Citing cost and safety concerns, officials at fast- growing TCF Financial Corp. said they will move 400 employees, including the company's executive staff, from Minneapolis to new digs in an upscale suburb.

The $7 billion-asset holding company will vacate its leased space in TCF Tower for a 150,000-square-foot office building in Eden Prairie.

TCF Financial said it has signed a letter of intent to buy the building.

However, the headquarters of TCF Financial's lead subsidiary bank, with about 800 employees, will stay in downtown Minneapolis in a building a few blocks from the TCF Tower, vice chairman Robert Evans said.

The announcement comes as plans for several new downtown office towers are in the works. Minneapolis officials said they would try to persuade TCF Financial to remain downtown, but Mr. Evans said the deal was nearly done.

"Right now, there is no good office space downtown," he said. "We need the space now, and we always prefer to own, rather than lease."

Norwest Corp. and First Bank System Inc. both have their headquarters in downtown Minneapolis, and Norwest maintains a data processing facility here.

Since 1989, TCF Financial has acquired banking operations in several states, consolidating most of the back-room functions in Minneapolis. During that time, employment in its downtown offices has grown 50%.

CEO William Cooper has long complained about difficulties in hiring and retaining workers for the late shift at his downtown data processing center, saying fears of personal safety have left the center about 70 employees short of what the rapidly expanding company needs.

"Would you let your wife walk out on the streets here after midnight?" he asked a reporter during a recent interview. "I wouldn't."

Another factor was cost. TCF Financial officials said that downtown space comparable to the new Eden Prairie facility would cost "a multiple" of what it is now paying.

TCF Financial - which also owns banks in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio - considered moving the headquarters to another state. But the company opted to stay in Minnesota, where about half of its assets and deposits are located.

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