Most executives would be in desperate need of a break after transforming a mom-and-pop business into a multibillion-dollar REIT. But not John McCann, who retired from United Dominion Realty Trust four years after appearing on the March 1997 cover of Multifamily Executive.
McCann dramatically grew the Richmond-based apartment REIT from 85 units in 1974 to approximately 85,000 units in 2001, when he decided it was time to turn the company over to the next generation. "I think when you have been doing something as long as I had, you just know it's the right time," he says now. "We had gone through some tremendous growth and repositioning, and I just felt like it was the right time for new leadership for the company."
But McCann quickly discovered that he wasn't ready for a leisurely lifestyle of a retiree, either. "I found in the first year [of retirement] after I worked on some individual investments that I just was somewhat bored," he says. "I wanted more to do."
So in 2002, McCann took the lead on New Town, a 380-acre mixed-use village in Williamsburg, Va., to include more than 1,000 housing units and 1.6 million square feet of commercial space. The project is a joint venture between the Endowment Association of The College of William and Mary and C.C. Casey Limited Co. McCann continues to spend a great deal of time working on New Town. "It's a New Urbanism project with a lot of new development concepts," McCann says. "It felt like it would be exciting to be a part of it."
Still, he craved more to do. In October 2004, the ex-CEO teamed up with two former UDRT employees–acquisition expert Brand Inlow and lawyer Fleet Wallace–to form McCann Realty Partners, an apartment investment company seeking value-added acquisitions in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. The Richmond, Va.-based company plans to acquire 700 to 1,000 units within its first 12 to 18 months.
News of the company didn't surprise McCann's fellow industry leaders. "It's hard to take the real estate out of a guy's blood after he's done it so many years so successfully," says Thomas Toomey, who succeeded McCann as UDRT's president and CEO. "I think it's a great idea, and I know he will be very successful."