January 12, 2023
20 Years Later, Accesso Continues to Win Over the Real Estate Industry
When the three founding partners of Accesso came together to create a real estate investment company back in 2003, they had a simple vision.
“The three of us came from Venezuela because we wanted to find new horizons,” explained Founding and Managing Partner, Investor Relations, Claudio Dombey. “Our objective was to raise capital from friends and family to invest and manage real estate, originally focusing on South Florida. At the time, a lot of investors were doing condo conversions, and this created a really crowded space, diluting the opportunity. Instead of following the herd, we looked for a white space where we could take the lead. This led us to launch a similar strategy to the condo conversions, but we were acquiring and repositioning warehouses and industrial properties. We acquired our first small warehouse in 2003 for $1.1 million, which we then spent several months rehabbing.”
Since the three founders – which, in addition to Claudio, included Founding and Managing Partner, Investments Ariel Bentata and Founding and Managing Partner, Finance Moises Benzaquen – were new to the United States and had little experience investing in this country, obtaining financing for their new endeavor was anything but easy.
“After much searching, we were finally able to get a $600,000 loan from a lender in San Francisco, who flew to Florida and looked at the property, got to know us and ultimately gave us a chance,” said Dombey. “From there, we kept evolving, raising more capital, and – in 2007 – made the decision to concentrate exclusively on office properties and expand from our South Florida roots to other areas of the country. We came here trying to make a living, but we started a company that was able to go much higher and further than we ever anticipated or expected.”
This entrepreneurial mindset and raw ambition has carried Accesso forward for the past 20 years. The founders were able to overcome their lack of experience in the U.S. market, gaining the trust of the industry and of lenders and intermediaries in the sector. Eventually, they were able to transform the organization into one of the mainstay office owners and operators in the nation. Accesso leadership has consistently placed focus on new and emerging technologies while building a best-in-class team, a strategy that has propelled the company toward the next phase of its evolution.
Elaborating on Accesso’s evolving strategy, Dombey added, “When everything changed due to the pandemic, we realized the time was right to expand the conversation beyond office. The office sector has done well for Accesso and our investors over the years, and as a specialist we have been a preeminent owner and operator of office properties. However, Covid made clear what we had been thinking about for some time. The time is right for us to shift the composition of our portfolio, with diversification as our north star. We’re branching out into multifamily, but we won’t stop there – over time, we plan to re-engage in the logistics sector, and we’re even exploring investments in well-positioned retail via mixed-use assets.”
When asked which aspect of the company he is most proud of, Dombey was clear that none of Accesso’s success or longevity would have been possible without the close-knit, smart and dynamic team they have built.
“I’m most proud of our team,” he enthused. “Regardless of the market environment, they remain loyal, steady and committed to advancing our collective vision. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of having an engaged and dedicated team (more than 15 percent of Accesso’s workforce has been with the company for an average of 10 years), and we are immensely honored to work with our Accesso family and foster their long-term career growth.”
The team also plays a central role in cultivating the strong relationships the firm enjoys with its diverse investor base, which trusts in Accesso’s ability to strategically deploy capital across markets it believes are poised for sustained growth. Despite a challenging office market that has persisted throughout the pandemic, Accesso saw positive renewal and leasing momentum in marquee assets across its portfolio last year, owing to the strength of its asset management platform and the desirability of its assets.
“We look at our investments with both an owner’s and tenant’s mentality – this helps us to bridge the gap and foster a stronger alignment of interest with our tenants, and we expect this philosophy will serve us well as we diversify into other asset classes,” said Dombey. “While we are experiencing perhaps the largest shift we’ve ever seen in how companies think about and use their office space, we’re also seeing a flight to quality in the buildings and amenities they are looking for. This positions our office portfolio well, and we look forward to embarking on the next 20 years with an updated vision and expanded focus.”
As the sun sets on its first 20 years, Accesso’s executive team is also looking to diversify its investor base. But as the company starts to forge the next phase of its evolution, Dombey remembers its first days as if they were just last week. He reminisces fondly on that experience.
“We still joke about the work it took to secure that first loan,” he stated. “We were in a small office, the three of us sitting around one table. And every time we’re in a situation where it’s hard to find a lender, we say we can call that lender in San Francisco that started everything for us.”