Most notable project, deal or transaction: The Atlantic located in Center City Philadelphia
What is your most notable project, deal or transaction?It’s hard to pick one, but the one that I’d say I poured the most of my heart and soul into was the closing of the construction financing for The Atlantic. The Atlantic is the redevelopment of an office building in a “Main and Main” location in Center City Philadelphia into what will be the premiere, market-leading residential rental building in the city when it is complete. As with a typical Post project, we aimed to build a best-in-class building, with the highest rents in the submarket. In the case of The Atlantic, we needed to convince all parties (equity investors, historic tax credit investors, senior lender, mezzanine lender, appraisers, etc.) that our project was so well located and would be built to a standard never seen before in Philadelphia, and leased and managed to such a degree of excellence that we would shatter the existing top of the market rents in the city by 15%. After several appraisal rebuttals, cherry-picking of ‘comps’, and explaining that “our rents cannot be derived by simply taking the average of a comp set…because there are no comps!”, I eventually got the buy-in on the rents and value that we needed. I also worked diligently to manage two lenders through the complexities of a construction loan closing at a time when lenders were beginning to pull back on construction loan financing and had concerns about multifamily supply in the city. We are now under construction, have Historic Tax Credits closing imminently, and are confident that, as has been the case with every one of our previous projects, we will beat our projected rents and the project will be immensely successful. The road to get here has been full of doubters - our transactions and financings are never cookie-cutter deals where a simple checklist will suffice, however getting to the closing table on this one, and getting others to share in our vision, was particularly difficult in this case. How do you contribute to your company and / or the industry? My responsibilities include sourcing prospective acquisitions, leading our analytical team on the vetting of prospecting acquisitions, and heading all of the financial modeling and compilation of investment materials. As I continue to grow to be more independent and alleviate pressure and responsibility from our president, my role is growing into one of high-level deal structuring, development of business plans, and equity raising. Who or what has been the strongest influence in your career?
Cliché, but Matt and Mike Pestronk, the principals of my company, have been instrumental in both shaping the way that I think about real estate and accelerating my professional development. There is a stark contrast between what one can learn from textbooks and how the real estate game actually works - I’ve had the privilege of spending my work days being mentored by and learning from Matt (the deal structuring, financing, and investment guru) and his brother Mike (the development visionary and glue of the company), who have been tremendously successful in the realm of “how it actually works.” They have given me more responsibility than I often thought I deserved, but their philosophy of trusting and instilling confidence in young, motivated people throughout their organization has been a springboard for my development, as well as the development of my peers. What impact has social media / networking had on your career? Social media, particularly LinkedIn, is becoming more and more like my mailbox at home – it’s often more productive to set fire to the contents than to actually read the mail / spammy messages within. Someone should figure out a spam-free professional network where it is unacceptable to connect with people that you’ve never met or spoken to. In-person networking is always useful and worth the time – I’ve made several connections that have led to personal and career opportunities, as well as opportunities for our company.
Tell us how and when you began your career in the profession you are in, about your current position and why you choose the field/profession you are in today? I grew interested in real estate my senior year of college when I was naively more idealistic and a little spooked by the idea of Wall Street and wanted to do something more entrepreneurial with my life. Real estate presented the opportunity to buy into, create, or otherwise be a part of tangible ideas and business plans in the form of “bricks and sticks”, which was much more compelling to me than, say, trading derivatives of securities that may or may not exist. I was a finance major, so I started on the mortgage brokerage side out of college using my hard skills that I had learned in school, and then started on the ownership side, where I ultimately wanted to be, with Post Brothers about two years later. Today, the job is everything I thought it could be – I now get to look at property creatively and entrepreneurially, but with my analytical background as the basis for my decisions. Every day is different and exciting and I’m surrounded by smart, motivated people that I enjoy spending time with and from whom I never stop learning. What unique qualities and or personality do you feel makes you most successful in your profession? I have always been told I have a lot of emotional intelligence, and I have found that emotion intelligence is often much more valuable than traditional, by the books intelligence. If you’re kind of smart, you can always work hard enough to learn the hard skills you need, but at the end of the day, you work with people who want to be treated as people, not calculations, whether it’s coworkers or those sitting across the table negotiating with you, and having the ability to understand what makes others tick and reacting accordingly (and being genuine about it) is not something you can learn in a book. What outside activities do you enjoy during you free time? I played football, baseball, and wrestled my whole life, but have since been reduced to running, working out, yoga, and squash. I enjoy living in Center City Philadelphia and taking advantage of the vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene…and I do the former activities to more comprehensively enjoy the latter. What inspiring word of advice would you give to a young executive graduating from college? It’s impressive that you’re already an executive. But if you’re still looking to grow in your career, don’t ask for a job, instead continually ask others about their jobs. Everyone wants to talk about themselves and what they do, so never be afraid to let people talk about themselves. You’ll learn more about what you want to do by asking others than by guessing on your own. I guessed, but you should ask.