Bill McHale

Executive vice president of retail development for Ryan Cos. US Inc.

During his 27-year career at Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos., Bill McHale, 66, has led the development and construction of more than 15 million square feet of retail properties with a value exceeding $1.2 billion. His developments include brownfield redevelopments, mixed-use projects and community shopping centers. He has worked with such national retailers as Target, Home Depot, Costco and Kohl's.

McHale is partially retired, focusing on special projects and strategic planning. Mark Schoening, senior vice president of Ryan's national retail group, now runs day-to-day operations. Among its recent projects, Ryan co-developed 222 Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis, which includes a Whole Foods Market anchoring an upscale apartment building. McHale, a south Minneapolis native, started his real estate career in 1976 as a salesman with Coldwell Banker.

Q: You've tackled high-profile redevelopments including the Quarry in northeast Minneapolis, which was an award-winning brownfield redevelopment. How challenging was that?

A: That was about six or seven years. The site was extremely polluted. It was an old rock quarry that was later used as a dump … I wandered to that site with Rainbow Foods and it took me almost two years to get Target interested. It was an assemblage and massively polluted.

Q: How has retail development changed?

A: Certainly, everything is much more political. Neighbors are much more involved. There are a lot more government agencies. The client is more complicated. … And then in the middle of all this, the Internet hits and I don't think anybody knows for sure where that's going to end up. But every bricks-and-mortar retailer has to deal with that.

Q: What do you see as the next wave of retail?

A: I know enough to know I don't know. That was one thing I always promised Ryan — we'd never be the first one in or the last one out. … Something will happen, but who knows how things will evolve. The market is growing so slowly job-wise and economically. Everybody is fine-tuning their product more or less. It's mostly infill stuff or specialty retail being built.

Q: What's the secret to your successful career?

A: Building lasting relationships. ... We deliver what we say and we hang in there. I'm kind of a deal junkie and you have to be patient, stubborn and juggle a lot of balls, and it's just worked out well for me.

Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at