COOKEVILLE – After nearly 15 years in business, Putnam Properties is moving on up.
The rental/property management firm moved last year from a basement office to a newly renovated building near downtown Cookeville – a complete gut job, said owners Martin Ing and Chad Gilbert.
The new digs, while offering a plethora of space and more convenience in terms of location for tenants and clients alike, also makes for a much more professional look.
The building, located at 67 N. Washington Ave., a former home/law office/accounting practice/medical space, had been on radar “for awhile,” Ing said. They bought the building in fall 2014; renovations took a full year to complete. They celebrated a formal opening – complete with the standard chamber of commerce ribbon cutting – this spring. Officials say it was their most well attended ribbon cutting to date.
“It’s a centerpiece; everyone’s talking about how nice it is,” Seth Hudson, co- owner of builder HD Homes, said in an April interview.
Ing and Gilbert declined to disclose the total cost of the rehab, but they did a lot of the work themselves. They raised the roof – literally – to enlarge the second story, and replaced floors, ceilings, walls and more. “It needed substantial renovation. It was a gut job,” Ing said. “Everything you see now is new.”
It may have been a long time coming. Ing and Gilbert first met in 2001 through a mutual friend, and given their construction/building backgrounds, decided to go into business together. They started doing small water and sewer projects. Things progressed from there.
“We bid a few small jobs and had enough success to make a living, and it just organically grew,” Gilbert said. “One employee turned into two. Two turned into four.”
In 2005, they partnered on their first multi-family development. Next came property management, which just seemed “a natural fit,” Gilbert said. They added that to their portfolio in 2008-2009.
“When I was in college, my wife and I started buying old houses, fixing them up and renting them,” he said. “When Martin and I partnered up in the construction company, it just made sense to move forward together. So we divided everything up evenly and have had it that way ever since.
“We pride ourselves on service,” Gilbert added. On the property management side, “Our goal is for the (property) owner to make more money – even after paying us – than they were making before, with more free time and less hassle. And that happens more often than not.”
As for residential rentals, Putnam Properties has one project ongoing: a new 120-unit development on Dry Valley Road next to Algood School, that’s now leasing. Ing says its their “most amenity-rich project” to date. The complex is outfitted with a resort- style pool, pool house, fitness center, walking track, fire pit, coffee stations and more. The apartments themselves feature much-desired stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.
For now, business looks good. The city is growing – hundreds of new jobs have been announced since 2014 – vacancy rates are low. Rent prices – much like home values – are seeing an upward trajectory.
“As Cookeville grows, we’re also seeing this recent national trend of wanting to rent rather than own has also shown itself here,” Gilbert said. “We’ve developed the Dry Valley property with that in mind. People are more inclined to spend their money on experiences rather than owning things, and that’s probably going to be the tendency for the next several years.”