Today we’d like to introduce you to Rick Halpern.
Rick, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a native of Atlanta, and grew up in the real estate business. My father, Bernard Halpern started Halpern Enterprises, Inc. in the 1950’s, and its primary focus is investing in shopping centers. He passed away in 1980.
I am one of five siblings, and at one time, all five of us worked in the family business.
There are 4 boys (I’m #4) + my little sister. In 1988, I decided to go off on my own, and opened my own real estate investment company. Over the years, I have owned a variety of properties: several shopping centers, and two office parks. Currently, I just own Atlanta West (96,000 sf), and two shopping centers outside of Atlanta. (Aiken, SC & Warner Robins, GA.)
What makes Atlanta West such an interesting story is how it has evolved through the Great Recession and beyond. Though I was looking for Atlanta shopping centers to buy, there were no deals out there. Then I discovered Atlanta West via Loopnet, an online resource. I purchased it in 2008. At that time, it was heavily occupied by government agencies that served the minority community. Tenants such as Pardons & Parole, the Probation office, Children’s services, and the Fulton County Health clinic. When I bought it, it was 64% full, so I looked forward to some upside. When the recession hit, State budgets got cut, and I lost every single government tenant. It dropped to 20% full, which included a church and a couple of startup businesses. It was a miserable time, with lots of negative cash flow. I joked that I wanted to figure out what the salvage value of the bricks was. I was considering walking away from it, since I owned it free and clear. My son convinced me to stay.
Since then, the occupancy has jumped to about 75%, and the caliber of tenants truly reflects the transformation of the Westside. Instead of Pardons & Parole, I have a tax service, insurance agency, day spa, travel company, flooring company, dialysis center, security company, electrical contractor, and much more.
Sitting 1/4 mile of I-285, Atlanta West is the gateway property to both Holloway Parkway and the Fulton Industrial area. In another year, UPS will be opening a $400 million distribution center that is under construction, only 1/4 mile away. Their facility is an absolute game changer for the surrounding area. With an anticipated 1,200 employees working there, the need for housing, restaurants, shopping and office space will grow. We anticipate getting at least one restaurant.
Personally, I am married, with 5 kids, ages 28-13. Three are married, one grandchild and another on the way.
My personal philosophy comes from my father, who built his business being a fair and caring landlord. I maintain good, personal relationships with all my tenants, and see them as partners with me on building the property.
Because of its location and frontage, Atlanta West will continue to thrive as the gateway property to an area poised for tremendous growth.
Also, I believe that it is very important to give back to the community, and I have been involved in a number of community projects in Atlanta and beyond.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Atlanta West Business Center – what should we know?
I believe in helping businesses succeed through offering reasonable rent. Because I bought Atlanta West at a good price, I can afford to charge lower rents than the competition, and am not afraid of any new office developments being able to undercut our prices.
As an owner/manager, I take a very hands-on approach to maintaining the property.
Though I work with some amazing subs, you’ll often find me walking the property, pulling weeds and picking up litter. I’m most proud of the relationships I am building with my tenants, based on mutual respect.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My father and mother, and siblings. Great lenders, real estate agents, attorneys and contractors. Above all is my faith in God and His blessings.
- Email: email@example.com