Active Alum: D’Angelos Svenkeson
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“I have always wanted to impact people - and arguably the greatest way to impact a community is to dynamically impact their built environment.”

 D’Angelos Svenkeson, a Saint Paul native, was recently named Vice President of THOR Development, a newly created subsidiary of THOR Companies in February of 2017. D’Angelos and his team have begun to position THOR as a market-leader in public-private partnerships, particularly focused in balanced housing strategies, economic development, and urban workforce projects. Their goal is to reveal the concealed values in emerging communities while optimizing the use of the existing assets.

Before joining THOR Companies, D’Angelos spent time with Seward Redesign and the Metropolitan Council. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Planning and Community Development from St. Cloud State University and a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Jackson State University. D’Angelos is married to his beautiful wife Kimberly, and they have a 6-month-old baby boy named D’Angelos Svenkeson II aka Deuce.

An avid entrepreneur and deal junky, D’Angelos is dedicated to creating a pathway for upward mobility through entrepreneurship just like the one that molded him into the man he is today.
Here’s more from our recent conversation with D’Angelos:

Q: Which ACSP member school did you attend?
A: Jackson State University

Q: What specialty did you study?
A: M.A in Housing and Community Development

Q: Why did you select your particular specialty?
A: I have always wanted to impact people - and arguably the greatest way to impact a community is to dynamically impact the built environment. I knew that housing and jobs centric projects lay root to a lot of socio-economic conditions, but I also knew the physical building in and of itself was only a piece of the puzzle. A beloved community as Dr. King spoke about requires much more than housing, office, and retail but a people with common vision and intentionality around transformation.

Q: Where do you currently work?
A: THOR Companies Inc. 

Q: What are your job responsibilities?
A: I lead the commercial real estate investment and development division for THOR Companies. We champion three strategic core competencies: Master Planning & Development, Corporate Client Services, and Innovative District-Wide Programming. All of which are under the umbrella of and purpose of economic development.

Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: Tough one... So far the relocation and development of our (THOR's) corporate HQ from a northern suburb of Minneapolis to the heart and core of North Minneapolis. A community which hasn't seen its' fair share of private sector investment in over 20 years. The project consisted of several public-private partnerships partners in Hennepin County, The City of Minneapolis, Target Corporation, and a host of local for-profit and non-profit project champions. Because of our collective efforts, we were/are under construction on a $36 Million 315,000 gross SF mixed-use office/retail building in the heart of the community. Even though THOR will occupy a fraction of the building's office space, we leveraged our private-sector abilities to redevelop 1.2 acres and spur local investment.

Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: Entrepreneurship - the more I study and work in the field the more I realize fundamental change occurs through the hands of entrepreneurs. People who risk their stability and livelihood for create value. I see myself eventually buying or starting a company related to food/water/health. 

Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits? 
A: There are two things that I can clearly attribute to my time at Jackson State University.

1. Granular focus on the big picture. Although it seems paradoxical, being able to look intensely and with focus on the big picture has prepared me to see individual projects as a collective spark. A small spark when combined with other small sparks can reignite any emerging community.

2. Teamwork is superior to competition. In a hyper-competitive society, teamwork is often considered less than. I can go much further with a team than I could ever go by myself.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: I wanted to create skyscrapers & cities… playing SimCity was my gateway drug! 

Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: I have lived in 5 cities longer than three months. By far, Minneapolis-St. Paul is my favorite.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: I would travel to Ghana. I spent 21 days in that country and immediately fell in love. The food, the culture, the ocean, and all of the great people there.

Q: What is the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: Outliers! Mastery & excellence is more achievable than we think!

Q: What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
A: My favorite color is red - ironically, I like to impose every other color but red on the exterior of the building, but similar to humans, I like the interiors to have large splashes of red on contemporary surfaces.

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