Jim Stanton, a key player in the development of Coon Rapids since the late 1970s whose company, Shamrock Development, Inc. is headquartered in the city, died June 17 in Minneapolis. He was 81 years old.
Stanton suffered a severe stroke a week before his death, according to Jerry Teeson, a Coon Rapids resident of more than 40 years and an employee, partner and consultant with Stanton’s company since 1992.
“The stroke was unexpected and a shock,” Teeson said. “I thought Jim would still be building condos when he was 90 years old.”
Born March 8, 1936 in Greenvale Township to Ray and Viola Stanton, he graduated from Bethlehem Academy High School in Faribault and served in the National Guard at Camp Ripley and Fort Carson, Colorado.
He was in the real estate business for more than 55 years and developing land for 40-plus years and more than 6,000 home sites in 28 different cities, according to Stanton’s obituary notice.
Hundreds of those homes were in Coon Rapids where he built single-family houses in several subdivisions, including Oaks of Shenandoah and Wexford, and more recently several detached townhome projects, including Alexandra’s Cove.
It was in 1979 that Stanton led a group of developers that worked with the Coon Rapids City Council and city staff to jump start new housing construction in the city when regular interest rates were in the double-digits.
That year the council authorized the sale of $45 million in housing revenue that produced a mortgage interest rate of 8 7/8 percent and resulted in a lot of new homes being built in Coon Rapids, but not much elsewhere, according to Bob Thistle, who was city manager from 1979 to 1987 and has remained a Coon Rapids resident since he left the city staff.
“Jim was the spokesman for the developers, but staff and council were also very engaged,” Thistle said.
With interest rates still high two to three years later, the council approved a second housing revenue bond issue of $30 million, he said.
“Jim was very influential,” Thistle said. “We had some back and forth, but we had a good working relationship. When Jim gave his word, that was golden.”
With the sale of the housing revenue bonds came the formation of the Coon Rapids Mortgage Assistance Foundation in 1979 to oversee the mortgage program from both set of bond issues.
Stanton was an original member of the foundation and remained a member at the time of his death. In fact, he has been president since December 2014, according to Cheryl Bennett, city housing and zoning coordinator and staff liaison to the foundation.
In 1994, $12.2 million of the original bond issue was refinanced to take advantage of lower interest rates and the bonds were paid off in March 2003, Bennett said.
Mortgage payments from the homeowners who benefited from the bond issue paid off the bonds and money built up in the foundation’s coffers over the years has been allocated to housing projects in Coon Rapids since 2005, she said.
They are the home improvement incentive, home rehabilitation assistance, two-family home rehabilitation and emergency housing repair programs and, most recently, the Home for Generations II loan program.
Through Sept. 30, 2016, 210 loans had been made by the foundation totaling $3.54 million, according to the 2016 foundation annual report.
Stanton was always involved in the foundation and its programs, said Bennett, a 38-year city employee and foundation staff liaison for 20 years.
“Jim was always looking for new opportunities for the foundation,” she said. “He did his homework and knew the business. He had an uncanny ability to know what the market needed.”
His death was a shock to everyone, Bennett said. “He is going to be missed without a doubt,” she said.
But Stanton’s role in the development of Coon Rapids was not confined to housing. He has been very much involved in the commercial and industrial sector, said Teeson, commercial and industrial real estate consultant for Shamrock Development.
According to Teeson, vacant land either side of Main Street purchased by Stanton from Federal Hoffman was sold by him to the developers of the three Riverdale shopping centers (Village, Commons and Crossing), now the main retail area in Coon Rapids.
Other vacant commercial or industrial properties purchased by Stanton have also resulted in developments in Coon Rapids over the years, Teeson said.
And Teeson continues to market Shamrock Development-owned commercial/industrial land in the city, he said.
But in recent years Stanton shifted his focus to building condominiums in downtown Minneapolis, Teeson said. There have been 10 developments, with the Legacy project, the latest, now under construction, he said.
In fact, Shamrock Development now has a condo office in downtown Minneapolis, but the headquarters remains at an office on Main Street in Coon Rapids.
“Jim was an astute businessman and a good mentor,” Teeson said. “He not only taught, but shared his knowledge.”
In fact, when Teeson had been working in residential real estate and property management prior to joining Shamrock and had no knowledge of the commercial/industrial real estate sector, he said.
But Stanton helped him figure it out, Teeson said. “It has been an incredible, fun long ride with Jim,” he said. “There was never a dull moment because Jim spoke his mind.”
According to Teeson, Shamrock Development will continue to operate even with Stanton’s death because he put a plan in place for his successors.
Stanton was “incredibly involved” in real estate and building associations, Teeson said.
“Jim gave a lot of himself and his knowledge to these organizations, who admired and respected him and sought him out for his knowledge,” he said.
He was a member of the Minnesota Association of Realtors, National Association of Realtors, North Metro Realtors Association, St. Paul Area Association of Realtors and the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (35 years).
Stanton served on the boards of directors for both the state and national builders associations and in 2014, he was inducted into the Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame.
“Jim is going to be missed,” Teeson said.
Stanton’s work was his life, but he was also very involved with his family and when community organizations came to him for financial help, he was there for them, too, according to Teeson.
But he never wanted to take credit, Teeson said. “There are no buildings or projects that he developed that are in Jim’s name,” he said.
Stanton is survived by his sons, Kevin (Megan) Stanton, Dennis Stanton (Denise Lien); daughters, Debra (Paul) Woodward and Colleen (Tom) LaBeau; brothers, Kenny (Carol) Stanton, Jerry (Sheila) Stanton, Russell (Mary) Stanton; sisters, Marlene (Robert) Gustafson, Margaret (William) Healy, Diane (Butch) Remington, Kathy Stanton and Cheryl Stanton; seven grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father, Michael (Ray) Stanton; mother, Margaret (Viola) Stanton; sister, Dorothy Stanton; and brothers, Lyle and Tom Stanton.
A celebration of life took place June 23 at New Hope Church, New Hope. Interment was at Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis.