Catherine Davies-Nelson – Real Estate Matters
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Catherine Davies-Nelson


Met Council Awards 15.4 Million – Grant Monies and Programs

From abandoned sites and contaminated buildings...

Earlier this week The Metropolitan Council approved nearly $15.4 million from the Living Community Act (LCA) Advance Transit-Oriented Development Fund.  The grant monies were awarded to 17 (28 applied) high density, mixed use development projects along busy transit corridors.  The TOD funds are the first to be awarded from a new category of grants within the Livable Communities program to advance Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).  According to Met Council, “Awards from the TOD Fund will support development along rail and bus routes that [are] high density, mixed use, near transit stations or bus stops, and designed to be pedestrian friendly.”

to employment centers, housing, and transit options:)

The Council anticipates the $15.4 million in investments will help create about 1,000 construction jobs and another 1,000 full-and part-time jobs, 1,246 housing units (including affordable units).

LCA grants have been in place since 1995, and since then, have created over 31,000 living-wage jobs, built thousands of new affordable homes, and added millions of dollars to the local property tax base.  Though leveraging billions in other public and private investment, the grants have offered redevelopment options for communities and developers.

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Affordable Housing, Commercial Real Estate, Development, Economics, Government Policy, Green Building, Real Estate Trends, Senior Housing, Student Housing, Urban Planning, UST Class Profile

The New Demographic (Hint: 10,000 Baby Boomers Retire Daily)

10,000 Retiring Baby Boomers every day.  Every Day, for the next 20 years.  Locally and nationally, even globally, this is our new demographic normal – an aging population with fewer and what baby boomers would have you believe, “less talented” workers to replace them.

United States birth rate (births per 1000 population). The red segment from 1946 to 1964 is the postwar baby boom.

Bigger than huge, this is a monumental generational shift that will affect numerous aspects of our lives – opportunities, obligations, and financials.  State Economist, Dr. Stinson, recently spoke on the new normal in his Economic Outlook, noting  “As a significant portion of our [Minnesota’s] population ages, there is not much in the way of labor force growth to replace these individuals.”

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Commercial Real Estate, Executive Insight Series, Property Management

Steve Wellington of Wellington Management Shares Development Insight

Stephen B. Wellington, Jr., Founder and President of Wellington Management, Inc.

It is not surprising the top 10 ranked developer Stephen Wellington, drew a large and attentive audience when he recently spoke at UST’s Executive Insight Series on development and property management.

For those who have not yet had the opportunity to meet Steve, he is an impressive and literally towering figure.  With a brilliant educational background (cum laude graduate of Yale University, a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Minnesota and a second master’s degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business), coupled with a largely successful professional track record – both as a entrepreneurial developer and as a leading public development official, all ears were finely tuned to hear what this CRE pro had to say.

As founder and President of St. Paul based, Wellington Management, Inc. (WMI), Steve communicated his company’s development and management approach as “disciplined and opportunistic.”  Through buying right and managing intelligently, the company chiefly operates through a buy and hold investment strategy. Currently, WMI’s portfolio is valued at $375 million, including approximately 90 properties located throughout the Twin Cities metro. Continue Reading

Commercial Real Estate, Development, Real Estate Trends, Urban Planning

Urban Gardening – Connecting Community

Once there was a parking lot... (Photo source: Growing Lots)

Spring is here, and the buzz is urban gardens. Across the country, cities are embracing urban gardening as a means to beautify neighborhoods, raise awareness of where food originates, encourage local healthy eating, and connect communities.

Earlier this week, Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak signed an Urban Agricultural ordinance, expanding community gardening practices in Minneapolis. “Minneapolis is once again ahead of lots of other cities,” the mayor told over 400 gatherers, adding the expansion of city gardening is “close to my heart.”

The new City ordinance allows market gardens to sell products for 15 days a year (not more than one day per week), allows construction of hoop houses on residential properties at a maximum height of 6’5” (hoop houses lengthen the growing season), and allows recycled building materials to be used for constructing raised beds and other farming structures.

Turned Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Urban Farm! (Photo source: Growing Lots)

This is good news to local urban farmers who strongly believe in the potential of connecting community through urban gardening and farming endeavors.   Further, economic developers and community minded citizens, believe urban farming has the potential to aid poverty stricken neighborhoods.  How could the poorest of Minneapolis neighborhoods improve without costly and infeasible developments?  Urban gardeners would point to vacant lots, redefined into community gardens to revitalize, engage and connect community.

In fact, social scientists in a variety of disciplines, have determined the quality of life is heavily influenced by civil engagement and social networks, and not solely by economic status.  The broader question naturally becomes, can urban gardens diminish poverty?  Can we implement community gardens in our poorest of neighborhoods to help reduce poverty and connect communities?

Local non-profit organization, Gardening Matters, is working to do just that.  With the mantra, “Nourishing Neighborhoods, Connecting Communities”, their team tirelessly works to strengthen neighborhoods through offering events, workshops, social gatherings and educational opportunities of interest to community gardeners and urban growers.  Through a low cost membership, urban gardeners have access to everything they need to build a community garden, from land acquisition, to seeds and seedlings, to planning timeframes to a community network of others growing their own food.  Together, the members come together to support each other in growing, cooking, preserving, and composting their own fresh produce.

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Commercial Real Estate, Contest, Development, Upcoming Industry Events, UST Real Estate in the News

UST to host NAIOP’s 9th University Challenge!

NAIOP University Challenge 2012 site

The University of St. Thomas will be hosting NAIOP’s 9th University Challenge, a competition across 5 universities where student teams act as development consultants for a potential redevelopment project.  This year the site is a 1.91 acre site at the intersection of University Ave and Washington Ave in the “heart” of the University of Minnesota’s campus.

Join us Thursday afternoon, April 12 at the University of St. Thomas Minneapolis campus as the teams, including: the University of St. Thomas, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Marquette University and University of Northern Iowa; present their project concepts with a reception at Brit’s pub immediately following.

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Big Box Redux and Best Buy – The Retail Shift

No real estate trend is forever.  After reporting disappointing earnings, Best Buy announced yesterday their plans to close 50 big box stores across the U.S.  (5 stores in the Twin Cities area) and open 100 smaller retail locations (Best Buy Mobile).  Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy reported, “We have a long [history] of transforming ourselves to be where the customers need to be.”

The shift from large big box retail outlets to smaller stores is expected to echo across the retail market as internet and mobility preferences change the consumer experience.

Real estate execs have understood and foreseen this trend for the past several years.  According to AEI Capital’s Ian Harrison,  VP of Acquisitions, Business owners and managers are ask themselves every day, “how can our space be smaller and more efficient?”

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Commercial Real Estate, Upcoming Industry Events

Upcoming Real Estate events – April 2012

Networking.  Looking to further your professional involvement and broaden your network in Commercial Real Estate? Minneapolis and St. Paul boast numerous professional CRE associations to become involved with.  Here is a look at upcoming real estate events for April 2012.


The 2012 University Challenge & Reception At Brit’s

Thursday, April 12, 2012

4:00 pm presentation with Brit’s Pub reception immediately following

University of St. Thomas

1000 LaSalle Avenue

Terrence Murphy Hall – Thornton Auditorium

Downtown Minneapolis, MN

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Development, Industry News

Hennepin Avenue Re-defined – Plan-It Hennepin, Talk-It Hennepin

First part of the Talk-It Hennepin speaker series from March 8th held at Minneapolis Public Library Central Library. Photo source: Plan It Hennepin

The oldest street in Minneapolis is spurring conversation.  From the Walker Art Center to the Mississippi River, community members and users of Hennepin Ave are being asked, “What should Hennepin look like? What should it feel like? How can we preserve and honor its history?”

Plan-It and Talk-It Hennepin, an “artist-led” urban place-making process led by the Hennepin Theater Trust, along with its partners, Walker Art Center, Artspace, and the City of Minneapolis are tackling just these questions.  Working to create a “re-energized and refreshed” Hennepin Avenue, the groups are working together and engaging the public to put forth development plans including public art concepts for the historic corridor.  The yearlong initiative will lead to plans to include “recommendations for transit and infrastructure improvements, public art, streetscape designs and ways to increase cultural events and collaboration among the Avenue’s many cultural, business and educational organizations.”

Funding the creative placemaking project is a $200,000 “Our Town” grant awarded last year to the Hennepin Theater Trust from the National Endowment for the Arts, along with a $50,000 matching endowment from the City of Minneapolis.

For the first several months, efforts focused around conducting qualitative market research, connecting with users of Hennepin Ave and listening to their perspectives on how Hennepin Ave. could be improved.   These interviews are particularly interesting as they include a kaleidoscope of perspectives, illustrating both the current positive (location, access, some amenities) and negative (illegal activities, lack of green space and public space) aspects of the site.

A few of the street interviews conducted by the Hennepin Theater Trust are posted below.  The first, interviewing Lee Lynch, former CEO of advertising agency Carmichael Lynch, shares the transformation and some challenges of Hennepin Avenue experienced over the last 30 years.

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UST Class Profile, UST Program News

UST Real Estate Class Profile: International Real Estate Development

Interested in what the UST Real Estate program has to offer? Students (both undergraduate and graduate) interested in International Real Estate Development have the opportunity to study in Grand Cayman (while escaping January in Minnesota!) Read on to learn what graduate student, Tim Lawrence, had to say about his experience studying International RE Development in Grand Cayman.

Can you provide a little background on what the overall course goals/objectives are?

We have been studying a large planned-use development on Grand Cayman called Camana Bay.  The project is being developed by Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Dart Enterprises.  So far, only a very small portion of the planned development is completed.  Dart plans to continue development in phases over several years.

Camana Bay, photo source: Dart Realty

Can you explain what your typical work-day is like when in the Cayman Islands?

Most of our time in the Cayman Islands was spent exploring.  We were trying to gain an understanding of the Island’s unique political, business and geographic circumstances.  Specifically, we were interested in the similarities and differences between the Cayman Island and other markets (both domestic and global) and the effect this has on Real Estate and Development.  We met with representatives of both Dart and The Cayman Islands Planning Department.

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