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Split from S.L. Nusbaum creates another firm

Updated: April 24, 2013 - 6:40 am

Posted: April 19, 2013

By Lydia Wheeler

Wendell Franklin, until recently a senior vice president of S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co., has left the firm, taking his son and about eight other people with him, including two longtime associates.

Last week, his son, Taylor Franklin, former partner and vice president of multifamily development at S.L. Nusbaum, announced the departure and formation of The Franklin Johnston Group.

Wendell Franklin, Taylor Franklin and Tom Johnston are named as principals in the new firm, which will focus on development and management of apartments in the luxury and affordable housing sectors, according to the news release. Steve Cooper also joined the firm as a partner and senior vice president of development. Johnston held a senior vice president position with S.L. Nusbaum and Cooper was a company vice president of development and aquisition.

"The new company will initially focus on leasing and management of the nearly 5,000 residential units that currently make up their portfolio," the release said. "The 31 residential complexes that The Franklin Johnston Group control are spread from Northern Virginia to Charlotte, N.C."

Neither Taylor nor Wendell Franklin returned calls. Jerry Davis of Davis and Co., the firm handling communications for The Franklin Johnston Group, said the Franklins want to let the release speak for them for now.

Contacted late Wednesday, S.L. Nusbaum President Miles Leon said the Franklin group agreed to multi-million dollar concessions as a result of the split.

"The parties reached a settlement on terms attractive to our company that included multi-million dollar financial concessions by the Franklin group," Leon said. "We have put this matter behind us."

S.L. Nusbaum and the Franklins owned property jointly, but Leon would not give specifics about the settlement or the properties involved.

"S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. has been in business over 106 years," he said. "The company manages 20,000 apartment units and over 6 million square feet of commercial space. Our developers, partners and property managers are market leaders; key members of the company's multifamily development group that worked with the Franklins remained with our company."

A construction manager, a few administrative assistants and a couple of property managers left with Wendell Franklin, Taylor Franklin, Johnston and Cooper, Leon said, making for about 9 to 10 vacancies.

Despite the breakup, Leon said there are multifamily development opportunities in Hampton Roads that S.L. Nusbaum is well positioned to pursue.

"I have never felt better about our company's prospects for the future," he said.

But The Franklin Johnston Group might be eyeing the same opportunities.

"By launching an independent company focused on the multifamily industry, we will be better positioned to move quickly to take advantage of developing markets while serving various partnerships that we represent and the thousands of families that we serve throughout the Mid-Atlantic region," Taylor Franklin said in the release.

The Franklin Johnston Group offices are temporarily located in the Wells Fargo building in downtown Norfolk, also home to S.L. Nusbaum.

The new company plans to move its headquarters in May to the Sidney Kellam Building in the new 31Ocean complex at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, according to the release.

The company expects to employ more than 250 people throughout its various apartment buildings and at its Virginia Beach headquarters.nib