The recession is not quite flashing in the rear-view mirror, but intrepid executives across the commercial real estate spectrum are charging ahead, creating new companies, forming joint ventures and buying properties — and not just at distressed prices.
Many of National Real Estate Investor’s Ten to Watch leaders for 2011 are taking risks as they steer their companies toward major purchases, and coming out ahead.
Take Andrew Mathias, for instance. The president of SL Green Realty Corp., a real estate investment trust (REIT), initiated an office property transaction that enriched the company by $75 million in just one year.
According to New York research firm Reis, the recovering economy is boosting commercial real estate fundamentals across the country. For instance, the fourth quarter vacancy for multifamily was 6.6%, down from 7.1% in the prior quarter, while occupied stock increased by nearly 58,000 units.
“This is a dramatic reversal from late 2008 and 2009,” says Victor Calanog, vice president of research and economics at Reis.
Michael Tompkins, managing partner of Atlanta-based TriBridge Residential LLC, which owns, develops and manages multifamily communities, including student housing, remembers that dismal period. “We didn’t even attempt to do anything new in 2009,” he says. “We just finished what was in place.”
Today, however, it’s a different story. His company is acquiring and developing properties and has nearly quadrupled the number of units in its portfolio.
Where others see continuing distress, the Ten to Watch not only see opportunity, but act on their instincts and diligent research.
Bill Pettit, president of Seattle-based Merrill Gardens, a seniors housing owner and operator, undertook an historic partnership with Health Care REIT that maximizes the operating and financial strengths of both companies.
Few of the executives, however, face a task as daunting as the responsibility with which Sandeep Mathrani is charged. Named CEO of General Growth Properties last October, Mathrani took the helm when the mall owner was still in Chapter 11, trying to complete a restructuring of its finances and operations.
With the close of each quarter, investors and analysts scrutinize the retail company’s performance, including its ability to retain tenants and convince lenders that it is able to repay loans.
Each of the 10 has made a bold move, and over the coming year time will tell whether their instincts and the risks they have taken pay off.