Minnetonka, Minn-based Opus Development Corporation on Tuesday announced plans to construct the first office building in Minneapolis in nearly a decade, with Xcel Energy serving as sole tenant of the nine-story, 212,000-sq-ft project.

Although the building won't rival the stature of several Minneapolis office towers completed in the early 2000s, local officials hope it will spur efforts to redevelop a blighted expanse of North Nicollet Mall, one of the city's largest commercial districts.

Opus General Manager Dave Menke told reporters the project will be “instrumental in the continuing vitality of downtown Minneapolis and the redevelopment of the north end of the Nicollet Mall.”

“Our success is tied to the community's success,” said Judy Poferl, president of Xcel's Northern States Power-Minnesota division. “This brings together a legitimate business need and a proposal that furthers redevelopment in the city.”

Xcel plans to move about half of its 1,500 employees into the new building, which will rise across the street from its headquarters.

While Opus Design Build will oversee construction of the project, Opus AE Group will serve as its architect of record. Opus expects to break ground in 2014.

Despite a lingering recession, Minneapolis has begun to show other signs of recovery. In 2011, Opus announced plans to construct a $100-million, 33-story apartment tower along Nicollet Mall. Earlier this year, a joint venture among Ryan Companies, The Excelsior Group and an institutional client of Invesco Real Estate broke ground on a 580,000-sq-ft mixed-use project that will house 286 luxury apartments and be anchored by the first Whole Foods Market in downtown Minneapolis.