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The Larkin Hoffman Real Estate Podcast

The Larkin Hoffman Real Estate Podcast

By Larkin Hoffman
Insights and Commentary from Industry Leaders
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Building the RBC Gateway: Interview with Bill Katter, President of United Properties Development

The Larkin Hoffman Real Estate Podcast

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Building the RBC Gateway: Interview with Bill Katter, President of United Properties Development
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bill Katter, President of United Properties Development, in the firm’s new offices located in the RBC Gateway, a building he developed.  The 37-story tower sits on a key block linking the downtown Minneapolis core with the bustling North Loop neighborhood and providing tenants with commanding views of the Mississippi River, just a few blocks away. Bill Katter didn’t plan to be a developer when he was recruited to join United Properties almost 20 years ago. He was working for Lutheran Brotherhood underwriting equity investment when Boyd Stofer offered him a job underwriting acquisitions for United Properties. Soon after, Stofer asked him to take on development of the C.H. Robinson Headquarters in Eden Prairie. “It started with Boyd saying ‘you have the qualities of a developer. Why don't we just make you a developer and see where it goes’,” said Katter. Asked what those qualities are, he responded, “I would think drive is the most important thing, wanting to wake up and get something done, and the desire to compete and win business.” Katter talked about what it took to develop RBC Gateway, the largest mixed-use project to open in downtown Minneapolis in many years. “First of all, organizationally we never built something taller than 10 stories in our a hundred plus years history. For us, it was the fortitude and the organizational depth and breadth to pull something like this off. The second thing we learned is how important Minneapolis was to the Pohlad family. The project was a chance to reunite, under one roof, with our owner and contribute meaningfully to Minneapolis.” Landing the Four Seasons Hotel was the special sauce of the project, according to Katter, but it wasn’t clear it would pencil out. “We felt great about the condos, we felt great about the office, but the hotel, we were not sure it would underwrite fully. We all kind of locked arms and said, let's take a shot at this.” Katter said the office component is doing extremely well. “We're about to sign a lease that puts us at 99% leased.” Still, he credits the other components of the projects with driving the success of office leasing. “The Four Seasons Hotel offers a level of amenities with meeting space and dining, and valet parking was important to RBC’s wealth management business. It could also be there is a shift towards the North Loop and out of the core.” We talked about what it will take to make development viable in downtown Minneapolis for the long-term and it didn’t take Katter long to come up with his answer. “The most important thing is getting people back to the office and most of the major employers downtown have not fully commanded a return to office policy.” He said, “until office fully returns, the core of downtown will continue to just feel like it's missing something.” Katter contrasts the downtown core with the success of the North Loop. “The North Loop is primarily a residential submarket with office in it. It has many more people living there and so it’s felt much more vibrant throughout the pandemic and even today.” Shifting gears, we discussed some of the challenges in the marketplace with supply chain problems, interest rate hikes and fear of recession. Katter wouldn’t say the real estate market is in recession, preferring to call it a “cooling off period.”  Continue reading here.
16:31
August 15, 2022