Close Up With Andrew Stark
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On Tuesday, Campus Evolution Villages CEO Andrew Stark (above, prepping his company’s Weatherford, Okla., student housing property) dropped off the oldest of three daughters for her senior year at Syracuse. It's just one more visit to a college campus for the prolific traveler, whose NYC-based company has built a portfolio of 10,000 beds across 14 states in just two years. (He spends so much time on campus, he may have earned tenure.) Born and raised on Long Island, the Oceanside High School graduate made his way to DC to earn an economics degree from George Washington University and then back to NY for law school at Hofstra.
He practiced with Lord Day & Lord Barrett Smith for six years but decided to leave law at age 29 for a career that allowed more time with his family, considering his first child was on the way (above is the entire clan). He jumped into commercial real estate, working for a large Westchester landlord, and entered the REIT world when the company sold its portfolio to Reckson. There, he worked on niche operating platforms like student housing and shared office suites. (Andrew likes the segments of the industry in which hands-on management boosts revenue.) After Reckson, he ran a homebuilding company for nine years, sold it to a NYSE builder, and then joined Cantor Fitzgerald, where he met Evan Denner.
Andrew and Evan (whom we snapped in their Garment District office) peeled off two years ago to acquire a student housing management company and in December 2012 bought their first properties: 1,762 beds in four buildings across the Southeast. Now, Campus Evolution Villages owns and manages 22 properties with backing from Canada's Reichmann family and NY's Waterbridge Capital. Andrew expects to close soon on what will be its largest property, and the company recently bought a second Greensboro, NC, property. Andrew, a big skier, swears it's coincidental that his firm also is checking out a property in Utah.