Todd Hanson, Senior director of brokerage services for Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq
Todd Hanson was lead broker on an industrial sale in 2012 that he says was the most complex deal of his 25-year career. It took three years to complete and not only included a bankruptcy, eminent domain and a land swap, but also included contaminated land and a building left without power or heat.
It was the sale of the 645,000-square-foot Diamond Products (formerly Gillette Manufacturing) building in St. Paul’s Lowertown to the St. Paul Port Authority and the city of St. Paul for a new St. Paul Saints baseball stadium. The sale included a swap of the current Saints ballpark in Midway, which the Port Authority plans to redevelop into an industrial/business park. Hanson and his team secured a listing agreement with the trustee for the bankrupt Diamond Products, which made Dippity Do and White Rain hair spray among other products at the plant before closing operations. His team had marketed the building to other industrial users before striking a deal with the city.
Hanson says the sale was the final phase of the transaction. His team previously sold a 190,000-square-foot adjacent building for a train storage/maintenance facility for the Central Rail Corridor and another parcel for the expansion of Hwy. 52. The combined mammoth transaction was recognized by the Minnesota Commercial Association of Real Estate as the “Industrial transaction of the Year” in 2012.
Q: So just how complex was this transaction?
A: We like to say that of all the issues that could come up in industrial real estate, we believe this one had every possible challenge. Title problems. Ownership problems. Environmental problems. Financing problems. A water line broke. The roof leaked. There was mold. At one point, we had no power or heat.
Q: Did you get a few extra gray hairs on this one?
A: It took a lot of patience.
Q: What do you think of this site being redeveloped for a ballpark?
A: In my opinion, it’s a fantastic idea. It’s a unique, funky neighborhood that’s on the rise. It’s right next to the Farmer’s Market, and you’ve got artist quarters, condos and restaurants coming in. It’ll take this massive concrete monstrosity, tear it down, put it in a ball stadium and accentuate the changing face of the neighborhood.
Q: Are there any easy deals anymore?
A: Simple deals are rare ... especially in the last few years with the challenging economy. There’s an adage in the business that every deal has to die at least once. Well, I think in the last five years, every deal has to die three or four times before it can live.