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The Wild will lease space for a rink and training facility at the former Macy's building in downtown St. Paul.

The team and developers announced Thursday that the Wild was the first tenant to sign a lease at the building that is in the midst of a massive overhaul.

"We feel this is an exciting moment, not just for the Minnesota Wild, but for the city of St. Paul and for the entire state of hockey to now have an arena in a multiuse facility here," said Jamie Spencer, a vice president with the Wild.

Developers expect to open the practice facility and rink this fall. Some of the team's practices will be open to the public, Spencer said.

The Wild will use the ice rink only about 5 percent of the time, said Lee Krueger, president of the St. Paul Port Authority, which is teaming up with Hempel Cos. on the redevelopment project.

The rink will also be available year-round for local teams, figure skaters and groups to rent.

The Wild's training facility and practice space is a key piece of the overhaul of the building, which covers an entire block in downtown at Wabasha and 6th streets.

Wild officials will have offices and training space in the basement of the building and will use private elevators to get to the rink, which will be enclosed in glass and located on the top level of the building.

St. Paul Arena Company, a subsidiary of the Wild's parent company, Minnesota Sports and Entertainment, will manage the ice rink on the fifth floor of the building, Spencer said.

Developers would not give specifics on other tenants that will be moving into the building, but Randy McKay, a principal at Hempel, said they would be making announcements about other leases in the next month or two.

"This component of the project springboards us forward for working with 120,000 square feet of office, retail and medical space within the project, along with 800 parking stalls," he said.

The former Macy's, which is currently called Wabasha Center, has sat empty for years. The building's name will likely change again soon, Krueger said, as a sale of naming rights is being pursued.

While it looks quiet from the outside, developers have been working to prepare the building for businesses and the Wild to move in. Interior demolition and asbestos abatement were done this summer.

McKay said they expect to begin tearing down portions of the building's old concrete exterior in the next month.

"There are going to be very substantial changes to the front of the building, and it will be primarily glass," he said.

The project is expected to cost $63 million, McKay said. That is a slight increase from the developers' $60.6 million projection earlier this year.

Jessie Van Berkel • 612-673-4649