

Always Learning to Better Serve Our Clients

Sullivan|Day Construction is committed to always learning to better serve our clients.  Whether it be subscribing to daily/weekly/monthly market publications; attending a breakfast event with a local real estate organization; attending and exhibiting at a state wide multi-day conference focusing on the latest techniques, equipment, and processes for veterinary medicine; or very in-depth, three day, hands-on workshop on the how to’s of starting your own brewery/distillery – we find great value in the power of educating ourselves on the ins and outs of our clients business.

Our take-aways from this time and monetary investment:

  • Better understand your business so we can better tailor our services to your needs
  • Be an additional resource for your business as you start-up or expand
  • Align ourselves with industry specific professionals to stay abreast on legal, market, technical, and other changes that impact your business on a regular basis.

Our goal is to make sure that you have all of the necessary information to make the decisions required to own and operate your business.

Contact us to learn more about what have learned for you!

Client Testimonial – Neuger Communications

It’s no secret that we care about our clients. Our goal for every project is to provide a high quality product and deliver delight. But we could talk all day about our project goals. What’s more important is to ask our clients about whether or not a project met their goals. That’s why we were more than pleased when

Neuger Communications Group President and CEO David Neuger told us that he would provide a client testimonial of his experience working with our team on the firm’s new Minneapolis office space. Find out what David said about partnering with our construction firm by watching the video below. (Spoiler alert: David was very pleased!) To learn more about the Neuger Communications Minneapolis office space, click here.

MSCA Newsletter: Nadia Cakes

An article by our very own Steve Day was published in the February 2015 MSCA newsletter about our Nadia Cakes project. Read the re-post of the article below:

Just in time for Valentine’s Day is the arrival of the latest store from Nadia Cakes. The eastern Twin Cities will now get to taste the decadent cupcakes that are the signature item baked at this expanding dessert retailer. The new 2,700 sf bakery/café on Commerce Drive in Woodbury will be the third company store, and second in Minnesota. The new location will add ice cream to the menu of cupcakes (boasting over 150 flavors!), custom cakes, and a variety of drinks.

The store, designed by Shea, is centered around the incredible display of cupcakes and desserts, including the use of a cake-inspired ceiling soffit overhead with an antique chandelier. The space has a variety of seating, including a community table for decorating parties, and comfortable lounge furniture surrounding a fireplace.

Nadia Cakes is the brainchild of Abby Jimenez, a former general manager in the retail sector, who turned to her passion for baking desserts as a way to work out of her home in Palmdale, CA while she raised three young daughters.

Within two years, the business outgrew the home-based model, so with the help of family and friends, she opened the first Nadia Cakes retail location in Palmdale, CA. Within two months, the success of the store led her husband Carlos to also give up his full time job and join the company as CFO.

Abby and Carlos relocated their family to Minnesota in 2011 and opened their second store at the Fountains of Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove. The concept has attracted a very loyal and rabid customer base and has won numerous awards for their products. Nadia Cakes has also made waves on a national scale, with victories on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and “Holiday Baking Championship”. Future plans include a measured growth strategy with tactical expansion in other states.

Come treat yourself or your significant other this Valentine’s Day with something from Nadia Cakes!


Oak Knoll Animal Hospital, St. Louis Park

Sometimes you need to give something to receive.  In 2012, Sullivan|Day Construction was approached by the leasing agent for the owners of Oak Knoll Animal Hospital in St. Louis Park to help with assessing the building they were considering buying to relocate their clinic into.  With no promise of future work, we performed a site visit and delivered our findings including a detailed examination of the roof and what it would cost to replace.  We stayed in touch with

the architect and client over the next two years and were granted an opportunity to bid on the project in early 2014.  We were selected as the general contractor and helped the project team come up with cost savings ideas to get the project closer to the doctor’s desired budget.  The facility was built in the fall and opened in December 2014.

The building, built in 1951, has an interesting history and posed a variety of challenges for the design and construction team.  The building has housed the Swatez Department Store, several hardware and bike stores, and the last tenant was Pizza Hut.  The 60 year old Swatez sign on the east side of the building was exposed after a large billboard was removed at the outset of the project.

The scope called for the complete demolition of the interior space, including the improvements in the basement.  Asbestos was discovered in floor tile and mastic, hidden under several layers of other flooring, and had to be abated.  The roof structure was not sufficient to hold the new roof top HVAC equipment so that was set on pads on the outside of the building in the rear.  The front façade was completely remodeled including new storefront and entry, corner tower element, stucco, stone, canopy and sign.  The project has a resulted in a beautiful addition to Minnetonka Blvd. and a great new home for Oak Knoll’s clients and team members.