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Turning a Pivot into a Pirouette

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W. Allen Morris Headshot

Pirouette, noun: A whirling about on one foot or on the points of the toes, as in ballet dancing.

Is there anything pleasant to say about 2020?

This year, in my annual personal review (an exercise I do every January), I found myself writing the words, “Regrets of 2020,” at the top of the page. Admittedly, that’s a terribly negative start to an analysis of a year’s worth of decision-making, but as a perfectionist I felt confident that I would find plenty to criticize, especially since, well, the year went so poorly, right? To my surprise, despite the gloom of the past year, I found upon reflection that I could not think of anything that mattered enough for me to actually list as a “regret”.

Sure, lots of things did not go according to plan: The COVID-19 pandemic led to a shuttering of the country, hotels, restaurants, and shops, and the emptying out of office buildings. For a commercial real estate developer, that sudden downturn also meant a possible slow-down in building projects and leasing contracts.

At the Allen Morris Company, the word “pivot” became commonplace, as in, “We need to pivot” from one priority to another in order to keep the pipeline of projects on schedule. Our teams became so good at pivoting that I thought soon we’ll all be doing pirouettes! We certainly had to be quick on our feet and careful not to step on each other’s toes as we danced the pandemic dance of making things happen on a slippery and unfamiliar economic dance floor.

For a fast-moving video summary of what turned out to be a regret-free 2020, click below.

 
January 2020
  • The Allen Morris Company (AMCO) and Stormont Hospitality Group announced the formation of AMS Hospitality, our joint venture to acquire and develop hotels.
 
February
  • We hired a new Financial Analyst for our Capital Markets.
 
March
The COVID-19 pandemic begins!
 
  • The 409-unit Star Metals Residences tops off construction in West Midtown, Atlanta.
 
April
  • Flight Club Social Darts, a chic upscale entertainment, restaurant and bar signs 10,000 square-foot lease in Star Metals Offices in West Midtown, Atlanta.
 
May
  • AMCO and JLL Atlanta host the first ever online virtual office leasing broker event for Star Metals Atlanta.
 
  • Our two new multi-family projects in Downtown Orlando and West Midtown Atlanta launch first-time virtual apartment leasing tours during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
June
  • AMS Hospitality inks joint venture with Met Life as its development partner for the 229 room Kimpton Midtown Union Hotel in Midtown, Atlanta.
 
  • AMCO employees return to our offices in Alhambra Towers, in Coral Gables, FL on Covid-safe split shifts.
 
July
  • AMCO Brokerage Division closes on the sale of an office condominium at 700 Biltmore Way, in Coral Gables.
 
August
  • Ribbon-cutting for the new 409-unit 14-Story Julian Apartments at Creative Village with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
 
  • Star Metals Offices in West Midtown, Atlanta celebrates topping off the 15-story iconic structure.
 
September
  • Star Metals Residences receives phase 1 certificate of occupancy (CO) and begins welcoming new residents.
 
  • The Monroe restaurant lease is announced for the Julian Apartments, creating four experiences: main dining room, bar, expansive front porch and courtyard dining.
 
  • AMCO acquires final parcel in the assemblage for our new Star Metals Atlanta Hotel site.
 
October
  • The Center Building offices in Jacksonville sells for $9.9 million for a 491% increase over the purchase price in 1994 for our happy investors!
 
November
  • AMCO closed a $47.5 million refinancing of Maitland City Center with New York Life Insurance Company without ever having an in-person meeting!
 
  • Our Maitland City Center apartments and mixed-use development is voted “Best Apartment Building in Orlando“ by Orlando Weekly.
 
  • Michelle Theriot, our Orlando Project Manager, is nominated for “40 under 40“ by the Orlando Business Journal.
 
December
  • Prevail Roasters makes its Atlanta debut as our new coffee shop at Star Metals Residences.
 
  • AMS Hospitality and Black Salmon announce a joint venture to acquire $300 million in hospitality assets starting off with the purchase of The Pelham Hotel, an historic boutique hotel in New Orleans.
 
We crowned off the year with gratitude for our amazing teams and promoted several key players:
   

Derek Cardenas – Development Manager
Larry Cardinal -Senior Associate, Acquisitions and Capital Markets
Erik Munoz – Senior Accounting Associate
Henry Pineiro – Managing Director, Asset and Property Management
Thad Adams – Managing Director, Brokerage
Scott Flatley – Managing Director, Construction
Danny Schwimmer – Managing Director, Capital Markets
Spencer Morris – EVP and Chief Investment Officer

What a year it turned out to be. We’re not done with our pivots and pirouettes, but at least we have a better sense of the rhythm as we finish out the pandemic dance that hopefully will end soon. Too many pirouettes make this real estate developer dizzy.

Enjoy the brief video!

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