Lawrence Wilkes, P.E. is President of The WVS Companies, LLC. Larry is a Registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and has a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute, with graduate studies and Advanced Degrees in Economics and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia. He worked in various roles for Cadillac Fairview in the 1980s, part of which included overseeing development of Fairview Park in Fairfax, Virginia. He has developed numerous other properties throughout the DC-Metro area.
We caught up with Larry recently to discuss some of the projects that he is working on and what he sees down the road for the real estate development industry in Virginia.
1. What is WVS’ mission?
WVS’ mission is to develop large-scale, high-quality, complex mixed use projects. We like developing these very interesting yet highly complex destinations that people are excited about. In each project WVS takes on, we focus on both short and long term factors that will affect surrounding areas. Rejuvenation of areas long ignored so as to create economic growth and development, thereby leaving the property in a much greater state than before. By building a high quality product, a destination point is an end result for those who live in the area, not only the residents of such mixed-use projects. Pedestrian oriented amenities for the public add to this overall effect, and therefore appeal to a greater spectrum of demographics than without.
2. What are your primary responsibilities at WVS?
Having 40 years of experience in all areas of real estate development, my primary responsibility involves seeing projects through from product concept to full implementation. As President, I work on every development overseeing the execution of the project. Having been through many economic cycles, my vast experience adds value to the product that we want to deliver to our clients.
3. What projects are you working on in 2013?
We are working on several exciting projects across the state. We have launched Phase 2 at Rocketts Landing in Richmond with the construction of additional community spaces, apartments, riverfront restaurants, and development of the Capital Trail. At Reynolds North we have just completed Phase 1 which includes the rehabilitation of the old Reynolds Metals production facilities into 120 apartment units, community space, and a first class restaurant. We have also started breaking ground on a 400-acre mixed use project in Williamsburg called Quarterpath which will be anchored by a hospital. There are numerous other projects that we are working on including a major mixed-use development in the heart of downtown Roanoke.
4. What development trends are you seeing across the state?
There are a lot of things happening across the state but there is still a lot of uncertainty. With sequestration coming up this week and banks continuing to be tight on lending, projects are slow to get off the ground. There is no such thing as a “safe” project, but there are a lot of opportunities for experienced and innovative developers.
5. Which regions in Virginia are most attractive for developing new projects?
It all comes down to the size of the project and the region. Northern Virginia has traditionally been a region where large-scale projects have been very successful. Other locations such as Central Virginia and the Tidewater area also have seen some success, but on a smaller scale. Virginia remains a business-friendly state which has fueled growth from both the private sector and public sector.