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William Shopoff: Finding Opportunity in ‘the Invisible’

William Shopoff turned a $250 startup investment in 1992 into a national real estate investment firm that handled 36 sales and financings totaling north of $160 million last year—and recently closed its largest transaction to date.

“We started the company with four people putting $250 in the kitty,” Shopoff, who goes by Bill, told the Business Journal.

Under his leadership as CEO and president, Irvine-based Shopoff Realty Investments ended this past year having acquired nearly $200 million of new properties, with another $200 million in due diligence.

With every deal, Shopoff aims to enhance the value of a real estate asset through the company’s opportunistic investment process.

“We focus on seeing things others don’t see. Making the invisible, visible,” he said.
No product type is off limits for the company’s value-add strategy, with more than 40 properties owned across eight states including land, retail, industrial, office and multifamily holdings.

The company is continuing to diversify, with developments underway for luxury condominiums, build-to-rent homes and a 20-story hotel in Las Vegas.

Setting the tone for 2023 was a blockbuster sale last month, when the firm sold a sprawling distribution center in the Inland Empire for $329 million.

Shopoff, who got his entrepreneurial start at age 12 with a lawn mowing and pool cleaning business, was one of five honored by the Business Journal with an Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award.

“It’s a reflection of the people I surrounded myself with: my mentor, my employees who support me, and my wife and business partner, Cindy Shopoff,” Shopoff said.

Industrial Sale

Shopoff and financial partner Artemis Real Estate Partners last month sold a just-built 1.8 million-square-foot distribution campus to a Brookfield Asset Management industrial real estate fund.

The I-10 Logistics Center, also referred to as Cherry Valley Logistics Center, is on 155 acres near the juncture of the I-10 freeway and Highway 60. It was completed in December and is leased to fast fashion retailer Shein, which plans to employ nearly 1,000 employees at this location, making it a major hub for national distribution, Shopoff said.

In addition to incorporating sustainable technology and materials in its design—solar panels will offset the energy usage at the site—Shopoff partnered with the Yucaipa Valley Water District to secure a pipeline to deliver recycled water to neighboring communities.
Industrial will play a larger role in the company’s portfolio this year, Shopoff said.

“We think there is a long-term strong structural change that is happening with e-commerce,” he said.

Hotels

Shopoff made a bullish push into the hospitality sector in February 2020—right before the onset of the pandemic—with Costa Mesa-based Contour Real Estate, a boutique development firm, for the Dream Las Vegas.

Slated to open by early 2025, the $550 million development will add a 20-story building to the Las Vegas skyline with 531 rooms, seven dining and nightlife venues, and a 20,000-square-foot casino led by Peninsula Pacific Entertainment.

The Hyatt family joined the development partners on their project last month, when the Chicago-based hospitality company announced its acquisition of the hotel’s management company, Dream Hotel Group.

“The global marketing reach Hyatt brings to the table will undoubtedly increase the exposure and open up new opportunities for growth and success,” Shopoff said.

Mixed-Use Retail

Malls have also represented a new product line for Shopoff, with plans underway to redevelop retail uses into housing and other commercial types in and outside of Orange County.

Earlier this month, Shopoff acquired a former Nordstrom building at the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton. Future uses are still being determined, but are likely to include housing, offices or mixed-use retail.

Meanwhile, Shopoff is finalizing applications to begin construction of its redevelopment of Westminster Mall.

Its 26-acre parcel, which once held 1.3 million square feet of retail space and two anchor tenants at the mall, is in the process of being repurposed into 2,550 housing units, 425 hotel rooms and commercial uses including offices and retail. Shopoff leased back one of the anchor tenant spaces to Macys following its acquisition.

“We are looking to start construction in 2025,” he said.

While balancing these new entrepreneurial ventures, Shopoff is prepared for the challenges of the ongoing fluctuations in the market.

“Flexibility has been and will continue to be key,” Shopoff said, who cited a “willingness to be nimble.”

Vertimass Series C

Outside of his investment company, Shopoff serves as chairman of Irvine-based biofuel company Vertimass LLC, where he is currently overseeing the launch of the company’s Series C funding round to finance initiatives to reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

The company completed a Series B funding round at the start of last year for $8 million.

“When we did our Series B round, we were focused on a licensing and business model,” he said. “We’ve now become more interested in building out our technology and operating biorefineries, either fully owned or through joint ventures.”

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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