Spotlight On: Gordon Grubb, Founder, Grubb Ventures

Spotlight On: Gordon Grubb, Founder, Grubb Ventures

2022-07-13T13:55:17-04:00July 11th, 2022|Raleigh-Durham, Real Estate, Spotlight On|

2 min read July 2022 — Grubb Ventures creates and redevelops high-quality communities in infill locations within the Research Triangle region of North Carolina. In an interview with Invest:, Founder Gordon Grubb discussed milestones and achievements, the company’s growth and emerging trends in the sector.

What have been some key milestones for Grubb Ventures over the past year?

We’ve been very fortunate that we have been able to continue to do business and have the success we had, particularly given the challenges that we are seeing, not only with COVID but also with supply chain issues and construction cost increases. A year ago, I was less bullish on the office market but we recently delivered a 115,000-square-foot building and it was leased 50% in the middle of a major lockdown and now it is 100% leased at our market rents, so that is exciting.

We delivered 276 apartments this year and the leasing activity is outstanding. We are already above our pro forma rents and have seen a 14% rental growth on existing apartments over the last year. One of our big projects is the Raleigh Iron Works. We had some supply constraints there, the parking deck was delayed but we worked through that. We are behind on our multifamily component but this fall, we’ll be ready to deliver the first part of the office adaptive reuse area and around 85,000 square feet for retail. We’ve seen an uptake on office leasing, so we are bullish on that.

What trends do you see emerging in office and other developments?

I think there has been a return to the Downtown office spaces but for us, we leased 100% of our five-story project that is located on the Greenway, and people can bike or walk to it. We are a strong believer in these types of projects. We don’t see ourselves developing high-rise towers over 10 stories. Thirty-seven towers have been announced for the area and that is not the space for us. Especially now that as a result of COVID people want a connection with outdoor spaces, which make our low-rise buildings easier to lease.

What does smart growth mean to Grubb Ventures and how are you implementing it in your development and investment practices?

We look at all our projects assuming they are going to outlive us, which is why we tend to use more brick and masonry. Both individually and as a company, we are acutely aware of the need for affordable housing. We‘ve been trying to find within our communities attainable housing for essential workers like firefighters, police officers and teachers, especially in areas that are close to their place of work. I believe we can make it possible with our smaller units but pricing goes up in the two and three bedrooms, particularly in the current market.

With new-to-market businesses, how does Grubb Ventures differentiate itself from other players?

We focus exclusively on this market, so we consider ourselves experts on the Triangle. We’ve been very focused on the Greater Raleigh area, and we have a lot of history working in the market, so we have a strong relationship with the city, the staff, the architectural engineering firms and the general contractors. I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and we have a wonderful team that accepts that and works with it to accommodate my goals. As a result, we spend more time and attention on the details and the quality of the materials. We have a landscape architect and a horticulturalist who work with us, as well as an amazing art collection by local artists that is part of all our developments. Lastly, we are working toward encouraging people to come to our mixed-use communities by bike or foot.

What have been some of the greatest shifts in demand in residential, commercial and office development?

On the office side, we are trying to provide our tenants and users with very ample outdoor space in the form of private terraces and shared park-like settings. On the residential side, even though we’ve seen a lot of people returning to the office, we still see a lot of people doing remote work. We realized our conference rooms were getting overbooked, so we have added phone rooms, small private offices and multiple conference rooms into our residential buildings. We have added amenities for dog owners, such as parks and spas. At the same time, we have increased the focus on wellness and fitness features both in our commercial and residential projects. Lastly, we have dedicated more space for packages in the form of electronic systems and refrigerated space to keep up with demand.

What are your forecasts for the commercial and residential segments?

We are very fortunate to have land and capital partners, so our goal is to do more of the same, but more efficiently. I enjoy doing five- and six-story buildings but our development team has assured me that doing slightly taller buildings will help us be more efficient with the use of space, spread out a lot easier over diverse topography, while keeping more open green space.

For example, in Glenwood, we have a 4-acre park that can be better preserved if we go taller. The future for us is to execute what we currently own. We have enough land, so we can focus on the quality and the aspects that set us apart from other players in the market, such as art, landscape, design and customer service. We are very thankful to be where we are. We have a wonderful team and we see great opportunities ahead of us.

I believe people will continue to come to Raleigh and how we handle the growth will determine what the city will look like for future generations. I think that we are in one of the most attractive markets in the country, we have an educated workforce, plenty of universities and opportunities for graduates to stay here and work in technology and life sciences. Additionally, we are still relatively affordable when compared to other cities like Austin, Nashville and Atlanta. On the other hand, I’m concerned about the city’s infrastructure. Trying to stay ahead of the growth and accommodating the incoming population while maintaining the quality of life can be challenging.

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