Franklin Street founder Andrew Wright, who has been at the helm of the largest commercial real estate management firm in Tampa Bay, recently left his role and a longtime executive now serves as the new CEO.
Wright established Franklin Street, which has grown to a firm with hundreds of employees and has surpassed over $1.1 billion in commercial real estate sales, in 2006. Wright stepped down as CEO on Jan. 3 and Matt Harrell, who was serving as the chief revenue officer, then assumed the CEO title.
“Andrew, more or less, built this Ferrari and handed the keys to me,” Harrell said. “Our story resonates with so many in the commercial real estate industry in advancing from within.”
Harrell, who joined Franklin Street in 2009, last served as the chief revenue officer in 2021 and previously was the managing director of Franklin Street’s insurance services division. Wright approached Harrell roughly five years ago about his plans to pass him the torch.
“I was flattered and honored to have Andrew think of me as a successor when he approached me. There are many people who think so highly of him. To think of me alone gave me the confidence that this was something that I wanted to take seriously,” Harrell said, recalling the moment. “It was a life-changing decision for me. I reflected on it. It aligned in so many ways why I came onboard at Franklin Street, which was to build something special continue our legacy for next-generation with our core values.”
Wright said he never had a specific date in mind of when he would exit the role, but knew Harrell had to be the one to lead the company forward.
“I’ve always had a vision that when I would step away, it would still thrive. From the beginning, it was about building a legacy and continuing it for the long term,” Wright said. “It wasn’t about a timeframe. There were organizational checkpoints that needed to be met first … I’m leaving my life’s work in capable hands.”
Although Wright has stepped down from the top role, he remains chairman of the board and retains a controlling interest in the company.
“I have no intention of selling my share of Franklin Street, and I’m still involved in the longer-term, strategic decision making,” he said.
Beyond Franklin Street, Wright also has his hands in several projects such as the redevelopment of St. Pete’s Sundial shopping center. Wright recently became a partner with Paradise Ventures, the group that purchased the Sundial shopping center from local businessman Bill Edwards.
“I got to know [Paradise Ventures CEO and President] Mike Connor. Paradise Ventures has first-class people, and they have been our client for many years,” Wright said, explaining that Connor reached out to him about the opportunity to partner for the Sundial.
Wright has first-hand knowledge of transforming properties in Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik’s CBP Development group hired Wright several years ago to oversee the leasing and management for the Channelside Bay Plaza prior to it becoming Sparkman Wharf.
“I have a tremendous amount of experience in turning around properties. What’s important is taking our time and turning the Sundial into the destination it intended to be,” Wright said.