Rebuilding Kelly Doran

With zero housing experience, he remade himself into one of Minnesota’s busiest apartment developers.

By Burl Gilyard

March 11, 2017

The battle lines were drawn. Some big-shot developer wanted to put a supermarket on a south Minneapolis site near Lake Calhoun. Many neighbors objected to the plan, arguing that the project would increase traffic and bring a suburban-style development to the area.

The long-vacant property was a “weed patch,” recalls Kelly Doran, then with the local shopping center developer Robert Muir Co., which was trying to redevelop the site. Doran is not one to back down from a fight. His instincts told him that the empty, polluted pile of dirt was an excellent site for retail.

“At the time, we had Cub and Whole Foods interested. And we had significant neighborhood opposition,” says Doran. “I went to literally dozens of neighborhood meetings, including some that were attended by upwards of 150 to 200 people. They didn’t want what they called a ‘suburban-style shopping center’ built at that location.”