EDGE Former engineer Boyd Simpson builds real estate empire

EDGE Former engineer Boyd Simpson builds real estate empire

October 1st, 2017 by Mike Pare in EDGE

Boyd Simpson, head of The Simpson Organization, speaks during the official opening of Market City Center in downtown Chattanooga.

Photo by C.B. Schmelter


* Background: Reared in central Florida

* Education: Georgia Tech; Wharton School of business at University of Pennsylvania

* Company: The Simpson Organization, where he is CEO

* Personal: Married, two children

* Quote: “We like the energy, the opportunities they bring.” — On why his company invests in urban areas

Atlanta-based businessman Boyd Simpson says his company has invested about $90 million in downtown Chattanooga, and he might not be finished.

"If we find the right project, we'd do something else downtown," says the head of The Simpson Organization about the central city.

Simpson started his real estate investment firm, based in midtown Atlanta, in 1988. Today, the company has just under 1 billion square feet of properties in seven Southern states and about 100 employees.

Among his Chattanooga holdings are Market City Center, a new 10-story, $30 million structure on the 700 block of Market Street that has 125 apartments along with commercial space. Also, The Simpson Organization owns the SunTrust Bank Building next door, which it acquired in 2007.

Boyd Simpson, head of The Simpson Organization, speaks during the official opening of Market City Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Boyd Simpson, head of The Simpson Organization, speaks...

Photo by C.B. Schmelter

In 2016, the company purchased Warehouse Row, the nine-building complex at Market and Lindsay streets. It holds 260,295 square feet of street-level restaurants and upscale boutique retail as well as upper-level lofts and office suites. The Simpson Organization paid $36.9 million for the historic Warehouse Row site.

Simpson, who originally hails from central Florida, says he was the CEO of another company before deciding to start his own business. He had come to Atlanta to attend Georgia Tech where he studied industrial engineering.

The businessman says he worked in his collegiate field of study for a few years, but later attended the Wharton School of business at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1988, he says, he decided to launch out on his own and started his company.

"If I knew everything I didn't know, I probably wouldn't have done it," Simpson jokes.

But, he adds, the company has done well through a number of business cycles and prospered.

"That tells the tale," says Simpson, who when asked his age says he's in his 60s. "We have a lot of good employees including those in the Chattanooga office. I've been fortunate in many ways."

Kim White, who heads the downtown nonprofit redevelopment group River City Co., says one factor she likes about the The Simpson Organization is that it's well capitalized, which was key to the construction of Market City Center.

"They had already invested in [the 700] block in a big way," she says about the company's prior acquisition of the SunTrust Building. "It was a natural fit."

Simpson says that his company has had a lot of growth. Started amid the down-spiral of the real estate business of the late 1980s, the company began as an advisor providing consulting services to institutions.

Today, The Simpson Organization focuses on commercial real estate in the Southeast, and Simpson says he likes to zero in on urban centers rather than suburban sites.

"We like the energy, the opportunities they bring," he says. "That's just a preference, one that has served us well. We've been on the right side of the wave."