Inside View: Drew Johnson, Oppidan Investment

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Star Tribune

Drew Johnson

Developer at Oppidan Investment Co.


Drew Johnson, 35, has joined Minnetonka-based Oppidan Investment Co. as a developer tasked with pursuing and finalizing multifamily and commercial real estate development deals.

Johnson was drawn to Oppidan because of its work in the Twin Cities and around the country, but specifically, its development activity in North Dakota’s oil-rich Bakken region.

“We’re approaching $150 million of completed development in the Bakken with at least the same amount on the planning side for 2015, 2016 and beyond,” Johnson said.

Since it was founded in 1991, Oppidan has developed more than 300 projects in 27 states worth nearly $1.78 billion.

Johnson, a Minneapolis native, previously had stints at CSM Corp. and United Properties.

Q: Why join Oppidan?

A: It’s a very fast-paced, development-only company, and the exposure to all of the work in North Dakota and the multiple product types at Oppidan were a huge draw.

Q: What’s the Bakken like?

A: I lived in Alaska for two summers in college working for a construction company, and it reminded me of that. The majority of the vehicles on the road were dusty trucks. It just sort of has that energy of a lot of things happening.

Q: What are you working on?

A: Energy company RFPs [requests for proposals] in the Bakken area. For example, a national energy company just issued an RFP that we — through our reputation out there and the fact that we’ve done a good job so far — were included in the invited applicants. They have probably $8 million to $10 million of housing needs.

Q: So housing and retail are in short supply?

A: Yes. The labor is so tight and they want people not to just fly in and live in a trailer for two weeks on and two weeks off. They’re taking more of a holistic approach of getting people to move there with their families and work there for 10 or 20 years, buy houses and join the communities. These communities are making just fabulous investments in community centers, schools and infrastructure.

Q: Oppidan has been selling some of its Bakken developments.

A: Yes. When the project is complete and stabilized, we sell to institutional investors. It’s ‘find it, build it, stabilize it, sell it, move on.’

Q: What do you hope to accomplish your first year?

A: Line up at least one piece of new business coming in and hit the ground running on helping them execute and deliver the business leads they already have.


Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at



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