As a real estate developer, Andrew Gallinaro ultimately hopes to spin golden investments out of brick and mortar properties. He’s steadily increasing the value of properties – an outdated office park in Burlington; a former industrial park in the South End – by drastically redeveloping the land and buildings. Gallinaro is part of an expert property team at Newton-based National Development, a leading New England real estate investment firm that oversees over 25 million square feet of retail, office and industrial space, and senior and multi-family housing. As asset manager, it’s Gallinaro’s role to not just maximize the investment for National Development partners, but also to have a hands-on role in maintaining the properties. As property manager, he makes sure the buildings are heated and cooled, executes leases with new renters, and oversees building improvements, among other details. “It seemed that anyone with a calculator and spreadsheet was a real estate expert up until the point when the economy crashed,” said Gallinaro. “Today, folks in our industry are more focused on how we can add value to properties and surrounding communities, rather than just on the bottom-line financial figures.” Gallinaro spoke with Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene about his role in developing and managing National Development real estate projects throughout the region.
“I entered the real estate industry about a decade ago, when the economy, and real estate in particular, were extremely hot. At the time, there was more of a focus on ‘financial engineering’ and generating returns for investors, as opposed to how we are approaching investments post-great recession. Essentially what we are looking for is a property with a great location, but also how we can fundamentally change the landscape in ways that have lasting impact for generations to come.
"For example, our work at The District Burlington is taking an existing property and flipping it around 180 degrees to transform it into an urban-style destination that you wouldn’t typically find in the suburbs. We like to look for opportunities where we can create the most value instead of just investing in the next hot neighborhood and riding the wave. These types of value-added investment opportunities are our sweet spot. Of course, there’s inherent risk in what we do, but good investors are risk mitigators and not risk takers, and we do everything we can to mitigate risk in our projects. Another example is our work at Ink Block, where a lot of people thought it was crazy to invest that much into a challenging corner of the South End. But the project has been a big success so far because we were committed to creating something really different. National Development has completed projects in more than 30 municipalities in the Greater Boston area, and not only do we we make sure these properties are performing financially; they also have to be managed day to day. What I really love is the breadth of situations and the variety of people that I deal with each day. Within a span of 30 minutes this morning, I got a call from a property manager who needed to resolve an issue with a subcontractor. And then I had to quickly switch gears to join a conference call with one of our investment partners – a global investment firm – to talk through a financial proposal for a large prospective tenant. I need to be able to fluidly transition from dealing with investment bankers, contractors, local government officials, and tenants, to everyone in between. It’s truly an ever-changing dynamic. The real estate industry in general is traditionally more of a slow adapter but we are collectively becoming much better listeners. And when I want to take a break from all of this, I enjoy my fantasy football league. After toiling in mediocrity for several years, I am very confident that this is the year for my office fantasy football team. And even if it’s not, I’ll enjoy the friendly competition and banter around the office among my colleagues that comes with it."
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