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Condominium makes owning a business place affordable

The concept that has made owning a home affordable for many people can do the same for owners of small businesses, according to the developer of a business condominium going up in St. Croix Business Park.

"If you consider how much effort and money it would take for a small business to build a stand-alone (building), it would be prohibitive," says John Wold, developer of the 28,800-square-foot St. Croix Business Center. "(With) these office/warehouse condos, it's a lot less money, and, of course, the whole process is simpler."

A flyer advertising the business center asks: "Why rent when you can own?" It adds that owning a piece of commercial property is a great investment, which explains why business condominiums are becoming popular throughout the country.

For less than the price of a new house, business owners can enjoy the benefits that come from having their own place, Wold says, including property value appreciation, tax write-offs and the security of ownership.

Owners of small businesses are sometimes at the mercy of their landlords, Wold says. "They may not be able to predict how much the lease payment is going to go up. Or they may be displaced. So ownership gives them that added security."

St. Croix Business Center has 12 units - all but one with 2,400 square feet of floor space. The interior north- and south-facing units are priced at $95 per square foot, or $228,000 (except the one 2,160-square-foot unit). Two units with frontage on O'Neil Road are priced at $100 per square, or $240,000, and two units with loading docks are selling for $105 per square foot, or $252,000.

The interiors of the units are unfinished so buyers can have them completed to meet their needs. Elliot Architects of Hudson will provide the design services at no additional cost to the buyer, and Keller Construction of Hudson is contracted to complete the build-outs. Keller Construction also is the general contractor on the project.

The units have 16-foot ceilings and the buyer has the option of installing an overhead garage door to the exterior.

Wold thinks that companies that build or distribute things will be especially interested in the facility, but says that businesses looking for office space might also want to locate there.

"We're anticipating that (buyers) will be companies that need both the office and the warehouse," he adds.

A commercial condominium in Hennepin County, Minn., that Wold and his brother Greg built in 2004 is occupied by a construction company, a wholesale spice company, two mortgage companies and a dance studio, Wold says.

A second Twin Cities commercial condominium that he and Greg partnered on is nearing completion.

Wold is a Stillwater, Minn., resident. He was the technical services manager for the St. Paul Housing Authority until his recent retirement, when he started building business condominiums with his developer brother.

The St. Croix Business Park board approved the sale of three acres to the Wold brothers because it liked the looks of their building and their business plan.

The board, Wold says, wanted an attractive building at the corner of O'Neil and Hanley roads, a main entrance to the business park, and the facility designed by Elliot Architects fit the bill. It features an exterior of blended masonry colors with stone accents and canopy-covered entrances.

"They're hoping to draw a lot of smaller businesses into the park," Wold says of the business park board. "They've been successful at bringing in the large businesses like General Motors and Johnson Controls."

He says it's conceivable that each of the 12 units of the business condominium will provide employment for three to five people. The facility's impact from an employment standpoint could be greater than that of a bigger single-company facility, he says.

"This is a small piece of property that hopefully will bring in a lot of workers. That's what economic development is about," he says.

Wold adds that he's lived up to a promise he made to the business park board to use local firms in the construction of the facility. In addition to the work of Elliot Architects and Keller Construction, Zappa Bros. Excavating and Environmental Landscape Management are serving as subcontractors on the project. Wold also purchased insurance and legal services locally.

Two of the units in St. Croix Business Center are reserved so far, Wold says, and he is talking with another half-dozen prospective buyers.

"We're pleased with the interest," he says. "It just takes time to work with all the small businesses. They're all busy and they have to work with financial (constraints)."

He says he expects all or most of the units to be sold by the time the exterior construction is completed in October.

To learn more about St. Croix Business Center, go to its Web site at You can contact John Wold at (651) 307-8178 or Greg Wold at (763) 420-4503.

Randy Hanson can be reached at

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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