President and Chief Operating Officer
Arden Realty Inc.
Victor Coleman looks back on his active shopping for commercial office buildings in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and remembers how others in the industry thought he had a screw loose.
“In 1990, commercial offices were the last thing people were looking to invest in, as a lot of people had lost a lot of money in the previous couple of years,” says Coleman, 35, co-founder and partner of Arden Realty Inc., a real estate investment trust listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Since it was founded in 1990, the company has built an $800 million portfolio of 49 office properties throughout Southern California with about 6 million rentable square feet of space. Coleman co-founded Arden with Richard Ziman, with whom he has worked since 1987.
Coleman first became involved with real estate deals during his stint as an investment advisor for Drexel Burnham Lambert in Los Angeles from 1985 to 1987. While at Drexel, Coleman met Ziman, and decided to go to work for Ziman’s Los Angeles Realty Services Inc. “when the market was peaking.”
A couple years later, when the market was collapsing, Coleman and Ziman founded Arden Realty to buy properties that could be purchased at below replacement cost. The strategy has proved such a success that Arden is the fifth-largest REIT in the country, and largest in Southern California, based on market capitalization.
“The difference between us and the other REITs is we’re a regionally specific company, and it looks like we’ll stay like that because there’s a lot of room for growth in the region,” Coleman says.
Anton Natsis, a partner with the real estate law firm of Allen, Matkins, Leck, Gamble & Mallory who has represented Coleman for 10 years, places him “at the top echelon of real estate businessmen.”
“It’s unusual to find someone who is at a principal level and deals face to face with all levels of players in complicated real estate transactions,” Natsis said. “It’s the cornerstone of his success that that he’s out there dealing on all levels.”
In his younger years, Coleman’s plans for the future were ill-defined, yet grand. He says he knew only that he would like to be an entrepreneur and build a successful venture. Now, as he surveys the REIT empire he and Ziman have amassed, Coleman says he is seeing that grand future take shape.
“The satisfaction comes from watching a small entrepreneurial institution flourish and see it reach institutional quality and size,” Coleman says of Arden, which went public last October.