Shenehon Center for Real Estate

Research. Education. Outreach.

2011 Inductee: the Dayton Brothers

The retail real estate market both locally and nationally has been influenced by the role of the Dayton brothers. Their family legacy of retail real estate began in 1902 when George Draper Dayton developed a six-story building on Nicollet Mall to house R.S. Goodfellow and Company later known as The Dayton Company. In 1950, the Dayton brothers – Donald, Bruce, Wallace, Kenneth and Douglas – inherited the company. Under their leadership, the world’s first fully enclosed shopping mall, Southdale Center in Edina, was built. Southdale was developed to be a place to bring people together and provide a sense of community.

With the success of Southdale Center and surrounding real estate development of office and residential property, the Dayton brothers moved on to build Brookdale in 1962, Rosedale in 1969 and Ridgedale in 1974. In addition to these suburban developments, the Dayton brothers built a department stores in Rochester in 1954 and downtown St. Paul in 1963. The retail real estate influence of the Dayton brothers is not limited to the development of indoor malls and downtown department stores. While in the midst of the mall projects, the brothers also developed the property surrounding their first Target store in Roseville in 1962. This location was the start to their national and international retail real estate legacy. Target store locations are still company owned and land near the locations is developed by the company.

The Dayton Brothers made an impact on the skyline and landscape of downtown Minneapolis. The early 1970s brought about the creation of a tree-lined Nicollet Mall,funded by a group of Minneapolis businessmen including the Dayton brothers. In 1974, the IDS Center opened, in part due to the Dayton brothers’ agreement to house the Dayton-Hudson Corporate headquarters in the building. That decision directly impacted the skyway system. The first four skyways were built between the IDS Center and the retail location on Nicollet Mall to allow easy movement between the two buildings.

In addition to their expansive list of contributions to the real estate industry, the Dayton brothers were very mindful of using their influence to do the right thing. Following the corporate belief that “what is good for the community is good for business,” the Dayton brothers have continued a legacy of giving back to the community through an assortment of philanthropic efforts. The Dayton Company, now Target Corporation, has a longstanding tradition of giving five percent of their pre-tax profits back to the community, an initiative started by the Dayton brothers.