By Marcy Patterson
Michael Hayes believes in Jacksonville. While many people are thinking that our town has seen its glory days, Hayes thinks they still might be in front of us. The 1976 graduate of Illinois College and now world traveler and real estate tycoon puts his money where his mouth is. Hayes is investing in the growth of this community.
After graduating from Illinois College, Hayes, then a certified public accountant, worked for the State of Illinois Department of Securities under then Governor Jim Edgar. He spent some time in a private accounting firm, as well, before jumping into his own businesses. With help from his wife, Laurie (Newman), Hayes owned and operated a gelato ice cream manufacturing company. In 1993, Mike and Laurie Hayes moved their family to Tampa, Florida, where Mike Hayes became the chief financial officer of Davel Communications with his lifetime friend, David Hill. Davel Communications provided payphone services in the United States. In fact, in 1998, Davel was the largest independent payphone provider in the United States, with at one time a base of approximately 80,000 payphones in 44 states.
In 1999, Hayes’ friend and mentor, David Hill, retired as the founder and chairman of the board of Davel Communications. In September 2000, Hayes, then the president of Davel Communications, resigned from the company to pursue other opportunities.
Since that time, Hayes has been a property guy. He has been gathering up property in Illinois, Florida and the Carolinas. The toppy real estate market in Florida mid-2000s caused Hayes to sell much of his Florida real estate and solidify his investment in his home community. Under the name of State Street Property Group, Hayes has collected more than 500 residential and commercial units in Jacksonville, including The High School Apartments, Dunlap Center, Morgan Place Luxury Apartments, Greenbriar Apartments and Rolling Acres.
Hayes was looking to open a real estate firm to help with his property acquisition. These discussions put him in contact with Charlie Grojean, and Hayes purchased Grojean Real Estate. The sale in September 2016 left Hayes as the managing broker of the 60-year-old agency while Charlie Grojean has become a trusted adviser. The deal worked out well for both men. Hayes is looking for a way to make real estate a one stop shop. Grojean was ready to quietly walk away and turn his hobby of collecting and appraising coins into a retirement business. Hayes believes it is perfect. “I was looking for a firm to sell my property. This agency was already set up and filled with great agents. I was honored that the Grojean family trusted me enough to let me be the person that purchased their business and have allowed me to keep the name. Grojean Real Estate is built on work that has already been done. I just want to continue that work and grow.” For Hayes, growth means more social media and a stronger web presence including such sites as Zillow.
Hayes isn’t looking at retirement or slowing down. He flies to Black Mountain, North Carolina, to work on his real estate development in that community, 22 townhouses near the Asheville Mall. He stops by Florida for a few real estate transactions through his Westshore Property Advisors agency and some much needed R and R with his family and then spends the rest of his time here in Jacksonville.
His most recent project in Jacksonville is the development of the 50-acre residential development near Jacksonville Country Club, known as Country Club Hills. The development will be 80 lots with single family homes and maybe a few high end duplexes. Lots are available now for purchase through Grojean Real Estate.
Hayes intends to provide one stop shopping. The business wants to work with you and your needs. Looking for your first apartment out of college, for example? Call them, they can help you find it. Looking to upgrade your lifestyle because of a new promotion at your work or a new addition coming to your family? Don’t worry. The same agency with whom you’re leasing your two-bedroom apartment can help you transition into a living situation that better suits your changing needs. So, don’t be stuck in an apartment lease when you are ready to purchase a home – keeping your business within the State Street Group and Grojean Real Estate will give you options that will help you grow as your income changes and your family grows. He is proud of all of his properties, “Everything that I own is clean and nice enough that I would be OK living in it. People living in apartments shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality or luxury. Those things are available to people through the State Street Property Group.”
Hayes credits such people as Tom Marx and Michael Fuhr for having forward vision and believing in this community. He also believes in this community, but isn’t quick to praise his own works. He praises his friend David Hill for positively influencing him. He is thankful for support he received early on from his father-in-law, Martin Newman (owner of Newman’s Shoes in Jacksonville and various other Central Illinois locations). He was quick to admit that his wife, Laurie, has allowed him many years of wild ideas that have managed to work out. It is very evident after a short discussion though, Hayes is a force to be reckoned with. He is a dynamic individual who will not sit on his laurels waiting on change to happen. Through countless efforts, donations and friendships, and as a mentor to new businesses and property owners, Michael Hayes is continuing to put his fingerprints on his hometown.