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Attorneys of the Year: Norman Baer

Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie

Minneapolis attorney Norman Baer usually doesn’t attract the limelight when he handles his clients’ real estate cases.

But the partner at Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie gained plenty of media notice in 2013 in representing Minneapolis Venture LLC against the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority in a land sale involving the site of the Minnesota Vikings’ future stadium.

Baer performed “exceptional work” in handling “difficult negotiations” for Minneapolis Venture, owner of an underground parking ramp on the Vikings’ stadium site, said his law partner Vince Louwagie.

A year ago, the Sports Authority offered to buy Minneapolis Venture’s land, known as Downtown East, for $12.95 million. But Baer’s client rejected the Authority’s offer, saying the bid was “substantially flawed” and too low. Ten months later, the parties settled their differences with the MSFA agreeing to pay $17.1 million for the property. (That deal is contingent on the MSFA completing a bond sale for the stadium project.)

Baer said that land sale came after months of hardball negotiations fueled by the Vikings’ owners, “a different approach than what we usually see in the Twin Cities.

“Negotiating in the Twin Cities usually is nicer,” said Baer, 59. “But it results in a better deal and more efficiency.”

Baer said the difficult talks included discussions about a 2003 land use agreement to continue allowing the surface area above Minneapolis Venture’s underground garage continue hosting activities before and after the day of Vikings’ home games.

Baer contended the land use agreement expired on Oct. 31, 2013; the Sports Authority countered that it had the right to unilaterally extend the arrangement. The two sides took that issue to Hennepin County District Court on Oct. 21 in a summary judgment hearing; two days later they reached their mediated settlement.

A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Baer has been an attorney since 1985 including the past 26 years at his current firm. Besides being a business litigator, Baer is active with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. He has been a volunteer for the past 25 years at the housing nonprofit, including serving as board chairman since 2012.

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