The city of Ramsey Jan. 28 signed a three-year contract with a brokerage firm to get over 120 acres of publicly owned land back on the tax rolls.
“My number one goal has been to get this land out of the city’s hands. That’s why you’re here,” Councilmember Chris Riley told two representatives of CBRE, which is a national organization that has approximately 900 employees including 153 brokers at its Bloomington office alone.
The biggest parcels of land among the 123.66 acres the city wants CBRE to market are within The COR, which encompasses over 400 acres bordered by Highway 10, Bunker Lake, Armstrong and Ramsey boulevards.
When The COR was known as Ramsey Town Center, city leadership in the early 2000s had a vision a transit oriented development where residents could walk and bike to the shops and parks.
The original developer defaulting on the $35 million mortgage and going into bankruptcy shortly before his death and the economic recession slowed down development. It has picked up more recently with construction of the 230-unit The Residence at The COR and clinics for the Veterans Administration and Allina. Northgate Church can double as a performing arts center.
Outside The COR, some properties that CBRE will be marketing include the former Amoco Oil Station property on the northeast corner of St. Francis Boulevard and 142nd Avenue, the former adult bookstore property on Highway 10 and west of Dolomite Street and 6.75 acres south of the retail node at the corner of Highway 47 and 167th Avenue.
Ramsey will not pay any base fee for services. Everything will be on commission. For every transaction that CBRE has a hand in there could be a 5 percent commission fee or 7 percent co-broker fee.
The three-year contract could be canceled by either party with three months warning, although CBRE would still get commission for the next six months on development deals in which it played a role.
If the city sells property to an office or industrial developer for less than $2 per square foot as part of a financial incentive, CBRE’s commission would still be based on a minimum of $2 per square-foot.
Bringing in developers
When asked how often CBRE works with the public sector and what other Twin Cities communities the company currently has contracts with, CBRE replied in a statement that it currently has a listing with the city of Victoria for a 13-acre parcel and also a listing with the University of Minnesota in that same community. CBRE has also worked with Minneapolis Public Schools and Metro Transit.
CBRE’s website lists numerous deals for which the company has been a broker. Most recently, it represented the seller in a $3.9 million deal involving the sale in January of the largely vacant Brookdale Square retail center in Brooklyn Center. It was involved in the $13.4 million sale of the Rivertown Distribution Center in Woodbury.
CBRE is currently working on marketing the old Ford plant site in St. Paul.
The council during its Jan. 28 workshop met with Richard Palmriter and Brian Pankratz, two vice presidents of CBRE’s land services group, before unanimously approving the new contract at the council meeting later that evening.
Patrick Brama, assistant to the city administrator, said the next step for the council and CBRE would be to discuss strategy whether that is trying to sell properties as fast as possible or waiting for the best deals.
CBRE has an extensive marketing process to find potential buyers, according to a company statement.
It will create marketing brochures and websites that detail each property and highlight the city of Ramsey. The properties will be listed on MNCAR, LoopNet and CoStar to reach local and national audiences. Property for sale signs will be posted at each site for those driving through the area.
CBRE will send out email blasts to databases of qualified investors, developers, users and brokers to make them aware of each opportunity.
There will also be face to face meetings with groups that show interest in a property or groups that CBRE believes would be a good fit.
“The city of Ramsey is well located with immediate access to the Northstar Commuter Rail and Highway 10 that will draw interest from a variety of users, developers and investors,” Pankratz said.
Council anxious to sell
Aside from this 123.66 acres that the city wants CBRE to sell right away, some properties the city owns will not be immediately listed because more homework needs to be done, Brama said.
The 20.5-acre old municipal center site at the southeast corner of County Road 5 and Alpine Drive is the prime example. A citizen task force is currently evaluating whether a data center would be suitable for this site. The most vocal people from the surrounding neighborhood have asked for more housing.
There was some discussion Jan. 7 about listing properties on which the city has already done marketing efforts. For example, city staff originally did not recommend that CBRE list the four single-family residential sites in the North Commons development near the intersection of Zeolite Street and 148th Lane NW.
The concern from staff was the city had already been working with a prospective buyer and the city would not have to get into a dispute over commission payments if CBRE ended up talking to the same people.
City Administrator Kurt Ulrich said in many instances the city does mass emailing or it posts signs on the properties, so it could be difficult to determine whether a developer found out about a site through the city’s or CBRE’s efforts.
Rather than sift through which properties the city may have a chance to sell on its own, the council said the broker would be better equipped to take on this workload and receive the commission.
“Sell them” were the words of Councilmember Mark Kuzma at the Jan. 7 workshop, and the sentiment was shared by the rest of the council.
Eric Hagen is at