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Cover Story: Duke Realty – Where are they now?

The firm’s healthcare group was arguably the nation’s top HRE developer when it was sold in 2017. Here’s where those many talented professionals are working today.

By Connie M. McCaffrey

It was a company like no other. It grew from a small, Midwestern developer to the nation’s largest outpatient healthcare real estate (HRE) developer. It tackled every challenge imaginable to develop successful, award-winning medical facilities of every type.

It attracted smart, talented industry professionals who, employees say, shared a passion for building quality real estate, as well as long-term relationships with their hospital clients. And they created a culture of hard work and innovation interspersed with camaraderie and fun.

The organization was the healthcare group of Indianapolis-based Duke Realty Corporation (NYSE: DRE). Although it was a relatively small business unit within a much larger mainstream commercial real estate (CRE) firm, the healthcare group grew into a national powerhouse in the HRE space.

Duke Realty was the nation’s largest outpatient HRE developer in terms of projects started in 2016, according to the research firm Revista, with five projects totaling more than 300,000 square feet and more than $100 million in construction value.

The firm also collected three HREI Insights Awards™ from 2014 through 2016. And the firm’s healthcare unit was more than a prolific and successful developer; it also included a strong team of leasing, property management and operational support personnel.

In short, Duke Realty was home to one of the most successful and admired organizations in the healthcare sector.

Then, in May 2017, Duke Realty rocked the HRE space with the announcement that it had agreed to sell its medical office business and its entire 7 million square foot medical office building (MOB) portfolio to Healthcare Trust of America (NYSE: HTA) for $2.8 billion. (Duke Realty ultimately netted total gross proceeds of $2.955 billion from HTA and others.)

Company executives had decided to reposition Duke Realty as a “pure play” industrial real estate investment trust (REIT), and the healthcare platform and portfolio didn’t fit that new strategy.
The stunning news marked the end of a successful 30-year run, as well as the sudden breakup of what one could argue had been the most impressive collection of HRE talent ever assembled.

That’s a bold statement. But it is supported by the fact that dozens of former Duke Realty healthcare employees have gone on to take prominent positions at other companies throughout the HRE space.

Several members of the Duke Realty team made the transition and continue to work for HTA, the publicly traded healthcare REIT that acquired the healthcare platform and most of the MOB portfolio.

Under their leadership, HTA has become one of the 10 largest HRE developers in its own right, Revista data shows, with three projects totaling 248,000 square feet started or completed last year.

But many others from the former Duke Realty healthcare group used the sale as an opportunity to take on new challenges with different companies – in several cases reuniting small subsets of the old team.

In addition to HTA, Duke Realty alumni have been in high demand in the HRE space. They have gone to work at a who’s who of organizations nationwide, including Physicians Realty Trust (NYSE: DOC), Welltower Inc. (NYSE: WELL), MBRE Healthcare, NexCore Group, Transwestern, CBRE, Caddis Partners, Johnson Healthcare Real Estate, Real Property Consultants and Ankura Healthcare Real Estate Solutions, to name a few, as well as at least a couple of startups, including Bremner Real Estate and OnPoint Real Estate Solutions.

What made the Duke Realty healthcare team so special? What was the group’s overall impact on the HRE sector? And as for all of those accomplished, dedicated former Duke Realty healthcare professionals – where are they now?

HREI™ looked into those questions and here is what we learned.

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