Bridge Development Partners is staying busy as they are currently wrapping up construction of four speculative buildings in Chicago alone – two in McCook and two in Libertyville. They’re also preparing to break ground on two buildings in Waukegan this spring, according to Steve Groetsema, director of leasing and development at Bridge. There’s certainly more coming out of the ground this year for the company—find out what and when from Groetsema as he’s speaking on Chicago Industrial Properties 12th Annual CIP Summit State of the Market panel April 7. But before that, here are few things you may not have known about Groetsema:
Title at Bridge? I am the Director of Leasing and Development at Bridge Development Partners.
What does that mean? At Bridge we try to stay as lean as possible, so often times there is a lot of crossover with employees in different roles rather than being in a silo, and we like it that way. You wear a lot of different hats here. Probably more than anyone else though, I oversee the day-to-day leasing and disposition of our Chicago portfolio, as well as chase new deals in Chicago. We are all responsible for keeping the pipeline full at Bridge!
What sets Bridge apart from the rest? I believe our biggest differentiator is our ability to be flexible and to adjust in order to make a deal. We know that in real estate the one thing that WILL NOT happen is what we have modeled in our initial pro formas, so you need to be ready to adjust in order to execute. We have wonderful partners that stand by us and are as flexible as we are, and in turn I believe that the brokers bringing us deals trust us to execute for them.
Working on anything exciting? We absolutely are. Along with the prior projects mentioned earlier, we are also in the middle of redeveloping the old Dominick’s Finer Foods distribution campus along I-294 in Northlake. When completed at year end that will be more than 400,000 SF of freezer/cooler product and a state of the art, 36′ clear 588,000 SF bulk warehouse. In addition to the Northlake freezer/cooler product we have a stabilized cold storage portfolio of about 625,000 SF in Chicago that keeps us busy. Lastly, we have a pipeline of about 2.5 million square feet in New Jersey and 1.3 million square feet in south Florida, and that product in those dynamic markets is really exciting and rather irreplaceable.
Most memorable project/deal? I would have to say the redevelopment of the Dominick’s Campus in Northlake is my most memorable so far, even though it is only about 6 months old and we are in the middle of construction. It’s not every day that you demolish over a million square feet of buildings and have the ability to make such a large speculative play in such an infill location, so we are really excited to see that through. It’s also such a visible, high profile site along 294 that the interest from others has been fun.
First CRE job? I started at Bridge a week after I graduated college, so this is really the only real job I have ever had, let alone my first job in CRE. I hope Bridge is happy with their hire because I know I have enjoyed every day I have been able to work for the partners in this environment.
Greatest advice ever received? I was raised in a family where to be early was to be on time, and that the greatest sign of disrespect is making people wait, so I have tried to stand by that and be considerate of others time, and efforts, as much as possible. Ron Frain also told me early on that you need to appreciate the little victories and find daily chores to finish in order to combat the frustration that inevitably comes in working a job where day-to-day progress is hard to see. That has always stuck with me.
Daily habit? Taking my dog, Tilly, for a long walk when I get home, usually with a cocktail in a tumbler in my hand. And weather permitting in the summer, tending to and watering my lawn and garden. That’s a good example of a daily chore that Ron Frain told me to find.
Family facts? At our house in LaGrange it is my wife, Suzi, our dog Tilly, and me. Suzi works in public relations for a small Chicago PR firm that specializes in marketing and branding for design and lifestyle clients. Most of our extended families live in the west suburbs as well, so we make a point to see all of our nieces as much as possible.
Interesting fact about yourself? I am a die-hard Chicago sports fan, and the Bulls would be my team if I had to pick one. The Blackhawks are so fun now, but as a kid growing up in Chicago in the 1990s there was only one team that I loved in the winter (that may have had something to do with the fact that MJ was doing his thing while the Hawks weren’t on TV…). My brother and I try to see the Bulls play at a different away stadium every year, and this past January we saw a great close win over the Mavs in Dallas.