The way Keith Gillan sees it, the surge in apartments going up around the Baltimore area makes perfect sense.
The trend is the market's response to an influx of young people who aren't ready to commit to buying a home but want all the amenities that modern apartment complexes can provide, said Gillan, who is president of Murn Properties in Columbia.
"Younger individuals are making major life choices later in life," Gillan said. "It's happening later and later, meaning they're staying in apartment communities longer and longer. And apartment communities have evolved — they're not just four walls and two bedrooms anymore."
The 41-year-old property management executive worked for more than a dozen years at the Bozzuto Group before joining developer Christopher Murn in opening his company last year. He oversees 1,725 apartment units in five complexes in Howard, Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Charles counties.
As a property manager, he serves the needs of both building owners and renters.
"You get the customer interaction on two sides: customers who are our residents — and customers who are looking for apartment homes — and the clients that own the assets," he said. "I'm surrounded by customers, if you will."
He said he takes seriously the responsibility of ensuring that the properties are maintained properly. They're people's homes, after all.
"People spend more time at their homes than at work," he said. "We're making decisions and creating communities for the people that live there."
Rowhouses may be the staple, especially in Baltimore, but the amenities available in a large new apartment building and the services a property management company can provide often exceed what is available on a smaller scale, he said.
Critics have questioned the wisdom of building more than 5,600 residential units, most of them apartments, in a city that lost 6,700 residents in the 2016 fiscal year. Gillan isn't worried.
"For a period, there's going to be a lot of supply," he said. "But the communities are going to be absorbed, and they're going to be absorbed at a favorable market rate."
Part of that optimism may stem from his enthusiasm for the city, which he said has "no limits." He loves attending games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and eating at the city's restaurants. Baltimore's walkability, in particular, is a draw, he said.
"I love the city. I moved here for school in '94 and haven't looked back," he said. "It's a very friendly, interesting city. The neighborhoods are amazing. … It's rich with history, and it has a lot of employers in the market that are fantastic."
Name: Keith Gillan
Title: President, Murn Properties
Education: Towson, BA
Family: Two children
Hobbies/interests: Spending time with family, running marathons