Want a prediction for 08? Victor MacFarlane will become such a force in Washington, hell become known just by a first nameour own Madonna of real estate. If you dont know Victor, pay attention: He may be Americas leading urban development pioneer, with $20billion under management for institutional real estate managers and their pension capital sources such as CalPERS. And hes going to have a huge impact here: MacFarlane Partners is in major partnerships with Forest City on the Yards, Monument on Half Street, and especially with JBG on the new $2.5 billion JBG portfolio. We dropped in on Victor the other day to learn more about the life of the self-made mogul who aims to do both well and good.
Yes, hes based in San Fran, but hes become a Washingtonian as well. He tells us he gets here almost every week (on his Challenger, soon to upgrade to a Global), and has made offers on two houses in DC (none accepted yet). And hes got Conn Ave. offices above Burberrys, where he showed us this photo by a daughter, one of his five kids. Hes been coming to DC a long time: first in 1979 to work on the JW Marriott when he was a young Aetna analyst running numbers on project yields and construction costs (the same thing we do now, except by hand). Outside of business, he came to the Million Man March in 95 with his eldest son. More recently: ULI conferences and pitching another major pension fund.
He grew up in Middletown, Ohio, raised by a single mom who had a job at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and then the Social Security Administration. Cash was scarce: Until age 12, he slept every night on a couch he had to share with his sister. Wanting to give him something better, his mom sent him for grades 9-12 to a Presbyterian school in Albuquerque where you paid what you could afford: We didnt pay much. He says he cried his first week away. Afterwards, he went to the University of Mexico, taking six years while he worked digging ditches, cleaning pigpens, pulling weedsthings youd expect of a strong guy, but adding proudly he also learned how to make Indian jewelry.
Victor started law school there as well, but in his first week of class (he remembers listening to the Isaac Brothers when it hit him) he worried he would end up spending his life in New Mexico. He called up the admissions office at UCLA, which had also accepted him, and asked if he could still get in. They said yes. Within 48 hours he was in his 66 Mustang heading out there. I met two other guys at orientation and lived in Santa Monica. If I hadnt made that move, I think Id still be in Albuquerque, working for the city. After law school, he clerked for a federal judge, then went to the U of Pittsburgh because it could confer an MBA in less than a year. And why real estate? He had a sister working at Aetna who set up some interviews for him, and thats the industry sector he chose over bonds.
He bought DC United a year ago. His soccer interest didnt come from childhood: He grew up loving basketball and doing best in football (even at 66 he was a great wide receiver because he was fast). But he went from Aetna to Denver in 1983 to join a private placement syndicator (he developed 208 apartments on the north side that was named Denvers best complex by its metropolitan apartment association). While raising a family, he coached soccer, and his wife was an assistant coach. One of their kids was serious enough to attend IMGs soccer academy in Bradenton, and they even bought a place therejust sold it this year. He loves watching soccer, but due to knees, now mostly sticks to a treadmill.
Victors mission is to invest in Americas most vibrant cities: So far 20M SF of commercial space and 27,000 multi-family housing units in DC, NYC, Boston, L.A., and the Bay Area. Seattle may be next. In Manhattan, he owns the parking garage at the Time Warner Center and half of its retail including three restaurants like the famed Per Se. After SF, he’s here three times more than any other cityit’s becoming his second home. Howd he make the connection to JBG? Earlier this year JBG co-founder Ben Jacobs reached out and they met for drinks at the Four Seasons , where he stays. Victor initially didnt see any business they could do together, but one Sunday in early summer after a couple more meetings realized it made sense. The Four Seasons bar didnt make much money on the sessions; he doesnt drink except for Diet Coke.