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Our Story: Gil Winn, Larry Curtis
Auction (June17) L-BOS
June 11, 2013

Our Story:
Gil Winn & Larry Curtis

Is going into real estate nature or nurture? Take a look at Winn Cos managing principal Gil Winn. His dad Arthur founded the company (nature), but Gil said he learned about the company listening to Dad's stories at dinner about moderately priced and affordable rental housing (nurture).

In the family tradition, Gil, left, is teaching his son Rand about the CRE biz early, introducing him to New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. Gil recently launched a $200M fund to acquire and reposition Class-B and C-plus multifamily assets nationwide. As a student at UPenn, Gil flirted with the idea of becoming a history professor later in life but always knew he'd get into real estate. In his first job with the Related Cos in NYC, he hopped on the investment/development track. In '03, he returned to Boston and joined the family business as a project manager and worked his way up. Now, he's the Winn point man for their new fund, a JV with the Roseview Group.
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Winn Development president Larry Curtis, who leads the company's redevelopment efforts, started at Winn as a project manager and also climbed the corporate ladder. Schooled as an architect at Cooper Union and HGDS, Larry—then 27—approached the elder Winn with a mixed-income apartment development deal. Soon, he was offered a job. He had been working for another CRE investor who had six sons, and Larry realized his chance of being "adopted" as the seventh son was "zero." He's stayed with Winn for 25 years, redeveloping struggling properties into workforce housing.

Convincing local communities that Winn wants to improve properties and neighborhoods isn't easy, says Gil. Ten years ago, he thought residents would look at the Winn website and realize the company had a successful track record. But he quickly learned the company has to prove its good intentions to every neighborhood. It took two years for Winn to get approvals to reposition a failed 210-unit condo project in Springfield into the 110-unit Forest Park rental apartments (above). Larry says during some early community meetings, residents shouted Gil off the stage. But by the time of the ribbon cutting, it was hugs all around.

The 280-apartment Huntington Woods in Bristol, Conn. is one of many projects Winn has developed in 23 states, often on the East Coast. The company also has a large housing management portfolio. The new $200M fund seeks to use knowledge gained managing properties in places like California, Florida, and Texas for value-add investment deals. Gil says his team is looking for assets with 200 to 500 apartments in secondary locations where the economy has raised the expectations and incomes of residents. While core multifamily may be overpriced, Class-B and C assets with redevelopment potential may be somewhat underpriced.

Sustained Success in Hotel Sector

The Boston hotel market is so hot that we're holding the Bisnow Hospitality Summit June 27 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. Among the trends our panelists will discuss are peaking occupancy and room rates and new venues like Chandler Studios. Hotel GM Gretchen Chauncey (with colleague David Hodges), who will be speaking, expects the sizzling market to have a long run. Unlike the past several years when tourists dominated, room demand is coming from a broader base, including corporate and convention users. (Once children in hotels who use ESP and "shining" return, we'll know the market is truly back.)

The Architect As An Artist

We snapped CBT principal Richard Bertman Friday at the opening of his show at the Art Block in the South End on Friday. The whimsical pieces next to him have moving parts to simulate a day at Wimbledon (above) or a clanking, screeching ride on the T. As the designer of prominent commercial buildings, he has a few in development here: No. 6 Newbury, a condo and retail building that will house Chanel on the ground floor; a 15-story condo building on the waterfront for The Fallon Co; and The Merano, a 496k SF, mixed-use building near North Station with rental apartments and a 200-key hotel.

Calling all fans in the stands—we'd love to see your game day pictures and learn how you got those great seats! susan@bisnow.com

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