Best storefront in the Universe


A revitalized hub on a key corner

One of the Zone's most visible spots is now up for lease, and with that turnover comes a name change for its parent building. For the past 20 years, the Pirtek company held the corner storefront at University and Vandalia Avenues. So the spacious but underused complex that housed it was generally known as the Pirtek Building, lacking any clear identity.

But it's a new era. Just rebranded as Universe Buildings 2147 + 2161, the complex is emerging as "a hub of environmental, creative, social and community-based businesses," says Tory Christensen, owner since 2017. The mission for the two-building campus is to cultivate a space for synergy, specialization, and cooperation between tenants that support the CEZ's creative economy.

"We're really excited to find the right fit for the corner retail space,” said Tory. "The future tenant will anchor the building on the University side while our own business, Landbridge Ecological, operates out of the north warehouse side" with its ecological design, installation and land management services. From that corner spot, the two Universe buildings stretch north along Vandalia and east along University, already housing dozens of tenants ranging from food retail to music studios to suites for nonprofits and health professionals. 

"This past year, we've been putting our energy into elements that people can't see, like HVAC, roofing, and internal office and studio buildouts," Tory said. "But in 2019 we hope to focus on some external improvements like the parking lot, tree plantings, sculptural elements along the facade and entry spaces. It will be a big year for the buildings, and finding the right fit for that corner is important to us. Ideas we have include gallery space, coffee shop/cafe, or a nonprofit that shares some common ground with our vision for the space." 
The Universe Buildings have retail, office, and studio space available ranging from 150 to over 8,000 square feet. For leasing opportunities contact Tory Christensen at 612-385-9105, and visit the website for more info. 


Visible behind the streetlight is a decades-old "Universe" sign: the complex bore that name
when it was first built in the 1930s. The new logo includes both addresses on University Avenue.


Planned improvements for the Vandalia side include a pocket park and an inviting facade.
This view looks southeast toward University Avenue. 

Julie James