Hackman Capital Partners has spent the past 33 years swinging for the fences—acquiring, optimizing, and—through the strategic alchemy of capital projects—morphing raw real estate ore into high-value assets.
Hackman Capital’s Midas touch over three decades has yielded over $4 billion in properties across 41 states, 35-plus million square feet, 400+ buildings…well, you get the idea. There’s more to Hackman Capital than acquisition. Or as their dynamic website colorfully states—BUY. RE-IMAGINE. TRANSFORM. CREATE. An early innovator of “let’s turn this neglected industrial shadowland into an award-winning instance of beautiful urban uplift,” Hackman Capital’s reputation has long been that of a creative enterprise with an unerring sense of how best to unleash the restless potential in a property. But still…
In 2014 Hackman Capital Partners purchased The Culver Studios, storied 100 year-old birthplace of such film classics as King Kong, Gone with the Wind, and the original Star is Born (starring Janet Gaynor and a doomed Frederick March). Hackman is lavishly rehabbing the 17-acre icon, making it the 21st century digital dream factory that had long been its destiny. When Project Manager Larisa Eichacker arrived on set (so to speak) to begin her stewardship of the historically momentous redo of the much-beloved movie studio, the place was bustling.
Hollywood Hard Hat
“When I first got on the jobsite, it was still an operating studio. There were actors coming and going, golf carts zipping from the soundstages to the makeup trailers and wardrobe. Coming from a construction background, that was kind of a—you know—crazy environment to walk into.” I can just imagine. Larisa is sitting opposite me with a bottle of water, an amused expression, and a relaxed posture that suggests imperturbability; seven syllables that say “I can’t be rattled.” This quality surely had a run for its money.
The Culver Studios—and its sister project The Culver Steps—would test Hackman Capital’s powers of reinvention, not to mention Larisa’s resilience. It wasn’t just the two adjacent projects’ combined 835,850 sq. ft. There would be refurbishment and upgrading of iconic film stages—where, for instance, Fay Wray had once offered full-throated screams from the confines of King Kong’s gigantic clenched paw. There would be fragile—and highly scrutinized—historic preservation to manage, too. The topper? The Culver Steps would be Hackman Capital’s first-ever foray into building anything from the ground up. They couldn’t have started with a donut shop? In the event, when Hackman unveiled their “Innovation Plan,” it so wowed Amazon Studios they signed on as anchor tenant to both properties.
Larisa’s work was cut out for her, what with historic soundstages to repair and upgrade, and movie star bungalows to gently boost to the north end of the 17 acre property, where they would be exactingly refurbished—all the elements one would expect to befall an aerospace engineer. You heard right.
Aerospace to Peyton Place
Hackman Capital’s Project Manager Larisa Eichacker came to her position from the usual origins…outer space. “I got a degree in aerospace engineering, and I worked in that industry for a few years right out of college. I worked for a company in San Diego that designed and built aircraft engine components.” When Larisa left aerospace, she wasn’t exactly aware she was doing so—as sometimes happens. She owes her first fork in the road to youthful swagger. “It was the early ’90s. On the one hand, my mindset at that time was that it was easy to get a job.” Her company’s military accounts rose and fell with the political climate. During one prolonged dry spell, the head of Larisa’s small group delivered a somber bit of news.
“He needed to lay off 30% of the team,” Larisa says lightly. “There were a handful of us that were in our 20s, newly out of college, who just volunteered and said, ‘Yeah, take us.’ I had coworkers that had families, kids in college, mortgages. I was 24, 25….” Larisa’s rash altruism led her to civil engineering software, then her own specialty contracting business…and a later CV that speaks to a young person sampling life’s crazily diverse portfolio of disconnected opportunities. Against the usual odds, kids were happily raised by a mom with a foot in a dozen professional camps. When Larisa found construction, it was through careful networking; her kids’ careful networking.
“It was a friend of ours, a Portland GC we’d known because our kids went to kindergarten together,” she summarizes with light laughter. (How many plan-obsessed grownups have stumbled through doors happily kicked open by their kids’ friendships? Another story…) Larisa signed on with that Portland GC, and through the years gained project-driven construction experience. She eventually found herself a Project Manager with Hackman Capital Partners, and the rest is movie history.
Project managing the resuscitation of a legendary movie lot––this may not have been a top-of-mind outcome when Larisa Eichacker bailed out of aerospace. Is she a movie buff? “I’m nowhere near as much a fan as some people––those that can just throw out quotes and names and dates and things like that. But it’s definitely interesting to work here.”