Leaders of Chattanooga's newest shopping center development company have decades of retail development, leasing and acquisition experience.
Known as Rise Partners, the company formed late last year is jointly owned by four veteran managers with experience at CBL Properties Inc., Hutton Co. and Belk Inc.: Geoff Smith, Jay Wiseman, Matt Phillips and Greg Wilson. The four say they started their own development firm to focus on the changing retail landscape across the Southeast, building on their relationships with retailers still expanding in the South while capitalizing on opportunities to buy and redevelop non-mall shopping centers in attractive markets.
"We were each wanting to start a business of our own using the experience and skills we have built up. The projects we anticipate working on will all be within a day's drive of Chattanooga so we won't continue to have to spend so much time on airplanes and away from home," says Jay Wiseman, a 31-year industry veteran who has sourced and managed the acquisition of more than $7 billion in real estate across the United States, Brazil and China. Prior to moving to Chattanooga and working at CBL and Hutton, Wiseman was an institutional asset management professional for MetLife, Heller Financial and Alex Brown Kleinwort Benson.
Phillips, a former vice president of real estate at Hutton who has helped develop and supervise 3.5 million square feet of retail centers valued at $740 million, said the realignment of retailing occurring as e-commerce reshapes how Americans shop is creating challenges for many developers but opportunities for others. Despite the record number of retail store closings in the United States last year and the near shutdown of new enclosed shopping mall developments, Phillips said many value-oriented retailers and other growing restaurant, grocery and commercial businesses "are still looking for good markets to grow in and we believe we have the expertise and contacts to help succeed in this changing environment."
Other partners in Rise Partners include Smith, a former president of the Hutton Co who has sourced, developed and supervised more than $1 billion and 7 million square feet of retail developments, and Greg Wilson, another former CBL manager who most recently was senior vice president of real estate and store planning for the Belk department store.
Smith, Wiseman and Phillips will work out of the Volunteer Building in downtown Chattanooga while Wilson will work from an office in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company closed on its first acquisition in June with a $30.2 million purchase of Jackson Plaza, a 350,000-square-foot shopping center in Cookeville, Tennessee, where a $4 million redevelopment will subdivide a now-vacant 80,000 square foot former Sears building to create two new tenant spaces to be occupied by national retailers.
"We have a unique opportunity to both make a difference in the communities where we invest, while providing strong, sustainable returns for our investors," Smith says.