The construction industry has no choice but to innovate. It’s facing increasing costs, a shortage of skilled workers, and an existing business model plagued by inefficiency, outdated processes, low productivity, and cost overruns. Truly integrated, end-to-end construction services will help to solve these problems.
CEO Darell Schmidt, working in close partnership with President Matt Gehrke, brings 40+ years of experience and a track record of more than $1.2B in commercial and residential development. With meticulous research, we gain a clear view on how each property is likely to perform in the marketplace.
As developers, we have long been focused on building modern, efficient housing at attainable prices. In, this niche, with conservative leverage, it is possible to consistently deliver significant ROI regardless of how the overall real estate market is performing. We are proud of our track record of delivering results to the investors who entrust us in funding our developments.
With 40+ years of real estate experience that includes more than $1.2B in commercial and residential development, Darell Schmidt is known as a developer, builder, and businessman you can trust. By putting relationships first, communicating honestly and transparently, and reliably identifying the right opportunities at the right times, he has been highly successful across the real estate spectrum. Mr. Schmidt is the CEO and managing partner of Allante Development, responsible for corporate oversight, finance/investment strategy, opportunity identification, deal structuring, investor and community relations, and overall project oversight.
Finding His Calling in Real Estate
After graduating from high school, Schmidt developed a keen interest in real estate which later turned into a lifetime passion. Schmidt’s mother had a real estate license and loved her job. She’d often told him about her work, and he was intrigued. He and his mother joined forces as he learned the ropes, quickly progressing to a specialization in income property listing and sales. To bolster his knowledge and credibility, he earned the coveted Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation in 1978, becoming only the 972nd member of the organization. (Today, membership exceeds 9,500 worldwide, though only an estimated 6% of US-based commercial real estate professionals have qualified for the designation.) Mr. Schmidt simultaneously earned his BS in real estate and construction management from the University of Denver. He’d found his new path, and it quickly became his central passion.
Getting Started in Development
From 1976 to 1981, Mr. Schmidt served as director of leasing for a prominent Denver-area developer. Two weeks after marrying his wife, Re, in 1981, he founded his own real estate development company, Falcon Ventures.
After attending a seminar on shopping center development, Mr. Schmidt knew he had the skills needed to become a developer. He already understood financing, leasing, and strategic thinking. All he needed was the right piece of land.
When Mr. Schmidt identified a four-acre plot next to a K-Mart (considered a highly desirable tenant at the time), he knew he’d found the right opportunity. That first deal, which would ultimately become the Monaco Village Shopping Center, was negotiated in 1984. He followed up in 1986 with the $1M Clinton Shopette development in another amazing location (next to a Target, near I-25 and Arapahoe), ultimately selling the property for $3.2M in 2015. From there, opportunities proliferated. In total, Falcon Ventures was responsible for developing and leasing more than $30M of office and retail space, developing 261,000 SF and leasing 500,000+ SF.
Finding Success in Homebuilding
After the Tax Reform Act of 1986 devalued commercial real estate and made financing virtually impossible, Mr. Schmidt knew he had to change course. He sensed that the market was ripe for homebuilding, so he sold most of his commercial portfolio and founded Falcon Homes in 1986. Success was immediate. In the first month, they sold eight houses at the Falcon Creek development in Highlands Ranch and never looked back.
Falcon Homes would go on to become one of Denver’s largest private homebuilders, building and selling 2,700 single-family and multifamily properties and developing more than 1,150 acres of land. The company, which was widely lauded for its innovative designs and excellent warranty department, received many honors over its 15-year span. Accolades included numerous awards for Merchandising Excellence, with 12 awards including the Grand Award for Merchandising Excellence; the Quality, Value, and Affordability Award from Builder Magazine; and a Golden Nugget Award of Merit as “Best in the West” from the Pacific Coast Builder Conference, the Western Builder Show, and Builder Magazine.
Mr. Schmidt’s uncanny ability to identify ideal locations led to many noteworthy successes. In 1992, he purchased the parking lot for Golf Club at Beaver Creek, which was adjacent to the planned Elkhorn Lift. His plan was to build a 7-story midrise condominium building with 52 high-end condominiums priced up to $1.5M. The development was an immediate triumph, selling all units shortly after completion and doubling his investors’ money in four years’ time. Other representative successes included Wildcat Ridge, a 160-acre/402-home joint venture with Prudential Home Building Investors; a joint venture with Mobil Oil to develop 665 homes at Stonegate; and numerous other joint ventures with Weyerhaeuser and Residential Funding Corporation, a division of GMAC.
Identifying the Next Big Opportunity: Multifamily
Mr. Schmidt understood the warning signs as the Great Recession was in full bloom by 2008, creating huge opportunities in multifamily acquisition and development.
In 2009, Mr. Schmidt and his son Daren attended a multifamily convention, learning how promising the multifamily market sector looked. Nationwide demand for apartments far exceeded supply, and the Denver market was no exception. The Schmidts formed Allante Properties in 2011, developing a business plan focused on developing multifamily apartments in the Denver area.
Investing in the Right Locations at the Right Time
Allante Properties’ first development, Fitzsimons Place, involved renovating 99 apartments. Its sale for $6.5M generated average annual returns of 26.81% for investors. Later in 2012, the passage of the JOBS act eliminated the SEC restriction on using media advertising to attract private investors. Through strategic media placements, Allante Properties was able to attract 120 investors who subsequently invested over $37M in their apartment business, sharing the return of cash flow and sales proceeds.
Newly armed with large pools of capital, Allante Properties focused on finding urban infill sites suitable for new-build developments. Both Highland Place (68 Class A apartments; 11,000 SF of retail) and Tennyson Place (81 Class A apartments) were walkable, close to amenities, and located in highly desirable neighborhoods. Both developments were intentionally designed with smaller unit sizes, including Denver’s very first “micro-apartments” (387 SF). Highland Place was a tremendous success, gaining high rental rates, generating significant cash flow distributions for investors, and ultimately selling for $24.5M in 2015. Tennyson Place and Emerson Place were developed in the ensuing years, focusing on a unit mix that included both micro-units and studio units and becoming a solid hit in the Denver market. The company continues to expand its portfolio, building and renovating additional projects in Denver; Phoenix, Arizona; and Boise, Idaho.
Helping to Build a Stronger Future for Sustainable Housing
Facing a shrinking workforce and growing demand, the construction industry has no choice but to innovate. Mr. Schmidt is convinced that technological innovation in the sector holds the potential to provide a better, more sustainable housing solution. That’s why his newest development firm, Allante Development, is dedicated to developing sites in the US using construction technology to more efficiently deliver attainable rental housing without compromising quality. Allante Development is excited to play a role in supporting the biggest revolution the construction industry has seen in decades. With a multi-year pipeline and a continued focus on building in the right locations at the right times, the potential is virtually unlimited.
A second-generation Denver native, Mr. Schmidt has lived in Denver for the majority of his life. Nowadays, he and Re split their time between Denver and Phoenix. After vacationing in Arizona for the past 30 years, they’ve been privileged to buy a home there. They spend their free time traveling, hiking, golfing, boating on Lake Saguaro, and exploring Phoenix and Denver’s thriving restaurant scenes. They also enjoy spending time with their three children and six grandchildren.
With 30+ years of real estate industry experience, attorney Matt Gehrke is known as a results-oriented developer, leader, advisor, and problem-solver. Far more than a real estate and trial attorney, Mr. Gehrke is adept at driving development strategy, managing legal risk, ensuring regulatory compliance, and closing transactions. He is a principal within Allante Development, serving as president. His enthusiasm for building and delivering projects is bolstered by his expertise in private equity syndication and all phases of real property finance, acquisition, development, management, and disposition, as well as commercial disputes and tax controversy resolution.
A Family Tradition of Real Estate
Mr. Gehrke always knew he’d work in real estate. It was part of his DNA. His grandparents were custom homebuilders in Denver. His father was a real estate broker and investor with apartments and other properties.
During high school, Mr. Gehrke helped his father manage apartments, worked at his best friend’s family-owned lumberyard, worked on an apartment-framing crew, and built redwood decks. During college, he worked as a property manager, responsible for marketing, sales, maintenance, and rent collection. He bought his first investment property — a condo in Littleton — right out of college, and successfully flipped it.
Gaining Development and Construction Experience Across Industries
By this point, Mr. Gehrke had already earned his BS in finance from the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. He went on to earn his JD from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, and was admitted to practice law in the state of Colorado in 1993.
Since 1999, Mr. Gehrke has served as General Counsel for several companies, advising them on real estate transactions, finance, planning, development, construction, and management, as well as litigation strategy and other business matters.
Though Mr. Gehrke has since gained broad experience in a range of industries, his career has remained grounded in real estate from day one. First, he spent seven years working with a leading tax law firm. Next, he spent four years as general manager and VP of operations for a fast-growing national telecom wire and cable supplier engaged in frequent property development and acquisition. In that role, he was responsible for coordinating several office/warehouse acquisitions and office build-outs. When this business was sold in 2001, Mr. Gehrke continued to work with its principals to acquire and develop land, condominium, hospitality, retail, storage, convenience store, and restaurant properties in Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and other locations, primarily in the southwest United States.
During that same period, Mr. Gehrke also became co-founder of a homebuilding business which developed several subdivisions and constructed luxury homes in Colorado and Arizona. With the homebuilding industry hit hard by the Great Recession, Mr. Gehrke’s focus shifted back to practicing law. Working predominantly with real estate clients, he assisted various partnerships and lenders in arranging financial workouts.
Joining Forces on Multifamily Development
Around 2010, as the market began to recover, Mr. Gehrke made the strategic decision to focus upon the multifamily market segment. He met Darell Schmidt when they were both looking at the same value-add property — which Mr. Schmidt already had under contract. It wasn’t long before Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Gehrke began working together.
Mr. Gehrke is married with three children. After spending the first 48 years of his life in Colorado, he and his family relocated to Arizona in 2017. The move was a natural one, since his wife, Summer, grew up in Arizona, and they both have family and friends throughout the state. The Gehrkes spend their free time enjoying the outdoors, including hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, skiing, boating, and water skiing. They love to travel, naming the Rocky Mountains as a longtime favorite destination.
With 40 years of wide-ranging construction industry experience, Dr. Victor Starns knows what it takes to get projects done right. He is a leader, investor, educator, researcher, business consultant, project management expert, and consultant within Allante Development. He plays a central role in developing investor relations, project management oversight, and organizational structure on Allante’s projects. In any project, Dr. Starns focuses on creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders — investors, developers, builders, tenants, communities, governments, and the world at large.
Learning Construction from the Inside Out
After graduating high school, Dr. Starns accepted an apprenticeship with Ironworkers Local 24 in Denver. He worked his way up the ranks and was employed for the next 20+ years as an ironworker or ironworker general foreman for several companies, including Alberici, Fluor, Black & Veatch, and Gross Mechanical. During this time, Dr. Starns worked in a range of environments throughout Kansas, Missouri, and California, including factories for GM, Ford, and Owens Corning Fiberglass; the Callaway nuclear power plant; coal-fired power plants; high-rise office buildings; and bridges around the United States.
Building a Business from the Ground Up
From 2003 to 2010, partnering with his wife Rebecca, Dr. Starns founded and operated a steel fabrication and erecting company, Starns LLC. This experienced further widened Dr. Starns’ scope of experience, since he was now a business owner, project manager, estimator, and coordinator responsible for countless aspects of construction and fabrication. Clients included retailers (e.g., JCPenney), schools, multifamily builders, recreation centers, and railroad services providers.
Diving Deep on Project Management Strategy, Techniques, and Theory
Following the 2008 recession and subsequent downturn in construction, Dr. Starns decided to supplement his 30 years of field experience with a formal education in the field of project management. As a passionate lifetime learner, Dr. Starns had taken classes on business, construction, and journeyman upgrades throughout his career. Now, he had the opportunity to build on his decades of project management experience by focusing on the strategy, techniques, theory, research, and innovation underpinning it. He also enjoyed investing time in teaching and mentoring other students, sharing his hands-on field and leadership experience to supplement the theory they learned in the classroom.
Dr. Starns now holds a doctorate in management (project management concentration), an MBA in project management, and a BS in project management (summa cum laude) from Colorado Technical University. He is a Project Management Professional (PMP) and member of the Project Management Institute, as well as a lifetime member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
Dr. Starns, a Denver native, has been happily married to his wife Rebecca since 1996. In their free time, they like to spend time exploring Colorado’s mountains, mines, and hot springs. They’re avid hikers and rockhounds, collecting rocks everywhere they go.
With 25 years of international business experience, Dr. Ali Almadhlouh is in the business of bringing people together. Bilingual in Arabic and English, highly traveled, and well-versed in the cultural differences between East and West, he helps to unite businesses with investors who share their vision. He is a leader, business owner and consultant, deal negotiator, project management expert, and consultant within Allante Development. For Allante’s projects, Dr. Almadhlouh focuses primarily on investor relationship development and management, risk and opportunity evaluation, and cross-cultural diplomacy.
Helping to Engineer Saudi Arabia’s Oil Future
Dr. Almadhlouh was born in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, where the region’s oil industry was also born. (After the 1938 oil strike in Dammam, it was ultimately revealed as the world’s largest source of crude oil.) Unsurprisingly, most of the city worked in oil; Dr. Almadhlouh was no exception, spending 22 years working with Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s largest and most profitable companies. He spent the bulk of his Saudi Aramco career as a chemical engineer specializing in coatings and polymers, finishing his tenure as a high-ranking engineering consultant providing oversight, approval, and recommendations on polymers and coatings used by the company for corrosion protection. He also contributed to the engineering design process on several large-scale projects and taught several courses on coatings and linings. Beyond Saudi Aramco, Dr. Almadhlouh served as a member, chair, vice chair, and treasurer of various regions and sections of the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) for various periods from 1983 to 2003.
Brothers in Business
In 2000, Dr. Almadhlouh and his brother founded trading firm Sealand For General Trading Company in the United Arab Emirates, and in 2003, they founded consulting firm Badran Middle East Ltd. in Saudi Arabia. Primarily supporting the engineering and construction, industrial, and IT sectors, Badran Middle East Ltd. helps businesses improve productivity while reducing costs. During this time, Dr. Almadhlouh also began providing engineering consultation, brokerage services, and investor relations support to a range of well-established businesses. In addition, he served as a member of the board of directors of Saudi Darkov medical company and chairman of the board for UK-based Task Force Logistics Limited.
A Global Perspective
Dr. Almadhlouh brings a valuable international perspective to his work. He understands the nuances in working styles, deal making, and business relationships across cultures. In addition to spending significant time working and studying in the US, he has traveled widely for both business and pleasure, covering much of Europe, the Far East, Southeast Asia (e.g., Malaysia, Singapore), Northern Africa, and the Middle East. Dr. Almadhlouh is also active in humanitarian efforts. Since 2014, he has chaired the Karbala AlHussain Blood Donation Campaign (in collaboration with Vitalant blood center). He also served as a board member or vice chair for the Saihat Society for Social Services over a 12-year period.
Dr. Almadhlouh moved to Colorado in 2014. With two kids (a daughter and a son) studying in the US, he took the opportunity to obtain his MBA and ultimately his doctorate. He now holds a doctorate in management and an MBA in project management from Colorado Technical University. (Dr. Almadhlouh previously completed his BS in chemical engineering at Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.)
Dr. Almadhlouh and his wife Mariam have five children, a small family by Middle Eastern standards. With family scattered around the globe, traveling takes up much of his free time. Though he was a well-rounded college athlete — soccer, handball, Taekwondo, and swimming — his sporting activities nowadays consist primarily of going bowling with Dr. Starns and his family. Though he’s not good at it, he enjoys it anyway.
Adam Finkel is the founding partner and principal at Tower Capital, a Phoenix-based commercial real estate finance firm. Since 2015, the firm has been involved in over $500M in successful real estate equity and debt placements. Adam is an active member of Forbes Real Estate Council and has authored numerous publications. He is most proud of his accomplishment of becoming the preeminent independent commercial real estate finance firm in the State of Arizona. Tower Capital is on track to finance $1B in commercial real estate projects since inception in the spring of 2015.
Committed to Serving Arizona and the West
Mr. Finkel began his real estate career with Levrose Real Estate and Investments, a boutique commercial brokerage firm located in Scottsdale, Arizona. At Levrose, he negotiated more than 300 commercial real estate transactions, including office, industrial, and retail properties. Mr. Finkel then worked with Travers Realty Corporation, a regional commercial real estate brokerage firm headquartered in Los Angeles. After serving as one of the founding agents of Travers’ West Los Angeles office, he became the designated broker and managing director for Travers’ Phoenix office, representing organizations like Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Freeport-McMoRan (ticker FCX) with strategic planning and lease negotiations.
Prior to founding Tower Capital, Mr. Finkel served as vice president at Johnson Capital, one of the nation’s top real estate capital advisory firms. At Johnson Capital, he was involved in the successful placement of more than $360M in bridge and permanent structured financing on behalf of commercial real estate investors and property owners throughout North America.
Building a Strong Foundation in Real Estate
Mr. Finkel graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in business administration and communications. He is a licensed real estate broker in the state of Arizona. In 2014, Mr. Finkel earned the designation of Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM), a title held only by a small, elite group of commercial real estate investment professionals. He is actively involved with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP). He is a regular contributor to Forbes.com, and has been featured in many industry publications and nationally recognized podcasts.
Mr. Finkel began training in Uechi Ryu karate at the age of 5 and earned his black belt at 15. He is an avid reader and listener of audiobooks and podcasts. He enjoys history, science, politics, and economics. While not working, Mr. Finkel enjoys spending time with his family and travelling. His favorite sport is hockey.