A 30-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry, David Tennery is the principal of Regent Partners’ Office Properties and Development Group. Tennery joined Regent Partners in 2004 and over the course of his career, he has been involved in the development of nearly 6 million square feet of office, retail, industrial, mixed-use and hotel properties in the United States and Latin America.
In this Four on Friday, we talk with Tennery about his firm, his decision to leave accounting for commercial real estate and his love of the beach.
Give us a brief overview of the services offered by Regent Partners.
Tennery: Regent is a 25-year-old, full-services commercial real estate firm based in Atlanta. Regent has partnered with some of the largest institutional and fund organizations in the United States and Europe, as well as with local and regional groups with a focus on the greater Southeastern U.S. markets.
We develop hotels, offices, mixed-use sites and residential properties. Our passion for meaningful development and a history of strong execution on often very complex projects have allowed us to bring highly notable community-enhancing properties to our markets, including both new and re-development projects. With a key focus on value-add, Regent also has a strong record in the areas of acquisition, asset management, on-site property services and, when the time comes, asset disposition.
Looking ahead to the next few years, what's the biggest reason for optimism regarding Atlanta's commercial real estate market and what's the biggest cause for concern?
Tennery: Atlanta, while no more or no less challenged than other fast-growing major U.S. cities, does hold the strong advantage of truly being a great place to live, work and raise a family. The value proposition Atlanta offers is unusual in that our combination of a skilled and well-educated work force with a very cost-effective, high quality of life frequently puts Atlanta in the top tier of consideration for growth-oriented companies. When you add the fact that Atlanta is so well positioned to serve companies and individuals that require heavy domestic or international travel, we are hard to beat.
If we look back over the past six months alone, we will see that more than one office submarket recovery has been fueled in large part by the in-migration of both corporate and tech-based firms.
From a risk perspective, we have a handful of substantive issues to resolve, but the issue that I find circling in my head frequently is the need to get focused on a real plan that over the next five to 20 years can put Atlanta at the forefront of multimodal-oriented transportation. Regionally, we certainly have the required highly capable human resources, but it will take the rare type of leadership that can and is willing to completely set politics and county/city boundary wars aside and reach for the best long-term overall solution.
We understand that you entered commercial real estate after being an accountant for a period of time. What spurred that move?
Tennery: It didn’t take long to realize that I was simply not an accounting personality nor did I really care to be. In the first two years of my professional life, I began to realize that I was much more of a big-picture visionary than I was a detailed, numbers guy.
Spending a lot of time in New York in my youth, I developed a strong interest in skylines and the work behind them, so I began looking at real estate development firms. My first real estate job, which was in Texas, landed me in a project-finance role, which was a good fit and a great way to learn the business. At the end of the day, my passion for working with a team that is serious about creating places that bring value and beauty to a community has been my professional driver, so development, re-positioning and marketing-type roles have been my greatest enjoyment. I do my best to limit my hands-on accounting to balancing my checkbook!
A light-hearted question: What's your favorite place to vacation?
Tennery: There are lots of places I enjoy and can unwind, but the real answer would be the coastlines of the world. Sara and I both love to travel and love the beach, so we could be spotted walking on a beautiful beach most anywhere on the globe (or at least the ones that are three flight connections or less from Atlanta).