Carl Hansen will soon finish the job his grandfather Carl started more than 90 years ago. He will have completely built out Edina’s prestigious Parkwood Knolls Neighborhood, which has more than 1,000 homes. But that’s not going to stop him from continuing to build unique, luxury homes in Edina. Once finished, Hansen says, he’ll start working on teardowns and taking on extensive remodels.
“I grew up in and still live in the Parkwood neighborhood, and I plan to continue working in Edina,” says Hansen, CEO of Edina-based Carl M. Hansen Companies. He has just 13 home sites left in the West Ridge Farms neighborhood of Parkwood Knolls.
Hansen, who builds about three homes a year, says it will take about four years to complete the community his grandfather started. Carl M. Hansen homes today range from about $1.6 million to $3 million, a price range his grandfather would have likely found unfathomable as a young man living in Norway in the early 1900s.
“On my grandfather’s 18th birthday, his parents gave him a one-way ticket from Norway to the United States. My grandfather had a love interest at the time, and as the second oldest son, he was expecting his parents to give him half of their combined farm,” Hansen notes. “From that point forward, he was bound and determined to make his parents recognize his determination by becoming a huge success in America.”
Once in the United States, the older Hansen joined his uncle Louis in the homebuilding business. A year later, Louis died in an accident, and the young carpenter was on his own.
“My grandfather then went to the bank and secured a loan to build his first house. Soon after, he went back to the bank to ask for a second loan,” Hansen recalls. “When the banker questioned why my grandfather needed more money, he said, ‘Instead of one home, I am building two homes. I need more money to finish the second home, so I can sell it and pay you back.’ Legend has it, my grandfather never borrowed another penny.”
After building more than half of the homes in Edina’s historic Country Club neighborhood and the Golf Terrace Heights neighborhood, Hansen’s grandfather purchased three farms on the far western side of Edina from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s that would become known as Parkwood Knolls. Since then, three generations of Hansens have built 27 consecutive additions to Parkwood Knolls.
Hansen homes are easily recognized by those in the real estate industry. The luxury, custom homes, which take about a year to build, use only the finest materials and are traditional in style, from European to California Cool to everything in between. They also sport generous built-ins, high basement ceilings, minimum-width hallways, extra-wide staircases, and minimum distances between cabinets.
Carl M. Hansen Companies and its three employees work with local trades and outside architects and interior designers. “We have very low overhead,” says Hansen. “The personal attention I give to each job is nearly unheard of. I’m at every job site every day. We don’t overextend ourselves. I say ‘no’ to more projects each year than I take on. Some people call me crazy, but people said the same thing about my grandfather.”
Photography by Meghan Doll
Written by Fran Howard