by Dan Rafter
Entrepreneurial and adventurous. That’s how Rick Baier describes the commercial real estate and development company he helps run, Kansas City’s CarrBaierCrandall, better known as CBC Real Estate Group.
Those two adjectives sum up nicely, too, the reasons behind the company’s success. As Baier, a principal with the firm, says, CBC Real Estate Group isn’t afraid to take chances. The company isn’t afraid to stretch.
“We are entrepreneurial enough and adventurous enough to look at a lot of different kinds of projects that some companies might feel are too far afield,” Baier said. “We are willing to look at projects that might have a little more hair on them.”
You can translate “hair” to “challenges.” There are plenty of easy, straightforward projects out there. CBC Real Estate will
certainly take on those. But the company doesn’t shy away from those projects that take more creativity.
This is partly because CBC relies on a deep bench of capital sources. Because the company provides its own capital, CBC can invest the equity necessary to make the more challenging projects work.
This is something that Kevin Kelly, CBC’s
chief financial officer, appreciates.
“I don’t know that we’re necessarily better at providing capital. But our advantage is that we do have investors who are loyal to us,” Kelly said. “We are able to bring capital quickly to projects. That helps us win them. When a government agency or private-sector opportunity comes out there, folks want to feel confident that we can indeed close that transaction financially.”
Of course, capital is one thing. To succeed in the competitive world of commercial real estate, companies need to deliver on their promises. And that’s another strength of CBC Real Estate: The company delivers its projects on time and on budget.
The experience needed
The management team at CBC boasts plenty of development and real estate experience. This includes managing principal William Crandall and principal Dan Carr, in addition to Baier.
Baier, for instance, has more than 30 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, including stints holding executive positions at CBRE and Leo Eisenberg Company. Crandall brings more than 30 years experience in architecture, project management and real estate development to his position.
And Carr has his own 26-plus-year career to help guide him. Carr has been responsible for the development of more than $300 million in commercial real estate projects during the last 10 years.
This talent at the leadership level has led to plenty of success stories for CBC. Andrews McMeel Universal, for instance, worked with CBC Real Estate Group to find a new headquarters facility in Kansas City. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs worked with the company to build a new VA outpatient clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., one of the first new clinics designed to replace outmoded VA facilities across the country.
CBC played a major role, too, in the development, leasing and managing of the Liberty Triangle retail development in Liberty, Mo. This project includes 350,000 square feet of retail space, and required CBC to provide guidance on zoning issues, negotiate financing challenges, oversee design and construction and handle pre-opening marketing.
Currently, CBC is working again with the Department of Veterans Affairs on a three-story, 195,000-square-foot outpatient clinic, this one to be located in Tallahassee, Fla. The company, in fact, has developed a long history of working with the department. Carr estimates that CBC has taken on more than 25 projects in all for the federal government.
And these are just a small sample of the many projects that CBC has taken on, in the Kansas City area and across the country.
“We have the experience to take on these projects. That’s one thing. But it’s another to bring the capital to it and the confidence to know that you will indeed be able to close these deals,” Carr said. “We have years of success here to draw upon. We have loyal investors and loyal lenders who like doing deals with us. We feel that this experience and that loyalty pays off when bidding on these projects. We can give the end user comfort that we can get these projects done.”
A diverse practice
CBC has taken advantage of the rebound in commercial real estate. The company has gained work during these better times in the retail, office, healthcare and government sectors.
Certain of these sectors, of course, are stronger than others.
Carr points to the medical field as being a particularly fruitful one for CBC.
“We deal a lot with the medical field,” he said. “Every sector of this field is consistently strong right now. That consistency is still holding.”
CBC has a strong presence, too, in municipal consulting work.
“As the cities and states get back on their feet again and retail sales start to increase, city coffers are increasing with it,” Carr said. “We are seeing more municipal work out there. And we think this wil hold true for the foreseeable future. Our government business never really turned down during the market downturn. It stayed pretty consistent. The governments continued to spend.”
While CBC takes on plenty of projects across the country, it is also an important player in its home market of Kansas City.
And that’s good news, because Kansas City is in the middle of a period of rising commercial real estate activity.
“The market here is absolutely getting better,” Baier said. “There are more corporate build-to-suit opportunities that the brokerage community has unearthed and brought to our attention. We have a big retail project, the Shoal Creek Valley project in Kansas City, in which almost every piece of land has been sold.”
The future, then, looks bright for CBC Real Estate Group.
“We are very busy right now,” Baier said. “We have a lot of clients that have been waiting and are now jumping into action. They see that in the next five years interest rates and the general economy will be very supportive of their mission to improve their real estate holdings. And we see that the next five years are going to be very busy for us.”