Executive of the Year Spotlight: David Gilbert

This year, Gilbert's firm acquired a large, multi-state retail portfolio and deepened its footprint in Seattle.
David Gilbert (above) received Honorable Mention for the 2016 Investor of the Year award.

David Gilbert (above) received Honorable Mention for the 2016 Investor of the Year award.

This article is one in a series of short profiles highlighting recipients of CPE’s Executives of the Year awards. Celebrating its 20th year, the program recognizes the contributions of commercial real estate’s top executives across all major business sectors and asset types.

First-place and honorable mention winners are chosen by a confidential vote of the CPE 100, an invited group of industry leaders.

Today’s installment explores Clarion Partners’ focus on growth markets.

Honorable Mention: Investor of the Year

David Gilbert, President & CIO, Clarion Partners

Headquarters: New York City

Years with Clarion: 9

Previous roles: Partner & head of real estate at JP Morgan Partners (1996-2005).

Clarion at a glance: The company operates 8 offices and employs more than 280 people. Assets under management total approximately $40 billion.

Retail reach: In November, Clarion purchased an 11-property portfolio of Class A retail centers located in the Chicagoland area, Santa Barbara, Calif., Woodbury, Minn., Tampa and Greenwood Village, Colo. Upon closing, the portfolio’s 526,975 square feet were 99 percent leased on an aggregate basis. The acquisition was particularly attractive due to the prominent grocery anchors, which include Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, and the high barriers to entry in the markets where the assets are located. The purchase price was $218 million, or approximately $414 per square foot.

Growing into Seattle: Seeking to deepen its footprint in Seattle, Clarion bought Walton Lofts, a Class A, 136-unit luxury apartment building in the Belltown neighborhood, on behalf of a separate account managed by the firm. Priced at $76 million, the acquisition benefits from its location in one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. Seattle’s population is projected to increase at twice the national average rate, while unemployment remains below the national average. Situated in a quiet residential area, Walton Lofts is a one-mile walk to more than 140,000 jobs.

Jamestown JV: In October, a new joint venture between Clarion and Atlanta-based property management firm Jamestown LP acquired the Westside Provisions District, a mixed-use development in Atlanta. The 261,742-square-foot property, which includes retail and creative office space, serves as an urban main street for the West Midtown neighborhood.

Atlanta’s sustained multi-sector economic growth and below-average unemployment rate made the investment especially enticing. A curated group of restaurants, home furnishings merchants, flagship retailers and thriving local boutiques includes Lululemon, J. Crew, Free People and forthcoming Design Within Reach.

Life science center: On behalf of a commingled fund, Clarion purchased 245 First St., a two-building, Class A, office and life science complex directly across the Charles River from Boston in East Cambridge, Mass. The property commanded a purchase price in excess of $311 million. A six-story life science facility occupies 134,175 square feet in one building, while a nine-story office tower takes up 170,714 square feet in the adjacent building. A four-story glass atrium full of natural light links the two buildings.

Clarion was drawn to the area due to its high concentration of biotechnology and life science firms. Located in the East Cambridge/Kendall Square submarket, the complex is minutes from the 168-acre MIT campus and one mile from Harvard, in an area rich with teaching hospitals and technology firms.