How former Yankee Mark Teixeira became the new voice for real estate placemaking

Mark Teixeira spent 14 years as a professional baseball player, including a season with the Atlanta Braves and nine with the New York Yankees. In that time, he won a World Series, became a three-time All-Star, won five Golden Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards.These days, he’s turned his eye to real estate, undertaking an ambitious project to revitalize the Proctor Creek area of Atlanta’s west side, turning it into the mixed-use Quarry Yards development.Read on for more about his vision for the future of sustainable development, his favorite cities to visit around the world, and what he and Shadow founder KP Reddy have up their sleeves.How did you become interested in real estate? I was playing with the Braves in 2008 when I got traded from the Texas Rangers. A lot of my buddies from Georgia Tech were in the real estate business. We were in the beginning of the real estate financial crisis, and there were some buying opportunities around west Atlanta near Tech. It was an odd convergence of events -- my trade, the financial crisis, and having buddies in real estate.What does sustainable development mean to you? I don’t want to be a developer or investor that builds a building, turns it around in 4 years, sells it and never comes back. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a brand new neighborhood in one of the most burgeoning parts of town on the West Side. The way I look at community building is, what does this development need to be self-sustaining? When you’re at Quarry Yards, you think, “This is it. This is where I want to spend my time.”Where does the name Urban Creek Partners come from? The story is, we started Urban Creek Partners to develop Quarry Yards. Our main amenity from the very beginning was this beautiful Proctor Creek that most people don’t even know about. The vision is for the Proctor Creek Greenway to connect from the Silver Comet trail to the Beltline. When we put together a development team, we wanted to choose a name that tells our story.What role do you think community building has in modern real estate development? We are extremely diligent in our placemaking process. Community means people being proud of where they live and where they work. So many people don’t enjoy where they work; they’re on an island in an office park. And people don’t want to drive an hour into work every day. We’re building somewhere people can live, create, and explore. It takes it to another level. I’m not just gonna check the boxes. We want to create a vibe where people want to stay.[caption id="attachment_37554" align="aligncenter" width="640"]

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View of Quarry Yards from hotel[/caption]Is placemaking equally important in every market? I think it’s more important in Atlanta because we don’t have any natural boundaries: no ocean like NYC, or lake like Chicago. We need to create character. This is a transitional neighborhood. It’s gritty, it’s raw. If you don’t create unique, fun places and spend a lot of time on that, you could miss the market and not have a development that you’re proud of.How would you describe a thriving urban community? What elements are required? 

  1. Mass transit. The future of our cities revolves around mass transit. To spend an hour in a car while you’re driving is completely inefficient in today’s market. Mass transit for 20-30 minutes instead of car for an hour? Game changer. 
  2. Especially in a town like ATL, the outdoor, active, explorer generation that we’re seeing wants to be at a place like Quarry Yards.  People want experiences. People want to have fun together outside. Long day at work? I want to clear my head, jump on my bike, and ride on the greenway. We’re gonna have a climbing wall on the side of our first office building. Biking, hiking, exercising along Proctor Creek -- I think that’s very important. 
  3. Any midtown area across the country, the concrete jungle is not sexy. It’s not a palace where people thrive. Giving someone something different. 

How have you seen commercial real estate evolve in the decade or so you’ve been investing and developing? We’ve seen people go back to more traditional European piazzas, town squares, people eating outside on cobblestone streets. We’ve seen that come back, which I love. Office tower with boring restaurant on the ground level? People don’t want that. People are working on their computers all day long; you’ve gotta give ‘em an outlet.What cities do you love? The early days of Seattle were awesome. I love the vibe of Austin, TX. Internationally, I think Rome is the coolest city in the world. It’s not overbuilt. You can sit out in the piazza overlooking a beautiful garden and have a glass of wine.If you could wave a magic wand, what’s one thing you would create to make developing easier or better? I would force all of the stakeholders to get into the room together. In urban development, on any given day I have to coordinate with MARTA, the Path Foundation, City of Atlanta, Invest Atlanta, Georgia Power -- the list goes on and on. It’s very difficult in urban development to get everybody to the table agreeing on the same things. The amount of time and waste is high.Every conversation I’ve had with KP is that magic wand: getting people to coordinate efforts. KP knows how to find the right technologies. He gets it, and understands the nuts and bolts of it. My goal is connecting that expertise with capital to allow him to do more -- more companies, more capital, everything.

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