Shareholder, Winthrop & Weinstine
Working with Plymouth-based Dominium Development, John Nolde, 41, served as lead counsel on the historic renovations of three significant Twin Cities projects — the Buzza Lofts in Uptown Minneapolis, the Pillsbury A-Mill campus in Minneapolis and the Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul's W. 7th Street neighborhood. Nolde is a shareholder in the real estate and tax credit practice group at the Minneapolis law firm of Winthrop & Weinstine.
The $125 million renovation of the historic Schmidt Brewery, underway since early 2013, is complete and Dominium held a grand opening in late July for its "Schmidt Artist Lofts." The project is providing 247 affordable units for local artists. Nolde handled the legal aspects for the acquisition and financing of the project, including the use of federal low-income and federal and state historic tax credits. Working on complex financing is a specialty of Nolde's.
Before joining Winthrop & Weinstine in 2000, the Stillwater native worked in the office of Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson and at the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
Q: How did you get into this area of practice?
A: My dad was a real estate developer. My brother [who's 16 years older] is a real estate developer and he had done several tax credit projects when I was in law school.'' He recommended I look at Winthrop & Weinstine, who was his lawyer. I didn't know exactly what my brother did — all the intricacies of it — but I said, 'I want to work with guys like you.' A lot of our clients are very similar to my brother — self-employed, entrepreneurial.
Q: Why are historic rehab projects getting done now?
A: I started working on the Schmidt project in 2007. At the time, there were a lot of problems and gaps in financing. The one thing that really has made a huge difference is that the state Legislature passed the Minnesota Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program in 2010. [It was designed to help Minnesota's struggling construction industry and spurred adaptive re-use of buildings]. For the Schmidt project, we're talking somewhere in the neighborhood of $22 million worth of new financing because of these state tax credits. It was like a switch was flipped. … This additional financing took a project that was dead and brought it back to life.
Q: What's next for you?
A: At Winthrop & Weinstine, we're trying to take our expertise and our ability of what we're doing here in Minneapolis and really take it nationwide. [For example, our client] Dominium has a gigantic historic rehab project down in St. Louis. It's along the same lines as the Schmidt project but will also include a university inside the building that Dominium bought.
Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.