When Inver Grove Heights resident Thomas Bennerotte opened up his law office in Eagan in 2008, he could count on one hand the number of his employees.
Fast forward four years, and Bennerotte's burgeoning personal injury law firm, Bennerotte and Associates, now employs roughly 20 people, including three other attorneys.
But a larger workforce needs more elbow room, which is why Bennerotte is planning to build a 15,000-square-foot, two-story office building off Courthouse Lane in Eagan.
On Tuesday, the Eagan City Council unanimously approved a rezoning request and a preliminary subdivision agreement to pave the way for the new office building, which will likely be constructed on a 4.85-acre site just east of Courthouse Lane and north of Hwy. 55. The site, which was zoned for agricultural use, was rezoned on Tuesday to "Limited Business".
Now that he has the rezoning and subdivision approvals in hand, Bennerotte hopes to begin construction on the building within the next few weeks, with a completion date set for sometime next spring.
Bennerotte's firm plans to occupy approximately 7,000 square feet on the second floor of the office building and lease the remainder of the space to other commercial interests, Bennerotte said on Tuesday.
But that's not all the attorney has in store for the site. Bennerotte also has plans to build two, smaller office buildings on the site. Both office buildings would be in the 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot range, Bennerotte said.
- [To see building plans for the site, click on the PDFs attached to this article]
At this point, Bennerotte doesn't have a specific construction timeline for the additional buildings. Instead, development of the second and third buildings would be based largely on the level of tenant interest, Bennerotte said.
For its part, Eagan plans to extend Courthouse Lane to the east for the proposed office complex and pave a new north/south cul-de-sac for improved access to the currently vacant site. Bennerotte will pay roughly $180,000 for the improvements, according to Eagan Public Works Director Russ Matthys.
Bennerotte, the owner and founding partner of Bennerotte and Associates, has been an attorney since 2000, and worked for several larger firms before striking off on his own in 2007.
An Inver Grove Heights resident, Bennerotte said moving to the new facility off Hwy. 55 will help with visibility for his firm. Bennerotte's office is currently located in the Eisenhuth Orthodontics building near the intersection of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road.
"Part of it is better exposure, with the drive-by traffic," Bennerotte said. "Basically, the bottom line is that we’ve outgrown our [current] space."