General Mills & Litton
General Mills' Mechanical Division invented the Ryan Flight Recorder, also known as the "black Box" and worked on construction remote control mechanisms for atomic energy installations. In 1957 General Mills established a digital computer laboratory at Hennepin Square. The building housed the Engineering Research and Development Department and was know as Plant V. Here is where Bud Froehlich put his talents to work and came up with the design for the Sea Pup - the forerunner of the Alvin submarine. Alvin was the first manned deep submersible and General Mills won the contract bid from the Navy in 1962. During the 2 year build of Alvin, the General Mills Aerospace Engineering and Research Department was purchased by Litton Systems who also purchased the building in 1963. Since the sale transferred all facilities, personnel and capabilities involved in the Alvin project, it was seamlessly completed by Litton in 1964.
Hillcrest planned to eventually add four stories to the building (for a total of eight) so the structure was beefed up to support eight floors and the underground parking garage was added. Hillcrest purchased the Minneapolis Casket Company building on the far side of the lot with the thought that they would need the space for additional parking. This building was rehabilitated and sold to the YMCA at a later date. The renovation of Hennepin Square began by relocating the main entrance so that it faced the parking lot (as opposed to facing Hennepin Avenue). A new brick overlay exterior was installed along with windows, central air conditioning and an Otis elevator. The floor indicator in the elevator car still reflects the original plan for eight stories. By 1970 the renovation was completed.
With construction was complete, a model office was installed on the first floor. Several restaurants were in Hennepin Square and Hillcrest decided to build a commercial kitchen at their own expense to attract those businesses. The first tenant in that new kitchen was John Rimarck who started the Monte Carlo Restaurant among others. Advertising the building as a "turnkey facility with free parking for all and underground parking for only $25 per month" it took Hillcrest about 2 years to completely fill the building. One of the first notable tenants was Lawson Company that became the huge Lawson Software.
MSP Park Place
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