Jon Hempel, who founded Minneapolis real estate company Hempel Cos, died Thursday at age 47 after a three-year battle with brain cancer.
Hempel founded the company in 2001, over the years acquiring and developing more than $750 million worth of property. He stepped aside in 2013 and started a company to develop a railroad terminal in the Bakken oil region of North Dakota.
His longtime business partner, Josh Krsnak, took over the company and subsequently acquired the business.
“Jon accomplished an incredible amount in his short 47 years,” Krsnak said in a statement. “He started five companies and acquired, developed, or redeveloped over 80 properties. He left his mark wherever he went. Jon defined optimism and was the most courageous person I knew.”
Krsnak added: “To honor Jon’s wishes and to commemorate his vision and tenacity that made Hempel Companies what it is today, we will continue to proudly operate as Hempel Companies and develop meaningful projects throughout the communities that we touch.”
Hempel, along with Morrissey Hospitality, redeveloped the former Midland Bank Building in downtown Minneapolis, turning it into the 222-room Hotel Minneapolis in 2007. The firm also owned — for stretches — St. Paul’s UBS Plaza, and Minneapolis properties Rand Tower and the Soo Line building.
Hempel first got into the business as a carpenter in high school, building 50 houses over two years, according to a 2007 profile in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. He later graduated from Hamline University and worked for Minneapolis-based Cuningham Architecture Group, helping launch the firm’s construction company. He worked for two years at the Minneapolis real estate company now known as NTH Cos.
Hempel is survived by his wife Heidi, sons Jack and Eli and daughter Della.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. April 18th at Mount Olivet Church in Minneapolis.