Heavy construction is to begin this month at Harbor Point. While Beatty Development Group, the company leading the project, has been in the headlines, it's another company that will be doing much of the heavy lifting: Armada Hoffler, which was announced in April as the winner for the $165 million construction contract.
The Virginia-based company previously worked with developer Michael Beatty on the construction of many of the buildings in Harbor East, including the Four Seasons and the Legg Mason tower. It's also exploring its own development opportunities in the city.
Kim Martini, head of business development, moved to Baltimore from Virginia in 2012, sent by the company to build relationships in what company officials saw as a relatively busier market. Harbor East proved to be friendly ground for business relationships, as well as more personal ones.
In 2013, the Johns Hopkins University announced Armada Hoffler as the lead developer for a university-owned parcel in Charles Village, and Martini said there's another undisclosed deal in the works. Harbor East's Ouzo Bay was the setting for Martini's first meeting with her fiance, and they will be married this summer on a pier close to Harbor Point.
Armada Hoffler has worked on one of the most significant developments in Baltimore of the last decade, but you have done most of your business in Virginia. What stands out to you about Baltimore's development climate?
Armada Hoffler Construction Co. served as the general contractor for the majority of the Harbor East neighborhood since the mid-'90s and we have recently been hired to construct Exelon's headquarters on Harbor Point. Although we are very well-known in this area as a contractor, many here do not know that our company was initially founded in 1979 solely as a development company.
Headquartered in Virginia Beach and having worked in the Baltimore market for almost two decades, we have seen the sheer volume of opportunities that exist in this area and intend on expanding our development operations as our pipeline continues to grow. In addition, because many of our assets are located in the Hampton Roads market, Armada Hoffler feels it is extremely important to geographically diversify our ownership portfolio.
Armada Hoffler recently switched from being a private to a public company. What drove that decision and what's been the biggest change for you as a result of the switch?
I can sum this up succinctly: legacy and opportunity.
Armada Hoffler has flourished over the past 35 years due to the steadfast leadership of our founder and chairman, Dan Hoffler, our president & CEO, Lou Haddad, and their initial partnership with several other key employees, many of whom have worked together for over two decades. Knowing eventually a succession plan would need to be secured, our company strategically positioned a new generation of management with intentions that this group will successfully lead Armada Hoffler through its next 35 years.
Nothing has really changed in my world, as I am charged with seeking business for our development and construction companies. However, now with access to capital markets, we have the ability to look at a much larger cross-section of projects as well as opportunities we previously did not venture into before, such as value-add, existing assets.
Real estate is a long-term game. As director of business development, what's your strategy for building relationships? How do you know when something will lead somewhere? Any tips?
It is key to really get to know the people with whom you are trying to do business and make it a point to remember personal information about them (listen more than you speak).
Not everyone I build a good rapport with will do business with Armada Hoffler; however, it is certain that one of those relationships could become an integral facilitator for a "warm introduction" to another potential client. This exact scenario has ultimately led to robust work for our firm.
Tips: Be "professionally persistent." Trust your instincts. Sometimes we must lose in order to win. Never burn a bridge.
What's the status of Armada Hoffler's Charles Village project? From your perspective in business development, what sealed that deal?
I believe what helped us secure the 3200 St. Paul St./Charles Village project was our vast experience and success with developing and building other transformational, mixed-use projects as well as our unwavering commitment to working in tandem with university leadership to fulfill their ultimate vision. To that end, the project is steadily moving forward. Our plan is to include a variety of retail businesses and other spaces that will benefit students, faculty and staff at Johns Hopkins University and those who live in the surrounding communities. We look forward to unveiling specific plans in the upcoming months.
You relocated from Virginia in 2012. What have you found most surprising about Baltimore as a resident?
How little I use my car (when I am actually in town). There is truly something to be said for living an urban lifestyle. Never before have I been able to walk to work, gym, grocery, pharmacy and have endless choices of fabulous restaurants right outside of my front door. I can even put my name on the list next door at the Blue Moon [Cafe], go for a run, shower and arrive on time for my feeding of Hellfire Hashbrowns — how perfect is that?!
I absolutely love living in Baltimore — what an incredible, manageable city. I have not even begun to put a dent in everything there is to do here and can honestly say that moving to Baltimore was the very best decision I have ever made on so many levels.
Title: Director of business development for Armada Hoffler Development and Armada Hoffler Construction Co.
Previous job: Mortgage banker for 17 years
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Va.
Education: Bachelor of Science in commerce from University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce with concentrations in marketing and management
Residence: Fells Point
Family: Very soon-to-be husband, Jay, and three stepchildren: Owen (10), Gabriella (9) and Phoebe (7)
Hobbies/interests: Running, working out at the Maryland Athletic Club in Harbor East, drinking good wine and trying out a new recipe. Member of: CREW, NAIOP, Urban Land Institute, ICSC and StageOne/FANS of The Baltimore School for the Arts.