In 1985, as a solo entrepreneur, Steve Wellington launched Wellington Management, Inc (WMI). Based initially in St. Paul's historic Lowertown area, WMI began developing small office and retail properties. The first project, a 21,000 square foot three-story bank building, leased up four months after completion. Another early project, a 10,000 square foot retail center, call Park Crossing, was constructed in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul's west midway area. This vital retail center continues to be anchored by a convenience store and Bruegger's Bagel Shop.
In 1989, WMI tackled two major mixed-use suburban developments: North Oaks Village Center and Woodbury City Centre. These projects, which required almost five years to complete, remain high-performing office and retail developments located in the heart of two of the region’s most vital suburban cities.
The real estate downturn of the early 1990's provided WMI with an opportunity to acquire a number of under-performing assets at a relatively low cost. Between 1992 and 1997, WMI added more than 30 buildings to its property management portfolio. Many of these older properties were "value-add" type acquisitions, which required WMI to creatively redevelop buildings in need of new investment. For example, in 1997, WMI acquired the 200,000 square foot State Farm Insurance headquarters in Roseville, transforming it into the new office headquarters for the Minnesota Department of Education. Valley Creek Mall in Woodbury was revitalized with two new restaurant tenants and an extensive face lift. Snelling Office Plaza in St. Paul required transforming a vacant K-Mart store into three single-level office buildings, now fully leased to successful technology and health care tenants.
More recently, the company expanded its reach to even more ambitious urban redevelopment projects. These include the $16 million redevelopment of the Hi-Lake Shopping Center in south Minneapolis and the award-winning $8 million Penn Lowry Crossing project in north Minneapolis. The $11 million renovation of the Drake Building and the $14 million redevelopment of Bandana Square were two additional redevelopment projects in St. Paul, both of which successfully reclaimed historic commercial buildings.
Between 2002 and 2007, WMI expanded into residential construction with three successful urban condominium projects: Emerald Gardens (212 units), Metro Lofts (67 units) and Corridor Flats (36 units). All three of these projects experienced strong sales and solid financial success despite a very competitive marketplace. Both Metro Lofts and Corridor Flats won neighborhood design awards.
Despite the challenges presented by a nationwide recession, WMI continued to expand and develop between 2009 and 2013. Notable projects during this period include: River Bend Business Center, a 160,000 square foot three-building business park in St. Paul, now 92% leased to five tenants; a new Goodwill retail store in Coon Rapids (2009), a Walgreens in Arden Hills (2011), a CVS Pharmacy in Burnsville (2012), a Dairy Queen restaurant in Bloomington (2012) and an LA Fitness in Richfield (2012). WMI also recently developed two new charter schools and in 2013 will complete Shadow Falls, a 12-unit condominium project new St. Paul's Mississippi River Boulevard.
At each phase of the company’s growth, President Steve Wellington has encouraged WMI employees to expand their skills and tackle new challenges. The company has successfully followed a thoughtful, yet an opportunistic, business strategy, keeping attuned to current market conditions and adjusting its focus so that it can continue to build and develop. WMI's 25 employees are proud to manage a $350 million portfolio of more than 90 commercial properties with over 600 tenants located in 18 different urban and suburban Twin Cities communities.