The University of St. Thomas

Shipping Container Building Proposed for Minneapolis North Loop

A unique office building to be constructed of shipping containers has been proposed for a small site in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood. The project is being developed by Akquracy, a Minneapolis-based marketing firm that will be the primary tenant for the office space. Its located just blocks from Target Field, near two other recent creative office developments in the Ford Center and the new Be The Match headquarters building.


The building will be about 18,000 square feet, consisting of office space and a small café/restaurant space with outdoor seating. The design involves fifty shipping containers, each 75 feet in length. The containers will be stacked three levels high, with a portion of the building elevated over a public plaza. To minimize foundation piling due soil conditions on site, one triangular half of the building will sit on top of an existing underground parking structure, while the other half is shifted one level upwards. The lifting of half the building allows for the creation of covered plaza space and opens up the street corner.

The developer for this project commissioned New York-based architectural firm LOT-EK to design the building. The firm is known for its use of “up-cycling,” or repurposing unique materials in order to create unique designs and build sustainably. Shipping containers have become an increasing popular building material in recent years, having been used for everything from small homes to multifamily and office buildings.

Published on: Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

St. Thomas real estate analysis for August: Big drop in foreclosures and strong demand for moderate-priced homes

 Market ReportThe percent of foreclosure and short sales is back to 2007, pre-crash levels;

it’s more evidence that the Twin Cities housing market has recovered.

 Minneapolis, Minn. –     An analysis of the 13-county Twin Cities real estate market for August found a healthy decrease in the number of foreclosures along with a stronger demand for moderately priced homes than for higher-priced homes.

 Each month the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business looks for real estate trends in the Twin Cities and tracks the median price for three types of sales: nondistressed or traditional-type sales, foreclosures, and short sales (when a home is sold for less than the outstanding mortgage balance).

 “During the early part of this year the percentage of distressed sales was hovering near 30 percent,” said Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at the university. “In August, the percent of distressed sales was 10.6 percent, a level not seen since mid-2007. More importantly, the number of new foreclosures continues to drop; that means there should be even fewer distressed sales in the next 12 to 18 months.”

mortgages After a persistent period of l0w inventory, the number of homes available to purchase has increased to 18,205. That compares to 16,747 in August 2013 and is now near pre-housing-crash levels.

 “The increase in the number of homes for sale will result in a better balance between buyers and sellers,” Tousley said. “Buyers will have more choices as the market moves from a seller’s market to a normal equilibrium.”

 Another trend the Shenehon Center follows is the number of homes available in different price brackets. By comparing the asking price of homes in the Twin Cities and how many were sold, the Shenehon Center found a stronger demand for homes priced under $140,000 than homes listed at $300,000 or higher.

Home prices in August

 Median sale prices for the Twin Cities recovered in August from a slight decline observed in July. The median price of a traditional (nondistressed) home increased to $228,000 in August, close to the high-water mark for the year set in June at $229,900. Compared to August of last year, the sale price for a traditional home is up 5.3 percent in 2014.

 Overall, the number of closed sales in August was down 7.3 percent compared to the same month a year ago, but it’s not all bad news because most of the decrease was due to a sharp decline in the number of distressed sales. Compared to last year, August saw a 4.6 percent increase in traditional sales, a 58 percent decrease in short sales, and a 50 percent decrease in foreclosure sales.

The UST composite indexes

Each month the Shenehon Center tracks nine housing-market data elements, including the median price for three types of sales, and creates an index for each: nondistressed or traditional-type sales, foreclosures, and short sales.

 The composite index for traditional sales moved up just one point in August, to 1086, but it’s a new yearly high and reflects the strong market for traditional sales seen in 2014. 

 The composite index for short sales was 936 in August, up 14 points from July. It also is up 5.3 percent compared to one year ago. “Look for the short sale index to play a less significant role in our analysis as the number of short sales drops below 3 percent of the total monthly sales,” Tousley said. 

 The composite index for the foreclosure market moved from 804 in July to 810 in August. The index is 2.3 per cent higher when compared to August 2013.


Published on: Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

2014 Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame Inductees Announced


The Shenehon Center for Real Estate is pleased to announce
the 2014 Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame Inductees

George R. Karvel, Ph.D.
Cyril “Cy” Kuefler, Sr.
Jim Stanton

Join the Shenehon Center for Real Estate for the 2014 Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Thursday, November 6, 2014
7:30 a.m. Sign-in
8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Awards Ceremony featuring keynote speaker Robert Senkler, CEO, Securian Financial Group

Event Details
Golden Valley Golf and Country Club
7001 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55427

Individual cost: $50
Sponsor a table for 10: $700

The Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business has established
the Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame to honor, preserve and perpetuate the names and outstanding accomplishments
of real estate leaders who have made a significant contribution in real estate and demonstrated care and concern for
improving their community as a business leader

Published on: Friday, September 26th, 2014

Kraus-Anderson Construction Company (KA) Completes $73 Million High School in Alexandria, MN

The beginning of the 2014-15 school year couldn’t be any better for the Alexandria School District in Alexandria, MN. Just in time, Kraus-Anderson Construction Company (KA) has completed a $73 million and 280,000-square-foot senior high school for the district.

The new high school commons (Source:

The new high school commons (Source:

Designed by Cuningham Group Architects to be a flexible learning environment, the new high school will house 1,400 students and replace the district’s Jefferson High School which was initially built in 1957. Speaking of flexibility, Trevor Peterson, director of business services for the district, adds “Not knowing what education is going to look like five years from now or 15 years from now, we needed to make the building adaptable”.

Published on: Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Minneapolis Has Already Surpassed the 1 Million Mark in Construction Projects for 2014

Based on “the total valuation of building permits in Minneapolis since 2000” posted by Star Tribune, as of August 14, 2014, Minneapolis already surpassed the $1 billion mark in construction projects for this year. With $1.211 billion in construction projects so far, the city just exceeded the $1 billion mark for the third consecutive time since 2000. About half of this year’s total valuation so far came from the construction of Vikings Stadium ($241 million) and Downtown East apartments and office tours located on 550 S 4th Street, 600 S 4th Street, 510 S 4th Street, and 640 S 4th Street (All valued at $219 million).

Architects rendering of 'Downtown East' - development on Star Tribune site, next to new Vikings stadium " gameday aerial view' (Source: Star Tribune)

Architects rendering of ‘Downtown East’ – development on Star Tribune site, next to new Vikings stadium
” gameday aerial view’ (Source: Star Tribune)


Published on: Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

We Remember 2011 Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame Inductee, Robert Leonard Hoffman

Robert Leonard Hoffman, a 2011 Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame Inductee, died on July 29, 2014 at the age of 85. Co-founder of the Larkin, Hoffman, Daly & Lindgren law firm and described as “the dean of Twin Cities land-use lawyers”, Hoffman crucially contributed in notable real estate projects such as the development of the Mall of America. He also proudly served his community as a Bloomington city councilman for 14 years and on the Metropolitan council for 7 years.

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Published on: Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Eagan Outlet Center to Feature Snow Melter

The new Twin Cities Premium Outlets center opening in Eagan next month will feature a unique piece of equipment to help manage snow in the winter. Rather than store snow on site or pay to have it hauled away, the property will use a stationary snow melter made by Trecan, a Canadian company which specializes in the design and manufacture of the machines. With capacity to melt 40 tons of snow an hour, the snow melter will help the property management keep the center’s sidewalks and 1,400 parking spaces accessible to customers during the winter months.

The snow melter at the new Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan (source: MSP Business Journal)

The Trecan snow melter at the new Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan (source: MSP Business Journal)

The Trecan machine melts snow that is dumped in by plows by mixing it with hot water heated by a natural gas burner. The snow melt then drains directly to the municipal storm sewer. A filter collects trash and other debris before it enters the sewer.

The Twin Cities Premium Outlet will be (surprisingly) the first shopping center in Minnesota to feature an on-site snow melter. It will also be the first in Simon Property Group’s portfolio of 300 shopping centers worldwide, although the company also plans to install one in a Montreal mall opening later this year.

By using the snow melter, Simon hopes to keep operating costs lower for tenants. The machine can melt 200 cubic yards of snow per hour at a cost of about $110, substantially less than the cost for haul away and off-site disposal of a comparable amount of snow. Additionally, because the property won’t need space for snow mounds the developer was able to build fewer parking spaces and keep more of them available for customers during the winter months.

The 409,000-square-foot outlet mall is set to open Aug. 14th and will have more than 100 stores. It was developed by Simon Property Group and Paragon Outlet Partners.

Published on: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Target Corporation Opening Its First Mini-Store, TargetExpress

With more young people choosing cities over suburbs, Target Corporation announced early this year its new small-scale concept, TargetExpress, which is going to open in Dinkytown (Minneapolis, MN). Despites the challenging previous year marked by a difficult Canadian expansion and data breach, Target Corp. kept its ambitious plans by now responding to the recent American housing trend through this TargetExpress concept. Even though its competitor Walmart already adopted this small-format store concept with “Walmart Express” about 3 years ago, Target still has some rooms of opportunity in this progressing housing trend in the U.S. Regarding this matter, the Time magazine even recently stated “The New American Dream Is Living in a City, Not Owning a House in the Suburbs”.

 A rendering of a TargetExpress store, a smaller version of sprawling suburban Target stores that is geared for city dwellers (Source: The New York Times)

A rendering of a TargetExpress store, a smaller version of sprawling suburban Target stores that is geared for city dwellers (Source: The New York Times)

Unlike its typical stores, CityTarget (80,000 to 125,000 square feet) and SuperTarget (about 174,000 square feet), this new concept is a 20,000-square-foot store. Its strategic location of Dinkytown, precisely in the newly-built Marshall apartment building, will help better target young people such as the University of Minnesota students. With the 2014-2015 academic year starting in early September and TargetExpress debuting July 23, college students living nearby or planning to do so will get a chance to buy items such as home decor or consumer electronics not only in a more convenient way, but also before school starts.

Published on: Thursday, July 10th, 2014

US Existing-Home Sales in May 2014: Largest Monthly Percentage Gain Since August 2011

On Monday, June 23, National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun reported that US existing-home sales in May were outstandingly up by 4.9% to an annual rate of 4.89 million units. That monthly percentage gain not only exceeded expectations, but also was the highest since August 2011. RBS Markets chief U.S. economist Michelle Girard welcomed the good news by saying “The long-awaited spring bounce in home sales looks to have finally appeared”.

The National Association of Realtors also added that May’s total housing inventory rose 2.2% to 2.28 million existing homes available for sale, thus making it 6% higher than a year ago. Stephanie Karol from IHS Global Insight responded to this May’s sales and inventory improvement by stating “As long as sellers feel assured of making a profit, they will feel emboldened to list their homes; and as buyers feel they have a good selection of well-located properties to choose from, they will continue to look and bid”.

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Nevertheless, during May, the market seemed to remain difficult for buyers with modest financial resources as they experienced a 27% decline of their share of sales, down 2 percentage points from April and from April 2013.

Published on: Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Impact of Surface-Restoration Business on Commercial Properties

A book may not be judged by its cover but when it comes to commercial properties, their image really matters as emphasized by in a recent article. While businesses and property owners are trying to cut their expenses in today’s economy, they cannot remain indifferent about their building surfaces that are getting deteriorated. Also, it is in the best interest of building owners to give a good first impression to their potential tenants through appealing exterior spaces.


Concrete stairs before restoration … (Source:


… and after (Source:

The surface-restoration business offers an economical solution to commercial buildings owners who cannot repeatedly afford the high cost of hiring a company to come replace surfaces degraded by the weather, the sun, and even road salt. Speaking of saving money through surface restoration instead of replacement, Minnesota-based Twin Cities Outdoor Services shares an interesting information about their business. According to the company, services offered by its Surface Restoration Division can help businesses and building owners save up to 70 percent of the money that would be spent for surface replacement done by another company.

To clarify the advantage of surface restoration over replacement, Kai Milota, director of sales with Plymouth, Minn.-based Twin Cities Outdoor Services, states “In a retail environment, if you replace concrete, if you’re ripping out materials, you might have to shut your doors for some time. With restoration that doesn’t have to happen. It’s less disruptive on business and customer traffic.”

Published on: Tuesday, June 10th, 2014