One of Chattanooga's oldest real estate companies is joining with well-known central city property management and development groups in an estimated $60 million merger.
Fidelity Trust Co., SVN Second Story Real Estate Management and Lamp Post Properties have combined to form Aslan Holdings, according to partners Matt McGauley and Tiffanie Robinson.
"We've been colleagues for years," said Robinson in an interview, noting they recently partnered on a North Shore project. "We realized how strong the partnership would be if we do something bigger."
Fidelity Trust Co., which started in 1912, has rebranded as FTC Development and will operate as a boutique commercial real estate development firm specializing in innovative and sustainable adaptive reuse and ground-up projects.
SVN Second Story will be the operating company handling all property management and maintenance along with leasing and brokerage services.
Although the companies will collaborate, they remain separate entities, the partners said.
Also, McGauley has merged his real estate portfolio with that of Lamp Post Properties, making Aslan into the largest locally owned portfolio of downtown commercial properties in Chattanooga.
"Downtown is where we've planted our flag," said McGauley, CEO of FTC Development, in an interview.
In addition, SVN Second Story will have a total of nearly 2 million square feet of commercial, mixed-use and multifamily properties under management, the partners said.
Aslan, the holding company's name, comes from the lion in the C.S. Lewis book "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Robinson said. She said the lion was "nimble, flexible and found a way to beat the odds."
The headquarters of the merged businesses is the Loveman's building. Together, it will employ 32 people.
McGauley said Fidelity has thrived over the years through innovation, a willingness to be adaptable and not being satisfied with the status quo.
"Our core values and love for Chattanooga align," he said. "Our combined resources will lead to making a greater impact on the city we love, providing enhanced services to our clients, and delivering strong, reliable returns to our partners."
Robinson, CEO of SVN Second Story and Lamp Post Properties, said the mission has always been to provide the highest quality product and returns for its partners and clients.
She said that with Second Story recently joining the SVN global franchise and now Lamp Post Properties merging with Fidelity Trust Co., "I am more confident than ever that our team will be able to greatly serve the clients and communities we work with."
"It's kind of a natural fit," Robinson said. "The skills each brings to the table - it makes a lot of sense."
McGauley said he and Robinson are like-minded in what they've done with their companies. He cited the recent partnership in the redevelopment of the former long-time Chattanooga Printing and Engraving Building at 110 Somerville Ave. on the North Shore along with a new two-story building that's to go up nearby at 306 Cherokee Blvd. That $17 million project will include apartments and office space.
"It became clear we could do a lot more together," McGauley said.
They'll continue to focus on downtown, historic buildings and adaptive reuse, but they said they plan to branch out to other midsize cities in the region.
"We're committed to Chattanooga, but we see other opportunities," Robinson said.
She said the merged entity also views opportunities in the affordable housing sector.
Lamp Post Properties has served as the real estate arm of Lamp Post Group, the Chattanooga-based venture incubator started by partners Ted Alling, Barry Large and Allan Davis, who Robinson said remain part of the holding company.
Lamp Post Properties has been committed to creating so-called next-generation spaces in and outside Chattanooga's Innovation District such as the Tomorrow Building off Patten Parkway.