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THE HIRING SQUAD: How Legacy Companies Are Packaging to Grow

Oakland is giving San Francisco a run for its money. Not only has continued office absorption driven development and rent growth, but an all-time-high resident count has resulted in more than 18,000 units currently proposed or under construction in Oakland. From the national development teams to the regional legacy companies, the CRE industry is jumping on the opportunity to meet demand as Oakland is fast becoming a city where people want to live and work. But that’s not all they’re eyeing.

In this edition of The Hiring Squad, Kent Elliott, principal at RETS Associates, a leading national real estate recruiting firm, connects with Simon Chen, CFO at Madison Park, to discuss multifamily development in Oakland and how he’s creating a team that will continue the firm’s legacy across the West Coast.

Kent Elliott (KE): After 30 years of development in the East Bay, what is Madison Park up to now?

 Simon Chen (SC): Oakland is a great central location that is in high demand for a lot of people and companies looking to save money on rent outside of San Francisco. We have endured multiple cycles in the East Bay as a small multifamily development company, with three key players on our core development team supported by a couple of project managers. Over the last 30 years, we have grown to own more than 1,600 units and one million square feet of commercial space.

We currently have more than 800 units in different phases of development in Oakland, and are in the midst of taking our legacy development experience in the region and expanding it to meet multifamily demand in Portland, San Diego, Seattle and other supply-constrained markets on the West Coast.

KE: Please discuss the strategy behind hiring a senior director for your team and the future of the company.

SC: Each member on our team rolls up their sleeves and dives in to support each initiative. This allows us to be dynamic and flex between development, financing and investments, depending on the stage of the market. As we grow our presence across the West Coast, we recognized a need for a senior director that could wear multiple hats to oversee all operations, and asset and property management functions.

We selected one of the candidates that RETS presented us because she understands Oakland and the micro-causes that make it the city and environment that it is today, and how it will grow moving forward. Her understanding of the region enables us to package and grow, because it is applicable in new markets with dynamics similar to Oakland.

We presented her with a unique opportunity at Madison Park, because she was previously employed at a large institutional developer. Our entrepreneurial and nimble approach to development offered her opportunities to creatively apply her past experiences, processes, perspectives and disciplines. She will help us bridge the gap between an institutional approach to development and our historical entrepreneurial roots, as we grow into a premier urban multifamily developer.

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About Dennis Kaiser

Dennis Kaiser is Vice President of Content and Public Relations for Connect Commercial Real Estate. Dennis is a communications leader with more than 30 years of experience including as a journalist and in corporate and agency marketing communications roles. He is responsible for Connect’s client content operations and is involved in a range of initiatives ranging from content strategy, message development, copywriting, media relations, social media and content marketing services. In his most recent corporate communications roles, he led a regional public relations effort across Southern California for CBRE, played a key marketing role on JLL’s national retail team, and was responsible for directing the global public relations effort at ValleyCrest, the nation’s largest commercial landscape services company. In addition to his vast commercial real estate experience, Dennis has worked on communications and launch strategies for a number of residential projects such as Disney’s Celebration in Florida, Ritter Ranch in Palmdale California (7,200 homes, 22,000 acres), WaterColor in Florida and PremierGarage in Phoenix. Dennis’s agency background included firms such as Idea Hall and Macy + Associates. He has earned an outstanding reputation with organization leaders as a trusted advisor, strategic program implementer, consensus builder and exceptional collaborator. Dennis has developed and managed national communications programs for Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, both public and private. He’s successfully worked with journalists across the globe representing clients involved in major-breaking news stories, product launches, media tours, and company news announcements. Dennis has been involved in a host of charitable and community organizations including the American Cancer Society, Easter Seals, BoyScouts, Chrysalis Foundation, Freedom For Life, HOLA, L.A.’s BEST, Reach Out and Read, Super Bowl Host Committee, and Thunderbirds Charities.

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