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CEO: Selling stake in Greenberg Gibbons all about the future

Brian Gibbons, left, says that selling a large stake in his real estate development firm will allow it to expand geographically and in terms of the projects it undertakes. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

Brian Gibbons, left, says that selling a large stake in his real estate development firm will allow it to expand geographically and in terms of the projects it undertakes. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

Baltimore County-based developer Greenberg Gibbons Chairman and CEO Brian Gibbons said selling a large share of his company reflects a desire to expand the firm that specializes in town center-style mixed-use projects.

Gibbons said selling 47.5% of the company to local entrepreneur David Williams helps the firm achieve its goal of operating in a larger area that extends from the Philadelphia area to North Carolina. Currently, the company’s portfolio includes properties in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware.

“I kind of wanted to (sell part of the firm) to help grow the company for the next generation,” Gibbons said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Gibbons said he believes his new partner’s previous experience in expanding a business will prove valuable as Greenberg Gibbons attempts to extend its operations.

Williams founded and remains CEO of digital marketing firm Merkle. Roughly three years ago, Williams sold a majority stake in that firm to Dentsu Aegis Network.

“(Williams) has a lot of experience growing a business,” Gibbons said.

Greenberg Gibbons primarily develops suburban mixed-use projects. Historically, the company has retained control of the retail portion of a project while a partner owns a development’s other assets.

At Greenberg Gibbons’ Foundry Row and Hunt Valley Town Centre developments, the firm partnered with Virginia-based AvalonBay, a publicly traded real estate investment trust, to build apartments.

With Williams’ investment, Gibbons said, the firm plans to retain ownership of assets like office, residential and hotels at future projects. The firm will also weigh moving beyond its bread-and-butter suburban mixed-use and consider adding urban projects to its portfolio.

There were no projects on hold pending the completion of the deal with Williams, Gibbons said. But the firm already has several high-profile projects underway.

Those projects include the long-gestating $350 million Towson Row project. After problems halted work on the project Greenberg Gibbons stepped in as its lead developer last year. The firm held a ceremony in 2018 marking the resumption of work on the development, which will include office, residential, hotel, and retail spaces.

Greenberg Gibbons is pursuing a mixed-use project called Waldorf Station in an opportunity zone, which provides tax incentives to invest in the 150-acre project at Route 5 and Route 301 in Charles County.

Greenberg Gibbons’ plans for Waldorf Station involve a 60,000-square-foot office building, hotel and retail with a 150,000-square-foot anchor space.

“We hope to have that under construction by late spring, early summer next year,” Gibbons said.

Greenberg Gibbons also recently made a significant hire, bringing on longtime Continental Realty Corp. executive Gene Parker to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. But the new investment, Gibbons said, will not alter the firm’s operations.

Gibbons said he’s known Williams for years and that he’s comfortable with the investment. The deal was something he and Williams had discussed for some time before it was made public on Friday.

The opportunity to work with a partner on expanding the business, which was founded in 1968, provides an opportunity that Gibbons said he expects to enjoy.

“It’s more fun to do things with partners than by yourself,” he said.


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