Building Relationships and Outstanding Projects

Maramjen Investments
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Maramjen Investments, LLC has repeatedly demonstrated the value it brings to projects as a full-service real estate development and equity financing firm. It has completed over thirty projects totaling $300 million and continues to grow in both reputation and project size.
Maramjen Investments was established in 2005 by Thomas Wilkinson, the firm’s chief executive officer and managing member. He ensures his family remains a priority, which is reflected in the name of the firm. “When I started in 2005, I was looking for a name. My wife’s name is Mary (Mar), our first daughter is Amy (Am) and our second child is Jenny (Jen), so Maramjen is named for the three women in my life other than my mother,” he explained.

It offers property development and management, equity investor acquisition, construction financing, land acquisition including historic properties, knowledge of federal and state credit project development, Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) loan development and multifamily project development in the Central Virginia market.

“What we mainly do at Maramjen is, we find properties that lend themselves to either adaptive reuse or affordable housing, using low-income housing tax credits or sometimes a combination of both,” said Wilkinson.

“The first one we did was a $3 to $4 million project in Petersburg, Virginia, and then we just progressed. There have been thirty of them, and we started small, and we worked our way up, primarily in Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia.”

Wilkinson said that, at seventy-years old, he does not like to stray too far from home to undertake projects. Instead, he takes advantage of the relationships he has built throughout the years in the Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia markets.

“I know everybody in municipal government in those places. I know the mayor; I know the city council, and for them, it’s kind of like, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. It works pretty well. I know everybody, and there is still lots to do. I don’t have to drive more than an hour, and the market, particularly the Richmond market, is a very desirable market,” Wilkinson explained.

These lasting relationships have been a critical element of Maramjen Investments’ success. Wilkinson has built a strong team of professionals who play a vital role in the firm’s ability to perform projects with various degrees of complexity.

“We have a team. We use the same architects on every project; we use the same engineers; we use the same stable of two or three general contractors, and we have an approach where we sit around a table using the architect’s office to discuss the project and see if the numbers pencil out,” explained Wilkinson. “Everybody works together all the time. They know how to communicate with each other.”

“We have consultants who we employ on every project who keep everything straight in terms of not only the economics and the finance, but keep things straight in terms of down to when we’re doing the project. They process the monthly draws, and make sure we have the supporting paperwork that keeps everybody on track,” Wilkinson said.

“It’s very easy to get disorganized, and once you get disorganized, you’re off the tracks, and it’s very hard to get back on the tracks,” Wilkinson said. Organization is a significant part of Maramjen Investments’ success and is derived from its wealth of experience.

“We know a lot about apartments. We know a lot about historic adaptive reuse. We know a lot about affordable housing. We stick to what we know. We don’t venture off into doing retail, commercial or ground up construction. We tend to stick to our knitting, and we’re good at what we do.”

Wilkinson explained that an influx of investors from New York and other centers have taken an interest in Richmond. “Once you build it and you’re ready to sell, there is a very active investment market for people who want to buy these projects once they are built and stabilized.”

Projects receive Wilkinson’s ground-level involvement. “I tend to move my office to whatever the most current large project is wherever I’m working, and the reason I do that is, it’s very helpful to walk around every day and see what’s going on,” he explained.

Wilkinson provided two examples of current. Work is underway on the conversion of the American Tobacco complex in Richmond, a project slated to be developed in two phases and that could total nearly $60 million in value.

“The City of Richmond has been very helpful; equity investors and lenders are being really helpful, so that’s going to be one of the nicest projects I’ve ever been involved in and that’s both affordable and historical,” said Wilkinson.

Work is well underway on the Brown Williamson Tobacco complex project in Petersburg. “That is, by most standards, a huge project. It is seven buildings on, I think, seventeen acres consisting of 700,000 square feet. We started that in 2010, and we’re just starting the last phase of construction,” Wilkinson described. The project will total $100 million when complete.

“The first phase of the project we did was $21 million. The next one was $7 or $8 million, and we sort of knocked them off one building at a time. When it’s all said and done, about two years from now, it will be one of the nicest, if not the nicest, adaptive reuse projects in central Virginia.” The project will have a bit of everything: retail, commercial and Class A office and affordable and market-rate multifamily housing.

Maramjen Investments’ outstanding work has been recognized on numerous occasions. Notably, the Perry Street Lofts were named Best Adaptive Reuse and Best Community Project in 2013 by Central Virginia Apartment Association, as well as runner-up in Greater Richmond Area Commercial Real Estate Group (GRACRE) Best Adaptive Reuse Project the same year.

Hopper Paper Lofts was acknowledged as Central Virginia Apartment Association’s Best Social Networking Project in 2013 and GRACRE’s Best Multifamily Project in 2014. “It gives us credibility in the market,” stated Wilkinson.

“We’ve done so much of this, that we have a certain amount of credibility in the marketplace so the people who have backed us – the investors and the lenders who have backed us – know that we’re a proven quantity. I think we’ve done around $300 million so far. I mean, I’m seventy, but one of my goals is to get to $1 billion before I hang up my spurs, and I think that’s possible.”

The goal of reaching $1 billion will be achieved by continuing to develop projects that have the quality for which the firm is known. “If we do $100 million a year, I can do this for seven more years and get there, which is pretty realistic,” Wilkinson explained.

He identified another goal for Maramjen Investments which is, “to keep doing what I’m doing – keep producing high-quality places to live and just keep making them better. Most of the projects that we do, we keep for five years, and instead of pulling the money out when they are stabilized and generating positive cash flow, we keep reinvesting the money in the project to make it better.”

An example of the reinvestment made by Maramjen Investments is an immaculate outdoor kitchen to give residents the opportunity to congregate in the courtyard with food, family and friends.

“We like to build places where we would live if we needed to,” Wilkinson noted. In fact, Wilkinson and his wife have resided in Maramjen Investments’ projects from time to time, proving that these are excellent places to call home.

Maramjen Investments is a trusted property developer that relies on relationships for its success. With decades of experience, a reputation for quality and the level of attention it brings to projects, it will continue to build exceptional projects and steadfast relationships in central Virginia.



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