Developer Kelly Doran is $1 billion worth of projects beyond the Dinkydome.
Doran spent two years during the Great Recession going bank to bank and pledging a few million more of his own equity in order to break ground in August 2009 on the $36 million acquisition-renovation of the landmark Dinkydome office-retail building, and construction of the adjacent Sydney Hall apartment units near the University of Minnesota.
It was the first big privately financed project in the Twin Cities in nearly two years.
Jubilant politicians, labor officials and grateful workers applauded and ate lunch under tents, in pouring rain.
Nobody griped about the weather or chicken sandwiches.
This week, Doran begins construction on a $48 million, 185-unit luxury apartment development on the site of a just-demolished Best Buy store. It was shuttered in 2012 at 66th Street and York Avenue in Edina.
Doran, one of the Twin Cities’ busiest developers since the economic recovery slowly began in late 2009, has developed and built about $1 billion worth of mostly multiunit housing projects, from Minneapolis to Hopkins to Brooklyn Park. There’s another $250 million in projects in the pipeline.
Doran faced a hassle from bankers in 2009 as he tried to finance what became a very successful Dinkytown project.
Now, he has no trouble financing his projects in what has proved to be the biggest construction boom in the history of Minneapolis. Much of it, including Doran’s work, centered on downtown, the Mississippi River and the U area. The city has experienced several record $1 billion-plus years of construction.
Doran, 60, raised by a single mom with his sisters in south Minneapolis, earned an MBA from the University of Minnesota. He started his career in the early 1980s as a banker. He learned development as junior partner to the late Robert Muir on smallish commercial projects in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in the 1980s and ’90s.
Doran started his own company with a calculator, some tools and a truck. Doran is a hands-on boss, often in jeans, who still grabs a broom to tidy a job site.
Doran headed to the suburbs in 2015, after concluding that the downtown-to-U corridor was saturated with housing projects.
His latest work includes the Moline in downtown Hopkins, a $50 million-plus, 241-unit luxury apartment project. It replaced 1960s warehouses near the former Minneapolis Moline tractor plant. It was a play for more housing density in the core of a small town-turned-suburb that once had train service to Minneapolis. It’s on the planned Southwest light-rail transit line.
The $48 million Southdale project at 66th Street and York Avenue in Edina is a joint venture between Bloomington-based Doran and KM2 Development of Minneapolis. It will boast a trendy location and “unrivaled amenities,” said Doran, whose project is also green-leaning.
The eco-friendly design includes a white roof, native plantings to ensure drought-resistant vegetation and improved runoff protection; and thermal-building design combined with ultraefficient appliances that will boost energy efficiency. It also features electric car-charging stations.
Doran said upscale Edina and the popular Southdale area will allow him to charge monthly rents of $1,200 to $3,000. That means rents that average about $2.20 per square foot vs. about $1.70 per square foot at the Moline project. Hopkins also invested $5.2 million in the $50 million Moline project to subsidize rents for some lower-income residents.
The renovation of the 1960s-era Southdale Center stresses housing, service businesses and a downsizing of the big-box retailers and vast parking lots that once dominated.
Edina may see the biggest building boom in the Twin Cities this year. Hundreds of millions in construction are completed, underway or planned, said Bill Neuendorf, the city’s economic development director.
The projects include:
• Bank of America’s new flagship office on France Avenue.
• 66 West Apartments on 66th Street.
• The renovated AMC Theaters and the Onyx Apartments.
• The expansion of the Galleria and a huge Life Time fitness club on the site of the vacated J.C. Penney store.
Doran isn’t completely done with his hometown.
He and developer CSM Corp. of Minneapolis have proposed a skyscraper-type residential project in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, on the east side of the Mississippi. The Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission, citing several issues, has denied a “certificate of appropriateness” for that the project. The commission said it’s too tall for the neighborhood.
Doran and Gary Holmes, founder of CSM, are trying to work something out with the city.
Doran said a big part of his success lies in sharing half of his profit with his 150 employees.
“We created a model in which everyone participates,” he said.
Doran also is a tightfisted guy who has incurred the ire of trade unions at times by not using union subcontractors exclusively.
Doran Cos. will profit this year on revenue from development and construction of about $300 million.