Robin Zeigler launches MURAL Real Estate with social advocacy mission – Commercial Observer
Robin Zeigler is bringing her years of real estate development experience to underserved communities with a new company named MURAL real estate partner.
MURAL stands for Mixed Use Revitalization Approached Locally, and Zeigler hopes to build just that: mixed-use developments that provide low-income communities with an economic engine, creating not only mixed-use housing but also jobs through commercial space.
“There are many developers who focus on this area, but typically they are affordable housing developers and we are not an affordable housing developer. We are a mixed use developer. We’re aiming for a mix of workers’ housing and market-driven housing,” Zeigler told the Commercial Observer. “We believe that’s a critical component of economic empowerment and really bringing all levels of income to these neighborhoods, creating this economic engine, creating this economic empowerment.”
In her experience, this is because fully affordable housing developments lack the fuel to lift residents out of poverty and into better housing.
“You look up 10 years later and the same people are still living there in poverty,” Zeigler said.
With a long career managing the development and operations of grocery store malls and other projects in economically healthy communities, Zeigler believes she can apply the same approach to urban markets where supply does not match demand.
Zeigler is willing to target national markets, but MURAL will start primarily with East Coast and Midwest markets such as: B. St. Louis – Zeigler’s hometown – where an undisclosed project is already underway. The company also advises Cedar Realty Trust to build on a Northeast Heights project, Ward 7 of Washington, DC a 258,000-square-foot office building leased to the General Services Department with retail on the ground floor.
Zeigler started her career in accounting Serious before working in the real estate division of the company where a client worked Yarmouth Groupthe retail arm of lend leasing. Eventually, Zeigler moved to DC, where she spent 12 years Federal Realty Investment Trust in Rockville as regional Chief Operating Officer, responsible for their shopping center portfolio and five mixed-use development projects.
She then became COO of Cedar Realty Trust in Long Island, which gave her the impetus to start MURAL through the company’s strategy of emphasizing underserved communities for its mixed-use developments.
“I really started to see that this niche was missing in the market,” Zeigler told CO. “I think one of the unique things that we bring is that we’re approaching these mixed-use developments with a kind of holistic neighborhood creation strategy around retail, merchandising, placemaking and the mix of uses to really create a vibrant community and economic empowerment in areas to create that have traditionally been underserved.”
Zeigler assembled an all-female team to get MURAL off the ground using connections she made at Cedar Realty and Federal.
“At the end of the day, we’re capitalists and we’re using institutional capital, private corporate capital, and we need to make a return for them as well as for ourselves,” Zeigler said. “But we’re also approaching redevelopment, really thinking about it and doing it from the perspective of what that particular community needs and how we can do social advocacy.”
Mark Hallum can be reached at [email protected].