Art is an afterthought for most real-estate companies. For Oxford Companies, it's a critical part of its business plan. The Ann Arbor-based company made a splash last year with the creation of one of the largest murals in downtown Ann Arbor. This year it's making plans to add two more significant pieces of public art in downtown. The idea is to raise both the quality of life in the city and the value of its real-estate portfolio.
"It (public art) is part of our core values," says Jeff Hauptman, CEO of Oxford Companies
. "We are very much a part of the community. Anybody can be a landlord, but what are you going to do with it? ... How can we use our success to improve our community?"
What the two new murals will look like or where they will specifically be placed has not been released because the finer details about them are still being worked out. But Hauptman (a former chair of the Ann Arbor Art Center
) did say they will go up in the area of State and Liberty streets.
"Our goal is to get another mural launched each year over the next few years," Hauptman says.
Oxford Companies has recently become the largest landlord in Ann Arbor. It manages more than 1,000 units of student rentals next to the University of Michigan. It invested a lot in upgrading the rentals, earning the designation of best landlord from The Michigan Daily last year.
The 18-year-old company also purchased $115 million in commercial real-estate in Ann Arbor last year, and refinanced another $50 million worth of local properties. That accounted for a 50 percent growth in its commercial holdings and the company is eyeing more this year. Oxford Companies also hired 10 people over the last year, expanding its staff to 60 people.
"We are focusing on improving out internal systems," Hauptman says. "We put a lot of emphasis on the people of our company. If we take care of our people and they are happy they will take care of our tenants. If our tenants stay then our investors are happy."
And at the center of that philosophy is making Ann Arbor a better place through public art.
"Art is important to us," Hauptman says. "Public art, if done well, can have a great influence on the community."
Source: Jeff Hauptman, CEO of Oxford Companies
Writer: Jon Zemke
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