Developer Paul Klodt never tried to draw attention to himself, and when I first met him in the 1980s he was generally wary of the media. But one of his colleagues vouched for me, and for some reason we hit it off. He'd help me on stories, and occasionally we'd run into each other or agree to meet at the Monte Carlo Bar in the warehouse district, a popular watering hole with the commercial real estate crowd some two decades ago.
Klodt had a wry, self-deprecating sense of humor. He wasn't a powerbroker, per se, because he always struck me as something of a loner. But he knew how power moved in the community.
The Twin Cities was undergoing a building boom then, both in downtown Minneapolis and across the suburbs. The big Texas developers had come to town by then, and everyone seemed to be competing to see who could lay the most marble, build the tallest atriums and command the highest rents. They were also driving up the cost of land for everyone, and that annoyed Klodt to no end.
Klodt was not a flashy developer. He built practical, plain-vanilla office buildings, apartment complexes, and hotels and retail spaces, like this one. Architects and others called them ugly. Klodt didn't really care. He generally worked alone, and I don't think he ever took a city subsidy - so maybe he didn't have to care.
The commercial real estate depression of the early '90s took down a lot of those high profile builders. It almost took Klodt down, too, because he had personal guarantees on many of the projects. I remember him describing the negotiation sessions he had with some lenders. Usually, it involved Klodt dropping the keys to the building on the table and saying something like, "It's yours if you want it, or give me more time to work things out."
Klodt became less active in recent years, and strokes in 2009 and 2011 eventually forced him to step back from day-to-day operations at his firm. He died on Friday.
Rest in peace.
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