F&C Top Projects: Open Arms of Minnesota

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023

Open Arms of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus was selected as one of Finance & Commerce’s Top Projects of 2022, recognizing Minnesota’s top design and construction projects for the year.

An independent panel of judges selected 50 honorees for the annual program. Projects are judged for their degree of difficulty, creativity in design, innovative construction techniques, cooperation among contractors and management, and sustainability efforts.

Open Arms of Minnesota St. Paul Campus
Location: 380 E Lafayette Frontage Rd, St. Paul 55107

Open Arms of Minnesota is a nonprofit that prepares and delivers free, nutritious meals to people with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities. They were operating out of a sole location in Minneapolis and sought to open a second location in St. Paul to better serve the eastern suburbs and western Wisconsin and grow their program.

The project began with a strategic planning and real estate evaluation phase to determine the best location for Open Arms’ second kitchen. Open Arms required a site in the eastern Twin Cities metro to expand their population reach with easy access to highways and major roadways for volunteers and clients, proximity to downtown St. Paul to draw volunteers, and excellent visibility.

The Runway 52 office building south of downtown St. Paul and near the Holman Field Airport, was determined to be the ideal location for Open Arms. However, the worksite provided significant challenges. The existing building was built in 1981 on what was previously a landfill, and the accumulated trash in the soil created the challenge of an unsound structure. This required the project team to be creative and make structural modifications, including helical piles and numerous grade beams to support multiple recessed freezer/coolers and a new mechanical yard, ensuring the infrastructure in place will stand the test of time.

The Open Arms St. Paul campus project consisted of a 16,000+ sq. ft. remodel/repurpose, converting a historically traditional office setting into a beautiful and functional commercial kitchen, including an onsite warehouse, shipping and loading dock, transformer yard, and volunteer training kitchen.

The function of the building was completely reformed as the team started with an office suite and ended with a large commercial kitchen and supportive volunteer environment. It features a brand new 6,000 sq. ft. commercial kitchen that includes cold food prep, hot food prep, washing, and dry storage zones, along with a massive walk-in freezer and chillers at the core of the space. Further, the kitchen itself is unique as it was created with various functions and perspectives in mind. For instance, the space needed to be sterile, yet warm and inviting, operating as a kitchen as well as a large event venue.

The suite is strategically designed to support Open Arms’ volunteer program, which involves over 7,500 people annually, supporting the preparation and delivery of meals. To support this program, the space includes a large reception/welcoming space with volunteer lounge, training room, and building modifications that supported a new dedicated suite entrance, volunteer pick-up lane, new delivery door and truck drive.

The suite also includes private and open office space for Open Arms’ employees, highlighted with amenities like a break room, wellness room, collaboration areas and conference rooms. The organization’s brand makes a splash throughout the facility.

The project was made possible by the support of the design and construction team, community donations and partners. Some highlights include:

  • Kitchen equipment product and services through Rippe Associates and community donations
  • Wood cladding product for the reception wall donated by Design Resource Midwest
  • Breakroom tile backsplash donated by Daltile
  • Support from Interface Specials, the open office carpet product manufacturer


  • Tenant/Owner: Open Arms of Minnesota
  • Owner’s Representative: Cresa
  • Contractor: Greiner Construction
  • Architect & Interior Designer: Pope Design Group
  • Civil Engineer: Loucks
  • Structural Engineer: Innovative Structural Solutions
  • Food Service: Rippe Associates
  • Photographer: Nate Johnson Studio

See the rest of this year’s honorees on the Finance & Commerce’s announcement.

This year’s Top Project will be featured in a special magazine and in a series of stories and photos in the Finance & Commerce daily newspaper and on the F&C website starting in July.