Workforce returning to downtown Minneapolis at a slower pace than anticipated

A post-Labor Day return to office has come and gone, and still most downtown Minneapolis office buildings remain empty.

Some of the biggest employers in downtown Minneapolis have pushed back the timeline for returning to the office, with concerns over the Delta variant driving delays.

"We’re just not seeing that major spike we thought we would see around September," said Steve Cramer with the Downtown Council.

The Downtown Council says building occupancy is currently 36 percent, a significant increase from when the first stay-at-home order went into place but still not where Cramer hoped they be at this point.

"I do think we’re going to continue to see a slow buildup of people coming back to office, but that curve is going to be much flatter and much longer," Cramer said.

U.S. Bank had planned on returning September 7, but a company spokesperson said that they decided in August to push it to the fourth quarter of 2021. Target Corporation has said it won’t be coming back full time until at least next year.

Meanwhile, other major employers Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis have still not determined a return as most employees remain remote.

Those decisions are having a chilling effect on restaurants and retail shops in the core business district.

Longtime jewelry store JB Hudson announced last week it’s taking its store to the suburbs. Meanwhile, just down the street, Lifetime is opening a 54,000-square-foot co-working space at the old YMCA building on South Ninth Street. A company spokesperson saying via email that downtown is a "invaluable destination" calling it a "positive development for the area."

One local couple who talked to Fox 9 Tuesday said they recently returned to their respective offices, but like many people,  they’ll still be spending a couple days a week working from home.

"Being in the office feels safe and it’s nice to kind of be back and see things start to open again," she said.