Real estate in residence: Teamwork makes it happen - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Real estate in residence: Teamwork makes it happen

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Beth Bloch Beth Bloch
Beth Bloch resides in Charleston and is a licensed real estate agent and consultant. She is an associate within the offices of Margo Teeter, Old Colony Realtors. She can be reached at

The State Journal hosted the “Who’s Who In West Virginia Business” award luncheon in May at the Charleston Marriott Town Center hotel. This annual event honors a select group of people who have made a difference in the business climate in West Virginia along with contributing to their communities.

Eleven recipients were honored in industries ranging from insurance to automotive. As shown in each of their videos, the worthy recipients, all tenured in their careers, shared the diverse personal experiences that shaped them and professional milestones that made them. From honorees Frank Baer to Ruth Lemmon, they acknowledged they were being honored as individuals, but all expressed that the key to their success, along with hard work, was teamwork.

As a real estate agent, I could often say that about the industry; the impact of teamwork in real estate sales and development is great. All over the state, West Virginians have been fortunate to have had some great “who’s who” contributions from people who have shaped the real estate landscape within their communities. From individuals to groups, their decisions to create change or promote opportunity have made huge differences and paid great returns.

Real Estate Teamwork

You might say the location of the annual luncheon itself is a reminder of how people can make a difference through real estate and teamwork. If not for West Virginia native and football star-turned-businessman Sam Huff and his persuasive professional involvement in 1982 for the development of the Charleston Marriott Town Center hotel — a real gem for Charleston and a beacon in the state’s lodging options — we might not have been sitting there for the luncheon.

At the time, the Marriott’s sleek new facility and the company’s credibility complimented the foresight that Charleston’s leaders, Mayor John Hutchinson and Brawley Tracy, among others, had when building the new urban Charleston Town Center mall. Mr. Huff wanted to see this development done for the residents of Kanawha Valley and felt that introducing change was good. He was right. The real estate vitality the Marriott hotel brought to the run down area reflected well in the gleaming, mirrored exterior of Kaufmann’s, now Macy’s, and helped make that area a full recreational destination. It remains the lodging center of our city and positively affects the residential real estate market by lending its corporate stability to home prices, keeping them from falling in an urban area with little growth or creation of new families.

In a day when deals were done on a handshake and property was bought and sold on your good word, much like a football team, many players worked together to make that development happen for our city. Although Mr. Huff was not recognized at this luncheon, his contribution will continue to be realized as Charleston continues to benefit, much like the 5 percent stake he still holds in the Charleston Marriott location.

Old Colony’s Connection

You can’t talk about Who’s Who in real estate, especially in residential sales, without the name Margo Teeter, real estate agent, Old Colony Company.

It was in the early 1980s when Teeter, a West Virginia University dental hygiene graduate, started as a licensed real estate sale agent, and it was not long before she forged a path as the top residential sales agent in the Kanawha Valley. It’s a title she has held for 25 years, and with sales totaling over $750 million, the mighty Ms. Teeter has laid a lot of ink on contracts.

“She is the realtor that people call if they think they need the best,” a co-agent expressed to me in confidence. “She is tough and fights for her clients; I don’t know how she does it all the time.”

No doubt, Teeter is a veteran and respected agent who has the tenacity and ability to throw herself into negotiations for weeks until ultimately achieving success for her clients. She distinguishes herself from other realtors in the valley with her sales volume, numbers, constant networking and her credibility and she attributes her success to hard work. Her referrals to other agents alone equal many of their total production for the year. Ms. Teeter has not garnered this professional success by accident; she had great teachers, she acknowledges — her first broker, the late Francis Ferguson and the late Tom Orr, broker, Old Colony Company. Teeter credits them with teaching her the fundamentals, but says negotiation is in her blood.

Teeter knows 18-hour days and endless phone calls come with the territory, and she could not do it without her team: an office manager, a personal assistant, a closing coordinator and three agents. She works with lawyers, inspectors, bankers and appraisers from “the other side” on multiple transactions everyday. She says, “It always involves a lot of people, and every transaction is different.”

Community Foresight

In 1999, a group of “who’s who” in Charleston upped the ante in the cultural real estate market with a dream that a state-of-the-art center focusing on the arts and sciences, featuring a stunning performance hall, would be built in the capital city, with funds raised mostly by private sources.

Voicing their desire to leave a place designed to inspire learning, educate and entertain for many years to come, Lyell and Buckner Clay purchased a 4-acre, prime downtown Charleston lot, once home to Tag Galyean Chevrolet, and donated it to the cause. The generous Clay brothers were aided by the late John McClaugherty, managing member and CEO of Jackson Kelly PLLC, and L. Newton Thomas Jr., a successful businessman and civic visionary, along with a forceful committee in the fundraising efforts. Some people doubted, but soon realized that the dream had come to reality with an opening gala on July 12, 2003, at The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences.

Noted as one of the most ambitious economic, educational and cultural undertakings in West Virginia’s history, the center draws national talent and acclaimed exhibits, along with educational opportunities not afforded to West Virginians before its creation. If not for the teamwork of visionaries, fundraisers, donors, planners, architects, contractors, civic leaders, supporters — and yes, the real estate community — this would not have happened.

One has to remember, making substantial commercial real estate investments, at $120 million plus, the cost of the Clay Center, is usually done on the corporate level, for a nice ROI, (think Jim Justice’s investment of $80 million for the underground casino at The Greenbrier resort), and not for cultural or recreational advantage, especially in a small city like Charleston. The cost of building the Clay Center rivaled the cost of the building of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum in Spain. That museum, opened in 1997, and designed by famed architect Frank O. Gehry, serves almost 1.2 million people who lie in the 100-mile demographic circle of use for the Bilbao, versus the 1.85 million-person population of our entire state. This Clay Center gift, wrapped in brick and topped with a rounded dome is providing just what the givers wanted: to be shared and enjoyed by the citizens of our state and to leave a legacy that would enrich generations to come. The generosities of these visionaries are felt throughout our state, and the rewards to its direct benefactors, the citizens of Charleston, is invaluable.

As exciting as the development of the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences was, Charleston experienced a dimming star. In 2003, the iconic landmark on the hill, known as Sunrise Museum, or MacCorkle Mansion, a grand Georgian colonial house built in 1905 by William A. MacCorkle, the ninth Governor of West Virginia, would experience what we call in the real estate business “a change of intended use.” When the existing Sunrise museum moved its operations to the now completed Clay Center and vacated the 16-acre property — a cornerstone in the high end residential neighborhood of South Hills — it caused concern about the future of Sunrise, a 1974 inductee into the of National Register of Historic Places. The solution came in the form of attorneys Farmer, Cline and Campbell.

Taking a chance by moving away from the business district of downtown, Farmer, Cline and Campbell showed true real estate entrepreneurial spirit when they bought and extensively remodeled Sunrise museum to house their law practice. Their location and office are now front and center in their advertising, defining their firm just as much as their judgment record. It ended up being a good move for the firm. They regularly open their doors to nonprofits, hosting fundraisers, and teaming up with organizations to keep the Sunrise Trail accessible to visitors.

Creating Opportunities

West Virginia is often passed over by developers; not all the time, but we are often not the right fit or demographic for national developers. Our communities rely on the investments of its citizens and developers such as H. Wood Thrasher and Jack Keeley. Most recently, in 2008, with the purchase of 470 acres, the pair formed the largest business park in North-Central West Virginia. White Oaks, located in Bridgeport, is a beautifully planned business community that serves the fastest growing area in our state and the sectors that are causing the stir: biometrics, technology and medicine. Supported by the new FBI center and the 3,000 jobs it has created, Thrasher and Keeley, as a team, saw potential in their backyard and acted on it, working hard to make it happen.

Just as Sam Huff wanted good things for West Virginians, good things happen when investing emotionally and monetarily in real estate.

From seeing one’s dream built, to reaching the sales pinnacle in his or her profession, real estate opportunities seem to be assured of a long life with much prosperity, and hopefully with a little teamwork, all of West Virginia can feel the building of better communities.

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