BLDUP Spotlight: Lee Rosenthal
Nov 12, 2021 — The BLDUP Spotlight is a weekly feature where readers gain insights on developments around the city and get to know local industry experts. Today we chat with Lee Rosenthal, President of West Shore, LLC. West Shore is a fully integrated real estate investment firm with a specific focus on the acquisition and management of multifamily assets. It is a dynamic, fast-growing company that blends an entrepreneurial approach to real estate with institutional investment discipline. Its principals are experienced management and real estate private equity executives. Boston-based West Shore was founded in 2016 and owns and operates a diverse portfolio of 35 multifamily properties in seven states, totaling over 11,000 units with a total market value of more than $2.0 billion.
BLDUP: What is the last book you read that you would recommend as a “must read” to the construction and design community? Why did you find this book so important?
Lee Rosenthal: A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. The message to not overdo it is an important one. Be careful out there in this hectic environment.
BLDUP: Do you have a daily or weekly routine that you follow? If so, how do you feel it has contributed to your success? How has this routine changed/been adjusted given the current situation?
Lee Rosenthal: As far as a daily routine, I love starting the day with my wife and two kids, and although I travel frequently, that is my favorite way to end the day. The rest of the day our strict parameters allow the evaluation of investment opportunities to feel routine. Operationally, daily, weekly, and monthly routines come in the form of the policies and procedures our team has worked so hard to set up these last few years. Focusing on the fundamentals and following these routines has allowed us to become successful. I’m very proud of the fact that West Shore now owns and operates over 11,000 units in seven states, including several new properties in new markets that we acquired in the last 90 days in Lady Lake, Florida, Charleston, South Carolina, and Fort Worth, Texas.
BLDUP: During the course of your career, what was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it? What other accomplishments hold a special place in your heart and why?
Lee Rosenthal: COVID-19 was by far the biggest professional uncertainty I’ve ever encountered. March and April of 2020 were incredibly challenging. Second would be building a fully integrated multifamily investment platform from scratch. These challenges were overcome with talented coworkers and the relentless pursuit of excellence in every endeavor we undertook. We also learned the power of refusing to panic like never before.
Passing the 10,000-unit (now 11,000) milestone was very rewarding. I also often think of my first signed contract, my first earnest deposit, and my first closing at West Shore as a major accomplishment. It was April of 2016, and the property, Grand Oaks Apartments in Riverview, Florida, had 198 units. Each component of that transaction, both pre- and post-closing, that occurred in the ordinary course, will always hold a special place. Grande Oasis, coincidentally also in the Tampa area, was West Shore’s first $100mm+ transaction. I’m incredibly proud of our team for taking on and completing four lease-ups this year, including a brand new 315-unit asset in College Station, Texas that we started leasing from the ground up.
BLDUP: What do you foresee for the future of Boston’s development given mass vaccinations? The COVID-19 pandemic brought on a unique set of challenges, how has this affected your business in the short term. Do you expect to see long term effects on your projects?
Lee Rosenthal: In Boston and across the country, the use of both urban and suburban spaces has changed. I am still researching and contemplating the ramifications of this, and we are certainly considering those ramifications with respect to current and future investments. I think it is going to take a little time to shake out to see where projects will be heading.
BLDUP: What upcoming projects are you most excited about?
Lee Rosenthal: Many of our investments are very similar. I get excited when they work in our model and we obtain a signed Letter of Intent or Purchase and Sale Agreement, particularly after a comprehensive evaluation of the existing asset and location. We have also recently seen some targets with vacant tracks of land included in the sale that seem very attractive in the Sun Belt.
BLDUP: What other types of projects are you looking for right now (if any)? Certain areas, project type/size?
Lee Rosenthal: We are currently looking at 500m of multifamily units in the Southeast and Southwest regions of the United States. We are presently in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Texas and expect to continue to grow there. We are not opposed to new markets, but we are trying to remain as disciplined as we can in a very competitive environment.
BLDUP: Have you had a mentor or someone who has helped you during your career? What are the most valuable lessons you learned from that person?
Lee Rosenthal: This is an easy one – my partner and the Chairman of West Shore, Steve Rosenthal. His extremely high expectations for our business have been instrumental to our success. It would take me quite some time to list all the valuable lessons he has taught me. I have been fortunate to have an incredibly rewarding career thus far and I have learned so much from him and so many others.
BLDUP: What do you hope for the future of your company in the next 30 years? What legacy do you want to leave?
Lee Rosenthal: 30 years is an awfully long time. However, with the team we have in place and the addition of other smart, dedicated employees that we will need to bring on to sustain our growth, I believe that our future is very bright. We have made great strides using a proven process and a resilient investment model, I’m confident we will continue to do so in the years ahead. The strongest motivation to achieving the utmost success is the ability to share that success with others and to give back to the community in impactful ways.
BLDUP: What is a favorite quote that inspires you or you strive to live by?
Lee Rosenthal: “I didn’t know where I was headed, but, as always, I was very eager to get there.” -Sam Zell, Am I Being Too Subtle?: Straight Talk From a Business Rebel
“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” -Alexis de Tocqueville
Original Article: https://www.bldup.com/thought_leaders/bldup-spotlight-lee-rosenthal