Outer Banks Commercial Real Estate Newsletter: November 2020

by Larry Lombardi, on Nov 10, 2020 8:00:56 AM

Chris Zarpas

OBX CRE Spotlight

Chris Zarpas

Vice President, S.L. Nusbaum

sl nusbaum logo

  • Born and raised in Washington, D.C.
  • BA - American Literature - George Washington University
  • JD - Brooklyn Law School
  • Lives in downtown Norfolk two blocks from his office in the Wells Fargo Center
  • Spent 20 years as a motion picture studio executive and producer in Los Angeles. His credits include The Sandlot and GI Jane.
  • Father to two sons, Nicholas and Alexander

How long have you been working in commercial real estate?

13 years

How did you first get into real estate?

My father and uncle were successful commercial real estate broker/developers in Washington, D.C. My real estate education began during long weekend drives to see property, and conversations at dinner with my father.

By age 18, I was well versed in concepts like cash-on-cash return, cap rates, and net lease. I came to Hampton Roads from Los Angeles on a three-year contract to produce series television, fell in love with the area, and never went back.

Some mutual friends introduced me to S.L. Nusbaum CEO Miles Leon, who took a chance and offered me a desk. Looking back, staying here was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

What was your first CRE transaction?
A 1,200 square foot office lease in Virginia Beach.
What was your most memorable CRE transaction?
I met David Simon, Simon Property Group (SPG) Chairman and CEO in 2013, seated at dinner after the wedding of a mutual friend. SPG is the largest retail real estate investment trust in the United States.
Our dinner conversation and follow up emails led to SPG engaging S.L. Nusbaum to represent them in the site selection and entitlement process for what would become the Norfolk Simon Premium Outlet. I was part of a team led by Miles Leon that secured approval for SPG in an intense, complex, and challenging process of four years.
What's your favorite part of working in CRE?
The people. My S.L. Nusbaum family, my clients, and the friendly competition I enjoy with the many capable brokers in our market make the job a lot more rewarding than it might be in intensely competitive, 24-hour cities like DC, LA, or NYC.
What’s the biggest misconception about CRE?
That commercial real estate is too mysterious and complicated for those interested in direct investment. As an investor, if you have liquid assets of over $1 million and are prepared to invest at least $250,000, strong, safe, and predictable returns are possible without the volatility of the securities markets.
This is especially true for business owners, who can secure 90% SBA guaranteed financing at below-market interest rates to purchase their business premises. If you do nothing else but own your business real estate free and clear, you are well on your way to a secure retirement.
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How would you describe the commercial real estate market in northeastern NC and the Outer Banks?
Very promising. Currituck County has enjoyed a historic housing boom in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing many to reevaluate urban living, promising further growth. For "woke" urban millennials starting families, the carbon-intensive suburban lifestyle of their parents suddenly doesn't look so bad.
Earlier this year, the Currituck County Board of Commissioners signaled a new, pro-growth agenda, passing a resolution authorizing construction of a 229-acre mixed-use development in Moyock Township, and the expansion of the Moyock Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The planned Mid-Currituck Bridge connecting mainland Currituck County to Corolla will alleviate traffic congestion that is discouraging tourism, and make possible the safe and timely evacuation of the Outer Banks in the face of an oncoming hurricane. That will be a game-changer.
Can you share one great piece of advice for someone looking to buy/lease commercial property or land?
Don’t wait! As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.” 
What is your favorite thing about the Outer Banks?
Dinner at Basnight’s, off-season getaways to Duck, and the majesty of its natural, unspoiled beauty.
What's your favorite way to spend your free time?
Road trips in search of the undiscovered, enjoying a fine cigar and a glass of bourbon with old friends and encouraging my two sons in their professional careers.
 (757) 237-7500

A Return to OZ: The opportunity zone program continues to thrive despite skepticism and the pandemic

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Topics:Commercial Real EstateEconomic DevelopmentCurrituck CountyOuter Banks