Pamela Aquilani Photography
If you’re a resident of the First State, you’ve no doubt heard of Hudson Management and the company’s managing partner, Christian Hudson—not just because he was born and raised in Delaware or because his family roots go back 13 generations, but because over the past 15 years, Christian has overseen the development of a vast majority of commercial real estate and construction projects in the area.
Hudson Management is a third-generation, family-owned private investment company with assets in the U.S., although past projects include Canada, and Costa Rica. Their primary focus is on the acquisition of, and investment in, small businesses in technology, tourism, and real estate—and Christian manages it all, from the company’s real estate holdings to their entire investment portfolio. Using his wide breadth of experience in governance and oversight, capital acquisition, client relationship management, and property development, coupled with his extensive knowledge of private equity, he has averaged a 9% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) during his tenure—no easy task when the assets you govern exceed $100 million.
In complement of this already impressive résumé, Christian supervises just about everything under the umbrella of commercial real estate, including feasibility studies, contract negotiations, lender relations, sales, reviewing civil engineering plans, and working with architects. He has negotiated multiple contracts in excess of $500 million for over $1 billion in cumulative contract value and closed on $50 million-plus in commercial debt and equity financing rounds. Tangible illustrations of his work shine across the landscape, including completing construction on a 68,000 square-foot, 104-room extended-stay hotel—during the pandemic—obtaining land use approvals and rezoning for 156 apartments and 45,000 square feet of commercial purchasing, rebranding 26,000 square feet of commercial self-storage, and renovating a historic building in Easton, MD. In his own words, Christian shares, “I take a piece of raw land, do the demolition, get the permits to upgrade the property in order to get highest and best use out of it, find the tenants, then put the cash flow in place and structure the debt.”
In short, Christian is a skillful portfolio manager and commercial real estate developer who has impressed investors, thrilled clients, and helped to make Hudson Management a household name in Delaware. Now he’s started a new venture into the self-storage business, Viking Storage, LLC.
Viking Storage officially opened its first location in 2021, with plans in place for additional sites. The structure, situated on Coastal Highway, offers parking for RVs and boats, as well as units for self-storage, and 5k square feet of retail space. And though it’s new, the project is already a success.
We spoke with Christian to learn more about his ventures, the background that led him to its creation, and how he’s “giving back” to the community that he loves.
Christian, what led you to a career in commercial real estate development?
I’m a third-generation real estate investor and developer. Our family was heavily invested in residential real estate prior to the Great Financial Crisis, but when the crash hit our beach resort market, it hit us hard. My brother and I are partners and we talked about it and pivoted as quick as we could to the commercial side. We had holdings that were slated for condos and we repurposed them for hotels. Our first project was a Fairfield Inn, which was the first Marriott hotel at the Delaware beaches. We followed that success with a Residence Inn by Marriott. From then on, we stayed in the commercial sector and that decision has proven to be a wise one.
Not many people can say that their private equity experience extends back to their childhood, yet yours did. Tell us about this.
My brother and I grew up in private equity, although we didn’t call it that. In our family even holiday dinners were business meetings. I developed a real interest in it. I always understood that finance drives the real estate market, but becoming an executive really allowed me to capitalize on my knowledge. It really got put to the test when we purchased Sam Yoder & Son, a mid-Atlantic building supply manufacturer. Some people work with puzzles, I work with businesses and land. Whether it’s trying to figure out how to make a business work or optimize them, that’s where I thrive and, in the process, I create value.
Where did the idea for Viking Storage come from, and what does the future hold?
I was absolutely seeing a need for this. Infrastructure for storage has not kept pace with the population increase, especially in the Delaware Beach resort market, so it created a real imbalance in the supply/demand equation. All the new residents needed more space, and since the area has low ground water tables, the homes don’t have basements. Also, I knew how hard it is to get commercial approvals and zoning in our jurisdiction, especially if you’re not from here. I had a home field advantage because the governing bodies knew I could be trusted to do what’s best for the community. In terms of the future, we’re continuing to invest in new technologies to make our operations more efficient and to deliver better value to our customers. We’re reinvesting in the properties and greatly improving them, and we’re looking to expand into more locations very soon.
You are passionate about philanthropy and serving the community. Why is this important to you and what organizations are you involved with?
It’s hard to describe, but this is where I’m from. This area has given me everything and it’s a big part of me, and I’m compelled to give back. I donate 20-25 hours a month to a nonprofit hospital in Lewes, where I sit on the board of the Beebe Medical Center and Foundation. My wife, Julie, and I recently founded the Christian & Julie Hudson Foundation, which acts as a central clearinghouse for all of our charitable giving.
Managing Partner, Hudson Management
Founder, Viking Storage
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