Anybody who is anybody in “old Atlanta” real estate annals has crossed paths with nonagenarian Donald Reisman, whose family is fifth generation Ahavath Achim Synagogue members and who will turn 94 in July. He continues to plow straight ahead, running his hundreds of thousands of square feet of warehouses off I-20 and Fulton Industrial Boulevard. Son Bruce said, “I take care of the back end of the operations, but Dad is still ‘the brains’ and manages the day-to-day activities.”
Reisman grew up on 8th Street, a block from Boys High, now Midtown (Grady) High School. He recalled, “In those days we went home for lunch, and the neighborhood dynamic was mostly Jewish families near Parkway Drive.” His father A.G. invested in a cabinet shop after he sold his corner grocery store, to craft cedar cabinets used as closets. He passed away while Don was a junior at Emory University. For a Jewish kid at Emory, Donald was part of the “in crowd” and elected president of the Interfraternity Council. After finishing college and a stint in the Army at the end of World War II, he returned to Atlanta to run the family business, which he changed to manufacturing wooden dinette sets.
Reisman’s magic has always been knowing when to buy and sell. In 1969, he sold his manufacturing plant to Erwin Zaban’s National Service Industries (now Acuity).
Reisman said, “Back then Zaban was buying different businesses to please shareholders – even an envelope company. Not sure they knew what to do with them, but I moved to work for Haas & Dodd commercial real estate as an agent.”
In 1971, Reisman bought his first piece of commercial real estate at the corner of Northside Drive and 10th Street with three other investors (Stanley Stark, Ken Silberstein, and Elliot Berman). Fast forward to 2020, after purchasing and selling industrial warehouse buildings along with buying up parcels of raw land for 50 years in the Bankhead Highway-Northside Drive area. Competently, Reisman sold up-and-coming Atlanta BeltLine property for seven figures to a major developer.
Reisman recalled, “Having grown up in Atlanta, I had knowledge of the Fulton Industrial Business District being developed in the late ’70s and early ’80s with warehouses built by several Jewish developers. The area reached its peak in the late ’80s and began slowly drifting into a multitude of vacant warehouses by the 2000s.”
As Atlanta became more attractive to large national and international corporations with Southern year-round weather conditions, Reisman began to a take a serious look at the Fulton Industrial area as investment potential, especially with Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport close by.
He purchased his first warehouse in the Fulton Industrial area when the occupancy rate was 70 to 75 percent. “The square footage price was affordable by my standards. Today the warehouse space in the district is 98 percent full, and the price per square foot nearly doubled, but few are available for purchase.”
Reisman’s warehouses are occupied by a diverse group of local and international companies, engineering, recycling, a towel distributor, a manufacturer of foam inserts, a church servicing over 300 members, a studio where many famous rap stars record, and a trade show flooring company. “We have 100 yards of AstroTurf for the NFL, and a studio where rap videos are shot.”
His advice to anyone who has interest in real estate ownership is: “If you take care of your real estate, your real estate will take care of you.” Reisman explains this includes maintaining and updating the roof, office space, plumbing and other basics.
He said he keeps his mind aware and body active by taking care of business along with Bruce.
He reminisced, “I used to jog with Joe Barton and Moe Krinsky, way before jogging was popular. I enjoy an occasional vodka tonic (made in America like Tito’s) and spending time with family. My wife Shirley (of 69 years) and I had a lively social life dining out all over the city.”
Shirley passed away in September and Reisman recently created the Shirley Reisman Media Outreach Fund at Ahavath Achim. The fund was established to enrich the Zoom online, daily minyan, Shabbat, holiday services and weekly classes experience by streaming with the best equipment. “The synagogue will eventually reopen, but the ability to participate online will be important to members near and far.”
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Senior Living
- Donald Reisman
- Community Partners
- Ahavath Achim Synagogue
- Grady High School
- Midtown High School
- Emory Univeristy
- Bruce Reisman
- World War II
- Stanley Stark
- Ken Silberstein
- Elliot Berman
- Hartsfield Jackson International Airport
- Joe Barton
- Moe Krinsky
- National Football League
- Shirley Reisman