Sherman Associates’ Shane LaFave Thrives on Variety
By: Matt M. Johnson July 23, 2018
Even though Shane LaFave specializes in developing apartment buildings, he’s never quite sure what sort of project will be the next to come his way.
LaFave has been the director of multifamily development for Minneapolis-based Sherman Associates since 2016. He cut his teeth in affordable housing development with Plymouth-based Dominium Development, and has seen plenty of those sorts of projects come his way since starting with Sherman in 2014 as a developer.
His current workload includes the renovation of the Thresher Building into a 183-room hotel, at 700 Third St. S. in downtown Minneapolis; construction of apartments in the Downtown East neighborhood and Maplewood, and solar gardens Sherman will use to offset the energy use of some of its properties.
That last item was a bit of a surprise for LaFave.
“At the beginning of last year, I had no idea we were going to do a solar garden,” he said in an interview. “At the end of the year, we had two of them.”
LaFave also has several other development projects on his plate including a 155-unit, 12-story apartment building; a 135-room, nine-story hotel; and a two-story building housing a day care and fitness center that will share a block with Thrivent’s new headquarters.
Finance & Commerce sat down with LaFave to learn how he got into real estate development, and what he does for fun. The answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Q. How did you end up in this line of work?
A. I am one of the lucky people that actually gets to work in the field I majored in. I took a strong interest to real estate in an introductory business class at St. Thomas and ending up declaring it as my major. I had done internships during the summers, but thankfully a development company was interviewing on campus for full-time positions a few months before I graduated. I graduated on a Friday and started full time the following Monday.
Q. What was your first paying job and what did you learn that applies to your current job?
A. My first paying job was working part time for a janitorial company owned by my parents. I learned that no one is too good to do any job. You work hard and do whatever it takes to provide for your family.
Q. What is your favorite property in the Twin Cities that isn’t yours and isn’t related to your line of work?
A. This is going to be a bit all over the map, but outside of my industry I would probably say the Cathedral of St. Paul, U.S. Bank Stadium, and virtually any golf course.
Q. If you were hosting first-time visitors to the Twin Cities, where would you take them and why?
A. I would first take them to play a morning round of golf so they can see how lush, green and beautiful Minnesota is. Then in the afternoon or evening, it would have to be a Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium to see the energy, passion and pride of the people who live here.
Q. What was the deal that got away?
A. I’m sure it’s because I’m still early in my career, but so far I haven’t had one that keeps me awake at night. There have certainly been deals I would have liked to get, but so far there’s always been five more to focus on instead.
Q. What was the deal you wished you turned away?
A. There have definitely been substantial challenges in the projects I’ve worked on, but to date none of them have been catastrophic failures.
Q. What are your favorite activities outside work?
A. Golfing, boating, traveling, home improvement projects.
Q. What is one thing people would never guess about you?
I’m on a lifelong quest to shoot under 80 on the golf course.
Q. What do you read to keep up with your job, as well as for pleasure?
A. I read the typical real estate-related publications including Finance & Commerce, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, the Star Tribune, LinkedIn and Co-Star. For pleasure, I like to read Lord of the Rings-style fiction as an escape from stress.
Q. What are your words to live by?
A. Do what you say you’re going to do.
Title: Director of multifamily development, Sherman Associates
Education: B.A., real estate studies, University of St. Thomas
Family: Wife Lindsay, two sons ages 3 and 4, and another child on the way