Arne Cook

Senior vice president of the Excelsior Group

Veteran commercial real estate developer Arne Cook has joined the Excelsior Group, an Eden Prairie investment real estate company, as senior vice president. Cook previously held senior executive positions at Anderson-KM Builders, CSM Corp., First Industrial Realty Trust and Opus Corp. He has completed more than $1 billion in real estate transactions. 

Cook will oversee development, redevelopment and asset management of properties owned by Excelsior Group's affiliates, Opportunity Advisors and Opportunity Partners investment funds. These funds acquire real estate that's underperforming or owned by distressed entities. Cook's first assignments include leading efforts to reposition Opportunity Advisors' 510 Marquette office tower in downtown Minneapolis, redeveloping a Maplewood Circuit City into an LA Fitness and leasing recently acquired Roseville industrial properties.

Excelsior Group and its affiliates own about 2 million square feet of real estate, 700 finished lots and 2,000 acres of raw land. Its recent developments include 222 Hennepin Apartments -- part of a mixed-use development that includes 286 apartments and a Whole Foods Market -- and the 119-unit Flats at West End in St. Louis Park.

QWhat was your first job in real estate?

AWhile attending the University of Wisconsin, I worked with a firm focused on historic redevelopments in downtown Madison. While in college, I also had a summer internship with an apartment syndicator in the Twin Cities and did consulting work for developers and property owners while in graduate school.

QWhat drew you to real estate?

AReal estate touches everyone's lives. It's where you live, work and shop, so it's always interesting. And since people's preferences, the economy and the financial markets are always changing, so does commercial real estate. It's an extremely dynamic industry.

QWhy make the move to the Excelsior Group?

AOpportunity Advisors and the Excelsior Group are actively raising capital and making solid real estate deals. This position allows me to focus 100 percent on commercial real estate, which I have devoted my career to.

QWhat upcoming opportunities do you see in distressed assets?

AWe're very bullish on the pipeline of opportunities. ... We will continue to see a number of property foreclosures and workouts resulting from maturities of loans made under aggressive underwriting practices on pre-2008 market-peak valuations. ... We do believe there's a lot of opportunity for companies like ours.

QDo you consider yourself a risk-taker?

AI consider myself a prudent risk-taker. Whether for my own account or when working with partners and investors, I always ask myself, 'Would I put my own money in this deal or venture?'

Liz Wolf is a freelance writer in Eagan. She can be reached at