Christopher Longsworth’s age may be deceitful.
The 30-year-old looks like any young professional just starting a career. But Longsworth is far from a beginner: His résumé boasts accomplishments that many professionals may never see in a lifetime.
As a teenager in South Florida, he dreamed of success as a National Football League all-star. But those dreams were shattered when he was injured. He turned his attention to learning from his mother, a mortgage broker. Since math had always come easy to Longsworth, putting together loan packages seemed effortless to the high school student.
“I liked the fact that I was making money at such a young age,” he says. “I think that’s what really got me started. It’s not like I sat there and said ‘Oh my God, I love real estate, I can’t wait to get home and put together a loan package.’”
And making money was exactly what he did. By 2002, Longsworth had made enough to launch his company, Invesca Development Group. Today, his empire of various businesses—which includes a shooting range and a school for disabled children—is worth about $500 million.
One of his recent endeavors includes a $120 million, 26-acre, master planned community in Pompano Beach, Fla. Koi Residences and Marina will include townhomes, lofts, and two high-rises of either condos or apartments, depending on the market demand.
Buying the land was easy about three and a half years ago. Longsworth found it just as the recovery began to gain steam and purchased it as a distressed asset. Originally, Longsworth eyed the property with the idea to flip it and sell it off to another developer.
“As time went by, we saw how unique it could be,” he says. “They’re putting a tremendous amount of money into Pompano Beach. It’s almost like you’ve bought something in downtown Fort Lauderdale before it became Fort Lauderdale.”
Once the Invesca team decided to move on the development, Longsworth hit the ground running to make it happen.
“Koi has taken years of planning,” he says. “There have been a lot of negotiations. It’s not easy to put a marina into a community like this. There’s a reason a marina of this size has not been put in on a master-planned-community. I see why.”
The company went through a lot of headaches to get the marina approved as well as the rezoning and approval for 350 units of housing and retail space.
“The residents in the neighborhood were concerned,” he says. “Because when the [economic] crash happened, there were projects that were left unfinished. You had all these residents and they’re looking across the street and it’s a construction site. Everybody in the city wanted to make sure we were responsible.”
Longsworth gained community support and trust by personally meeting each and every neighbor surrounding the development—something he tries to do for all of his projects.
All of his hard work paid off as the project broke ground in July. The first phase, which includes the marina and 50 waterfront townhouses, is expected to be complete by early next year. Then, the second phase of 62 live/work lofts will kick off. Longsworth hopes to start the third phase, two residential high-rises, by the end of 2015.