Lyle Fogarty has worked for soem big names in development, but he's hitting his stride being out on his own.
Lyle Fogarty racked up an impressive resume over the past 15-plus years, working with national and regional development powerhouses like Trammell Crow Co., Crescent Real Estate and Redstone Commercial, in Tampa.
But in 2017, armed with that experience, he created his own company, Clover Investment Properties LLC, to develop for his own account. Today he has a handful of projects in various stages that utilize the talents he’s honed over the nearly past two decades.
“I’ve learned that if you have some staying power and you’re patient, often times things work out,” says Fogarty, 44. “
In Clearwater, for instance, Clover Investment has developed a retail cluster consisting of a Walmart Neighborhood Market, a Starbucks Coffee shop, WaWa convenience store and gas station and a Bob Evans restaurant.
In Tampa, the company is redeveloping a 32,000-square-foot retail center near a high-volume Publix Super Market.
A deal in Lakeland will result in a new Starbucks-anchored retail center, and another in Brandon will become an urgent care center.
In Manatee County, on Anna Maria Island, Fogarty – a Bradenton native – is constructing a handful of residences. Elsewhere in the county, Clover Investment and partners purchased Cortez Commons, a 120,000-square-foot retail center, where Fogarty also is planning upgrades.
“We own properties all over the Southeast, and we’re fortunate in that we’re fairly liquid and we have ample capital sources, so we don’t have partners. We don’t need them,” says Bob Sweeney, the head of real estate investment and development firm RJS Properties Inc., in Charlotte, N.C.
“With one exception: Lyle. He’s our only partner. And that’s because he adds value to everything he touches,” Sweeney adds.
When he’s not planning projects, Fogarty has since 2006 taught a real estate development class at Emory University, in Atlanta, where he attended business school beginning in 2001.
“Teaching the class was initially intended to help me make up for my development shortfalls, which are many,” Fogarty says. “But it’s become over time one of the most rewarding parts of my career. I have old students who will graduate and check in, and they are doing the most amazing things.”
Fogarty’s career has also been a learning process. After Emory, he landed a job with Trammell Crow in 2003, where his first project involved a 14-acre urban tract in Atlanta. Westside Village contained a mix of retail space, condominiums, townhomes – and complications.
“That first project taught me a ton – about what not to do,” Fogarty says.
From there, Fogarty followed his boss to Crescent Real Estate, where he worked on a 500,000-square-foot, speculative office building in the upscale Atlanta suburb of Buckhead, and built an Ikea-anchored retail center, also in Atlanta.
“To be a great developer, you need access to capital, land or a tenant to drive a deal,” Fogarty says. “Crescent had all three.”
What Crescent also had was in excess of $1 billion in debt and significant land positions. In 2009, the company sought bankruptcy protection, which wiped out the debt but also prompted Fogarty’s boss to exit the company.
When private equity stepped in, Crescent turned its attention to multifamily projects. Fogarty returned home to Tampa to work as president of Redstone Commercial’s development operations.
“They have a different outlook toward owning real estate,” Fogarty says of Redstone Commercial. “Trammell Crow builds things to sell them. Redstone builds things, or invests in things, to own them. I have huge respect for the people at Redstone, they were terrific mentors.”
Ironically, the job at Redstone Commercial took Fogarty back to Georgia, where in Decatur, an Atlanta suburb, he redeveloped an aging office building with the addition of apartments next door, retail space on the ground floor and a parking deck.
In the aftermath, occupancy in the office building rose from 65% to 98%. Redstone Commercial continues to own 315 W. Ponce de Leon Ave.
“It was a great, collaborative project and we just happened to buy it at the right time,” Fogarty says.
Not every project has gone as planned, of course. At Trammell Crow, there was an 850,000-square-foot, speculative industrial deal that sat vacant for two years while other, nearby warehouse projects filled up.
And at Crescent, Fogarty’s Phipps Tower spec office deal – begun in early 2008 -- also took two years to gain tenants.
Most recently, Clover Investment’s retail deal, at 1155 Dale Mabry, has met with a curveball called COVID-19.
“We thought we were so smart, buying a retail property with Internet-resistant tenants,’ Fogarty says. “We thought, what could go wrong? And then, bam!, society shuts down because of the virus. Still, it’s a good, long-term value play. I’m confident that it’ll come back.”
Those who know Fogarty say they would bet on his instincts.
“Lyle has the ability to see value where others may be too impatient,” says Joe McGorrey, who worked with Fogarty at both Trammell Crow and Crescent Real Estate, and now is the CEO of Native Development Group, in North Carolina.
“He’s one of the smartest people I know,” McGorrey adds. “He doesn’t flaunt that, he just has a way of applying practical aspects to reality.”
Moving forward, Fogarty says it’s more important to him to find the “right people” to work with, rather than the “right deals.”
“We like to have partners, and we like to share and over-communicate,” Fogarty says. “We’ll tell the good and the bad. The last thing we ever want to do is stick our heads in the sand.”
The same philosophy applies to Clover Investment.
“My goal is to have a handful, maybe 10 people overall, people I love to work with, who are smart, who I want to go into the office to see every day, and to have interesting projects to work on,” Fogarty adds.
“I love the commercial real estate process, the game of it,” he says. “I think now I have a good sense of what makes a good deal, and so our focus as we continue will be on value-add projects that make sense from various perspectives.”