President, Solomon Real Estate Group
Jay Scott, 49, and his company, Minnetonka-based Solomon Real Estate Group, have found a niche redeveloping smaller, high-traffic, high-profile infill sites and filling them with expanding restaurants and service-retail shops. Solomon recently completed the 13,000-square-foot Knollwood Crossings in Hopkins, a redevelopment of an old BP gas station site and two other parcels near Knollwood Mall. The project includes Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Yogurt Lab, Jersey Mike's and Pizza Rev. Solomon has two more redevelopments slated to start this fall.
He's probably best known for developing the high-profile Windsor Plaza – a 135,000-square-foot, mixed-use development adjacent to Eden Prairie Center. It opened in 2009 – nearly fully leased — in the midst of the recession.
"Fortunately, we started the project in 2007 and had all of our financing and tenants lined up," Scott says.
Before forming Solomon, Scott was partner at North American Properties running the Cincinnati-based developer's Minneapolis office. He was also director of real estate development for Opus Northwest. Scott has developed more than 12 million square feet of retail and office space and 1,500 luxury apartment and condominium units. His father is Mike Scott, a pioneer in the retail brokerage/development industry, who retired from NorthMarq (formerly United Properties) in 2008.
Q: Your dad influenced in your career, right?
A: He was involved with Dayton Hudson back in the day before the malls were built. He was involved with getting Rosedale and Southdale constructed and leased. Growing up, hearing his stories around the dinner table, I just had that bug planted in me at an early age.
Q: How did the recession prompt you to take a new direction?
A: You could see the writing on the wall that the traditional big boxes that we had been running with were not going to be very active coming out of the recession. We started focusing more on these urban infill sites that involved our clients in the restaurant or service-based industry — like cellphone companies and hair salons – that really aren't impacted by e-commerce. We've now developed a business model to focus our energies on developing on their behalf.
Q: What projects do you have in the works?
A: We've got two starting construction this fall. One is in front of Northtown Mall [in Blaine] where we're acquiring a property from Glimcher [Realty Trust], which owns the mall. We're likely going with a free-standing restaurant tenant. The other is in Chanhassen, next to Lakewinds Food, off Highway 5. It will include a Davanni's and Hurricane Grill & Wings.
Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.