Business Spotlight | Winter 2020

Growth and development are a family affair at Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc.

By Adam Burroughs

In his former life as an investment banking analyst, J.R. Anderson’s work was strictly transactional.

“At the end of the day, you do a transaction, and that’s it,” he says. “It’s piece of paper, and everyone signs, cash is delivered to different people, and you're done.”

Today, as vice president of Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc., the business founded by his father (pictured above left), he says he is much more invested.

“We own an asset,” he says. “How do we curate that asset and, over 20 years, make it even better?”

J.R.’s brother, Anders Anderson (pictured above right), also returned to the family fold from his former life, leaving a decade-long gig in Los Angeles as a movie producer to become the firm’s marketing and branding brain. Their father, the eponymous founder and former NFL running back Jeffrey R. Anderson, brings his skills in concepting, and J.R. says their strengths complement each other.

“We all look at things differently, and collectively we come up with the best solution,” he says.

Those talents coalesce at the firm’s South Florida property, The Shops at Pembroke Gardens, among others. The Shops is a marquee property for the firm, and one that puts the family’s talents on full display.

“That includes the quality of the final development, the layout, and the type of tenant mix,” he says. “From a retail leasing standpoint, it’s the strength of our retail leasing team, the execution of our retail team, and how we go from the concept to actually getting tenants to move in and pay rent. There's a lot that goes into it.”

Melissa Leidy, J.R. Anderson, Anthony Cook, and Jeremy Sweet of J.R. Anderson Real Estate
(Photography by Chandler Crowell)

Branching out

Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate has roots in the restaurant business, doing site selection for a fast-food industry powerhouse. That parlayed into a reputation for success, growing the firm’s income and allowing it to launch an endeavor that exercised its capital in new and increasingly creative ways.

After graduating from small, anchored shopping centers to larger ones, the company’s projects continued to increase in size. Then the small Cincinnati-based firm began attracting more renowned names.

“We got lucky,” says Anderson. “We really didn’t know what we were doing.”

Soon it was developing other property types, including hotels, apartment complexes, mixed-use buildings in downtown areas, lifestyle centers such as The Shops at Pembroke Gardens, offices—just about everything except industrial.

“Everything that we look at now is mixed-use, urban, complicated, sometimes difficult to put together,” says Anderson. “And that's what we like doing, because there’s more opportunity to be creative and drive value out of something than just to build an out lot for a chain restaurant, or whatever a traditional retail or build-to-suit company would do.”

Everything that we look at now is mixed-use, urban, complicated, sometimes difficult to put together. And that's what we like doing because there’s more opportunity to be creative and drive value.
J.R. Anderson
Vice President, Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc.

Diversifying interests

Although there’s a financial benefit to the types of properties the Andersons choose to build, the margins aren’t necessarily at the heart of the firm’s preference for working on mixed-use properties and hotels. The opportunity for creativity is the draw.

“Some of the hotel projects we’re looking at going forward are in very dense urban areas,” says Anderson. “You have to be more creative in how you put the deal together and the design aspects of it, both interior and exterior. There's more risk, but for us, it’s more fun.”

That risk pays off with diversification, as working in multiple types of properties creates revenue that carries the company through good times and bad; if multifamily is hot, but retail is down, the former can carry the latter until it rebounds, he says.

The firm—which focuses on projects in Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida—has now moved beyond building interesting properties. It is also operating them.

“We’re not just in real estate because we own and operate restaurants,” says Anderson. “We own and operate hotels. We own and operate apartments. We view things as, ‘This is our baby, and how do we take care of and be good stewards of these assets that we own?’”

(Photography by Chandler Crowell)

Smart Collaboration

With complex real estate projects, Jeffery R. Anderson Real Estate needs a bank that understands the real estate development industry and can deliver strategic lending solutions.

“Huntington has been there for projects that were a bit more unique,” Anderson says. “They’re very competitive on things that are straightforward and vanilla, but they really come in and help us out on things that are harder or more opaque.”

He says Huntington understands the complexities of the business.

“They know that these projects are living and breathing assets,” Anderson says. “They’re not just something you build and put on a shelf. Things happen. Tenants leave. Economics change. And they’re there to work through those issues. They’ve been very good to us.”

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