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Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With JLL Mid-Atlantic Market Director Chris Molivadas

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JLL Mid-Atlantic Market Director Chris Molivadas
JLL Mid-Atlantic Market Director Chris Molivadas

This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.

A 30-year commercial real estate veteran with experience in several sectors of the industry, Chris Molivadas last year became a regional leader for one of the world's largest CRE firms. 

JLL named Molivadas market director for its Mid-Atlantic region in June 2018. Based in the firm's Downtown D.C. office, he oversees all operations in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

His team of over 700 real estate professionals works in a wide range of business lines such as agency leasing, tenant representation, capital markets, project development services and property management. His team grew significantly July 1 when JLL finalized its acquisition of HFF.

Molivadas has a range of experience throughout his three decades in the industry. In the 1990s, he worked as a project manager for Clark Construction and a project director for Quadrangle Development Corp. He then entered the brokerage word in 2000, spending five years with Spaulding & Slye Colliers before the firm was acquired by JLL in 2005. 

Bisnow: What is your favorite part of your job?

Molivadas: I think my favorite part is solving challenges, whether technical challenges or people challenges. Helping clients and colleagues solve challenges is very satisfying to me.

Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?

Molivadas: I don’t think I’ve ever had a terrible job. Every job I have learned from. However, the toughest job was probably when I was in college. I was a security guard for a concert venue. Holding back crazy concert fans for Boston and Whitesnake was not the easiest task.

Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?

Molivadas: If I had the talent, then I’d be a singer/songwriter, but since I don’t, I think I’d make a pretty good psychologist.

Bisnow: What deal are you proudest of?

Molivadas: Delivering the new bioterrorism defense facility for NIH after 9/11. Its focus was on developing vaccines for biological weapons that could be used against us. It was incredibly challenging and needed to deliver on a tight time frame. Everyone came together with a common goal, which was really rewarding to see.

JLL's Chris Molivadas speaking at a 2019 Bisnow event
JLL's Chris Molivadas speaking at a 2019 Bisnow event

Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?

Molivadas: I had a project — Willoughby Bay in Norfolk, Virginia — where I spent four years putting together privatization of land controlled by the U.S. Navy and after four years they pulled the plug on it. It would have been a large mixed-use development with residential, office and a marina. After investing so much time and many trips driving up and down I-95, it was disappointing to not see it come to fruition.

Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Molivadas: People with big egos, and those people that treat others unfairly. We are all equal.

Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?

Molivadas: Having three kids — they are really expensive! But truly, I’m a pretty frugal person. I buy used cars. I don’t have any collections. My hobby is my job, so my family is my No. 1 expense.

Bisnow: What motivates you?

Molivadas: My family. Naturally, I’m a very driven person. I’ve always set goals for myself — one year, three years, five years, 10 years and 20 years. I’ve set them on a regular basis and consistently review to see where I am. I also have a very strong sense of ethics which aligns with JLL’s own core values.

JLL's Chris Molivadas on vacation with his sons Tyler, Nicholas and Zachary
JLL's Chris Molivadas on vacation with his sons Tyler, Nicholas and Zachary

Bisnow: What advice do you wish you got when you started in CRE?

Molivadas: I wish I had really strong guidance on how all the elements come together to deliver a project or assignment, not from a technical standpoint, but more from a people or ‘art-of-the-deal’ standpoint. There are lots of players with a lot of different agendas, personalities and financial motivators. It took me a while to truly understand all of the drivers for these players so I could properly take advantage of each person’s strengths and motivators. Maybe I am asking for some early wisdom.

Bisnow: What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?

Molivadas: I try to take risks every day. I want to keep myself in a state of being uncomfortable. This is the only way to learn and grow. Steady state has its place, but it doesn’t take you to the next level. Part of keeping uncomfortable is challenging complacency and obstacles. One of my favorite sayings is: overcome, improvise, adapt.

Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?

Molivadas: Making sure I’m doing everything I can to provide opportunity and jobs for people. Having a job is important for a family and when the next downturn happens, I want to be able to grow through it and keep the JLL family together.

Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit?

Molivadas: Any beach that has surfing. I have surfed since I was in the seventh grade and really enjoy it. You have to really think about what you’re doing so your mind can’t wander. I also love Europe. My parents are both European and there is just such a rich history there.

JLL's Chris Molivadas with his wife Melissa
JLL's Chris Molivadas with his wife, Melissa

Bisnow: Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

Molivadas: Family. It’s all about my wife and three boys, spending time with them, going to soccer games, hanging out at the house, and just enjoying the day-to-day activities together.

Bisnow: What CRE trend do you think will have the most impact over the next few years?

Molivadas: For me, I don’t know what it is, but I know that we need to continuously innovate and evolve, and if we don’t evolve, we are going to get left behind. Today, the rate of change is so rapid that you have to keep your eye on innovation. JLL has created an investment platform called JLL Spark that allows us to invest in and deliver the very best in innovation to our clients, which I think keeps us ahead of the curve. Locally, we have a team of key players from each business line working together on innovations to make sure we are supporting our people and creating value for our clients continuously.

But one thing that should not be lost with a focus on innovation is time spent building a strong company culture, those daily behaviors that define our interactions and values. For any business to succeed you must have the right people doing the right jobs in a coordinated fashion. Culture brings the right people together.

Bisnow: What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Molivadas: I have had so many different jobs since I started working in the seventh grade. My first job was in a pet shop washing dogs. From there I was a newspaper boy, started my own lawn mowing business, was an electrician and plumber’s assistant, I worked at auto parts, liquor and home improvement stores, and [have] been a security guard for different concert venues. I even had a gig as a wedding planner — I have strong organizational skills. I was definitely given a strong work ethic.

Bisnow: What do you want your legacy to be?

Molivadas: I was a great husband and dad.