One out-of-state investor that’s continued to buy property in Minneapolis doesn’t seem fazed by downtown’s recent real estate troubles, or maybe they’re exactly why the company is striking while there are still good deals to be had.

Washington-based Weidner Apartment Homes announced last week that it acquired the 4Marq Apartments at Marquette Avenue and Fourth Street. Weidner paid $53 million for the 261-unit tower built in 2015, according to a public filing with the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

This is Weidner’s third apartment building purchase in downtown Minneapolis just in the past year. Weidner paid $70 million cash for the 253-unit Nic on 5th in September and $74 million for the 354-unit LPM Apartments last June.

Earlier in 2024, Weidner completed the 350-unit 4th & Park apartment tower near U.S. Bank Stadium, in partnership with Minneapolis-based developer Ryan Companies. Weidner’s downtown Minneapolis portfolio also includes 222 Hennepin, 7west, Edition Apartments, Gatsby Apartments, and Vue Apartments.

Weidner has also been active in Uptown, where the company acquired eight apartment buildings for a total of $111 million in September, bringing its portfolio in the Southwest neighborhood to a total of 918 units. A company spokesperson told the Star Tribune at the time that Weidner is chasing attractive prices in familiar markets.

The three most recent downtown acquisitions shake out to roughly $203,000 per unit for 4Marq, $277,000 per unit for Nic on 5th, and $209,000 per unit for LPM.

Weidner’s apparent confidence in Minneapolis contrasts with some other commercial real estate companies in the Twin Cities.

Earlier this month, Reuter Walton President and CEO Nick Walton told Finance & Commerce that the St. Louis Park-based developer won’t move forward with additional projects or investments in Minneapolis “until more people return to work downtown and the city gets a better handle on the crime.” (Most categories of reported crime in Minneapolis are down this year from three-year moving averages, according to the City’s crime dashboard.)

But, per the Star Tribune, 4Marq fetched about 10 offers from bidders that feel strongly about Minneapolis’ recovery and long-term growth potential for apartment buildings, like Weidner does.

Weidner’s buying spree is also notable because rents haven’t increased much since 2020 in Minneapolis – particularly downtown, where average monthly rent was nearly flat at the end of March compared to the same time last year – though rents in Minneapolis are still among the highest in the metro. That bucks a trend towards rising rents in most Twin Cities suburbs.

In an early 2024 email announcing the 4Marq listing, a broker representing the property said its average rent was down $217 from pre-pandemic levels, according to a Jan. 30 tweet from Ridgeview Property Group founder Ben Michel.

Estimated market values of high-rise multifamily properties have stagnated or declined along with asking rents. The estimated market value of 4Marq is $54.7 million in 2024, down from $62.8 million in 2023, according to Hennepin County records. Estimated market values of Nic on 5th and LPM have also declined in recent years.

Weidner may be betting on a coming turnaround in the Minneapolis rental market as the pipeline of new apartment developments dries up. “With many [Twin Cities] submarkets becoming undersupplied fairly quickly, the opportunity for owners to become more aggressive on rents continues to improve,” Marquette Advisors Senior Vice President Brent Wittenberg told the Star Tribune this month.

Some local real estate experts think Weidner’s bets will pay off. 

St. Paul planner and “aspiring developer” Nate Nood said to Michel on Twitter/X earlier this month that 4Marq, Nic on 5th, and LPM “are fantastic gets at those prices and they’ll make out great in the long-run.”

Michel agreed with Nood in a response and said he also liked the Uptown acquisitions. “That’s the location of the four I’d prefer,” he said, citing “proximity to the lakes and Greenway.”

Weidner has invested over $300 million in Minneapolis since the beginning of 2023 and now owns more than 6,000 apartment units in the Twin Cities. The company’s recent 4Marq announcement says it’s “eager to expand in Minneapolis’ downtown neighborhood,” which indicates that it might not be done investing here.