Relocating to broker industrial and commercial spaces.
Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.
Owner/Developer, Atlantic Realty & Development
On Adelphi education: “Good education will give you confidence.”
Favorite course: Comparative Religions, which met on Sundays in Manhattan at different religious services. “You had to write a paper on what struck you about the service.”
Worst job: New York City taxi driver.
Business advice: “You have to find a niche.”
How North Carolinans first described him: “A carpetbagger who talked like a New York cab driver.”
What he misses most about Long Island: The beach.
A Yankee Goes South
Gregory Finnican ’72 recalls a conversation he overheard when he was fifteen years old and enjoying a day at Jones Beach. “This guy’s uncle was talking about buying apartment buildings in Brooklyn, and I was hanging on every word.” Bricks and land always interested Mr. Finnican and are what led him into the world of commercial and industrial real estate.
Born and raised in Floral Park, New York, Mr. Finnican grew up as an Islander. After a stint in the military, he attended Nassau Community College and then transferred to Adelphi, where he earned a B.A. in economics in 1972. He chose to attend Adelphi for its smaller campus environment. A self-described “big believer in a broad liberal arts education,” he sees it as the best preparation for life. He left Adelphi hungry to continue learning.
He also had a hankering to leave New York, but needed some experience before hitting the road. He joined the real estate department of Union Dime Savings Bank and, within a year, moved on to industrial real estate brokerage with United Realty. The realty job gave him the foundation he needed to strike out on his own.
Mr. Finnican wanted to move to a growing city and considered three: Houston, Atlanta, and Charlotte. It was 1975, and a visit to Charlotte left him with “good vibes.” A friendly former New York City cab driver also helped sway him. Mr. Finnican was ready to take on Charlotte.
But Charlotte wasn’t quite ready for him.
His Northern accent and aggressive business outlook pegged him as an outsider. Business alliances were hard to come by. He worked as an industrial broker for a few years before founding the Atlantic Realty Company in 1977.
He started out brokering industrial and commercial space but quickly realized that demand outstripped supply. He soon partnered with a development firm to develop speculative industrial space, and with that move his business was off.
Mr. Finnican continues to find niche markets for his business, now named Atlantic Realty and Development Co. In 2003, he created short-term property leases that are similar to monthly rents for his industrial and commercial tenants and currently is building three houses on speculation.
Once perceived as an outsider from the North, Gregory Finnican has proven that he is a true Tarheel—one at home in Charlotte and invested in its continued success.
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