Bridge Plaza rendering

Construction has begun on the $16 million Bridge Plaza project, shown in a rendering by architectural firm Widseth Smith Nolting. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

MANKATO — The start of the new Bridge Plaza building alongside the Veterans Memorial Bridge brings to fruition the top goal envisioned when the city developed its City Center Renaissance plan 13 years ago.

“One of the key components of that plan was the redevelopment of this corner,” City Manager Pat Hentges said during a groundbreaking for the $16 million building Wednesday.

“It’s really fulfilling to see this project come to the city,” Hentges said, commending Mike and Cathy Brennan for their 10 years of perseverance in redeveloping the former Ember’s restaurant site.

Mike Brennan said the name for the building came from his wife, being an obvious nod to the bridge next door, but also as a bridge between downtown and Old Town and a bridge from Mankato to North Mankato.

And Brennan said the name reflects the community’s ongoing reconciliation effort with the Dakota Indians. The site of the building is next to the library, which was the site where 38 Dakota were executed in 1862 following the U.S.-Dakota War.

Brennan said the name reflects the reconciliation/bridge that continues to be built between the Dakota and local residents and that the building will have design elements and artwork inspired by the Dakota.

The five-story building will be home to accountants, architects, developers and a communications firm as well as luxury apartments on the upper floors.

The ground floor will feature a two-story lobby as well as commercial space, an exercise room and either a bistro or restaurant with outdoor seating and a fire pit.

Architectural designs will make the vertical height of the building equal to a six-story building. The exterior will be covered with Kasota stone provided by local company Vetter Stone.

There will be two large upper-floor patios for use by tenants and the public. The building also will feature electric car charging stations.

The Brennans’ son, Joe Brennan, is the project manager and said he feels extra pressure to get this project done right for Brennan Companies.

“My client, my boss and my father are all tied to this, so I really need it to go well.”

John Considine, of Greater Mankato Growth, said construction of the project and the tenants will provide hundreds of jobs in the community.

Considine said when he first met the Brennans it was while they were doing volunteer work.

“I’d like to thank Mike and Cathy not just for their investment but for their commitment to the community. As a team they’ve put a lot of effort into this community.”

The project is being financed by U.S. Bank.

Architects for the project are Widseth Smith Nolting, which will be one of the new tenants when the building opens late next year.