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Firm sees continued growth in real estate

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Emerald Realty Group has a prime location in downtown Bethlehem.

The firm, which began in 2000, represents buyers and tenants, advises clients and manages properties.

It’s a successful formula in a healthy real estate environment that shows no signs of slowing.

“I’ve been managing my own properties since Emerald started,” said Douglas Kelly, the firm’s broker of record, principal and owner who has had a real estate license since 1986. “I like the diverse set of challenges, opportunities and the number of hats worn by Emerald. …

“Commercial leases, brokerage, sales … provide a platform for diverse, exciting real estate opportunities.”

Emerald Realty, which has 11 employees, began at 555 Main St. above Fegley’s Bethlehem Brew Works. Kelly then moved to another spot on West Broad Street in Bethlehem before ultimately settling at 60 W. Broad St., the firm’s headquarters.

Since its inception, Emerald Realty Group has been a Bethlehem mainstay. Today, it manages three properties in close proximity: 60 W. Broad, 74 W. Broad and 44 E. Broad streets.

“I’ve enjoyed working here in this corridor,” said Kelly, a longtime Bethlehem resident. “We enjoy working here and bringing others down here, too.”

ACQUISITION

When Emerald Realty moved to 60 W. Broad St. in April 2014, the firm had been managing and operating eight commercial buildings. Last year, it acquired Resource Asset Management and morphed into Emerald Resource, a division of Emerald Realty Group, Kelly said.

“Now we have 1.2 million square feet of space, primarily Class-A office and flex space,” Kelly said.

The majority of its work is in the Lehigh Valley, but it also does work outside the area, including the management of two buildings in Chester County, he said.

“With that acquisition [Resource Asset Management], Emerald quadrupled its size and really made it a player in commercial property management in the Lehigh Valley,” Kelly said.

STAYING POWER

At 60 W. Broad St., Emerald Realty occupies 3,000 square feet of commercial space, as compared to 2014, when it had four employees and occupied 1,600 square feet.

Its flagship management properties are 60 W. Broad St. and 74 W. Broad St.

Kelly said he is grateful for his firm’s ability to come through the Great Recession, a particularly challenging time for commercial real estate.

“It proved that you had the staying power to navigate through that,” Kelly said. “From 2011 to now was the real growth period for Emerald.”

BALANCING ACT

The firm plans to grow cautiously and focus on quality, not quantity, with its accounts and clients, Kelly said.

“It’s kind of a balancing act taking on expanding and providing services,” he said.

The firm is able to adjust its platform for various opportunities because of its size and can customize offerings to the individual needs of clients, he said.

As bigger commercial real estate firms continue merging, the smaller firm continues to be a rare breed.

“The independent brokerages are few and far between,” Kelly said. “Competition is a challenge. However, we’ve been able to hold our own.”

MANY SERVICES

Emerald Realty serves a variety of clients, including banks, construction firms and nonprofits, and manages properties for companies that include institutions, small businesses and large corporations.

It also provides a full range of services in sales and leasing, including marketing, acquisition and disposition and contract negotiation.

“Over the years, I’ve tried to keep our strategy simple and our growth manageable,” Kelly said. “With the concentration on representing property owners, we are much more in the public eye.”

Having Jack McNulty, a property manager from the acquired Resource Asset Management, join Emerald Realty Group motivated Kelly. McNulty is the director of property management for Emerald Resource.

“That was the trigger point,” Kelly said. “We plan on continuing property management in all areas of the Lehigh Valley. If the right opportunity comes along, we will certainly go after it.”

UNDERSTANDING OF HEALTH CARE

John Hrubenak, vice president of operations and business development for Sacred Heart HealthCare System, based in Allentown, has been a client of Emerald Realty for property management services and on the real estate brokerage side for nine years.

“The part I really like about them is their knowledge of health care,” Hrubenak said. “I fall under a lot of regulatory requirements. Jack McNulty really understands that well.”

Emerald Realty manages about 10 of Sacred Heart’s outpatient facilities, so the building is more than simply a physician’s office, Hrubenak said.

“I have someone out there who manages my properties with a keen eye to meet all the requirements that we have to be under as health care providers,” he said.

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