The following article was published in The Charlotte Observer on Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Crosland Inc. has sold its minority interest in Crosland Commercial to Jim Merrifield, president of the division.

Merrifield is renaming the operation Merrifield Partners, sharing ownership with six longtime associates and continuing a close affiliation with Crosland.

Charlotte based Crosland, a diversified real estate company with more than 250 employees in five states, also is involved in retail and multifamily residential development and general contracting.

Merrifield’s 16-employee operation focuses on land development, office and industrial buildings, mixed-use projects and built-to-suit structures for clients.

“While Jim and his team will now operate with a new name, Crosland’s intent is to continue to invest in development projects initiated by Merrifield Partners, as we have done the last 18 years.” said Crosland CEO Todd Mansfield.

Crosland and Merrifield Partners currently are participating together in 18 projects with a market value of $150 million, Merrifield said.

He bought a majority interest in the commercial division from chairman John Crosland, Jr. in 1997, two years before Mansfield joined the 67-year-old company.

Merrifield said improving real estate conditions and the opportunity to reward his associates with an ownership stake made the timing right to acquire the minority interest from Crosland.

The purchase price and exact extent of Crosland Inc.’s ownership weren’t disclosed.

Mansfield called Merrifield’s purchase “a natural extension of the process put into place when Jim originally purchased his business and its consistent with our other affiliate relationships: CPS Land in Nashville and Celebration Associates in Fort Mill.”

Merrifield said his six partners in Merrifield Partners are Ian Bruce, Mike Joyner, Mark Newell, Jon Jarrett, Eric Vargosko and Ken Chapman.

Merrifield, who joined Crosland in 1985, has directed commercial development of 1,500 acres and 1.5 million square feet of space.

He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from Colgate University in 1975 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1980.

Crosland Commercial’s notable projects range from Whitehall in southwest Charlotte to Northcross in north Mecklenburg.

“We have recently expanded outside the Charlotte area with projects in Greenville, S.C., and Wilmington..” Merrifield said. “We anticipate commencing new projects throughout the Carolinas.”

While working hand-in-hand with Crosland’s various divisions on the Blakeney mixed-use community in south Charlotte and other projects, he said, Merrifield Partners also will continue to participate in ventures with landowners and building projects to suit the specific needs of clients.

His division remained in Crosland’s old headquarters on Scaleybark Road when the rest of the company moved earlier this year to the Carillon building uptown.

For now, Merrifield said, Merrifield Partners will continue to occupy office space in that converted retail shopping center.

Crosland announced plans two years ago to develop a 600,000-square-foot mixed-use project at the 20-acre Radiator Specialty Co. site on Wilkinson Boulevard.

But a downturn in the office leasing market forced officials of both companies to put the project on hold.

If market conditions continue to improve, Merrifield said, his company and Crosland could revive the proposal. In that case, he said, Merrifield Partners would consider taking office space in the mixed-use development.

Privately held Crosland’s current portfolio of existing projects and those under development has a market value exceeding $1 billion.

The company made a major thrust earlier this year into Florida, where it has offices in Orlando and Tampa. It also operates in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee.

Article by Doug Smith