United Properties’ Brandon Champeau now leads all office, industrial and commercial mixed-use development in the Twin Cities metro with his promotion to market leader of the company’s Minneapolis commercial-development group.
Champeau oversaw more than 2.5 million square feet of industrial space in the past five years in his previous role as a senior vice president.
“It’s no secret that we’ve been extremely busy the last five to 10 years,” Champeau said. “My job now is to spearhead the direction of all of it and continue to help find the deals and if anything be more of a support for some of our market experts because we’re all trying to find the next round of development.”
Major United Properties’ projects include redevelopment of the 48-acre former Upper Harbor Terminal site, where Champeau has overseen master planning, and the RBC Gateway project. The latter will include office, hotel, condo and retail space in a 37-story tower that will be one of downtown Minneapolis’ 10 tallest buildings when completed in 2022.
Champeau also has been instrumental in such United Properties’ projects as the Ford Center renovation, the Penn & American redevelopment in Bloomington and the Midway Stadium Business Center in St. Paul. He credits his father, a recently retired construction worker, with driving his interest in development and instilling a work ethic that has helped him advance in his career.
Champeau, who has a degree in entrepreneurial studies and finance from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, joined United Properties in 2006. He served last year as president of NAIOP Minnesota, the local chapter of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.
“Brandon has continued his own growth and success by demonstrating repeated, disciplined work across all commercial property types,” Bill Katter, president and chief investment officer, United Properties Development said in a release.
Q: How do you approach your work in development?
A: Each building that we do is its own business. I’ve always had an interest in entrepreneurship and having my own business and that’s what each one of our projects is. You have a vision for a site or recognize a gap in the market that you think you can fill. Then it’s on us to put that vision into a business plan. The beautiful thing when you get it done is you get to stand there and see a permanent display of your work.
Q: How would an employment slowdown affect absorption of industrial and office space this year?
A: You have the millennial population seeking something different in their work experience, the baby boomers retiring and the convergence of technologies that in some cases replace the need for certain employees but require companies to invest to do that. On the industrial side it’s gotten hard to attract employees to suburban business parts that can’t offer the amenities that you get in a downtown or a North Loop. We’ve seen companies investing in robotic technologies and automation to alleviate the lack-of-employee challenge. More companies are talking about that earlier in the design process, making sure that the building is ready for certain automation improvements.
Q: Do you foresee high rates for renovated office space continuing as United Properties’ Gateway tower and the Dayton’s project come online?
A: Today it’s all about employee experience and keeping employees happy. They want places to relax, they want active spaces, they want amenity packages such as fitness and restaurants. A lot of landlords over the last five years have invested significantly in upgrading their amenity packages and are leasing faster. It’s a tale of who is investing to try to meet the tenants’ needs and the others that aren’t. If you’re offering commodity space then the only thing you’re selling is your rate.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is email@example.com.