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Our Story

Lee M. Chesnut is a San Diego based commercial real estate investor/developer. Mr. Chesnut has been actively involved in commercial real estate for more than twenty-seven years. His early experience started with John Burnham and Company in 1986, where he was assigned to manage a demanding retail center for repositioning and rehabilitation, the project was owned by the Shidler Group. A strong relationship resulted with this client who offered Chesnut an opportunity to manage the marketing and operations of their growing San Diego investment portfolio.

Mr. Chesnut worked with the Shidler Group until venturing out on his own in the fall of 1990 (coincidentally Mr. Chesnut’s 30th birthday).  It was a dream and a goal to be working for himself by 30 years old.  Chesnut Properties was formed in October 1990 focusing on industrial sales and leasing activity to earn seed capital to begin investing in properties for personal and long term cash flow.  Mr. Chesnut’s first acquisition was just 2 years later which began a fast paced aggressive strategy of acquiring underperforming/vacant properties and quickly repositioning the properties with strong tenants preparing to exchange into higher quality and more valuable properties.

Mr. Chesnut founded Chesnut Properties with a simple goal: To become a significant owner and manager of institutional quality properties that will provide direct financial resources to his family and additional resources to allow the company to continue to grow, perpetually into the future.

Over the past twenty-five years, Mr. Chesnut has successfully acquired, repositioned and/or built numerous properties totaling over 1,250,000 square feet, representing an investment total of over $225,000,000. Mr. Chesnut’s investments have been characterized by his ability to incorporate market knowledge and leasing expertise into properties that are well located, but seriously under performing. By repositioning and improving these properties, he has been able to create significant value.

In 2008, Mr. Chesnut completed the development and construction of the only LEED certified gold building constructed by a private developer in the State of Arizona: Papago Gateway Center. This 243,000 Sq. Ft. Class A flex office/lab building was built on a speculative basis. The $65,000,000 project was funded by $18,000,000 of Chesnut’s money (majority via exchange from the sale of a laboratory building) and a construction loan provided by San Diego National Bank.

Today, Chesnut Properties is strategically positioned to bring to various communities it’s passionate approach to delivering complex and impactful real estate projects; with projects under way that represent over 60 acres of land and entitlements that total over 3,000,000 sq ft.

The Company utilizes multiple relationship and financial structures in order to execute this scale of development including:  Private pursuits, Long-Term Ground Leases, Customized Structured Debt strategies, and P3 relationships (Public/Private/Partnerships).

Mr. Chesnut’s real estate portfolio now consists of Papago Gateway Center, Diego One (a 100,000 Sq. Ft. two story suburban office/call center fully stabilized with new tenants in the fall of 2011) and a 25% interest in a classic Kearny Mesa R&D building (58,000 Sq. Ft.) fully stabilized with long-term leases and financed by Wells Fargo Bank. Three stabilized, high-quality assets with great long-term cash flow and value. Diego One and the Kearny Mesa building where purchased by Chesnut (with partners) in 1995.

Lee Chesnut, born October 11, 1960, grew up in North Phoenix and moved to San Diego in 1981. He resides in Del Mar with his wife, Sandra of over 30 years. Their four children, spouses and grandchildren are his greatest passion. But other interests and hobbies include stand up paddle surfing, road biking, running, hiking, music and of course, real estate.