06 Apr Happy Birthday ICONIC Real Estate – Meet Marc Nassif with BBG
One year ago, Jacob Sworski and I donned nice fitting sports jackets and headed out on the streets of Detroit for Tiger’s opening day and to launch ICONIC. With a large stack of business cards and laundry list of tailgate parties to stop by, spreading the news about what we were setting out to do. A few weeks later I would find myself sitting at the bar of 220 restaurant in Birmingham only to overhear the two guys next to me talking about the building they just purchased in Brush Park. I couldn’t help myself, I had to seize the opportunity to spread the word about ICONIC and took a moment to step in and offer some thoughts, the serendipity of the story only grew when it turned out that one of the gentlemen next to me had been introduced to me via email earlier that day and now, one year later, I consider these two gentlemen key players in the Detroit real estate arena. One of the gentlemen next to me was Marc Nassif, Sr. Managing Director of BBG. When I noticed that the office move for BBG was the top clicked article from last week’s newsletter, I reached out to Marc and thought it would be fun to have a mini interview for this week’s blog. So without further ado:
Kees: Marc, your career offers you insight to real estate analytics that the average investor does not, when did you know you wanted to purchase property in Detroit, and did you do it with the intention of bringing BBG there, or was that a unexpected bonus? Describe the “a-ha” moment when you realized you needed to be in the city.
Marc: The biggest benefit in my role with BBG is the interaction with other people in real estate. I have been fortunate to interact daily with incredibly smart, experienced, and hungry professionals, and, as a result learn a lot from them.
BBG has been incredibly active appraising in Detroit. We have literally done thousands of apartment units, millions of square feet of office, retail, and industrial in the past few years. We have also carved out a niche doing market and feasibility studies for proposed developments. We have done 15 market studies for new developments in Detroit in the last 15 months alone. As our office lease term in Livonia was drawing to a close I knew Detroit was the best place for us to move. Once the building was listed I jumped on it pretty quickly.
Kees: The building you moved into on Watson, can you describe the condition it was in after closing?
Marc: The building was in good condition but needed to be completely redeveloped. We tore it down to the structure and started over, taking it from a single-use building to a multi-tenant, mixed-use building that will house nearly 100 jobs when all work is done. We were able to save a lot of the historic features of the building, including original freight elevator doors and equipment. The most exciting find was a set of green wood doors that were originally installed 100 years ago. We found them sandwiched between a couple walls built in the 1990’s. We were able to save all this and now have it prominently displayed.
Kees: You and your partners have undergone some major renovations to this site, can you give us more color to the extent of which you have renovated? Were there any unexpected challenges or blessings?
Marc: Yes, we renovated everything. It was quite the learning experience, and honestly in retrospect I am grateful for the headaches. Taking this asset from acquisition to stabilization was a long and sometimes painful process. However it was a lot of fun and very rewarding. It has proven to be a great benefit in our appraisal work to have first-hand experience with redevelopment in the city.
Kees: I know it was also the former office of the Heidelberg Project, did you find any amazing art left over when you took possession?
Marc: We acquired the building after they had announced their headquarters relocation, and were able to work with them so that they had time to complete their move. I am glad I got a chance to meet them, they were very professional about the transition. They were gracious enough to leave us a great piece of art, which is now displayed in our common area as a reminder to their time in the building.
Kees: Your offices will also host a new bar dubbed Second Best in Detroit and sits across the street from the very popular Grey Ghost, what other attractions can you talk about coming to your new neighborhood?
Marc: It’s becoming a vibrant 24-hour community. There is a lot of stable multi-family already in place. City Modern and other developments will bring even more foot traffic to the neighborhood. Now that I am sitting in the building every day I am excited for even more restaurants and dining to come on line during the day.
Kees: I realize you haven’t been in your offices downtown for very long, but what are some of the components of being in the city you are most looking forward to?
Marc: The density of clients and other real estate professionals has been a real positive. People that I used to drive 45 minutes to visit have now just strolled in since they were in the area. We have completed 30 appraisals in Detroit in the last 90 days, so the location is not only logistically more efficient for us, but enables us to literally watch what is happening in the area.
Kees: Finally are there any recent projects that you have been involved in that give you even greater confidence that moving BBG to the city was the perfect move?
Marc: The most positive trend I see is the development footprint continually expanding outward from the CBD and Midtown. There is a lot of interest, not only from developers but also a growing list of lenders, in the neighborhoods. The recent speculation about Michigan Central Depot is obviously the biggest news, but the exciting thing is the number of small, in-fill developments people are now teeing up. I think this will have the greatest impact on the people of Detroit and create more opportunities for everyone.
Kees: Marc, thank you so much for your time and input, welcome to Detroit. We are all lucky to have you and BBG’s offices here.
Marc George Nassif, MAI, LEED AP, MRICS
Senior Managing Director
42 Watson Street, Suite C
Detroit, MI 48201
Thank you for reading, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the topic, so please comment, email or call!
Kees Janeway – Managing Partner, ICONIC Real Estate
Read last week’s most read article, BBG Relocates Michigan Office to Historic District in Detroit, from Market Watch 3/21/18 here.