[Argh, it's long. Sorry.]
I've been about 90% sure of this for a while, since I manage some lab space in the St. Paul facility and needed to provide some info to plan for the move, but based on the brief description given to me, I wasn't entirely certain it was this building. Anyway, I kept quiet, and figured it wasn't official until it was official.
I've personally been boycotting the mall since the Black Lives Matter protest two Christmases ago -- I wasn't a participant in that, though I was very unhappy with the way the mall treated the protesters, required proprietors to close up shop, and pushed for prosecution afterward. Add that to the subsidies gifted to the mall for the expansion, and I felt compelled to try and keep my dollars in Saint Paul or Minneapolis if I could. So I was crossing my fingers and hoping for a move to Minneapolis if nothing could be found in Saint Paul.
Like David, I figured one good possibility was going over to the Railroad and Bank building (180 East 5th) -- I think it has a lot more overall floor space than the office part of the Galtier complex. The available office space is pretty constrained on the first, second, and third floors of Galtier due to the corner residential towers, the law office building that's still on the southwest corner, the atrium and skyways, the YMCA, and the theater on the third floor. That all really chops up the floor plate. By contrast, the Railroad and Bank building has a center light well and some accommodation for ground-floor entrances and skyways, but that's about it.
Anyway, an employee poll had been conducted a while back, where people were given the choice of a downtown Saint Paul, downtown Minneapolis, or suburban location. It wasn't revealed until quite recently that the poll showed a strong preference for a suburban site. I'm frustrated that this hadn't been communicated to employees, nor were we given any chance to lobby for one general area over another. If I'd thought about it early enough, I should have mentioned to someone that over 75% of the Twin Cities population lives in the suburbs, which leads to a strong inherent bias. Any percentage less than 75% in favor of suburbs could be interpreted as a preference for one of the downtowns, but as I said, that info came along pretty late.
And yes, concerns about parking were likely a big driver of it too. A perhaps inadvertent reply-all response to the poll announcement included a question along the lines of "Can we mention in the poll that we want free parking?". Perhaps I should have asked if we could get free transit passes at the new site.
I had given my preference in the order of 1) downtown Minneapolis, 2) downtown Saint Paul, and 3) suburbs, but it probably works out that the mall is better for my commute as things stand today. I can just hop on the bus in the opposite direction and get there, but the travel time will probably be about twice as long.
I'd like to move back to Minneapolis someday. I enjoyed myself more on that side of the river. At least the mall isn't too far from south Minneapolis, so I have some options there. Being downtown would have let me choose almost any site in the city and still be in a generally bus-able time/distance, and the bike infrastructure is a bit better. I have a coworker who has been looking at how he could get from his south Minneapolis home to the mall by bike, and it seems doable aside from a scary bit at the end navigating the busy streets that cross I-494 and then heading along American Boulevard to reach the Ikea lot.
Perhaps the best thing about the mall site is that it would give the company way more visibility to women than it would otherwise get. Like almost the entire technology industry, the gender balance of the workforce is completely out of whack, and putting the company at a site that probably has 2/3 female foot traffic is one of the closest things you're going to get to a silver bullet in that regard. There's a limit to what can be done, considering the number of women getting computer science or related degrees is really low these days, but it's something.
I remember scanning the room in my CSci classes in college and realizing that among the tiny number of women there, most of them were from other countries. The level to which women (especially American women) had rejected any sort of study of computers at that time was just mindboggling, and I'm not sure it's gotten any better lately. That's also contributed to me having just about the least-fulfilling dating record a guy can have, considering I don't like drunking and bars were still choked with cigarette smoke during my college years and a few years beyond when I might have been getting comfortable with that scene.
The tech gender imbalance is one of the reasons why I'd generally prefer a downtown site -- at least a guy can go for a walk around the block and cross paths with some people not with the company to remind himself that eligible members of the opposite sex still exist. Of course, with downtown Saint Paul being downtown Saint Paul, and with workers at some major employers elevatoring straight into parking garages at the end of the day, that can still be a challenge. The mall provides for a unique exception.