Shopping Center Business

OCT 2018

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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HUTTON 68 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • October 2018 T he combination of hard work and not being afraid to take risks has paid off for Hutton. The Chatta- nooga, Tennessee-based commercial real estate development company was built on the belief that new clients come from rolling up the sleeves and getting the job done for current clients. No one at the company exemplifies this spirit more than its founder, Karen Hutton. After graduating college, Hutton start- ed her career in the shopping center busi- ness leasing malls in Houston during the 1980s. Having grown up in a family that built and owned shopping centers, she caught on to leasing terms quickly. This experience in Texas led Hutton to be re- cruited by The Steele Company in 1988, a developer in Tennessee, to lease exist- ing shopping centers. Then, in the early 1990s, she went to work for her father's company, Village Properties, Inc. in Pu- laski, Tennessee, which held a portfolio of 21 Walmart shopping centers across five states. There, Hutton says, she had no idea what she was getting into beyond the leasing, but when she saw how big the workload was, she didn't hesitate to jump right in. She worked on organizing the company's processes, integrating soft- ware and computers, hiring its first leasing person and a controller, and obtaining her general contracting license to start Hutton Construction. In 1994, Hutton managed the portfolio of shopping centers through leasing and experienced on-the-job train- ing by learning the ins-and-outs of upkeep and maintenance of aging centers, roofs, HVAC, parking lots, lighting, facades and more. As if that wasn't enough, she also turned her attention to banking, redevel- opment and tenant relationships. During this time, Hutton was subdivid- ing and leasing a vacant Walmart building to Dollar General and AutoZone. Auto- Zone sent a construction project manager to do measurements to prepare drawings for their build-out and to be subsequently put out to bid. Despite having no knowl- edge of what she was asking for, Hutton inquired as to whether she could bid on the build-out. The project manager said yes, not knowing that Hutton just hap- pened to be in the right place at the right time. When she won the bid — the first of many — the hands-on and hard-earned experience would be the catalyst for her future as a developer. Hutton quickly hired a superintendent and went to work with this new-found remodel opportuni- ty. At the end of the project, she cleared $76,000 and realized there was money in the build-out business. She continued contracting build-outs in addition to her other responsibilities while working for Village Properties and she began doing more projects for AutoZone and Dollar General. Overseeing property mainte- nance, Hutton began to realize that roof- ing was the most expensive repair on the 21 centers that Village Properties owned. During that time, she decided to launch From The Ground Up Through hard work and determination, Hutton has become one of the nation's largest developers. Randall Shearin Hutton developed Gleason Place shopping center in Lake City, Florida. The center opened in late 2017. Tenants include Hobby Lobby, Ross Dress for Less, and Dick's Sporting Goods.

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