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.

Case-Shiller: Twin Cities house prices up 2.3 percent

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Buying Updated: December 30, 2014 - 11:03 AM

House prices across the country keep rising, but at a much more moderate pace than they have in the past. An index that measures prices in the 20 biggest metros nationwide shows that home prices during October were just 4.5 percent higher than last year but were basically flat compared with the previous month, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. In the Twin Cities metro, prices were up just 2.3 percent year-over-year, but had fallen 0.3 percent.

The October increase was the 10th consecutive month of decelerating increases, though eight cities saw prices rise faster. The biggest annual gains were in Miami and San Francisco; prices in Cleveland were didn't increase at all.

The Case-Shiller report is closely watched because it uses repeat sales of the same property to track home prices rather than all sales that have occurred within a particular month.

Millennial population up 25% in Hennepin, among top in U.S.

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Buying Updated: December 29, 2014 - 3:29 PM

The Twin Cities metro has become a hotbed for new millennials, but finding an affordable rental hasn't gotting any easier. During the past seven years the millennial population in Hennepin County alone has increased nearly 25 percent, making it one of the top 25 for the biggest increase in millennials nationwide, according to RealtyTrac. During that same period the average fair market rent for a three-bedroom apartment rose to $1,403, far above the national average.

RealtyTrac said the top markets with the biggest increase in the percentage of millennials over the past seven years were counties in Washington D.C., San Francisco and Denver, all of which saw an increase of more than 50 percent in the share of the population that is millennials.

Other highlights from the report:

  • The average 2015 fair market rent in the 25 counties with the biggest increase in millennials is expected to hit $1,459, 19 percent above the national average for all counties analyzed.
  • On average rents increased 3 percent from a year ago in these counties, with the standouts being Denver County and Midland County, Texas, both of which saw fair market rents increase more than 20 percent.
  •  Median home prices increased 9 percent from a year ago in these counties on average compared to an average 6 percent increase among all counties analyzed nationwide.
  • The average unemployment rate among these counties was 5.2 percent in October compared to an average of 5.5 percent for all counties analyzed.

Symphony Place apartment building downtown Minneapolis sells with promise of updates

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter under Buying Updated: December 22, 2014 - 5:21 PM

Photo of Symphony Place Apartments in Minneapolis, courtesy of CBREThe 26-story Symphony Place apartment complex located across from Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis has been sold to a buyer who promises to renovate the brown-toned, 1980s-style building.

Chicago-based Waterton Associates LLC sold the high-rise to MLVI Symphony Place Apartments LLC -- sponsored by TIAA-CREF, a national investment advisor. CBRE represented the seller in the sale.

Located across from Orchestra Hall at 1117 S. Marquette Ave., the 250-unit apartment building has a prime location for downtown real estate seekers. But the building, built in 1983, was outdated long ago as other apartments in the area have come online.

The new buyer is planning to make updates before selling it off as an improved property.

“The acquisition of Symphony Place Apartments is consistent with our integrated approach to value-add apartment investments,” said Brian Eby, Senior Director, Transactions & Financing, TIAA-CREF Global Real Estate, in a statement. “Symphony Place will undergo a significant capital investment program to elevate the resident living experience by renovating the unit interiors and common area amenities, along with making modifications to the street level façade.”

A clubhouse, rooftop deck, indoor swimming pool, steam room, tennis court, basketball court, business and conference rooms are among the building's offerings. Only a block off Nicollet Mall, Unlike the recent apartment complex boom in nearby downtown neighborhoods, this building is skyway-connected, sitting in the middle of the city's commercial activity.

The building sale includes street-level retail space and a large resident parking garage. 

Nene Matey-Keke named Realtor of the Year

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Buying Updated: December 18, 2014 - 12:45 PM

The Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors named Nene Matey-Keke, principal broker/owner of RNR Realty International, 2014 Realtor of the Year.

“Nene is a Realtor who contributes to the community and advocates at a local, state and national level for home ownership opportunities for all," said Emily Green, MAAR's 2014 president. "His service to our industry has been invaluable and we are proud to honor him."

Nene has been in the business 15 years and has seven real estate certifications and designations through the local and national association. A press release said that as a first generation American, Matey-Keke has close ties with members of the immigrant community and connections with the international community. He's also the first African American to receive this award. Nene is on the MAAR Board of Directors, Diversity Committee (2014 Chair), Global Committee, an active participant of the Young Professionals Network, Public Affairs Committee, Nominating Committee and Finance Committee. At the state level, he is on the Board of Directors, Minnesota RPAC Board of Trustees, Governmental Affairs Committee, Commercial Forms Subcommittee, Professional Standards Committee, Housing Opportunity Committee, Executive Committee, Diversity Committee and an active participant of the Strategic Planning session. At the national level, he is the Federal Political Coordinator who is assigned to the 5th District under Congressman Keith Ellison. He is also the member of the 2015 Global Business and Alliances Committee, 2015 Research Committee and Federal Financing and Housing Policy Committee.

Developer proposing 80-story tower in Minneapolis provides details of team

Posted by: Kristen Leigh Painter under Architecture Updated: December 17, 2014 - 2:28 PM

A new rendering courtesy of Duval Development, looking southwest down Hennepin Ave.

The reaction to news of an 80-story tower in downtown Minneapolis was swift and strong. Just as the shock-and-awe of the proposal wore off Wednesday, the developer offered a glimpse into his team, which is the root of his confidence.

Duval Development was one of four local developers to submit project bids for the highly visible Nicollet Hotel Block, a city-owned parcel in Minneapolis' Gateway District. 

Duval's ambitious proposal garnered intense public reaction as it would surpass Minnesota's tallest building, the IDS Center, by more than 100 feet. Critics say it will never happen for economic and market reasons while many urbanists argue it is an iconic design that would enhance the city's skyline and is therefore worth pursuing. 

Alex Duval, head of the development company, has provided the credentials and roles of his design team in an effort to clear up misunderstandings, he said.

Perkins + Will is a global architecture and design firm and is the lead design architect on Duval's project, called Nicollet Gateway. Ralph Johnson, the firm's global director of design, personally designed the 80-story tower featured in the proposal.

The company has a staff of 1,600 people in 24 locations worldwide, but its local office is seven blocks from the proposed site at Nicollet and 10th Street.

“The historic Nicollet Hotel block provides a unique opportunity for a design that is both contemporary and timeless – a building that is responsive to its public presence along the Nicollet Mall and engages with the city by creating a new focal point with its slender, striking scale,” Johnson said, in a statement. “This building will be an integral part of the city and will activate the street scape. It will be set back from the Mall to provide an expansive green public plaza, and will include an indoor/outdoor atrium and ground floor pedestrian amenities. Our aim is to help bring new energy and stronger links between the downtown business core and the Mississippi River, drawing increased pedestrian activity that will enhance the rich sense of community that is so distinctive to Minneapolis.”

Thornton Thomasetti is the structural engineer on the project and has a portfolio full of super-tall buildings across the globe. 

The New York-based firm designed the structure of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpar, the seventh-tallest buildings in the world at 1,483 feet, and were engineers of the complex systems of the Mall at the Burj Khalifa podium. Tomasetti is leading structural design of Kingdom Tower, currently under construction in Jeddah, Saudia Arabia, which will overtake Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest building when it is complete.

David Weihing is Tomasetti’s principal in charge of Nicollet Gateway Tower. While he has global experience on several of the firm's super-tall projects, he is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and was involved in the structural design of 50 South 6th St, an office building just a few blocks from the Nicollet site.

“Working on Nicollet Gateway Tower is kind of a homecoming for me personally, which is exciting, but more importantly, it is an example of the kind of catalytic projects Thornton Tomasetti is doing around the world," said David Weihing, in a statement. "We have seen how the creation of a high quality supertall building causes more buildings and investment to cluster around it in the cities where we are working.”

Cuningham Group is the project's landscape architect.The studio is led by David Motzenbecker, who was president of the City of Minneapolis Planning Commission, resigning in Jan. 2013. These experiences, Duval said, will help bridge policy and design.

“The Nicollet Gateway public realm is designed for health, beauty, recreation, and functional value," David Motzenbecker said. "Our team has designed a beautiful place that will support a diverse range of community activities year round in an environmentally sustainable manner.”


Of course, many super-tall buildings with a deep line-up of players never get built, and questions still linger about occupancy and financing of the project. But Duval said he will release that information when it is appropriate and in a way that does not undermine the integrity of the competition.

The other three well-established developers bidding on the project are Mortenson, Doran Development and United Properties -- all Twin Cities-based companies.

Twin Cities negative equity rate now 60 percent below peak

Posted by: Jim Buchta under Debt Updated: December 17, 2014 - 11:16 AM

Here's a little nugget of good news for the Twin Cities housing market: The number of homeowners in the metro who have mortgage that exceeds the value of their house continues to fall, and is below the national average. Zillow says that in the Twin Cities metro, 107,785 homeowners – 15.6 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage – were underwater during the third quarter. That's down from 21.1 percent a year ago and 60.1 percent below the peak. Nationwide, the negative equity rate fell from 16.9 percent from 31.4 percent at the peak.

Here's what Zillow's chief economist, Stan Humphries, had to say about the situation: “Looking at negative equity helps us understand so many of the currently out-of-whack dynamics in the housing market, including low inventory, rapid home value appreciation and weak sales volumes. None of these problems will be solved overnight, in large part because negative equity will likely be a part of the housing market for years, and easily into the next decade in some hard-hit areas. But we’re moving in the right direction, and time will heal all wounds.”

Nationwide, owners of less-expensive homes were more likely to be underwater than owners of more expensive homes. In Detroit, for example, 49.2 percent of homes valued in the bottom price tier were underwater, while just 7.6 percent of the area’s highest-priced homes were upside down. And in Chicago, 41.4 percent of bottom-tier homes were in negative equity, compared to 23.9 percent of middle-tier homes and 10.4 percent of top-tier homes. Nationwide, 27.4 percent of the least-expensive homes were in negative equity in the third quarter, compared with 15.7 percent of middle-tier homes and 9.3 percent of top-tier homes.


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