With a lively fire dancing behind him in the community
center at the Marketplace at Fells Point, Daniel Klein, President of Klein
Enterprises, traced the trajectory of his real estate career upon becoming the
fourth generation to work at the family-owned real estate company founded by
his grandfather in 1948. Grocery-anchored neighborhood shopping centers were the
bread and butter of the organization when Klein joined the group upon
graduation from Boston University.

“When the opportunity arose to invest in a multifamily
community that I believed in, the idea was quickly shot down with the stern
response – shopping centers are what we do – not apartments,” Klein explained
to the audience of more than 40 NAIOP-MD Developing Leaders.

“I did not accept that answer. Throughout college, I became involved with investment properties and thought the future growth of the company hinged on adding different asset classes. This was the perfect opportunity to test that theory,” he explained.

With heavy pressure against his idea, Klein convinced
leadership to pursue the deal which, after tremendous success, launched the
company into the multifamily sector. “At your organization,” Klein implored the
audience, “don’t accept the answer of ‘this is what we do and how we do it.’
Build your case and fight back for issues you believe in. Don’t go with the
flow because that is the surest way to complacency and stagnant growth.”

Klein takes particular pride in the venue where the DL
networking and educational event took place. Developed in partnership with The
Dolben Company and located on South Broadway Street, the mixed-use project
features 160 luxury apartment homes together with ground floor office and
retail space.

“This was an extremely complicated project to develop, with
special challenges arising when arranging permits for large construction cranes
to navigate through air space. Luckily, our corporate neighbors believed in
what we were doing and made the process easier. I lived here for several years
after delivery of the project with my wife and three kids. I believe in
Baltimore and love walking the streets, but admit there is much work to be done
to achieve past glory.”

Klein Enterprises now has assets of more than $1 billion on
the strength of 40 assets that include retail, multifamily, mixed-use,
industrial, flex and self-storage product types. That also includes more than 2,000
multifamily units such as The Woodberry and The Lenore in Baltimore City. The
property footprint of the company stretches from New Jersey to southern

Spencer Perry, BB&T now Truist; Daniel Klein, Klein Enterprises and Paul Giulio, Hill Management Services, Inc.

Achieving that impressive scale of corporate growth since Klein joined the company in 2004 required many “to move beyond their comfort level,” he told the DL group. “All our risks are calculated ones, backed by careful research and analysis. That said, it takes vision and the willingness to tackle new ventures to grow an organization. I believe no company is ever static and remaining in the same place. It is either expanding or shrinking.”

During the spirited Q&A session, Klein was asked which asset class he preferred. “I am sure all the people from my company in the audience cannot wait to hear this one,” he laughed. “But I would have to say large multifamily developments. When I take my kids around to see our projects on the weekends, it is exceedingly more exciting to walk through an apartment building that is rising skyward, as opposed to a one-story retail center. We can also achieve a more significant impact on the community with a multi-faceted project that contains mixed-use elements. Amenity-rich, walkable projects that serve many different audiences and represent the future for smart development. “At Klein Enterprises, we’ve come a long way and have mirrored the diversity that has become commonplace in Maryland-area development companies,” Klein said. “It is important to be adaptive and receptive to change. Building, maintaining and nurturing relationships are also key as you never know who will approach you about the next great deal. Nearly every project we become involved with has originated from an individual that I value, trust and have worked with.”

Check out more photos from the DL Speaker Series event here.