The first year at Vision Real Estate Investment has been a whirlwind.
Launched in February 2016, the Grand Rapids-based firm now owns and manages more than a dozen entities with nearly 1 million square feet of property.
Vision REI was founded by Tim Engen, the firm’s CEO, following 17 years in technology when he moonlighted as a real estate investor.
“Everyone I spoke to advised me to follow my passion and to surround myself with the best individuals in the industry,” Engen said at the time of the founding.
The firm now has nearly 20 employees in its five Michigan offices, including the headquarters at 140 Monroe Center St. NW, with buildings owned or managed in Grand Rapids, Big Rapids, Byron Center, Lansing, Detroit, Norton Shores and Greenville.
“We started the company with the three pillars of development, investment and management,” said Kyle Sischo, executive vice president at Vision REI. “We’re continuing to work on projects with all of those in mind, including ground-up developments we have in the pipeline, and we’ll continue to acquire turnkey or value-add properties.”
Sischo said no ground-up developments were ready to be announced, but there are some in the works in the markets the company already serves. The development opportunities would be in contrast to the moves Vision REI has made since launching.
A few weeks into the firm’s existence, Vision REI made its most significant investment to date when it purchased 99 Monroe from Chicago-based Franklin Partners for $31.9 million, according to city documents.
The 12-story building has 173,657 square feet of commercial space in downtown Grand Rapids.
Vision REI also recently acquired a 150,000-square-foot office building on Michigan Avenue in downtown Lansing. The deal was announced in March, and Vision REI is planning for more than $1 million in renovation to the building, which includes tenants such as PNC Bank, Miller Canfield and Warner Norcross.
Those two help make up a significant chunk of the company’s portfolio, which currently is largely downtown office space.
Now, Sischo said Vision REI is looking to diversify its holdings and focus on industrial and residential sites. He also said medical office is another segment the firm is looking to expand in its portfolio.
Last August, Vision REI purchased a 124,200-square-foot, 264-bed apartment complex in Big Rapids.
“We’re looking for some value add or renovation apartments where our management team can add some value to projects,” he said. “We’re continuing to press hard. We’ll step away from office a little bit but keep our eyes open for a great deal.”
Along with continuing to search for a solid investment opportunity, Sischo said Vision REI will intensify its push to provide third-party property management.
Unlike some investors, Sischo said Vision REI will not look to flip properties for a quick buck.
“Our strategy is long-term hold,” he said. “We’re in the real estate business, so if the price is right, we’ll sell, but we want to build into a long-term hold.
“We hit the game hard, and we’re here to stick around and grow the cities we invest in.”