Shenehon Center for Real Estate
2010 Inductee: Tony Bernardi
Published November 10, 2010
Mr. Bernardi has an impressive history of business endeavors and continues to contribute significantly to the local and regional real estate community through his leadership, ethical business practices and focus on improving the communities in which he does business. Mr. Bernardi was born in Casella D’Asola, Italy. After completing an engineering degree, he worked for AGIP, an Italian oil company, in the site selection and development of more than 35 AGIP gasoline stations throughout Italy. With AGIP, Mr. Bernardi oversaw the AGIP oil drilling operations in Iran, became the Italian Consul to Iran and eventually was sent to Minneapolis to dissolve and liquidate Anoil Drilling Parts Company in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Upon arriving in Minneapolis in 1962, the Bernardi family fell in love with the Twin Cities and permanently relocated to the area. Mr. Bernardi began his career in the Twin Cities real estate industry with the purchase of a 300-acre parcel of land in Edina. In addition to this initial development with business partner Curt Carlson, Mr. Bernardi has acquired an extensive portfolio of apartments and has developed residential lots in Bloomington, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Plymouth and Chaska; industrial properties in Edina and Chaska; and retail developments in Plymouth, Edina, Burnsville and Lakeville. With his good friend Luciano Benetton, Mr. Bernardi opened 10 Benetton retail stores in the Twin cities area and expanded his retail reach to various cities throughout the United States. He has worked with office properties in Minneapolis, including LaSalle Plaza, and several office buildings in the Chicago area and in Wisconsin. Most recently, Mr. Bernardi’s family business has moved into medical office properties with the acquisition of Centennial Lakes Medical Building in Edina and the development of an 183,000-square-foot medical facility in Chaska that is set to open in February 2011.
Mr. Bernardi operates under Sentinel Management Company on the residential property management side of his business and Aurora Investments, LLC, on all new and existing commercial and residential developments. Today, in preparation for retirement, he has placed his son Luigi in charge of expanding the business and his daughter Paola and son Sandro in charge of the day to day management of his apartment portfolio. Mr. Bernardi has been a significant benefactor to the St. Paul Seminary, the Archdioceses of Minneapolis/St. Paul and the University of St. Thomas.
“He has consistently reached out to younger people in the industry to give a leg up and quietly supported many worthwhile charities around the Twin Cities and his native Italy.”
– Jim Gearen, Zeller Realty Group
“Tony is an example students could look up to for a myriad of reasons. Anyone would benefit from following his examples of success in running a family business that truly cares about their employees and clients. The ethical standards that guide Tony and his family are an inspiration and candidly something we would all benefit from following.”
– Gina Dingman, GDCRE