We provide development, leasing, asset and property management, and brokerage services for our portfolio, thus maximizing stabilized value for our clients and shareholders.
We deliver first class grocery-anchored shopping centers, single tenant assets and mixed-use properties that meet retailers’ needs and offer consumers a convenient, enjoyable experience.
We develop quality, functional apartment homes with amenity-rich environments in safe, desirable locations.
We seek market-driven development opportunities in the retail, multi-family, and senior active living asset classes.
We are retail. We are multi-family. We are so much more. We are Watkins.
The Watkins team is a family of professionals, each respected for their knowledge, experience, integrity and dedication. As established market veterans with long-standing relationships, we are trusted partners of retailers, brokers and vendors. Aligned with trustworthy experts, our cohesive and experienced team delivers exceptional and consistent service. Known as accessible, stable and loyal, Watkins associates treat clients and colleagues with dignity and respect.
The Watkins team differentiates itself through consistent service, longstanding relationships, quality projects, financial stability and unswerving dedication to people and community. Our hardworking approach and diligent attention to all facets of our business relations have been keys to our success. Watkins’ nimble operations ensure our ability to offer superior and attentive service to all our clients and collaborators, whether a land holder, retailer, lender or developer.
James G. Levy President
Jay Levy has been President of Watkins Real Estate Group, Inc., the real estate subsidiary of Watkins Associated Industries, since he joined the company in June 2014. Jay oversees all of the strategic planning and day-to-day operations for the Watkins Real Estate Group.
Before coming to Watkins, Jay served as CFO of Brand Properties, an Atlanta-based developer of retail, office and multi-family properties. Before Brand, he served as the Executive Vice President, Asset Manager for Equity One’s (NYSE: EQY) retail shopping centers in the Southeast U.S. In this role, Jay directed all aspects of property management, leasing, and development for Equity One’s Southeastern region. Before going to Equity One, Jay was the Chief Financial Officer for IRT Property Company (NYSE: IRT), an Atlanta-based REIT.
Prior to IRT, Jay was the Chief Financial Officer for Ewing Southeast Realty, an Atlanta-based real estate management and brokerage firm. Jay began his professional career in the tax group of the Atlanta office of Arthur Andersen & Co.
Jay is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the Georgia Society of CPAs, and the American Institute of CPAs. He holds a master’s degree in taxation from Georgia State University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Georgia.
Diane Roberts Chief Operating Officer
Diane Roberts joined Watkins Real Estate Group in March 2020 to manage the company’s day-to-day operations. Diane brings over 25 years of experience as an owner/asset manager and client advisor to the role. She oversees asset management, investment sales, financial reporting, debt procurement, marketing and administration for the company.
Prior to joining Watkins, Diane was an active member of Brixmor Property Group’s regional leadership team, serving as Vice President of Acquisitions & Dispositions for the 140+ asset Southeast Region. Prior to that, she was a Vice President, Capital Markets for Jones Lang Lasalle. At JLL, she served on the Southeast retail investment sales team and managed operations for a substantial land disposition program. Prior to JLL, Diane was one of the first employees of Atlanta Property Group, supporting the two founding partners in a variety of transactions, asset management, marketing and accounting functions.
Diane received her Bachelor’s degree in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Lee Freeman Vice President Development
Lee Freeman is responsible for site acquisition and development for both retail and multi-family projects. He has over twenty-eight years of commercial real estate experience specializing in retail development, leasing and management. During his career with Watkins he has been responsible for multiple grocery-anchored shopping center developments and multi-family community developments all over the southeast.
Lee serves on the Executive Board of Watkins’ parent company, Watkins Associated Industries, Inc. He is also a Trustee for Greater Atlanta Christian School. Lee received his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and his MBA from Georgia State University.
Greg Everett Vice President Construction
Greg Everett directs all aspects of the construction of Watkins’ neighborhood shopping centers and apartment communities. Prior to his role as Vice President of Construction, he was an owner’s representative for construction in the retail division.
Greg joined Watkins in 1994 as an Estimator/Project Manager in the apartment division, responsible for procuring and writing all subcontractor agreements and purchase orders. In addition, he acted as the general contractor in the renovation of Watkins Associated Industries’ headquarters office and several other retail projects.
Greg graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Building Science.
Robert M. Peck Vice President Development
Bob Peck has more than 30 years of real estate experience. As Vice President of Development, Bob is responsible for identifying markets and properties for retail development, acquiring and entitling the land, securing anchor store approval, negotiating anchor store leases, creating design, and overseeing the development of the project.
He joined Watkins Real Estate Group as Director of Property Management in July 1989. In this role, Bob was responsible for developing and implementing Watkins retail asset management policies. Prior to Watkins, Bob served as Market Analyst for The Landmark Group, an Atlanta based developer of office properties.
Bob is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). He holds a MBA from the Rollins Crummer School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University.
Nat Barganier Vice President Development
Nat Barganier is Vice President responsible for new multi-family construction throughout Florida including land acquisition, financial underwriting, entitlement, product design, pre-construction, development funding, management oversight, lease up and disposition. He brings more than 30 years of experience to the Watkins organization.
Prior to joining Watkins, Mr. Barganier developed over 8,000 apartment residences and several hundred thousand square feet of multi-project commercial space throughout Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia with a value of over $2.0 Billion. Nat has a broad background beginning his career as an appraiser, underwriter and relationship manager handling real estate loan origination and valuation activities for Citigroup (NYSE: C). Having developed an interest in structuring successful deals, Nat bridged the gap to apartment development with the Altman Development Corporation serving as Vice President responsible for the Florida Central Region and Texas, Camden Property Trust (NYSE: CPT) as Vice President of the Eastern US, and Cumberland Allegiance Company as COO, Director of Development and Finance for Texas and the Southeast.
He received his undergraduate degree from Texas State University and currently holds a Florida Broker’s License. Community activities include Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) and Water.Org. He is a member/affiliate of the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and the Real Estate Investment Council (REIC).
Christopher R. Smurda Controller
Christopher R. Smurda joined Watkins in March 2021 bringing over 25 years of real estate experience in multi-family, mixed use and commercial real estate. Chris oversees the financial reporting of operations, financial planning, loan administration and budgeting for Watkins Real Estate Group. Chris has a strong focus on process improvement, technology, and building strong teams with a customer service focused mindset.
Prior to joining Watkins, Chris acted as the Vice President of Accounting Operations for Gables Residential and Director of Accounting for Bridge Commercial Real Estate. His experience also includes positions at both The Integral Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Chris holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Georgia. He is a Certified Public Accountant and serves on the Boards of several not-for-profit organizations.
Robert Stumpe Real Estate Asset Manager
Robert Stumpe joined Watkins in August 2016. He oversees and directs the multi-family portfolio’s operations team to ensure optimal property performance from lease-up through disposition. He is responsible for the overall management of asset sales including underwriting, marketing, contract negotiations, and closing. He helps drive strategy on new developments, analyzes new investment decisions, and assists with due diligence.
Prior to joining Watkins, Robert acted as a consultant for a number of real estate firms in the Atlanta area. He is formerly the Vice President of Investments for the Carroll Organization. His experience includes positions at both Morgan Stanley and Deloitte.
Robert holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Kennesaw State University and a MBA from the University of Georgia. He is a Certified Public Accountant.
Robbie Swan Real Estate Development Manager
Robbie Swan joined Watkins Real Estate Group as Real Estate Analyst in January 2015 being hired as an intern less than a year before. He is responsible for financial and cash flow analysis, location prioritization, and all tenant and investor prospectus packages.
Prior to joining Watkins, Robbie interned for Keller Williams Realty where his responsibilities included preparing sales contracts, hosting open houses, and planning marketing events.
Robbie is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an economics minor from Florida Southern College.
Matthew Cawthon Construction Manager
Matthew has joined the Watkins Real Estate Group construction team to assist with all retail and multi-family projects. Matthew brings significant experience to the team, having worked as a project manager for Walton Construction Services, and for Hathaway Construction Services, both multifamily construction companies. He also worked for residential construction company KB Homes.
Matthew holds a BS in Building Science from Auburn University.
Jefferson Dean Construction Manager
Jefferson joined the Watkins Real Estate Group construction team in 2019 to assist with all retail and multi-family projects. Prior to joining Watkins, Jefferson worked as a project manager in a wide range of markets including mixed-use retail, government, senior living, and environmental projects for Winter Construction as well as healthcare for M.J. Harris Construction.
Jefferson holds a BS in Building Science and a BS in Business Administration, both from Auburn University.