Russ Nelson

President and principal of Nelson, Tietz & Hoye Inc.

Although Russ Nelson runs a small commercial real estate firm, his client list is extensive and his influence widespread.

Since launching Minneapolis-based Nelson, Tietz & Hoye in 1993, he has helped corporations and nonprofits with their real estate needs, including strategic planning, lease negotiations, financial analysis, buying and selling properties, and managing the design and construction processes for new developments.

He has three decades of experience and previously was president of Braman & Nelson, the first Twin Cities firm to exclusively represent corporations' real estate needs. Recently, the Minnesota Orchestra hired Nelson as project manager for its $45 million Orchestra Hall renovation, and the Star Tribune hired him to broker land that will be adjacent to the new Vikings stadium. He represented Xcel Energy Inc. in lease negotiations for a new office building that will be developed on Nicollet Mall. He has been involved in hundreds of deals, always representing the users.

QIs there a lot more competition to represent users today?

AIt's grown significantly, and there are certainly more national firms that have come into the market.

QWhat drives you?

AHelping clients solve their real estate facilities needs, particularly in the context of their overall business plan. Also, providing service to the client where I can use my knowledge, experience and creativity to create something better than what was there before.

QHow did you stay busy during the downturn when many companies struggled?

AWe're a small company, we're nimble. We've got great clients. We've never had a down time. We're either busy or brain-damage busy. ... We've been very fortunate, knock on wood.

QYou do a lot of lease negotiations; how's the downtown Minneapolis office market faring?

AIt has tightened up slightly. The areas that are the tightest are those above the 20th floor in Nicollet Mall-type towers -- IDS, Wells Fargo, Capella. They have very low vacancy. But the rest of the market still has significant vacancy. I'm not going, 'Oh my God, there are no choices left.' There are choices and people also are working differently, which is affecting the market. They're working with alternative workplace strategies and need less space. Accenture, for example, went from 140,000 to 45,000 square feet. ... So you got that phenomenon.

QIs it still a tenant-friendly market?

ALandlords in many cases are trying to push rates up, but I wouldn't call it drastic. It's modest pushing.

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