LA's Top 11 Real Estate Dynasties
Los Angeles may not have as long a history as New York, Chicago or Washington, DC, but there's no denying that it has its fair share of real estate dynasties. The City of Angels has attracted its own breed of dynasties, and Bisnow's here to give you a history lesson on LA's oldest and most important names.
1. The Sheas
The Founder: John Francis Shea founded his own plumbing and wholesale supply company in Portland, OR. A few years later, John and his sons, Gilbert, Charlie and Edmund founded the J.F. Shea Co, quickly earned a reputation throughout the West with the construction of the Portland Seawall on the Willamette River and the Mokelumne pipeline, which transported water to Oakland and Berkley.
Famous Properties: The Sheas were instrumental in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the Bart System in S.F., the DC Metro, the tunnels at The Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, the Metro Purple Line Extension, and the Parker and Hoover Dams.
Famous Members: Gilbert and Edmund were hugely influential during the WWII effort, shifting the company's focus to constructing liberty ships and shipyards. Charlie Shea, on the other hand, was the director of construction for the Hoover Dam.
Where They Are Now: Current CEO Peter O. Shea Jr. is leading the fourth generation of Sheas, now in Walnut, CA. With several companies under it's wing—including the LA-based Shea Properties—the Sheas have developments and interests throughout the West.
2. The Kilroys
The Founder: Before founding Kilroy Realty, John B. "Jim" Kilroy Sr. owned and raced sailboats and helped pioneer the era of maxi yacht racing. Growing up in Southern California during the Great Depression, Jim was hired at Douglas Aircraft in 1940, working as an inspector, quickly shifting into manufacturing. After serving in the US Army Air Corps Reserve and leaving Douglas, Jim focused on real estate, developing airports in Southern California, and Kilroy Realty became a reality. In 1981, Jim turned over the leadership of the company to John Jr. (pictured left), but still served as the chairman of the company's REIT when it began selling shares to the public in 1997. In 2013, Jim retired as chairman and John Jr. replaced him.
Famous Members: Since taking the top spot at Kilroy, John has been involved in all aspects of the company's real estate business—including development, construction, acquisition, sales, leasing, financing and entitlement—and has transformed Kilroy Realty into the West Coast's top landlord and owner of one the largest LEED-certified portfolios from Seattle to San Diego.
Famous Properties: John's massive portfolio includes Columbia Square (a $485M, 675k SF mixed-use creative media village that will be completed in 2016), the 93k SF creative workspace Neuehouse ("WeWork on steroids," he calls it) and the 21-story, 200-unit Hollywood Proper Residences tower. Managed by the Kor Group's Proper Hospitality, half of Hollywood Proper's ultra-luxury units will be extended-stay hotel suites where Hollywood cast and crew can stay during projects.
Where They Are Now: John shows no signs of slowing down. "I’m 66 years old and having the time of my life," he told us last week. With sustainable properties in major markets all over the West Coast, the Kilroys are the family to beat. In the last few months, Kilroy Realty acquired a prime real estate site in San Francisco's South of Market area for $78M and won a Toby Award from BOMA for its Centre Del Mar office complex.
3. The Roskis
The Founder: Edward P. Roski Sr. founded Majestic Realty mainly as a brokerage company, but was soon buying land from Union Pacific railroad to construct build-to-suits in Vernon and City of Commerce, CA. He's also credited with helping bring various businesses and properties—including the Industry Hills Sheraton Resort and Conference Center—to Industry, CA. It now houses Majestic's HQ.
Famous Member: Current Majestic President Edward P. Roski Jr. (pictured) was instrumental in the development of the Staples Center. One of LA's richest real estate moguls, he's also part owner of both the LA Lakers and the LA Kings. (He's also been pushing for a NFL stadium in Los Angeles for years.) A war veteran with two Purple Hearts, Ed co-founded the Land of the Free foundation, which helps the families of veterans, in 2007. He's climbed Mt. Everest and Kilimanjaro and seen the wreck of the Titanic.
Famous Properties: While Majestic mainly deals with smaller commercial properties around the country, the Roskis have certainly never shyed away from impressive properties. The company's first 1M SF-plus property—a 1.3M SF General Electric warehouse—was part of an ongoing trend of large companies moving from small regional distribution warehouses to fewer, geographically targeted and larger distribution warehouses. The company is also developing a 440-acre business park in Bethlehem, PA.
Where They Are Now: Today, Majestic has over 72M SF of industrial, retail, office, sports & entertainment, and hospitality developments across the nation, as well as several subsidiary companies, including Majestic Construction, Majestic Management, Majestic Realty Retail, Majestic Realty Foundation and C.C.C. Rental. Ed Jr.'s daughter, Reon Roski, now serves as the managing director for the company after 15 years of serving as outside counsel.
4. The Snyders
The Founder: Jerome H. Snyder (pictured) founded the company with the hope of creating environmentally sensitive projects. He's led the company through more than six decades of changes in the market, developing large properties in the 1980s and town centers in the 1990s.
Famous Members: Jerry Snyder is known for always seeking neighborhood consensus before building a project, and he works with son Lon on everything from TV placement to lobby design. He's built over 40,000 homes all across the country, from NY and Chicago to waterfront properties in California. Jerry's also a big philanthopist, making major contributions to UCLA and has an annual research fellowship (the Jerome H. Snyder Systems Building and Housing Research fellowship) in his name.
Famous Properties: Snyder's properties always impress and push the limits of what can be done. In an interview with Bisnow, Jerry noted that his favorite properties are The Water Garden (a 1.26M SF office campus developed around a 1.4-acre man-made lake) and The River, a 242k retail center surrounded by water features.
Where They Are Now: As mentioned, Jerry's son Lon works for the company overseeing leasing and management of Museum Square, The Crescent Beverly Hills and a portfolio of 1031 exchange properties. Most recently, in early May, Snyder announced the first tenant for its $138M, 245k SF Hollywood Office Campus. Gabriel and Daniel Hammond's film production, financing and distrubution company, Broad Green Pictures, signed a 10-year, $11.6M deal for 36k SF in the campus. A few weeks later, the NoHo Commons Retail Center—a 65k SF retail complex–sold for $43M.
5. The Cusumanos
The Founder: The sons of a Sicilian immigrant, Chuck (second from right) and Roger (second from left) founded the group from sound investments and have made the Cusumano name synonymous with real estate development and community involvement in the region. Over the past five decades, the family has grown to become one of the largest privately held property owners in the Glendale-Burbank area.
Famous Members: The two brothers were joined by Chuck's two sons, Michael (left) and Charlie. The whole family has many philanthopic efforts, including donating $1M to the Hycy and Howard Hill Neuroscience Institute at San Fernando's Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in 2011. Michael in particular has made a name for himself with his work with the Community Foundation of the Verdugos, which provides grants and scholarships and provides counsel to donors and financial support to organizations that serve the Burbank-Glendale region. He also helped establish the Downtown Burbank Partnership, a nonprofit organization that works to develop and hold events in Downtown Burbank.
Famous Properties: The Cusumanos own a considerable number of senior living and apartment communities around the Burbank area, including one of the largest residential apartment communities in Toluca Lake, the 145-unit apartment community the Jefferson. The family's also developing the Talaria Burbank, a premium rental community in the Burbank Media District across the street from The Burbank Studios. The Talaria will be the first LEED-certified green residential community in the city and includes 241 multifamily units, two single-family homes, three office buildings, a Whole Foods and a bar.
Where They Are Now: The family continues to promote properties with improved sustainability, including high-efficiency AC, toilets and "cool roofing," which reduces the amount of solar heat absorbed. The Talaria Property is expected to go live in 2018. The family's top-notch office spaces continue to attract high-caliber tenants, including the Walt Disney Co, Chase, Warner Brothers, Universal Music, the State of California, the Government Services Agency (GSA) and Amgen, among others.
6. The Worthes
The Founder: After graduating from college and serving in the Army, M. David Paul started a construction business in 1961. Between 1961 and 1967, Paul held different positions, including GM of a number of construction projects for a midsized real estate development and construction company. In 1967, David launched M. David Paul Associates, following up in 1974 with Krismar Constructrion, remaining president of both organizations since then. Now based in Santa Monica, the firm employs over 70 individuals.
Famous Members: While working with father-in-law David, Jeff Worthe (pictured, right) directed the company's LA development and redevelopment projects. In 2003, he left to co-found Centurian Real Estate Partners with John Tashjian. With more than 17 years of experience, Jeff oversees the entitlement and development of over 2M SF of Class-A office space, as well as the redevelopment of 500k SF. He also directs the leasing and management of Centurion's offices, shopping centers, apartment buildings and parking facilities. And considering he's formed strong relationships with The Walt Disney Co, Warner Music Group, Clear Channel Communications, Viacom, Microsoft, Texaco, IBM, Philips, NBC, GMAC, EMI, Artisan Entertainment and other huge investors and tenants, Centurion is in "Worthe-y" hands.
Famous Properties: M. David Paul Associates owns a massive 5M SF list of properties all across LA and Burbank, with another 3.1M SF in the works. Some impressive properties, including the 1.24M SF office and studio space at 3000 West Alameda Ave—which will hold NBC Universal and Nickelodean productions—and a 370k SF/two-story Class-A creative office building at 13031 Jefferson Blvd, which holds TMZ, Warner Bros, Microsoft, SonyPlaystation, Team One, Verizon and EdgeCast. Jeff's Centurion now owns impressive office assets assets like the Disney Channel’s 3800 Alameda HQ in Burbank and MTV’s 2700 Colorado HQ in Santa Monica. 2700 Colorado holds Lions Gate Entertainment, EMI Music, VH1 Music Television and Nickelodeon.
Where They Are Now: Centurion operates in New York, LA and San Francisco, focusing on both multifamily and entertainment industry office buildings. Worthe Real Estate Group/M.David Paul Associates is no slouch either, renting out thousands of office SF to Yahoo!, CBS, Verizon, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers and many more.
7. The Lowes
The Founder: Prior to founding Lowe Enterprises, Robert J. Lowe Sr. held various management positions in public and private corporations. Robert Sr. then founded the company with three business partners as a real estate investment and development firm, but, in the 1980s, the company branched out into distressed properties. Robert Sr. oversees many of the company's operations, including the management of real estate investments for pension funds and the development and management of commercial properties, residential properties, resorts and hotels.
Famous Members: Robert's sons, Robert Lowe Jr. (pictured) and Michael Lowe, both joined the family business. In 2014, Rob Jr., now co-president of Lowe Enterprises, JV'd with AECOM Capital and the resort's longtime owner, Atlas Hotels, to own and operate a 40-acre Town and Country property in the center of San Diego, which features two towers, a day spa, three swimming pools, three restaurants and a 200k SF conference and meeting space. He also oversees operations of Destination Hotels & Resorts—Lowe’s hospitality operations company and one of the largest independent hospitality management companies in the country—with more than 35 independent luxury and upscale hotels and resorts and over 9,000 rooms under management. Michael, on the other hand, is also co-president, but works with the firm’s investments and manages its various national properties.
Famous Properties: The Lowes are working with Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds (Magic Johnson's organization) to develop the Dupont Residences in Washington, DC. After acquiring the Washington Hilton in 2007 in the largest hotel acquisition in DC history, the site will now be a 194-unit luxury apartment tower with views of the city and its landmarks. They also recently redeveloped a 45-year-old former office building to create the George in Wheaton, MD, a 12-story contemporary apartment tower with 194 units, a rooftop deck and club room. Finally, the National Science Foundation HQ in Alexandra, VA, a Class-A office building development at Hoffman Town Center. In LA, the Lowes are in a joint venture with Megatoys and J.P. Morgan Asset Management to create a two-building, 320-unit, LEED-certified apartment complex in the Arts District, with 15k SF of retail space.
Where They Are Now: Since 1972, Lowe Enterprises has developed over $1.5B of office, industrial, retail, multifamily and mixed-use properties across the country, and now has another $1B of properties under development. They're also investing in and developing over $3B in real estate nationwide.
8. The Hughes/Gustavsons
The Founder: B. Wayne Huges is the founder and chairman of Public Storage, the largest American self-storage REIT. Worth $2.2B, Wayne was the company's president and co-CEO until 1991. He then served as sole CEO until he retired in 2002, but kept his position as chairman of the board. Wayne has also been the chairman of the board and CEO of Public Storage's affliated REIT, Public Storage Properties XI, now known as PS Business Parks. He also owns American Commercial Equities in Malibu, which has retail properties around the country. In addition to his more than 30 years of real estate experience, Wayne created and funds the Parker Hughes Cancer Center in Minnesota, which researches and develops drugs for children's leukemia and cancer.
Famous Members: Wayne's daughter, Tamara Gustavson, is now Public Storage's board director and largest shareholder, with 11% of the company as of 2014. Tamara is now the owner of American Commercial Equities Management and the majority owner of PS Canada, a Canadian real estate company that owns and operates Canadian self-storage facilities. With an estimated net worth of $4B, she's also LA's richest woman and donates to the HollyRod Foundation, which researches autism, Parkinson's and other diseases.
Famous Properties: American Commercial Equities Management owns a ton of properties across California and Hawaii, including the Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo, 22917 Pacific Coast Hwy—which sits right across from Malibu Pier and Beach Inn—and properties all along Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica.
Where They Are Now: Tamara recently unloaded a ton of shares in Public Storage—getting a huge payday in the process.
9. The Risings
The Founder: Rising Realty Partners chairman and CEO Nelson Rising's real estate career began in 1973 when he became president of the 5,000-acre Coto de Caza resort community in Orange County. His first major projects came as senior partner at Maguire Thomas Partners, including one complex mixed-use Playa Vista property and Library Square development. He then moved on to Catellus Development, serving as CEO and transforming it from a railroad land company to a REIT and diversified development company. Throughout his real estate career, Nelson has remained involved in the political sphere, serving as chairman for Tom Bradley's mayoral and governal campaign throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. He even has a street named after him in San Francisco.
Famous Members: Nelson's son, Christopher, manages Rising Realty Partners and serves on its investment committee. Before striking out on his own, he worked at Cushman Realty—later Cushman & Wakefield—serving as director after the merger in 2001. Then, at MPG Office Trust, Chris worked with the CEO to improve finances through debt reduction and restructuring, but soon founded his own company—The Rising Real Estate Group—in 2003, where he worked with BPG to create equity fund Hamilton Capital Partners.
Famous Properties: In addition to the PacMutual building, the Risings have several impressive buildings in Simi Valley and Agoura Hills, as well as the Park DTLA, a five-building, 270k SF office complex in Downtown LA that features indoor and outdoor wireless capabilities and the first solar-powered charging stations in Downtown LA. It's also dog-friendly and within walking distance of Little Tokyo.
Where They Are Now: Nelson continues to be an expert in the LA market, and recently spoke with Bisnow about the effect of the Fed's interest rate decision and the future of the LA market. The firm has also made big news by making a hefty profit on selling the PacMutual building in Downtown LA for $200M.
10. The Ratkoviches
The Founder: Over the course of his career, Ratkovich founder/president/CEO Wayne Ratkovich has worked with some of the country’s largest financial institutions, picking up awards from the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Headquarters Association, BOMA, the Los Angeles Conservancy, USC and UCLA along the way. Wayne has worked closely with ULI, including being a trustee and the vice chairman for ULI's Executive Committee. He's served as the chair for 10 ULI panels, which have tackled some of the country’s most difficult and now successful urban development challenges. He was also the governor of the Urban Land Foundation. In every project, Wayne is working to produce developments that make life in urban centers better while not breaking the bank.
Famous Members: Milan Ratkovich, Wayne's son, is a development manager with Ratkovich. Originally joining the company after graduating from UCLA in 1992, Milan rejoined the company in 2005 after spending nine years in the United States Marine Corps serving as a heavy helicopter pilot and flight instructor.
Famous Properties: Wayne's favorite current project is the Bloc, which occupies an entire city block in downtown Los Angeles and will be the city's cultural and commercial center. Milan's favorite, on the other hand, was the Wiltern Center, which includes two national landmark buildings—the Pellissier Building and the Wiltern Theatre. The 12-story Pellissier Building was completely renovated in 1982, while the Wiltern Theatre was refubished in 1985 and is now a 2,350-seat performing arts center.
Where They Are Now: Wayne continues to make a name for himself through his renovations of historical buildings, turning rundown historical wrecks into beautiful landmarks. And, speaking with Bisnow in 2014, Wayne said that he plans to make the Bloc its own historical landmark.