Our CEO Oliver Carr commemorates three decades since founding Carr Properties and shares his vision for the company’s future growth. 

This April, we celebrate a significant milestone for Carr Properties – our 30th anniversary. As I reflect on the past three decades, I am reminded of our humble beginnings and how far we have come as a company.

Originally founded as Carr Capital in 1994, we have navigated countless evolutions. Those early years were a testament to our resilience as we weathered the challenges of shifting economic environments. We started as an agent arranging CMBS financing and, by the late 90’s, had transitioned to being a significant player in office acquisitions. The early days were defined by scrappiness as we pursued every avenue to grow the business.

Completing office acquisitions in the early days was no easy feat. First, we needed to find a suitable investment property that would generate a 20%+ internal rate of return, then go through the process of raising 100% of the capital required for the deal. Typically, we would fund our acquisitions with 65% property-level debt, with the balance of funds coming from an institutional partner (funding 80% – 90% of the required equity), and sponsor investors who would fund the remaining 10% – 20% of equity. Closing four transactions at a time for each acquisition was not for the faint of heart! Over time, our reputation grew, and by 2002, we had built up a portfolio of mostly suburban office properties in the Washington, DC area.

In 2005, we rebranded as Columbia Equity Trust and took the Company public on the New York Stock Exchange as a DC metro-focused office REIT. After our humble beginnings, having the chance to operate as a US public company with access to discretionary capital was the opportunity of a lifetime. The discipline of the public market forced us to raise our game from an operating perspective and sharpen our focus on strategic growth.

Our brief period as a public company (from 2005-2007) laid the groundwork for the monumental leap we took in 2007, when Columbia Equity Trust was taken private by a fund managed at JP Morgan Asset Management. In combination with that go-private transaction, we rebranded as Carr Properties and transitioned into a vertically integrated private office REIT controlled by JP Morgan Asset Management. With JP Morgan’s support, we built out our development, management, and finance teams. There were some tough years in this period of the Company’s lifecycle as we weathered the “great recession” of 2007-2009. However, we used the challenge of the times to hone our skills and get stronger.

Not a Company for standing still, we came out of the recession active in development and built projects that included 901 K Street, 4500 East West Highway, 1700 New York Avenue, and 1701 Duke Street. A few years later, we closed on the site to develop Midtown Center, a nearly one million square foot downtown DC project that now serves as the national headquarters for Fannie Mae, one of the largest companies in the United States. Midtown Center was a game changer for the Company. With an iconic design, the project features some of Washington, DC’s most coveted restaurants, including Shoto, Grazie Nonna, and Dauphine’s, among others.

In 2013, we welcomed Alony Hetz, who acquired just under 50% of the company from JP Morgan. Alony Hetz has been a tremendous investment partner providing funding for us to more than double in size over the last 10 years. With the support of our investors, we have delivered some of the most incredible office projects in the nation, including the aforementioned Midtown Center; The Wilson, the tallest office tower in Bethesda, MD; and One Congress, a one million square foot office tower in the heart of Boston, MA, which delivered 100% pre-leased to world-class companies like State Street Bank Corp. and InterSystems.

These iconic developments have helped to raise our profile nationally. However, our team’s commitment to providing Distinguished Hospitality to our customers has helped to build our brand. Our focus on service, market-leading in-building amenities, and high-quality, on-site food and beverage options have helped to distinguish Carr Properties as a premier office company. Our commitment to Thoughtful Design, Engaging Moments, and Distinguished Hospitality, and providing exceptional environments where people seek to be is not just a mindset…a commitment to service and quality is part of the foundational DNA of the Company.

Looking ahead, we once again find ourselves at a pivotal crossroads. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown of our cities changed how people work and upended the office market. However, our portfolio is as well-positioned as it can be because we invested years ago to reposition our office buildings to provide the in-building experience that our customers want today. Additionally, given the stress on commercial office, now is the time to diversify and use our hospitality-based skill sets and transition into residential. We plan to aggressively grow in residential in the coming years, setting the company up for its next evolution.

Over the last 30 years, our tremendous team at Carr has been the constant. Without the commitment to excellence from each of our associates, none of our prior achievements would have been possible. Another constant has been the need to adapt and evolve as market conditions and customer preferences change. Standing still is not an option. No one knows what the future will hold; however, if we can maintain a dynamic and adaptable approach with a relentless focus on quality and service, Carr Properties will continue to grow and be successful for many years to come.

To each member of the Carr Properties team – past and present – I extend my heartfelt gratitude for your dedication, passion, and unwavering support. Together, we have embarked on an extraordinary journey, and I am immensely proud of all that we have achieved.

Thank you for an incredible 30 years, and here’s to many more years of success!

Oliver Carr

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