Minnesota Valley Business Magazine
Date: January 2015
When Kyle Smith was working full-time as a pilot for corporate clients more than a decade ago, he would spend his down time renting a car and driving around communities across the country. He’d notice commercial and housing trends, like what tenants in strip malls were popular and the types of amenities college housing complexes were offering.
That curiosity would help him and some business partners as they later created Tailwind Group and dove into commercial and residential development in Mankato and across the Upper Midwest.
“We looked at student housing in the southwest and southeast and duplicated it here in Mankato,” said Smith, who, at 35, is one of the most active developers in the area and has one of the highest profile projects in local history going on along South Front Street.
That duplication of student housing led to College Town, a gated, 114-bed housing community located near Minnesota State University. The community includes 80 individual buildings with amenities students expect today. “It’s different than it used to be. They want their own bedroom and bathroom and all the amenities,” Smith said.
That eye for trends helped Smith and his partners – including long-time friend and fellow pilot Reggie Reed, brother Landon Smith, and Michael Sather – to begin investing in and developing other student housing and commercial projects including strip malls. But it’s the $40 million project, including a parking ramp and three towers, that is transforming downtown Mankato and pushing Tailwind’s profile from an under-the-radar business to major developer.
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