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April 1, 2010

New Calkain Division Geared Toward Urban Growth

The Matrix

By Suzann D. Silverman, Editor-in-Chief

From retail condominiums to big boxes, Jonathan Hipp views Washington, D.C.’s urban retail market as a place for growth. And with the formation of Calkain Urban Investment Advisors under the leadership of Rick Fernandez, previously assistant vice president of Calkain Realty Advisors, he is prepared to be at the forefront of that growth.

“Everybody is mentioning urban as the next hot area,” said the president & CEO of Calkain Cos. “Not just the smaller boxes. Even the big boxes—Target, Kohl’s, JC Penney—all want to infill the urban markets.”

While Calkain has already made inroads in that business, with 10 transactions valued at more than $20 million completed and $30 million in current listings, Hipp is confident enough in the potential that the division has hired one new MBA and is currently interviewing others to fill out the team. “This is a division that definitely has legs,” he said.

Having a separate division, he added, provides a benefit because it emphasizes the company’s specialization in the area. And urban retail, whether in Washington or elsewhere, does come with characteristics different than its suburban cousin. There is, for instance, a growing incidence of retail condominiums on the ground floors of mixed-use complexes as well as the more traditional office building. “It’s a different kind of sell,” Hipp said. It also has the potential to attract some new types of buyers, those both domestic and foreign that want to invest in urban markets but do not want to make huge purchases. “(Having properties) as small as $1 million and up opens the market to a tremendous amount of people,” he noted.