Sunday, October 3, 2010

Southeast Venture guides MetroCenter growth

Randy Parham, a principal in Southeast Venture Real Estate Services, has a long history developing office projects in MetroCenter — and it's not finished yet.
Parham and four other partners at Southeast have brought nearly 300,000 square feet of MetroCenter office space into existence since 2007, and the firm has 98,000 square feet about to come out of the ground to help HealthSpring Inc. consolidate its operations there.

Southeast Venture owns an additional 40 acres in MetroCenter that could be developed for other tenants or owners once the economy picks up.

The firm played a key role in assembling and selling the land that led to the construction of Cool Springs Galleria, as well as the opening of Hickory Hollow and RiverGate malls. One of the 29-year-old company's two original founders — the retired Dick Sorenson — still has a son (Cam Sorenson) who is active as a principal in the firm. George Volkert, the other founder, died in 1997.

Parham discussed with Tennessean commercial real estate reporter Naomi Snyder what could lie ahead for MetroCenter, the local real estate market and how Southeast Venture has weathered a difficult economy.

How has Southeast Venture evolved from being a pure development company in the 1980s to the present day?

In the 1980s, the company owned and developed real estate for its own account. Then, in the late 1980s, the market went through its last big recession — really a depression as far as real estate was concerned — due to the overbuilding that had occurred. From 1987 to 1992, the commercial real estate industry was on its ear.

That was actually before I joined Southeast Venture. But what the other four partners did at the time was convert Southeast into more of a services company — one that did a number of projects for others and collected fees. Southeast started an architecture division in the 1990s and began to manage and lease property on a third-party basis for other owners and tenants. They also started a landscaping maintenance company, which continues to this day.

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