Daily Archives: July 10, 2019

Screaming Eagle Purchases Historic St. Louis Property for Development

Making an Investment in St. Louis City

Matt Masiel, one of St. Louis Business Journal’s “40 under 40,” is invested in the success of downtown St. Louis.

A native of Perryville, MO, Masiel attended Vanderbilt University and received his Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering. After graduation, he entered the US Army, serving as an engineer in the 101st Airborne Division—The Screaming Eagles—and was deployed during the Iraq war from 2003 to 2004.

Discharged with honors from the army, Masiel and his wife made St. Louis their home. He obtained his MBA from Washington University, then went to work for US Bank and Stonehenge Capital. Through his work in the financial industry, he developed a specialty helping clients put together financing inclusive of Historic Tax Credits as well as real estate tax abatements.

Seeing his clients succeed, he became fascinated by the process. Masiel believed that, with a little education, he could leverage his background in banking to structure similar deals for himself. Then, with his experience as an engineer, learn how to oversee property rehab.

H. Meade Summers, IIIWith the support of H. Meade Summers, president of Hilliker Corporation, he worked to receive his real estate license.  In June of 2016, he began Screaming Eagle Development.

Screaming Eagle has been looking to rehab historic buildings into multi-family apartments. After working on a deal in early 2018 with Summers, Masiel found himself scrolling through other properties Summers had listed on the Hilliker website.

One caught his attention. It had an exciting history, and he thought it would be a perfect match with his vision for St. Louis real estate.

Historic St. Louis Real Estate Investment Property

In 1884, Washington University purchased a parcel of land at Locust and 19th Streets from the Unitarian pastor William Greenleaf Eliot for $1.

Soon after, the University built a one-story brick school on the site. When later making plans to unify its campus, Wash U demolished the school building. The board then commissioned architect Preston J. Bradshaw to design a new mercantile building as an investment.

Bradshaw had already designed a small-scale building near the site on Locust, which was quickly becoming known as “Automobile Row,” and would go on to develop The Coronado Hotel, another St. Louis landmark.

The building at 1815 Locust Street was purchased by George Weber, Sr., of The Weber Implement and Automobile Company, which sold farm implements, buggies, wagons, and a variety of early automobiles—most notably the short-lived Hupmobile.

George Weber’s company became the St. Louis area’s preeminent Chevrolet dealership. They eventually sold the building in 1993 to tire wholesaler Tire Mart, but  the building at 1815 Locust earned a spot on the National Registry of Historic places as “The Weber Implement and Automobile Company Building.”

Historic Tax Credit, Property Renovation, and an Innovative Plan

When Masiel and his team toured the building at 1815 Locust, they saw a historic property that had been well maintained by its owners, Tire Mart. Though he knew it would likely have lead paint and asbestos issues, Masiel and his staff knew they could handle the abatement along with any other age-related problems.

Screaming Eagle Development put a contract on the building in early 2018, acquiring it with a loan from Midwest Regional Bank.

Screaming Eagle will be using government-based financing program HUD 221(d)(4), which allows investors to take out a low-cost fixed-rate loan to convert spaces for moderately-priced multi-family rentals. The project is also eligible for Historic Tax Credits.

 Screaming Eagle Development purchased 116,000 square feet at 1801-1815 Locust Street for $3,200,000 from Tire Mart Realty, LLC, represented by Meade Summers of Hilliker Corporation, on June 10, 2019.

Fresh Future for a National Treasure

Masiel is currently working with Vince Ebersoldt of e+a architecture, Pinnacle Contracting, and Gershman Mortgage. He’s planning a $21.5 million restoration project, converting the building into seventy individual one- and two-bedroom units with all new windows and custom design work.

The apartments will feature high-end finishes, including either quartz or granite countertops along with stainless steel appliances. They also plan to provide high-speed Internet, common area entertainment, and secure parking (among other amenities) for their residents.

Screaming Eagle plans to begin construction in late 2019 and is scheduled to list apartments for rent in December 2020.

Masiel is committed to seeing St. Louis City continue to thrive, having told the Post-Dispatch, “We’re pretty bullish on the apartment market downtown.” And a little less than a month after closing on this most recent deal, he was giving of his time by volunteering at Fair St. Louis, continuing to do whatever he can to help his city succeed.

St. Louis Tradition, Innovative Solutions

Hilliker Corporation has served St. Louis since 1985, having brokered over 10,000 transactions. As the area’s largest locally-focused commercial real estate broker, we know our region intimately. From new construction to historic properties, we help our entrepreneurial clients become part of a great tradition.

If you’re ready to buy, sell, or lease commercial real estate in the St. Louis area, Hilliker Corporation is poised to help you find the property that suits your unique needs, plans, and dreams.

Schedule an appointment today.

Better Deals, Less Stress: How to Choose the Right Commercial Real Estate Broker for You

I was in my early-30s when I got started in Commercial Real Estate. That was over thirty years ago! Then, as now, newer Brokers teamed up with more experienced Brokers to learn the ropes. That’s when I met Wallace McNeill.

Wallace was the first person to show me how to do the work of a Commercial Real Estate Broker, and he was the right guy to do it. He maintained a golden reputation, consistently showing himself trustworthy through every transaction.

He was also a hard-worker. I’ll never forget his advice to me: “Jake, be pleasantly aggressive.” Then he showed me what he meant by his actions. He worked hard, doing all he could to get the best deal for his client without being pushy. He wanted to leave a legacy of kindness and fairness.

Now, as someone who has had the privilege of closing over 500 retail, land investment, office, and industrial transactions, I’ve tested Wallace’s advice thoroughly and passed it on to others.

I’ve also gotten to work with a team of tremendous Brokers who have a similar code of ethics. Over and over again, I’ve watched them work to create win-win deals on behalf of their clients.

I’ve discovered what separates great Real Estate Brokers from the rest. If you’re an entrepreneur getting ready to look for Commercial Real Estate, here’s how to choose a Broker who will guide you successfully through the process.

Quality Real Estate Brokers are experts at property valuation.

No one wants to pay too much for a property, and no one wants to let a property go for too little. The decision on how to value your property will make or break the deal from the beginning, so getting it right takes experience and know-how.

There are many ways to come up with a price, but savvy Brokers leverage several of them at once.

1. Comp Searches

“Comp” is short for “comparable,” and we look at similar buildings that have sold in the same area as the building in question to figure out it’s worth. This includes mining our internal records of transactions that date back decades, as well as combing the comprehensive industry databases to which we subscribe.

However, this is not an exact science. Commercial Real Estate properties are rarely cookie-cutter, and it can be hard to find a recently sold similar property. Thankfully, this is not the only tool a Commercial Broker has to work with.

2. Collaborative Opinion of Value

Even when comp searches bring up useful results, smart Brokers will turn to their colleagues, knowing they will collectively be aware of current trends, upcoming deals, and other intelligence that will augment their ability to estimate their price.

3. Collaborative Opinion of Value, Part 2

Commercial Brokers aren’t the only people working in the industry who might have a good idea about what a property is worth.

 A good Broker will often leverage his network of contractors, appraisers, and other Real Estate professionals to weigh in on the value of a property. This isn’t a one-way street, either. Experienced Brokers receive calls from appraisers as well, and together they form a pool of knowledge that, in the long run, helps clients price their property fairly.

4. An Ear to the Ground

Real Estate trends up and down, just like the stock market. The best Commercial Brokers I know are aware of what’s happening in the community they’re working in.

 That’s where a local brokerage like Hilliker has a competitive edge over larger national brokerages. The people in our office are out in the community, reading the local papers, interacting with government officials, and generally aware of what’s trending in our region.

Quality Real Estate Brokers are often (though not always) part of a larger firm.

Though I’ve worked successfully with several quality brokers who are on their own or part of a smaller firm, there are few reasons larger firms have the edge over smaller firms or solo acts.

1. Formal and Informal Mentoring Relationships

As I mentioned before, newer Brokers usually pair up with veterans to learn the ropes. My colleagues have all had a “Wallace,” and I’ve served in that role for others.

More experienced brokers benefit from having newer brokers to work with as well, benefitting from their energy, their curiosity, and their partnership. 

2. Established Relationships with Bankers

Banks tend to trust the opinions and work of established Brokers, or at least those who have the backing of an established firm. When choosing a Broker, you want someone whom bankers trust as an industry expert. 

3. A History (As Well as a Future)

Most entrepreneurs want to establish partnerships that will last over the course of their career.

I’ve helped new business owners lease their first building, then buy a building, then take on tenants, then retire and rent out their old building to new businesses.

Working with a Broker at an established firm will allow you to build on your mutual successes over time. And if that broker retires, you’ll be able to continue your relationship with people who know you and your history.

4. Better Connections

As a member of a large firm, I keep my colleagues aware of what I’m working on. They do the same for me. That way, we help each other match clients with properties all of the time.

 Often, one of us has a client who matches up with a property in a colleague’s portfolio (or vice-versa). Or we’ll be able to pool information we’ve gathered from our connections to help each other out. 

5. A Higher Bar for New Brokers

Firms like Hilliker Corporation place high demands on their Brokers. We want to work with the best, and that means we’ve screened potential Brokers on your behalf.

 Not only that, larger firms don’t often work with part-timers or people who are splitting their time between other Real Estate disciplines. We do Commercial Real Estate deals all day every day. Brokers from more substantial firms are immersed in doing what you need them to do, not in trying to juggle several other types of transactions.

Quality Real Estate Brokers will present sellers and landlords with a comprehensive marketing plan.

When you meet with a CRE Broker for the first time (and it’s good to meet with more than one), you should ask them what their marketing plan will be. Every situation will be a little different, but here are some elements to look for.

1. Print

This seems like a no-brainer, but at Hilliker, signage is a big deal. If you’ve ever seen our “big red H” outside of a building, you instantly know the property has space for lease or purchase.

The visibility of the sign, as well as its branding, is an integral part of a Broker’s marketing process. He or she may also send out mailers to local businesses or go door-to-door with brochures.

2. Product Platforms

If you have a space for sale or lease, your Broker should list it on a variety of both local and national platforms. Additionally, if you’re looking to lease or buy real estate, your Broker should be culling options for you from a variety of sources. (We have our own platform here.)

3. Walk-throughs

Every Commercial Broker worth his or her salt will make sure as many prospects walk through your space as possible. Besides making sure interested parties get to see what’s available, that person may schedule open-houses for other brokers and business owners who will help them get the word out.

4. Connections

Commercial Brokers who have cultivated a network of business partners, colleagues, and contacts over the years will leverage that network on your behalf. Ask if they have any ideas whom they’ll talk with about your property. They should have an answer shortly into the process.

5. Creative Pricing and Value

If a property struggles on the market, savvy Commercial Real Estate Brokers will modify the price over time or look for other incentives to get buyers or lessees interested.

Are you looking for a Commercial Real Estate Broker? Here’s where to start.

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you probably already have some partners who would be able to help you find a great broker. People who know quality Commercial Real Estate Brokers include: 

  • Lawyers
  • Bankers
  • CPAs
  • Other trusted business advisors

When you talk to your trusted team of advisors, ask for a few options. You’ll want to speak with more than one person before you make your final decision.

And don’t forget to call us at Hilliker Corporation.

With a built-in network of Commercial Real Estate Brokers, you’ll be able to leverage our entire team, no matter which member you choose.

Schedule an appointment today.

John H. ShepleyJohn H. “Jake” Shepley has worked as a Commercial Real Estate Broker for over thirty-five years. After graduating from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Mr. Shepley earned his MBA in Finance from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Married to his wife Carol since 1986, they have three daughters. Jake is excited about life, waking up daily to seize whatever challenges lay ahead.

New business Owner Buys Commercial Real Estate with Hilliker Corp

A Lifelong Dream Come True

Jenny Sturm, a St. Louis native more than twenty years into her sales career, stood at a crossroads. Her full-time job, working in sales for a pharmaceuticals company, had her spending too much time on the road.

Further, she had spent many of her nights and weekends helping her parents with their commercial and residential construction company. By 2018, she had helped them sell off their holdings. Now free to concentrate on her day job, she found she missed the construction business.

As she thought about what she might do next, she unearthed an old dream: to purchase and operate a company of her own.

She began looking for construction companies that were ready to sell. She came across Signature Craft, a commercial contractor that produces, markets, and installs sound-baffles and window treatments.

With an in-demand product, Signature Craft was a solid business model with a bright future. Sturm’s background in sales, marketing, and operations made it a great fit.

Sturm says, “I always wanted to own my own company. I came across the opportunity and said, ‘I can do this!’” Soon after signing the deal, she found out her corporate position was set to be eliminated. Her timing was perfect.

Officially, Sturm purchased Signature Craft on January 1, 2019. Quickly, she realized the commercial warehouse and office space they were leasing was not compatible with her vision for the company.

The Search for St. Louis-area Commercial Office and Warehouse Space

For many years, Signature Craft has been in Rock Hill on Manchester Road in a building owned by the company’s founder. Though Sturm now owned the business, the building wasn’t part of the deal, and she would be leasing the space.

There were a few problems with that. First, the old building didn’t match her vision for the brand. At 36,000 square feet, it was much too large, leaving her team scattered and the building feeling empty.

Second, it was located in a floodplain, driving up the company’s insurance premiums. Third, she wanted to find more of a central location for the business, positioning it closer to a highway. Ideally, it would be no more than fifteen minutes from her home in Webster Groves.

A. William AschingerFeeling like they needed to make purchasing commercial real estate for the company top priority, Sturm called her bankers at Parkside Financial, who referred her without reservation to Will Aschinger of Hilliker Corporation.

After consulting with her team, she decided to search for 25,000 square feet of commercial office and warehouse space.

Sturm and Aschinger went looking for property, though there was very little warehouse space that was also zoned light-industrial. They needed to find a creative solution, and Aschinger was up for the challenge.

After touring over a dozen properties in Fenton, Kirkwood, and Westport, Aschinger found a new listing for a building in the Hanley Industrial area that featured everything Sturm and Signature Craft were looking for.

Making a Smart Investment in a Turnkey Commercial Space

When Aschinger and Sturm toured 1419-1423 Strassner, they were immediately struck by how perfectly it fit Signature Craft’s needs.

The building, already zoned properly with the right-sized warehouse, had a small but well-appointed office space. Though the building itself was right at 33,000 square feet, only about 25,000 square feet was unoccupied. The rest was already being leased to McMillan Construction, meaning Sturm could generate income from an existing lease.

Sturm said, “The building itself was really turnkey. The plant manager and I have decided how we’ll lay things out. We considered everyone’s opinions, so all that’s left to do is a little bit of work. Our union carpenters are handling that.”

Buying Commercial Real Estate: A Full-Circle Moment

Sturm says of Aschinger, “It was great working with Will. He made it so easy. I let him lead the way, and he took things from start to finish. I felt confident in his ability.”

As her parents learned she was going sign for her own commercial property, they were encouraging, and Sturm felt like her life had come full circle. She says, “I felt like I got a great deal. The property is only going to appreciate, and it’s going to be my space.”

Sturm and her team found a couple of added benefits to their new location beyond what they hoped for. Since the Hanley Industrial area is full of contractors, Signature Craft will be near both current and potential partners, creating an opportunity for synergy and collaboration.

Second, the staff is excited to be working in a purposefully planned space, and everyone is looking forward to the quality restaurant and shopping options just minutes from their workplace.

Signature Craft hopes to move into their new building by June 15, 2019.

Creative Real Estate Solutions for St. Louis-area Businesses

Are you ready to stop leasing? Would you be better positioned for success if you owned your own commercial warehouse, office, or industrial space?

Hilliker Corporation brokers go to work for you to find creative solutions that meet your needs.

If you’re ready to get started looking for commercial real estate, set up an appointment with a Hilliker broker today.

A Family Tradition: Aschinger Electric Calls on Hilliker Corporation for Property Management

An American Entrepreneurial Success

In 1912, St. Louis native Otto Aschinger borrowed a book on electricity from the library. After reading it, he hired two electricians to rewire a house for him. He observed their work, making a note of everything they did.

Based on this remarkably straightforward education, he founded Aschinger Electric, which continues to thrive four generations later. Specializing in the design and installation of electrical systems, The Engineering News-Record named them one of America’s top 600 specialty contractors in 2018.

Aschinger Electric has been in the family for four generations. O. Francis Aschinger (Otto’s son) guided the company until his death in 1978. Then, his wife, Zdena, and their three sons took over the business’s ownership and operation. Zdena passed away in 2011, but her sons Eric (president), Jack, and Keith Aschinger guided the company well into the new millennium.

While still heavily involved in the business, they recruited Eric’s daughter, Emily Martin, to take over the position of president in 2015.

A Diverse Business Portfolio

In 1981, the Aschinger family used an Industrial Revenue Bond to buy 4.85 acres and build their own building at 877 Horan Drive in Fenton. The family’s two main businesses have always occupied just over half the building: Aschinger Electric and its sister company, Aschinger Communications. They’ve filled the rest of the building with a variety of tenants over the years.

At first, it made sense to keep property management in-house. However, as the core business continued to expand, property management became a distraction. Eric says, “Our comptroller was just swamped.”

With only a few tenants, it didn’t make sense to bring in a full-time property manager, but they needed someone to collect monthly rent, pay the various bills on the property, find and manage contractors for ongoing maintenance, and fill spaces as they became available.

One tenant in particular, Williams Office Machines, was getting ready to move out after twenty years. Luckily, Eric knew a family member in the real estate business: his distant cousin (second cousin, once removed!), Will Aschinger of Hilliker Corporation.

Extending the Family Business

When Eric called on Will to manage their property in Fenton and its tenants, Will was eager to help. One of his existing clients, LTG Lighting, was looking for space similar to the one Williams Office Machines was vacating. Since the two companies work in the same industry, there was an opportunity for them to forge a mutually beneficial relationship.

Later, Will was able to fill a vacant space with Maggie’s Lunchbox, a restaurant where Aschinger Electric employees (among many others) can enjoy their breakfast and lunch menu.

Donna L. WilliamsNow, Hilliker’s Director of Property Management, Donna Williams, deals with the day-to-day tasks of owning the property. Eric has been pleased with the results, saying, “Hilliker has done a great job.”

About his cousin, Eric says, “Will and his team stay on top of our needs, and we’re happy to keep things in the family.”

What Are Your Property Management Needs?

If you are running a business while serving tenants, consider bringing in Hilliker’s property management expertise to simplify your life and increase your effectiveness.

Our brokers can help you find new tenants, structure mutually beneficial lease agreements, and manage your day-to-day task list. If you need Hilliker Corporation’s Property Management expertise, book an appointment with us today!