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Friday A.M. Report

Twin Cities commercial real estate market stabilizing, new head working to build U’s alumni group, 28 auto dealerships saved from closure, and U picks Fieldturf for practice facility.

Twin Cities commercial real estate market stabilizing: The Twin Cities commercial real estate market is stabilizing, according to new figures from Cassidy Turley. The St. Louis-based commercial real estate service provider pointed to “strong indications” that the market is beginning an adjustment to the “new normal,” including vacancy rates that have flattened out or are increasing slightly. Office vacancy rates held steady at 20.4 percent in the second quarter as the market absorbed 38,232 square feet. But with a net negative absorption of 125,348 square feet in the first half of 2010, Cassidy said landlords are “in for challenging times.” Read full story

New head of U’s alumni association develops playbook for building organization: As the University of Minnesota’s associate athletics director, Phil Esten helped the school raise funds for and complete one of its most ambitious building projects in years — the $288.5 million TCF Bank Stadium. Now, he’s tackling a different type of building project: growing the university’s 60,000-member alumni association. Among Esten’s goals is building stronger relationships with students even before they become alumni. Read full story

Final count: 28 Minnesota auto dealerships saved from closure: Nearly 30 Minnesota car dealerships slated for closure last year were ultimately saved, the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association reports. After declaring bankruptcy in 2009, Michigan-based General Motors and Chrysler had planned to close 52 Minnesota dealerships, MADA said. Of those, though, 28 are still open today and employ 1,700 people, the group said. The ax fell on 24 dealerships, with an estimated workforce of about 1,400. GM closed nine other Minnesota stores when it killed the Saturn brand. Read full story

U of M picks Metrodome-exiled Fieldturf for practice facility: The University of Minnesota plans to replace its football practice field with the same artificial playing surface that the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission is fighting to keep out of the Metrodome. The University plans to install FieldTurf at the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex in time for the Gophers’ first practices in August. The Gophers play on FieldTurf at TCF Bank Stadium. FieldTurf USA unsuccessfully sought a court order in June to keep construction crews from replacing the company’s turf at the Metrodome with a competitor’s product. Read full story