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Families Who Work Together: The Sheas

Los Angeles

When it comes to real estate, some family companies go back generations. In this new series, Bisnow will take a look each week at real estate dynasties with rich histories that continue to shape the landscape today.

The Shea family is one of them.


Founded: 1881

Famous Fact: Charlie Shea was the director of construction for the Hoover Dam in Las Vegas.

Well-known Properties: The Sheas played a pivotal role in the construction of some Southern California projects, including the tunnels at the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor and the Metro Purple Line Extension and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Recent Projects: The District in San Fernando Valley near the Northridge Fashion Center and Astoria and the Gallery in Walnut.

Charlie Shea, on the other hand, was the director of construction for the Hoover Dam.

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Shea Builders' origins date back to the 19th century with the J. F. Shea Plumbing Co in Portland, OR. It was a one-man plumbing shop opened by John Francis Shea, the family patriarch.

John and his sons, Gilbert, Charlie and Edmund later founded the J.F. Shea Co.

The firm's headquarters moved in 1933 from Portland to LA. At the time, Gil Shea, the youngest son, led work on the LA Aqueduct. Subsequent projects were done for the LA Metro Water District.

In 1937, Shea for the first time expanded to the East Coast, completing dam work for the Tennessee Valley Authority and work on tunnels in New York and Baltimore.

Shea entered the homebuilding industry 48 years ago and launched Shea Ventures, its venture capitalist division, the same year.

LA's Shea Properties began in 1977 with the development of apartments, shopping centers and commercial properties, some of which were built in Shea Homes' master planned communities.

Shea is now one of the oldest and biggest privately owned construction companies in the US, according to its website.