We were so excited to learn that Edwards Dessert Kitchen opened back up a couple weeks ago! While that’s only one example, it feels like businesses are roaring back with each passing month. Just driving around town you can’t help but notice the cranes busy at work bringing new developments to the Twin Cities.

Do you ever wonder about what is being built when you see construction sites blocked off? If so, then there is the perfect source for you – The Development Tracker (TDT). The Instagram, Facebook, and interactive website provides updates on all development activities in the Twin Cities. At Monarch, we love TDT as it keeps us in the know as to what is coming online or reopening around town. We were so enthralled with TDT that we reached out for a blog interview and had the honor of meeting Alex Johnson, its founder. What an amazing story…

Alex was living in Duluth in 2008 and would drive around town seeing so much development – but never a “Coming Soon” sign. He was so intrigued with what was being built that he would go digging online and find out. He loved being the one who could say, “Oh, there’s an Olive Garden going in there” or “They’re building a Valvoline”. What Alex realized is that as much as he loved sharing the news, people were hungry for it. So, Alex took his hobby and turned it into quite the side hustle – and before long, expanded it to Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“I wanted to make it easy for the average Joe or Jorgina to get answers as to what they’re building and to actually get citizens excited about local development.”

And it is working! Part of the secret sauce is that TDT’s posts are completely unbiased – and just track and report. Additionally on some Wednesdays, to help foster conversation about development, The Development Tracker asks questions and opinions of its users ranging from thoughts on the light rail to a new retail building. Then on Fridays, users can ask questions of TDT covering the gamut from “what is being built over here?” to “how does the 2040 Plan impact development and affordable housing?”. 

“It’s a dream come true,” says Alex “people aren’t complaining about cranes and worksites, they are asking questions and getting excited. All it takes is for them to know what is going on.” 

Because they keep it informative, fun, and quirky, Alex and his team are making development news dare we say – cool?!

With some years under his belt and so many dialogues launched, Alex has realized that TDT has gone to an even bigger level of activation as citizens realize that they should not only pay attention, but maybe even a role!

“We believe that citizens don’t have enough opportunity to know about developments,” Alex explained. “There are points in a development where a citizen might have influence. For example, the project looks too big or looks out of place. In the past the only way to be a part of this discussion was to hunt down a commission meeting. We have found that through TDT, citizens can easily join in and even have an impact.”

Speaking of impact, one that has also popped up because of TDT is the opportunity for vendors or the trades. As soon as they learn about a new development on TDT, they can reach out directly to a project’s developer and do what they can to bid on a job that they might not have heard about – or when they did, it was too late!

At Monarch, we think TDT’s biggest impact is to break the myth that commercial real estate has slowed! In Minneapolis alone, TDT needs more bandwidth with to keep up with how much is happening and that is proof that it is a healthy commercial development scene. So before you assume any neighborhood is dead, maybe do some tracking and find out for sure.

We think Alex said it best, “Development is meant to excite people but only if they know about it!” 

Join Monarch, salute Alex and his team, and start tracking development today!

Website: www.thedevelopmenttracker.com or for Minneapolis specifically www.tdtmpls.com 

Instagram: @thedevelopmenttracker , @tdtmpls , @tdtstp, @tdtduluth