MN Supreme Court agrees that a Tax is a Tax

We should all cheer when it comes to improving transparency in government, particularly when it comes to helping taxpayers understand their tax burdens. The Minnesota Supreme Court agrees, recently calling out the City of St. Paul on “fees” that should actually be defined as taxes.

This is good news, right? Well…taxpayers may foot the bill for the right result.

Two significant downtown St. Paul churches – The First Baptist Church of St. Paul and the Catholic Church of St. Mary – took the city to court over so-called “right-of-way assessments” that pay ordinary civic services such as street maintenance and lighting, arguing that the assessments were actually taxes. As tax-exempt organizations, neither church pays property taxes to local governments, although they are responsible for assessment for improvements that directly benefit their properties.

Minnesota Public Radio (ironically – a party to the case) recently reported on the MN Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of these plaintiffs click here for the MPR story. This isn’t small potatoes – as Tim Nelson reports, “The right-of-way assessment now amounts to nearly $30 million a year, compared to a total property tax bill across the city of about $100 million, according to city finance director Todd Hurley.”

So, how do you suppose the city will make up for a possible $30 million shortfall in order to keep the streets free of snow and potholes filled, not to mention lighting the sidewalks at night? Well, MPR gave us the honest answer, for the story continues: “If the Minnesota Supreme Court decision dismantles the city’s street assessment system, tens of millions of dollars could be shifted back onto regular property tax payers and high-value properties, such as downtown office towers.”

This will not happen overnight, thankfully. The Supreme Court moved the case back to Ramsey County District Court, where the City will have another shot at proving the unique value of the street assessment to the affected properties. In the meantime, the City will continue to collect the fees.

We at NAIOP Minnesota will stay tuned to this issue. We applaud any court decision that makes taxes more transparent. However, with municipalities across the state watching this issue very closely, we must be careful avoid further increases our already too-high property taxes to fund basic governmental services.

August 26, 2016 at 8:41 am Leave a comment

2016 Awards of Excellence Project Entries

Check out the entries for the 2016 Awards of Excellence project awards!

On September 22, be part of the best of Minnesota’s commercial real estate industry and see which projects take home awards.

Event and registration details are available at

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August 25, 2016 at 2:53 pm Leave a comment

October 11 Closer Look lunch with Tom Holtz, available to NAIOP members

In an opportunity available exclusively to the first 30 NAIOP members who register, on Tuesday, October 11 there is a Closer Look lunch discussion with Tom Holtz. Tom, who joined CBRE in 1979 and now serves as an Executive Vice President, is an integral and long-time leader in major investment transactions for single-tenant and multi-tenant office and industrial properties.

Details and registration (available exclusively to NAIOP members) at

August 22 Update: There are just 9 spots remaining for this lunch.

August 22, 2016 at 11:24 am Leave a comment

2016 Golf Classic: Foursome Photos

NAIOP Minnesota members and sponsors beat the heat at the 26th Annual Golf Classic at the Wilds Golf Club in Prior Lake. Check out photos of our resilient golfers, courtesy of RSP Architects.

July 28, 2016 at 9:52 am

Cocktail Confessions – Volume 19 featuring Anders Pesavento

For NAIOP Minnesota’s Cocktail Confessions we track down industry movers and shakers, sometimes bribe them with cocktails and get their take on the topics of the day. In this installment, we feature Anders Pesavento, Vice President – Capital Markets of Ryan Companies. 

Questions you’d like to see asked? Leave them in the comments section below.

What advice have you been that has proven most valuable in your career?
Buy Low and Sell High…right?!? In thinking back I actually can’t think of any specific “Eureka” moments on advice, but two things that have always stuck with me are: 1) Sometimes when things are moving fast, and you don’t have as much time as you would like, it is better to make a decision and see it through than to not make any decision and have an opportunity pass you by. This is certainly easier said than done. 2) I love quotes and one of my favorites is from Theodore Roosevelt who said “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” I try to think about this in my daily life and it really helps put things in perspective.

What habits have you formed that keep you energized and on top of your game?
I love making lists and crossing things off! I am still an old school pen and paper kind of person and have multiple lists going at any given time. This really helps me prioritize my day and also gives a sense of accomplishment each time you complete a task.

What is your favorite regional asset in the MSP region that makes this region unique and a great place to do business.
I think we live in an awesome part of the country and people genuinely want to be helpful and do what’s right. It makes working on transactions so much easier and fun. I also love the quality of our outdoor spaces from the lakes to our walking and biking trails, you can always find something fun to do outside regardless of the season.

The Confession: What choice of refreshment will you have at your next Happy Hour?
Or, your next networking coffee. And where do you like to meet? My go to is either a Vodka/Soda or a tallboy PBR and I love meeting anywhere with outdoor seating.

By Mike Brown, Greater MSP 

July 26, 2016 at 3:25 pm

August 9 – A Closer Look – The Alumni of Trammell Crow Company

Available exclusively to the first 60 NAIOP members who register, on Tuesday, August 9, join in a fun discussion with Trammell Crow Company alumni who – 30+ years after their development boom – remain some of the industry’s most influential personnel.

Participants to include Will Hoeg (Founder and Managing Partner, Falcon Ridge Partners), Tami Kozikowski (Board Member, Life Time Foundation), Tim McShane (Principal, McShane Development, LLC), Stew Stender (Founder, Stewart Capital Partners), Kirt Woodhouse (President, Sterling Group) and moderated by Dawn Grant (Director of Commercial Asset Management, IRET Properties).

Details and registration (available exclusively to NAIOP members) at

July 19, 2016 at 10:03 am

Minnesota Corporate Real Estate Executives: Dynamic Impacts on Decision Making

Get on the list for NAIOP Minnesota’s July 12 program, a highlight breakfast with corporate real estate executives from UnitedHealth Group and TCF Bank, two leading companies with Minnesota activities and holdings.

Tom Shaver, Restor Johnson, and Michelle Schmitt will discuss what’s impacting buildings and portfolios, the application of technology, and influences on workspace and employees.

For more details and registration, visit

June 16, 2016 at 4:39 pm

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