Thursday, January 20, 2011

Have We Hit Bottom?

These numbers certainly seem to be showing it. Time will tell.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Who's coming to my party?

Mill District City Apartments - Open for Biz

We just attended the ribbon cutting at MDCA - luxury rentals with gorgeous models and fantastic common areas. Bravo to Village Green for finishging this important city block and bringing another couple of hundred people downtown. How about Northeast next? That would be a slam dunk.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting a Loan for a Condo . . .

While obtaining a loan for a condo is still relatively straight forward, new regulations have made it necessary to keep an eye out for potential snags that can arise in the process.

Here are some basic guidelines from a trusted lending source:

1. Condos need to be on the FHA approved condo list for FHA financing and the VA approved list for VA loans.

2. Condos with conventional mortgage financing greater than 90% LTV require full condo project review/approval of governing documents, including bylaws, declaration, articles of incorporation, insurance, budgets, ytd financials and an acceptable condo questionnaire completed by the management company.

3. Condos with conventional mortgage financing less than 90% LTV require an acceptable condo questionnaire completed by the management company.

4. No more than 15% of the total units can be 30 or more days past due on the payment of their Association Fees

5. No single entity may own more than 10% of the total units in the project

6. Non-residential space can not exceed 20% of the project's total sf.

7. At least 10% of the budget must provide for funding of replacement reserves as well as adequate funding for insurance deductibles.

8. At least 90% of the total units in the project must be conveyed to purchasers.

9. Common areas must be 100% complete.

10. The project can not be subject to additional phasing or annexation.

11. Control of the Association has to have been turned over to owners.

12. Different investors have varying owner occupancy requirements; some are at 51% and vary up to 70%. Some investors count 2nd homes as owner occupied, some don't.

Thanks to Jill at Bell Mortgage for this!
Contact Jill at:
Jill Meents, Bell Mortgage
Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist | Senior Mortgage Consultant
"We Will Manage Your Mortgage Like It's Our Own"

Monday, July 26, 2010

New Listing at Humboldt Lofts

Here is a fantastic new listing at Humboldt Lofts in the Mill District. I staged it myself and shot the photos with my new Nikon. I hope you like it. Let's take a tour! (612) 623-1199

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Tiny Apartment Transforms into 24 Rooms

Amazing use of space! While it is certainly a bit extreme, there are nuggets to be gleaned on how to make a space work. I often think these principles would actually be best utilized in mid-sized (1,500-1,900sf)condos. There is a great example at Cobalt that I hope to document soon.

I'm back.

I've decided I like blogging better than micro-blogging. I won't bore you with the details. Stay tuned for real content.

Monday, December 21, 2009

From Kiplinger's

"The housing bust, rising energy prices, clogged commute routes and retiring baby-boomers are conspiring to upend the American dream. Instead of a McMansion in the far-flung suburbs with a big yard and a three-car garage, the most desirable homes will be smaller,“green” houses in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods close to job centers."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Art Show at Hoffman Parkin

Join us this Friday 5-9pm, for an amazing show of work by St. Paul artist Beth Stoneberg. Beth's large-scale sculptural compositions make a stunning impression. Stop by, bring a friend and make a night of it in one of the best neighborhoods in the world. Killer Catering by Chowgirls | Wine by Surdyk's. For information:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Making it work . . .

The recent condo-conversions of several large 80's-era apartment buildings in Downtown Minneapolis were a blast from the past with regards to layout and design. One of the most desirable (but always somewhat out-of-each) upgrades was to fix that ubiquitous closed-off kitchen with the window. This design seemed to float in limbo between the post-war kitchens of the 50's and 60's and the open loft style we had all become used to seeing in the new construction projects. The design feels claustrophobic and the intended "breakfast nook" area is often hobbit-sized.

On a recent tour at The Falls, we stumbled across an excellent example if how to convert this island and really bring a room to life. It just so happened the the home right next door was the same floor plan and served as a great example of before and after.

In talking to the owner of the "After" kitchen he says it was the best improvement they could have made to the space and they have been able to seat up to 8 people at that bar. It certainly wasn't an inexpensive upgrade. Did it improve the property's value? Suffice it to say that my buyer chose the "After" and moves in next month, while the "Before" is still on the market.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A New Comunity Garden at East River Mews

It's a bit late in the season, but I couldn't resist posting photos of the adorable Community Garden (and Good times Cafe!) that the residents of East River Mews have created. This was a tiny swatch of unused railroad land adjecent to the tracks that we all wondered about when we were selling the project. Well, the folks at the Mews seem to have just taken things into their own hands - with great success! If you are a Mews resident, please comment on the process you took to get this garden installed.

P.S. Good Job!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Trees are Here!

The city is installing our trees outside our office this morning! - what a great improvement to this block! Thanks to Cornelia at Bella Lana for spearheading and to Whitey's for joining in on the fun.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What the?

This is on the wall at Whitey's bar next to my office on 4th St SE.
anyone know what this is all about? Looks like conceptual art to me!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Staging Tip - Light it up! (my longest post ever)

Lighting is one of the most important (and under-utilized) facets of an interior space. If you're banging your head trying to sell a home with big rooms and vast expanses of ceiling with nothing but a torchiere stuck in the corner . . . puh-leeeze take heed.

During the condo boom, it was common for developers and cost-conscious buyers to skimp on lighting. Lighting is often very expensive. There's a reason for that - its critical to making a home livable! Dark homes suck, especially during our light deprived and never-ending winters. Furthermore, quality lighting heightens a home's sense of architectural distinction. While this is often subconscious, these factors can help your home beat the competition.

I helped a lot of buyers with their lighting schemes when we were still building new construction. I now find myself doing more remedial work to help stage spaces that aren't selling. It's from these perspectives that I offer up some nuggets of wisdom on the art of the bulb...

1.) If you have a clearly defined dining room area - install a chandelier over the dining room table. (Especially if you already have a junction box (J Box) in place!)
2.) In bedrooms with capped ceiling j-boxes - install inexpensive flush-mounted fixtures from Ikea.
3.) In bedrooms with the ubiquitous switched receptacle - get your floor lamps or side table lights hooked up correctly. If only one receptacle is switched, rig extension cords so that table lights on both sides of the bed turn on when the switch is flipped.
4.) Floor lamps are not ideal. With the exception of large designer lamps made to fill a room, floor lamps cast weak light and often accentuate the feeling of a cavernous room rather than help it. Realtors on tour don't have time to turn on all the floor lamps in a home to show off the space. If you're an eager-beaver-seller and turn on all your 12 lamps before the showing, it usually takes the realtor extra fussing to get them all turned off and will only exacerbate the situation by bringing it to the buyer's attention. On a final note, don't ever use those god-awful torchieres that shine up . . . puke!

Did I mention that I don't like floor lamps?

In condos, track is often the best option to light a room adequately. It is considered appropriate in most cases and there is no longer a stigma about its aesthetics. Please abide by my sacred rules of track lighting:

In Large Rooms - Do not use track lighting for general lighting in a large room. It should be used to shine against(graze) walls and to showcase art and accents. It should be an indirect light and should not blind you when you are sitting on your sofa. With few exceptions, track shouldn't be installed in the middle of a room. Mount it parallel to the wall about 3 feet from the wall.

With Tall Ceilings (11 feet or taller) - Don't install track flush to the ceiling - it should drop down with stand-offs or threaded rod so the heads are closer to the accent walls you're trying to illuminate. In concrete lofts, don't be afraid of the rods, conduit, and (sometimes large) transformers. They'll blend in and you won't notice them, especially if you are grazing your walls and showcasing the rooms properly.

In Kitchens - turn those track heads to graze your gorgeous cabinets. They weren't intended to illuminate your dirty concrete floor. The electrician just left them that way because he didn't know any better! One or two heads shining on a work surface or the island is fine, but make the majority of the heads graze your cabs.

In most cases, inexpensive lighting from Ikea is often all it takes to complete the circuit. If you have an especially important focal area of the home DO NOT get a light at Ikea - spend the money that your beautiful space deserves. My favorite and extra-convenient place to shop is Lappin Lighting in North Loop. They have many floor samples that work wonderfully in most condos. They can also order you almost any type of lighting. The folks at Lappin have installed most of the lighting in the new condos built in DT Mpls in the last decade. They also stock most of unique bulbs that you might find burned out in your condo. Keep an eye out for deals at the Room & Board Outlet. If you are on online shopper - Y-Lighting is a good place to start.

They are expensive. That's because what they do usually requires specialized tools and is rather difficult. Many "handy-men" even avoid electrical work. I can only offer two good tips on this:
1.) If you live in a condo building, try to team up with other owners or management to have an electrician do multiple projects.
2.) Consider hiring the electrician on a "Time & Materials" basis rather than getting a set bid on a project. Its usually going to be cheaper that way.

Good luck! and please post comments or tips I might have missed.

(Thanks to Perez Hilton for my illustrative diagramming technique.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eureka, Eufloria!

Despite these tough market conditions, sprucing up the planter outside my office is one splurge I can't resist. Eufloria is my go-to source for gorgeous plantings and landscape design.

Rob and Brian of Eufloria have been making Downtown Minneapolis' Condos, Lofts & Apartment buildings beautiful for over ten years. Over the years, I've always taken the time to stop and "smell the flowers" after they have completed one of their legendary "Color Changes" at fantastic buildings like Washburn Lofts, The Carlyle, and Cobalt. In fact, Eufloria maintaints the containers at almost all of the exclusive buildings in downtown.

If your container garden is in need of a make-over - give them a call and be amazed at what these masters can do. BTW - they do high-end single-family home design and installation too! (612) 418-4730

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Trees are Coming!

Yay! Our storefrnts on 4th Street SE (Hoffman Parkin, Bella Lana, and Whitey's) are getting four new trees. It took a little pushing, but they're here today cutting concrete. Whoop!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I couldn't resist posting this. I always thought he was jerk when I sold him his condo at Washburn Lofts - very emotional noegotiator. He loved the view, though.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just a Reminder...

. . . That there's never been a better reason than this to live downtown. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Listing at Cobalt

This spacious one bedroom offers a wonderful opportunity to surround yourself with convenience. The huge, private walk‐out terrace is a true rarity downtown it's big enough for a full dinner party!
List price - $325,000

Friday, August 14, 2009

I like this . . .

If you haven't heard about The 350 Project yet, listen up! This organization/movement is home-grown by a local Minneapolitan and is taking the nation by storm. There's never been a better time to circle the wagons and support local independent businesses. This Project really captures the spirit of why I and many of my neighbors feel so strongly about shopping local.

Our firm has been offering an alternative to the "Big-Box" brokerages for over thirty years! In addition to the thousands of hours we contribute to the downtown neighborhood associations, we are constantly trying to find quality local preferred partners for our clients.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Opening Night!

Pics from opening night in our office with paintings by Sharon Lessard - see event info in previous post.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Art Show - Friday, August 7, 5-9pm

We hope you can join us for another exciting art opening.
Our last show was a huge hit. See photos.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ask and You Shall Receive

I can't tell you how many people ask me where to get these parking meter cards. All of the locations that the city has set up are totally lame - they are in parking ramps (!) in the Business District.

There is ONE convenient place to get them - at the PrairieStone Pharmacy in NE connected to the Lunds.

The card costs $5 and then you add as much as you want to the card.
Get one and you will be guaranteed to reduce the number of parking tickets you receive! (I want a cut)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


While there's no doubt that stainless appliances have become the new standard for today's high-quality kitchens - this is a gorgeous alternative. I LOVE this "Floating Glass" series from Jenn-Air. See more details here at their site. We installed this in a lovely riverfront home at Zenith Condos and it looks stunning. Painted white was so 1990's but this design really takes it to a new & unique level - and they look quite timeless.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Full House

It took 6 months, but I finally have my whole storefront full of gorgeous listings. The market is picking up! Note the neon bird - that's Amy's namesake logo.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Just noticed that Google has labeled the Metrodome the "Herbert" H. Humphrey Metrodome. Check it out.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring is Here!

Eufloria just completed the spring planting in my flower window box. Lovely as always.

Not only is spring here but the market seems to be arriving with it. We are seeing things heating up on the first-time homebuyer front. Let's hope April showings will bring May closings.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Whaddya know?

They say that mimickry is the highest form of flattery. Apparently my Metro Magazine Ad is having an effect - at least on my competition. In this week's Downtown Journal are these ads:
"Everything you NEED to know to make buying etc, etc..."
"Use an Agent who knows Downtown"
I love it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Party Pics

Thanks to everyone who came to the Letterpress show in my office last week - what a great turnout! This show will be up for a while (until I plan the next) please stop by if you missed it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Let's Party.

We can't get any good press about the real estate market - so I'll create my own. Stop by my office this Friday to see a special display of amazing local letterpress.
Wine, food, and good cheer will be on hand.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mill City Commons

Mill City Commons is a new organization being developed along the riverfront offering enhanced services to seniors and other residents. The goal is to allow members a menu of services to help them stay in their current Downtown homes rather than moving to assisted living facilities.

Modeled after the successful Beacon Hill Village concept in Boston, this is an exciting development and a testament to the strength of the downtown community that has emerged here in the last decade.

Click here to see the DT Journal Article.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Artist Housing in NE

This is an image of JacFlats or Jackson Street Artist's Housing - a proposed for-sale housing project in NE Mpls.
I worked on a similar concept a decade ago that never got this far in development.
Artist housing is always in huge demand, but artists' limited financial resources make projects like this tough to pull together. I'm pulling for it! NorthEast has definitely drawn a healthy arts community and this would be a great addition.

14 are reserved out of 43. Let me know if you want the skinny on the neighborhood.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tour The Zenith Penthouse

This Penthouse is still available for sale at Zenith Condos in the Mill District.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Notes from the February DMNA Meeting. . .

The Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association met this week and I wanted to share with you my bullet point notes:
- Walker Apartments presented their proposal for a new building downtown on Hennepin Ave (next to the Downtown Journal Building.)
- Developer Bob Lux's architect presented facelift proposals for the parking ramps he recently purchased from the city at Centre Village and the Gateway site (across from the Depot Skating Rink)
- Council Member Lisa Goodman updated us on a request for creative ideas from neighbors for the vacant lot across from the Guthrie that was earlier proposed to be The Revue Lofts.
- Mill District City Apartments are still delayed, but developer, Village Green, is still anxious to proceed when financing is worked out. Fingers crossed.
- Matty B's in the Mill District closed - RIP. Jon Oulman and team are planning to lease the space and open a successor to their successful 331 Club concept in Northeast. Located at 501 Washington, it will be aptly named "501 Club". Rockin' good news!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Condominium for Ants

Maybe better described as Co-Operative housing.
Can you imagine if our condo boards were this productive? :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Got Bike?

Remember that "Yellow Bike" program in the 90's in St. Paul? Total flop - all the bikes were ripped off.

Well . . . here's a better idea. There's a big push to get a legitimate bike sharing program going in Minneapolis. Check out the Nice Ride MN website. This system has been tested and seems to be doing well in Europe. I saw something similar in Barcelona. This could be a nice addition to the city.

Note: There are public hearings coming up on this - see the website.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know of any condo buildings with a bike sharing program in their building?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Loop is in a tailspin.

Unfortunate news about Loop Calhoun in the Star Tribune. See article. This is what I have referred to in a past post as a "Broken Condo" where buyers and prospective buyers are in limbo. I've also heard this situation referred to as a "Nondo." Cute name, but the situation is serious for all involved. Time will heal this wound but it will require some patience.

Loop Calhoun was a very well-promoted project in a high-profile neighborhood near the lakes. I am still surprised at this outcome.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Listing at Cobalt

We have a new One-bedroom condo for sale or rent at Cobalt.

Check out the Brochure.

This is a perfect fit for a single person or couple that want EXTREMELY ADDICTIVE convenience and clean modern lines.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Sad Farewell to our Leader, Shel Hoffman (1945-2008)

It is with great sadness that I must inform you that Shel Hoffman passed away last night after an 8 month battle with colon cancer.

We will remember with fondness his great accomplishments in real estate and the unique grace with which he served his clients and tended to his customers.

Shel was one-of–a-kind and he will be dearly missed.

Shel was the founder of Hoffman Parkin Urban Realty (formerly S.R. Hoffman & Associaties,) and had a long track record of accomplishments in the real estate industry. Since 1973, Shel was involved in numerous projects ranging from large high-profile towers to boutique loft developments. Shel's extensive background and experience provided the firm and its clients with a broad vision as well as a unique ability to capitalize on pioneering sales in emerging markets.

Most notable was Shel's involvement with the redevelopment of the Minneapolis Riverfront in the 1980's starting with his work as Marketing Director for the riverplace development with Kajima Corporation. This was a huge and pioneering undertaking. Shel continued this work in the laqte 90's with the resurgence of interest in Downtown Riverfront living.

The list of developments Shel was involved with is long - click here for the list and continued right up to the present day with the Cobalt and Zenith Condominium projects in Minneapolis.

Visit Shel’s Memorial Page HERE for photos, to share your thoughts, and upcoming memorial service information.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Website for DMNA

We just finished uploading our new website for the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA). Check it out at

We are pushing to increase involvement in this important group this year.
Please considering attending a meeting if you are living or working in downtown East or West - or even if you are just interested in the work we do.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mill District City Apartments Treading Water

The Strib recently reported (see article) that Village Green is having a hard time putting together its financing for the site at Portland and 2nd Street. Let's hope that gets worked out. I like to refer to this as the Mill District Sand Volleyball Court - its a huge pit full of sand and trees.

Heard a hilarious story from a resident at American Trio Lofts. He saw a bunch of "less than aristocratic" fellows rummaging around in the pit and called the cops. I turns out they were a prison work crew cleaning up the brush growing there. Thanks guys!

I've started using Flickr - here's a slide show I put together about the Mill District.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Zenith Begins Closings

We just closed our first condo at Zenith Condominiums!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hello Enzo!

This is what puts a smile on my face when I show up to work every day. Enzo is one of two shop mascots at the shop next to my new office - Bella Lana. (Speedo the darling pug was off today.) This boutique yarn shop is thriving with high-end yarns available for the army of avid knitters seen there daily. Owners Cornelia and Karin are residents in a nearby condo building and I couldn't have hoped for better neighbors. They host classes, answer questions, and are always extremely helpful to everyone from beginners to experienced knit-niks.

Seen here is the new store display of gorgeous and playful felted bags made by store customers as a charity for the Ronald McDonald House Christmas Project. In July they out put out a call for knitters to make 48 bags to give to children in a local house - the result is amazing!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Getting Closer . . . .

Save the date for my Grand Opening - A Halloween Happy Hour - Friday, October 31 5-8pm.

Refreshements and Art Show on Display

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fix Begins for Mill District Parking Lot

The City has begun work on upgrading the parking lot at Washington and Park Aves in the Mill District. This site has seen two attempted developments in the past, one a condo development by Brighton Development and an office building by Sherman Associates. Neither developments panned out, so the city decided to let it remain a parking lot but is installing some unique improvements to make it much more visually appealing & green.

This lot is adjacent to the upscale Park Avenue Lofts and Washburn Lofts, so I'm sure those condo dwellers are happy to see some improvements finally being made. I'll forward more updates as they get closer to completion.

Here is the Downtown Journal Article.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Coming Soon - A New Storefront Office for Hoffman Parkin Urban Realty

Yes indeed, that little storefront next to Bella Lana with the tattered awning will be mine! I've always wanted a storefront office space. I've often felt disconnected in my current office and when this perfect opportunity posed itself, I pounced. I am currently in the process of building out the space (it needed a full makeover.) Thanks to my good designer friends I think I'm on the right track. I am surprised by how many people have already commented on the progress they are seeing in the space. It's right across the street from the new Lunds in NE Minneapolis and at the top of the Cobalt Condo's garage driveway.

That's all for now - check back for more details as I prepare to move in sometime in October. . . AND . . . save the date for a Halloween open house party.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Its party time!

The models at Zenith are open and we are hosting a party to celebrate our success and to show off our lovely furnished models.

If you can’t read the attached party invite, you can view it here:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Signs of Life. . .

It feels like that scene in the movie where the guy lays on the floor looking dead, heading towards room temperature, when suddenly he gasps for breath and comes back from the light.

After the slowest summer market in memory, we seem to be back on track.
In the past month:
- A penthouse unit at Cobalt sells
- Three townhomes sell at Track 29
- Zenith is on fire with 79% sold before anyone has even moved in.


Monday, July 28, 2008

What makes a condo project successful?

In today's tough real estate market, so much talk is given to the projects that fail but not enough to the success stories. Cobalt Condominiums in Minneapolis' Historic Old St. Anthony Neighborhood is a good example of an extremely successful downtown condo project. Only 4 homes left out of 93 total! Here's 5 points that summarize what I think has given this project such a good reputation and competitive edge:

This goes without saying, but to understand where people truly want to live is another thing. The Old St. Anthony Neighborhood is one of the most actually livable areas in downtown Minneapolis.

You need a reputable development team that has experience and know how - preferably local to the Twin Cities. Most of the buyers at Cobalt either knew personally or had heard of the developer (Exeter), general contractor (McGough), or the sales team (yours truly.)

Provide a quality project that doesn't skimp on important details. It should be designed for living - not for expedience. Buyers know quality better than most developers do - they can't be fooled. Our philosophy at Cobalt was to provide a basic finish package that was good enough that you wouldn't need to upgrade to make your home (or you) feel special.

A project should have something unique and forward thinking - something inspired - to attract owners. Two things really set Cobalt apart, the floor-to-ceiling windows and a new Lund's Grocery on the main floor. These amenities were simply irresistable.

It doesn't take East Coast attitude or blouse-busting cleavage to sell a project. It takes thoughtful, nice people who actually care about the buyers and who know what they are doing. I will say this to my grave - you can not sell condos like they are cars.

As a testament - we are also seeing this approach working at our latest project Zenith Condominiums. Keep some of these principles in mind as you look for your own condo project to live in. Make your search a success!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nice Lotf!

As seen in St Paul on West 7th Street. I want to buy a Lotf here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hot Stuff

Fritz Kroll is so hot that he's causing spontaneous combustion!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Only a Downtown Realtor could see the good in this . . .

I filled up my tank at Bobby & Steve's last night. (Ugh!) Sitting in rush hour traffic is bad enough - then you get kicked in the mouth again at the pump. I can't even imagine if I had a long commute.

The folks living downtown are saving LOTS of money on gas - not to mention time, and road rage, and frustration, and wear and tear on their cars, and carbon dioxide emissions, and on and on . . .

What ever happened to the reporters talking about the real benefits of living downtown in a loft or condo?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Smart Idea

Looking for a smart way to double the value of your ONE downtown condo parking stall? Check out the Smart Car! The length of these beauties is 8.88 feet. A standard downtown underground parking stall is 18 feet long. You could probably fit two of these cars in tandem into one stall.

Fuel consumption (from their website) is City/highway 40/45(EPA 2007); 33/41 (EPA 2008)

Am I on to something here?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Meters on Washington

In a small but important move, the city has installed parking meters on Washington Avenue (pictured above in front of Sorella.) "Why is this great?" you ask? It will slow down traffic on this busy street and provide more parking for patrons of the many new restaurants and shops as well as guests of the condo owners in the Mill District Neighborhood. The city had originally talked about "throating" the streets too, but I think the extra street work was probably not necessary.

People constantly ask about the Mayor's vision for a Washington Boulevard. It is an unfunded project and, as such, will probably remain only a tasty campaign talking point. However, I do think the meters will help push the avenue in the right direction.

Friday, May 30, 2008

There Goes Johnny!

Johnny was the infamous numbskull who bought a ground floor unit at the lovely Stone Arch Lofts in the Mill District. Stone Arch is one of the most high-end and well established boutique riverfront lofts downtown. Johnny's stay there caused quite a stir. He's since moved out and his loft has been foreclosed upon.

The home was listed this May at a ridiculously low price see listing but is now in purchase agreement at an appropriate market value. This listing caused one of the biggest feeding frenzies to date in the neighborhood with many offers being presented the day it listed. This little exercise has proven the market strength of the building and the neighborhood.

Bye Bye, Johnny!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Condo Couture

How's a sales agent supposed to stay looking like a million bucks when sloshing through mud, dust, & sheetrock screws on a construction site? Pictured above - this seasons latest new-construction couture. Shoes by MBT and binder clips by OfficeMax.
Shot on site at the Zenith sales trailer.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mob Scene at Mill City Market

I got a chance to stroll the Mill City Farmer's Market today - it's 2nd weekend of the season - and it looks like MCM will continue its heavenly attendance trajectory. In short, it was packed.

There isn't even a lot of produce available yet as it is so early in the season. That didn't stop every Prius drivin', birkenstock wearin', tree-huggin', green-lovin' Minneapolitan from showing up en masse. Lots of downtown condo-dwellers there, too. I suspect this is as much a social affair as it is a market for the many downtowners that show up religiously every weekend.

This is just one of the many reasons the Mill District has become such a highly sought-after residential neighborhood.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

View from Zenith

I took these evening shots from the top floor penthouse at Zenith Condominiums . . . talk about million dollar views! The view of Gold Medal Park shows the progress on the 35W Bridge. This home has a walkout terrace that overlooks the park and The Guthrie.

Our team has been working on this project for over 2 years now and it is uniquely satisfying to be able to walk through a space that at one time was only a vision.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cotty is Spot on.

Cotty Lowry brought a timely new twist to his billboard this month. His billboard has become real estate legend in Minneapolis. It's been at the same location on Hennepin and Franklin on the side of Burch's Pharmacy for as long as I can remember. The expected and exhalted vandalism and graffiti to Cotty's mug catches everyone's attention and (usually) brings a smile to everyone who passes. See Cotty's site for a choice selection of past art that's graced his face.

I would love to see a picture of someone in the act. Anyone?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Secret Special Spaces #1

I love stumbling on unexpected treasures. I recently toured The Bellevue Condos in Downtown Minneapolis on Hennepin Avenue for the first time. This is a very recognizable 5-story red brick building at 13th Street - Eli's and Espresso Royale are on the main floor with condos above. The building exterior is very ornate. Built pre-1900, the interior common spaces are classic with lots of shiny decorative woodwork.

The condo was exceptionally cool, but what blew me away was the interior atrium I discovered (pictured). OMG! Who would have thought something like this even existed here - I was immediately transported to an old-world european city. Like some bohemian Parisian apartment block. The sunlight filtered through a jungle of hanging and crawling plants - each balcony space was lovingly adorned. This is the condo building that time forgot, and it has definitely stood the test.

Word on the street is that the homeowners here are as unique as their building.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Art at Humboldt Lofts

The homeowner association at Humboldt Lofts in the Mill District is taking lobby art to a new level with a rotating show curated internally by the homeowners. I was recently on a showing of a lovely corner loft here and stumbled across this wonderfully subtle photographic tryptich by John Johnston.

I spoke with the resident who is managing the process and they showcase different pieces from local artists on each floor in their spacious elevator lobbies on a rotating basis. Periodically, the association will vote to acquire a piece permanently. Brilliant.
>>More about Humboldt Lofts

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Renderings of Mill District City Apartments

After many requests from neighbors who didn't make it to the DMNA presentation of this project, I've added conceptual renderings (click here to see more images) that the developer Village Green presented that night. (I posted on this subject earlier in March.)

I am personally very supportive of this project. It is right for the market, the developer is reputable, it will get done, and it will improve property values for other owners in the Mill District. Please post comments and start a dialogue.

A public meeting on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday, April 29th at 6:30pm at Level 5 Cafe at the Guthrie. Feel free to attend and offer comments then, too. also to be reviewed is the Marmont Apartments project proposed by Steve Frenz on the Electronic Recovery Site (on Gold Medal Park near Bridgewater and Zenith)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Now Presenting - The Unbelievably Bad Real Estate Photos Hall of Fame

Click here for this visual feast! (You have to click "Run" for the tour) Let me know which one is your favorite. I like the toilet paper roll. I take all the photos for our listings and I must admit, I have photographed my own shoes before!

Monday, March 31, 2008


Hindsight is always 20/20, but I have to say I saw this coming from a market away. The Downtown Journal just ran this article Building Community Out of Chaos about the problems that arose at the Sexton in Downtown Minneapolis. Bad stuff. Thank god the residents and Gittleman Management have gotten things considerably squared away. Now they just need to deal with the legal mess the developer has left them in.

If there is one good reason to use an experienced realtor that KNOWS the area you are looking to buy in, this is it. It is so very hard in this industry to truly quantify the value you can bring to a buyer or seller. The skill of understanding which properties buyers should avoid takes many years to develop and, once acquired, is hard to explain.

Here were the hints from the outset: Developers with questionable reputations and not-so-clear proclamations of who they actually were; tough site surrounded by surface lots; phased development requiring building of a second building to provide promised parking; over-sexed marketing campaign focused on only one type of buyer rather than diverse audience; and word of mouth from realtors and buyers of nasty experiences upon move-in.

The Sexton is an unusual case of a "Broken Condo", but Buyers do need to be aware of these risks. Fingers crossed and hearts out to buyers at the Sexton - it is a very cool building with many clear benefits and I am optimistic the the return if the market will make things much better for the residents there.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Go Brenda!

Just had a delicious lunch at what has become a neighborhood landmark - Spoonriver. Kudos to Brenda Langton (seen here with famous bartender Tony in on his day off, testing wines) and her wonderful staff. Everything tastes so good, the location is so wonderful, and the interior is sublime - it all just makes you feel so damned good to be there - almost like a spa.

Spoonriver is on the main floor of Humboldt Lofts, the uber-cool condos next door to the new Guthrie Theater in the Mill District. Its become popular not only with the throngs of theater-goers, but also a line-up of legenday local philanthropists and captains of industry. What a breath of fresh air - and such a contrast to the "trying-too-hard" macho spots in the central biz district.

You go girl.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Upscale Apartments Proposed for Mill District

Village Green unveiled plans this week to neighborhood residents for a proposed apartment development in the Mill District in Downtown Minneapolis. The site, located on Washington Avenue and Portland was the former site of the Portland Condominiums.

The design is contemporary with clean lines and it doesn't attempt to mimic the historic buildings around it (thank god). Exterior materials are brick and metal with the possibility of some core-ten steel. The overall appearance is somewhat reminiscent of the cancelled Portland Condominiums designed by James Dayton that Brighton Development was proposing prior to their sale of the land to Village Green. Key to the site is a courtyard in the center of the block that is owned by the adjacent Park Avenue Lofts condominiums. The landscape plan is quite lush and the presentation was well received. The apartments would be market rate with no city subsidies. Rents on the apartments would be in the mid-to upper bracket range with high quality interior finishes and reflecting the project's excellent location. Construction is anticipated to start this year.

This lot has been very closely observed because of its high profile and proximity to major cultural institutions such as the Guthrie, Mill City Museum, and MacPhail Center for Music. Expectations of quality design are also quite high due to the many architecturally and historically significant structures in the immediate vicinity.

This project will go before the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA) on April 8. DMNA is the neighborhood association representing residents and businesses in downtown. This is the best way for downtown residents and business owners to voice their thoughts on the project.
Click here for a related MN Real Estate Journal article.
Click Here for a related Star Tribune Article.

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Kindee on the Block

Another new restaurant is coming to Downtown Minneapolis' Historic Mill District. Kindee is a new Thai Restaurant under construction right across the street from the Guthrie Theater and Spoonriver Cafe in the St. Anthony Mills apartment building. When I checked in on the construction crew last week, they were expecting a May or June completion date. The menu will have a more modern spin than the nearby Sawatdee. Sounds great to me! It's nice to see these street-level windows filling up with tenants.