Jesse studied at both Southern Methodist University and University of Colorado Boulder. He’s equally proud of the education he has received through hands-on experience. He worked in title insurance while still in college, and in commercial real estate in Los Angeles. Back in Colorado, at John Laing Homes, he was quickly promoted from sales assistant to leading his own community. He learned construction from the ground up and began analyzing sales from the perspective of data, and how and why people make buying decisions. This approach meant continued pre-sales, even at the height of the recession. In 2009, Metropolitan Homes CEO Peter Kudla enlisted Jesse to help him rethink the sales strategy for One Lincoln Park. That experience eventually led Nichols Partnership to bring him in to help them at SPIRE. (For details, see “Example of Maverick Thinking” below.)
Though Jesse had established himself as a local condo expert, he was eager to keep learning. So when Land Title, where Jesse’s father was a partner, asked him to join in 2012, he was ready. Working in title insurance, Jesse saw every part of a transaction from start to finish. He built relationships by consistently delivering a knowledge-based value proposition. He continued engaging with data, working with developers to figure out how to build condos in a changing market. Jesse also embraced the opportunity to participate in the Downtown Denver Partnership Leadership Program’s Class of 2013.
Though Jesse was highly successful at Land Title, personally involved with 100+ deals each month, he missed the excitement of his own deals. When Allante Properties approached him to become a partner in early 2018, he was excited to learn from veteran developer Darell Schmidt. Jesse’s original investor relations role quickly expanded to include deal planning and execution, and he worked closely with Jordan Meylan on many deals. With their complementary skill sets and shared goals, they were a great fit as partners. They founded MVRK Development in 2020.
Jesse’s investment philosophy is founded on a thoughtful approach to risk and diversification. His data-driven, sociology-based approach is centered around four basic principles: First, always leave a place better than you found it, creating lasting positive change for the surrounding community. This principle fits nicely with the second: Develop only in communities that offer exceptional quality of life. Third, don’t pursue deals that seem too good to be true, because they probably are. Instead, Jesse focuses on identifying short- and long-term investment opportunities with moderate to low risk potential, diversification of product types, diversification of markets, and several possible exit strategies. This approach enables him to move forward in confidently planning and executing deals. Which brings us to the final principle: Stick to the plan. Since plans are based on careful research, sound data, and ongoing risk management, sticking to the plan is almost always the right course. The heart of the plan should stay true, even though circumstances may arise in life and in development that necessitate possible modifications.
When Nichols Partnership, the development team behind SPIRE, brought in Jesse in 2010 to help them with sales for the downtown Denver high-rise, they still had more than 300 of the building’s 493 condos left to sell. They hoped Jesse could help them do it.
As Builder recounted, SPIRE’s sales woes weren’t the first of their troubles. They’d bought the land for the 42-story tower in 2005, at the height of the housing boom. But when they broke ground in 2007, the subsequent crash was already on the horizon. Through 2009, construction happened in fits and starts. Progress halted for months when they lost one lender; a second was taken over by the FDIC before construction finished. For closings to proceed, Nichols had to prove buyers would close on their units. With so many US condo developments sitting empty or incomplete, the worries were valid.
Nichols had contracted with The Mark Company to lead SPIRE’s sales and marketing efforts after their original pre-sales closed, and they’d been making progress. But they told Mark, “You’ve got to have Jesse on your team.” Jesse had just been instrumental in rescuing another downtown Denver condo high-rise, One Lincoln Park. Previously, they’d averaged one condo sale every three to four months. Jesse’s pricing and rebranding strategies helped them turn that figure on its head, averaging 3.25 condo sales each month.
With its modern styling, rooftop party deck and hot tubs, and other amenities, SPIRE had almost exclusively marketed itself as a “hot” development for Millennials and Gen Zers. After assessing the demographic data and competitive landscape, however, Jesse told them: They needed to pivot from their original target market. Jesse was confident that empty nesters and other professionals aged 35 and older were going to be critical for SPIRE’s success. After working with Nichols’ CFO to understand SPIRE’s vision and threshold, Jesse teamed with The Mark Company to build a strategy to modify SPIRE’s message/marketing, understand the true value proposition by demographic type, and start capturing more buyers. By the end of 2010, SPIRE may have been the US’ fastest-selling condo development. Jesse personally sold more than 100 SPIRE condos.