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.