Just Listed brings you the latest news and information from the Twin Cities-area commercial and residential real estate market and beyond from veteran reporters Jim Buchta and Kristen Leigh Painter.

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City of Minneapolis seeks proposals for key Gateway District plot

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter Updated: October 15, 2014 - 1:14 PM

Minneapolis is seeking development proposals for an entire city block, commonly called the Nicollet Hotel Block, that is key to many leaders' vision for the Gateway District.

The plot, 30 Third Street South, sits at the intersection of several thriving downtown districts. Bordered by Washington Avenue, Hennepin Avenue, Third Street South and Nicollet Mall. A surface parking lot currently occuplies the 1.7 block. 

The city's request for proposals (RFP) outlines its goals for that critical junction:

  • an iconic, high-quality, designed new construction structure(s) of at least 20 active floors
  • a mix of commercial, retail, residential, office and hotel uses
  • active street-level retail
  • integrated green space for the public

"The Nicollet Hotel block has arguably the most potential of any parcel in the city, and consequently we will not settle for anything short of iconic,” said Ward 3 Council Member Jacob Frey, in a news release.  “In one fell swoop we can add people to downtown, create green space, and trigger connection to the river. We expect that designers and developers will bring their best.”

Minneapolis' Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) department staff has a pre-proposal Q&A meeting scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 6 at 11:00 a.m. to discuss the RFP. 

Proposals must be submitted by Dec. 11. 

MN Real Estate Hall of Fame gets three new members

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: October 14, 2014 - 11:51 AM

The Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame has three new members, including two who hail from the St. Cloud area.

George Karvel chaired the real estate programs at both the University of St. Thomas and St. Cloud State University and has been a prolific writer, lecturer and litigation consultant. He's best-known for his popular Sunday morning real estate program on WCCO radio and a newspaper column.

George Karvel

George Karvel

Cyril “Cy” Kuefler Sr. (1925-2001) was a successful real estate entrepreneur also from the St. Cloud area. Here's what the nomination report said about him: "He worked hard to promote his own business and to improve his profession. He believed in the power of education and played a significant role in elevating the educational and ethical standards within the real estate industry. His progressive vision included real estate programs in higher education and his efforts have had far-reaching and long-lasting benefits for real estate students, consumers and companies in Minnesota."

Jim Stanton been credited for shaping the terrain of a large metropolitan area. From Coon Rapids’ Riverdale Village in the north metro to Prior Lake’s Wilds Golf Course in the south metro, Stanton has developed more than 6,000 home sites in 28 metro area cities. He's also built numerous commercial buildings, and according to the nomination report "has made a significant contribution to the real estate industry through the projects he has completed and through his extraordinary service work with industry-related organizations."

Jim Stanton

Jim Stanton

The inductees will be honored during a morning ceremony from 8 to 10:30 a.m Thursday, Nov. 6 at the Golden Valley Golf and Country Club with a keynote address by Robert Senkler, chairman and CEO of the Securian Financial Group and chair of the Minnesota Business Partnership. The program is open to the public and the cost is $50. The Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame was established in 2010 by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business. Find out who else is the Hall of Fame by clicking here.

Medina one step closer to getting its first affordable rental housing

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: October 10, 2014 - 1:14 PM


The Medina City Council approved a stage one vote this week to build a 26-unit affordable housing townhome development on a 3.8-acre site north of Highway 55 on Clydesdale Trail about 20 miles west of Minneapolis.

The plan received unanimous support from the city’s Planning Commission when first proposed earlier this year. The city's comprehensive plan calls for adding more than 500 affordable housing units to the city by 2020, and if approved these would be the first affordable rentals in the city.

The project is being proposed by Plymouth-based Dominium, which has developed and manages several thousand affordable housing units, including the Pillsbury A Lofts for artists across the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis.

What's next? A binding stage 2 vote will happen in December. Here's a link to documents submitted to the city.

Twin Cities CEOs will swing hammers for Habitat for Humanity

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: October 9, 2014 - 5:15 PM
Here’s a shot of what one of the two houses looked like a couple weeks back when volunteers from General Mills were working on the job.

Hereâ s a shot of what one of the two houses looked like a couple weeks back when volunteers from General Mills were working on the job.

A Who’s Who of Minnesota execs, including Jay Lund, CEO of Andersen Corp., and Trudy Rautio, CEO of Carlson, will be swinging hammers in north Minneapolis on Monday to celebrate Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity’s 13th Annual CEO Build Day.

Lund and Rautio are CEO Build Day co-chairs, and they will be helping volunteers from more than two dozen companies build a pair of houses that will be sold to moderate-income families. Because of a disparity between construction costs and market values in the area, buyers of both houses will pay far less than what it actually costs to build the houses.

The 1,676 square-foot house at 3026 Logan Av. N., for example, appraised for $165,000, but the buyer will pay only $132,000. Habitat will hold the remainder of the value, about $33,000, as a forgivable second mortgage and gets the right of first refusal if they sell before paying off the mortgage. Buyers must have a family income 30 to 60 percent of the Twin Cities area median income to qualify. Both houses are spoken for, by the way.

A mouse in the house? Here's one couple's $350,000 solution

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: September 26, 2014 - 11:49 AM

It's that time of year. Mice are seeking shelter from the weather. Think your house is mouse proof? Probably not. Here's a little excerpt from a story in the Wall Street Journal by J.S. Marcus about what one couple did when they discovered a mouse - or hundreds - in the house.

"A mouse infestation is every homeowner's nightmare, but for Swedish architects Gert and Karin Wingardh, it proved to be blessing in disguise. Addressing a rodent invasion forced them to redo their coastal retreat north of Gothenburg, Sweden, transforming an existing hodgepodge of old and new structures into a striking contemporary home.

The couple bought the house, which dates to the 17th century, in 1992 for 1.3 million Swedish kronor, or about $182,000. A lawyer had been using the structure, originally built as a traditional Swedish cottage, as a summer home when the Wingardhs found it. The 750-square-foot house was ramshackle, but a teardown wasn't an option. A new couple, they needed the house immediately as a year-round residence for their blended family, including three children from previous marriages and a new son on the way.

"We both had just divorced," says Mr. Wingardh, now 63 years old, "and when you're divorced, you're devoid of money."

In just a few weeks, Mr. Wingardh had a solution: add two wings to the house, one for the children's bedrooms and sitting room, the other for an open-plan studio. The work, which took about nine months, tripled the size of the house. A few years later they redid the kitchen and added a ground-floor library. Around that time, they acquired a neighboring plot of land for about $14,000.

The house became a weekend home and summer refuge in the late 1990s, when their young son reached school age and the family relocated to Gothenburg proper.

But there was a problem. An ad hoc 1980s extension by the previous owner had provided "a freeway" for mice to enter the house, says Mr. Wingardh. By 2007, the problem had gone from bad to worse.

"The construction engineer told us to tear the house down," says Ms. Wingardh, 60, "because it would be easier just to rebuild it." But the couple was attached to their layers of additions, especially the cozy library, painted a deep red, and the quaint, low-ceiling kitchen. Plus, they had already spent more than $400,000 on the various renovations.

Click here to see photos and the rest of the story.

Twin Cities neighborhood non-profit gets $2.6 million investment from U.S. Bank

Posted by: Jim Buchta Updated: September 24, 2014 - 11:35 AM

A SHOP/Bridge to Success home in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood of East St. Paul.

An infusion of cash is expected to help a Twin Cities non-profit help about 20 Twin Citians with credit problems become homeowners. U.S. Bank has invested $2.6 million investment in the Sustainable Home Ownership Program (SHOP) Bridge to Success Fund, which also received funding from clients of the bank's high net-worth wealth management unit Ascent Private Capital Management.

SHOP is a partnership between Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation and Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services, which sells houses, like the one in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood pictured above and below, to people who are ineligible for traditional financing on a contract for deed that enables them time to resolve credit issues and eventually get permanent financing. That process usually takes 5 to 10 years.

Investors also include the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and the nonprofit Family Housing Fund are also investors. SHOP is apparently one of the first programs in the country to take the approach. The program was applauded by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Here's what Phillip Trier, market president for U.S. Bank in the Twin Cities, had to say about the company's involvement in the program: “In addition to soliciting private business investment, SHOP provides an attractive, socially-responsible investment opportunity for individual high-net-worth investors. Hopefully, it can serve as a template and help generate capital to support homeownership nationwide.”

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