Eastfield Mall
Springfield, Massachusetts

   
  Risk-Takers Go Long Way
 

By Fernie Grace Tiflis
Construction Online
April 2006

   
 

Clifton, N.J.-based Mountain Development credits its success to the people it works with. Long-term relationships allow the company to undertake measured risks and move forward with complex development projects.

Mountain Development Corp. proves that hard work and diligence pay off. With real estate services that include financing, construction, leasing and management, site acquisition, sales and marketing, the company credits its success to the people around it.

“We get as many people involved and take advantage of the expertise,” states Michael Seeve, president. “When you surround yourselves with top-quality professionals – smart, personable, resourceful – you'll be successful.”

Focusing primarily on the Northeast region, Mountain Development says it controls a portfolio of commercial, retail and industrial properties that totals about 5 million square feet throughout the New York metropolitan area and the Northeast.

It adds that it prides itself on its long-term relationships with clients, employees and the municipalities it works with. Seeve says that being a mid-sized company is an added reason for the success of Mountain Development. “We're not so big that we're removed from our relationship with our clients,” he explains. “We communicate with partners and stakeholders, [and] regularly share our experiences and observations in a prompt and forthright manner and pride ourselves on being straightforward and direct.”

This strategy, the company says, gives it the confidence to take on risks when developing properties. “Because we have expertise – or access to expertise – in all facets of the real estate development business, we're willing to take on risks that others might find daunting,” Seeve notes. “There's always challenges in real estate, but since we do everything in-house, we have professionals who can help us mitigate those challenges and ideally turn them into opportunities.”

Within the past three years, Seeve notes, the company has acquired two major corporate headquarters campuses, each of which was vacated by its former occupants. Additionally, the company has developed a specialty in acquiring and repositioning regional malls. It currently boasts two highly successful ventures – Eastern Hills Mall in Buffalo, N.Y., and Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Mass.

With today's real estate boom, however, he says most companies have a difficult time finding new projects that have value, but the company still sees opportunities.

Real estate, he notes, has become a popular investment. “Almost everyone can avail themselves of much more aggressive financing than used to be available,” he says. “It's more challenging to acquire real estate today because a lot more people seemed to have decided to get into the business.”

For Mountain Development, however, challenges like this are viewed as opportunities to do better. “It has forced us to ... be more flexible, more adaptive and be more open to new markets,” he says.

Mounting Portfolio
Mountain Development says it has been acquiring properties for more than 30 years. The company is particularly excited about its 625,000-square-foot acquisition of a mixed-use complex from Bic Corp., a leading manufacturer of stationery products, lighters and shavers.

Located in Milford, Conn., the complex was purchased by MDC Milford Associates LLC, a subsidiary of Mountain Development, for approximately $14 million. The deal involved five interconnected buildings, which are industrial and warehouse properties and a 40,475-square-foot office building, the company explains.

Ensuring Proper Training
Like other businesses, Mountain Development is proud of its relationship with its employees. Seeve notes, however, that the company takes extra steps to ensure its employees are properly trained and that safety is practiced in the workplace.

“We work closely with our employees, particularly those that work on-site in construction and development to assure we create a safe environment,” he says. “Simply by working in a company with long-established and actively enforced safety protocols helps employees observe and adapt responsible habits.”

New Ventures
This year, Mountain Development will be the recipient of the New Jersey National Association of Industrial and Office Property Impact Award, which recognizes real estate firms that make a difference in their communities and in the industry.

“The award is given annually to a firm, by its peers, in acknowledgment of having made a notable impact with its work over the past year,” Seeve states. Mountain Development was honored with this award in 1993, as well.

In 2006, the company says it hopes to acquire half a million to 1 million square feet worth of new projects in the market. “We're always looking for new ventures,” according to Seeve. “We want to keep working and keep acquiring to be successful.”  CT


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