Each year, Midwest Real Estate News highlights the careers of the most successful Midwest CRE professionals in its Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame issue. We also run these profiles online each Tuesday. Today, we look at the career of J. Taggart Birge, president and principal of Cornerstone Companies in Indianapolis.
Years in the business: 20
A builder: When J. Taggart Birge joined Indianapolis’ Cornerstone Companies, a firm that focuses solely on healthcare real estate, the company had five employees and managed about 700,000 square feet. That was in 2009. Today, thanks largely to Birge’s leadership, the firm produces annual revenues that are 15 to 20 times higher than what they were when this CRE veteran first arrived.
Cornerstone now boasts 96 employees and manages 4.5 million square feet of medical office space. In addition, Birge has led the Cornerstone team in the monetization of $400 million worth of medical office buildings.
Making the switch from law: Despite his success in the field, Birge didn’t get his start in commercial real estate. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1997 and practiced law as a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans in Indianapolis. His practice centered on representing private and public real estate developers with office and medical sales and development across the United States.
In 2004, following his successful legal career, Birge entered real estate development as a senior vice president of healthcare at Lauth Property Group. While there, Birge developed about $200 million worth of office and healthcare buildings around the country.
“I’ve always enjoyed solving complex problems and helping people,” Birge said. “Being in the commercial real estate industry allows me to do both, while helping clients realize their real estate goals.”
Honors: Not surprisingly, considering the success he’s had in two competitive fields, Birge has earned several key honors during his career. Indianapolis Business Journal named Birge to its Forty Under 40 list. Birge was also the youngest attorney in Indiana to be named to Chamber USA’s Leading Lawyers for Business Guide.
Finding mentors: Like many of the CRE pros in our Hall of Fame, Birge points to the help he received from mentors as a key reason for his success. He credits Bob Whitacre, chief executive officer of Cornerstone Companies, and Bruce Cordingley, president and chief executive officer of Pedcor Investments, as playing key roles in his success.
“What sets them apart is the way in which they lead,” Birge said, “always demonstrating the importance of integrity, character and dedication.”
An active volunteer: Despite his busy career, Birge has found time to give back to the community. Birge currently serves on the board of directors of Bowen Engineering, Indiana Sports Corp., Tindley Accelerated Schools and Washington Prime Group. He is also a cabinet member of Orchard Park School and a member of YPO.
Out-of-office hours: Outside of the office, Birge spends time with his family and also enjoys playing tennis and skiing.