Visiting Old Projects -reunion or not to reunion

Do you like High School reunions?- Some people embrace their high school reunions and others will have nothing to do with them. Me personally I like reunions because I had such a good time in high school growing up in Ft. Lauderdale. So many memories are made in the “hormone years” as we say, but aside from that South Florida was wide open and there was so much to do- most of all it was smaller and ultra-safe. Fast forward to today and high school reunions have been replaced by project reunions.

The great thing about being a real estate developer is the creativity required to make a great project is as satisfying as the success of the project itself, and you are building something that will last many decades and may outlast you as well. Having a reunion with your projects is a nice perk for this profession. Whenever I am near a neighborhood, we built years ago (and it does not have to be many years), I try to drop by to see how the landscaping has grown, what the lake littorals are doing and wave to a neighbor or two.

A mature project sheds light on things you may want to do differently on the next project. The fact that you are leaving a legacy of success behind is very satisfying, and not something everyone gets to do. Your kids and grandkids get to see your work too. It gives you a boost and makes you to want to continue and find that next future reunion.

But beware things are not always what they seem. I have built in a lot of gated communities that have been turned over eons ago to the homeowners and they or their management company run the HOA. So, getting in to those communities is a rare event- and sometimes that’s a good thing. Having been a custom home builder for many years, and having built in many high-end communities, on occasion a friend will invite me over or I will get an opportunity to visit one of the old communities. About 20 years ago I had the chance to visit someone at the Sanctuary of Boca Raton. I built one house in there and I had not been back to see it for about 15 years.

I have a good memory for things like this so after leaving my friend, I did a tour of the neighborhood. OH MY GOSH IT’S GONE. I was kind of surprised that after only about 15 years someone came in and demolished my old house to rebuild their dream home. Sometimes your reunions may not be what you are expecting. As I built more and more custom homes in more and more communities, I have lost track of the streets and lots so I don’t even look for them if I am in the area. But subdivisions and townhome projects will likely be around a lot longer. Those are the reunions I look forward to.

Stephen Gravett has been a real estate developer for over 45 years and was most recently CEO of Kennedy Homes for the past 11 years and is still CEO of Kennedy Development Partners (KDP). He is also full time Director of Operations for 5 Star Developers. He is a state licensed broker and since 1980 a State licensed General Contractor Unlimited. Before becoming a real estate developer, he flew B-52’s in the US Air Force during the Vietnam War.

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