James.qxp Sept Oct 2018 web (2) - Page 29



CEO SPOTLIGHT
E
EGBERT
PERRY
By Cindy Morley
EGBERT L. J. PERRY, A NATIVE
OF THE CARIBBEAN NATION OF
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, IS
THE CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF
EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE
INTEGRAL GROUP, A COMPANY
HE CO-FOUNDED IN 1993 WITH
A MISSION TO “CREATE VALUE
IN CITIES AND (RE)BUILD THE
FABRIC OF COMMUNITIES.”
SINCE THEN, THE ATLANTABASED INTEGRAL HAS BECOME
A PREMIER PROVIDER OF
SUSTAINABLE REAL ESTATE
AND COMMUNITY SOLUTIONS IN
EMERGING MARKETS ACROSS
THE UNITED STATES AND, MORE
RECENTLY, INTERNATIONALLY.
28
JAMES
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018
gbert Perry grew up in a mixed
income community. Not your
typical mixed income
community, mind you. Perry
grew up in Antigua,
where he says the “gap
between the haves and
have-nots was not as
wide as it is here. There
was a gap, but we all
lived together as a community. That’s why it’s easy
for me to envision a different way of living.”
Community is a concept that Perry held on to.
It’s one that he brought to Atlanta years after his
Antigua childhood days. It’s one that became the
foundation for the revitalization approach to
community development that has been imitated in
Atlanta and many other cities across the country.
His forward-thinking ideas led to the nation’s first
urban mixed-use community, integrating mixedincome housing, K-12 education reform, recreation,
wellness facilities and human services.
The “Atlanta Model,” as it has become known, was
the brainchild of Perry’s company, Integral. And
Integral’s mission was rst put on display in 1996
when Centennial Place grew out of the revitalization
of Techwood Homes in Atlanta (at the time the most
violent housing project in America).
“I visited 13 cities up and down the East Coast
from January to June of 1993 to see what was
happening in revitalization across the country,” said
Perry. “I soon realized that everyone seemed to
believe that if you built a stadium, an arena or a
performing arts center in the area, the community
would suddenly change and begin to thrive. The
theory seemed to be that if you did enough positive,
it would outweigh the negatives. No one seemed to be
attacking the real problem. And that was the problem
of containment. It doesn’t work.”
But Perry’s Atlanta Model did. With the debut of
Centennial Place, Perry and his partners become
overnight experts in community revitalization.
During our interview, he said Integral is now
vertically integrated with subsidiaries in the
community development, commercial real estate,
investment management, property management and
program management elds.
Specically, Integral is a diversied, 300-person
organization with projects in the mid-Atlantic,
Southeast, Southwest and Western regions of the
United States. The company is headquartered in
Atlanta, with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles,
Dallas and Denver. And Integral and Perry have
received numerous awards and are regarded
nationally as innovators in the eld of urban
development and revitalization.
An honors graduate of the University of
Pennsylvania, Perry received both Bachelor of Science
and Master of Science degrees in Civil Engineering
from the University’s Towne School, and a Master of
Business Administration degree with majors in
Finance and Accounting from its Wharton School. In
1990, he was elected as the eleventh graduate in the
university’s then 250-year history to be named to the
“Gallery of Distinguished Engineering Alumni” of its
Engineering School.
Friends and colleagues note that is quite an
accomplishment for someone who left Antigua in
1970 when he earned a scholarship to complete his
nal two years of high school in New York. That, he
says, was the rst of many blessings that have
impacted his life.
“I have lived a charmed life,” he says. “I have had
many blessings in my life and it began with my
parents. I was born to great parents in Heaven on
Earth. And I had what I considered a rich childhood. I
had no idea that we really didn’t have much.”
Perry says he spends every day working to be “25
percent of the man” his father was. “That’s how I
measure success,” he says.
Perry’s main regret is that his father died during
Perry’s sophomore year in college at the age of 51.
Seven years later, his mother died.
While studying at Penn, Perry’s life would be
impacted in ways he would never imagine. He was
assigned a student to mentor during his third year of
grad school. He did not know at the time, but his
mentee was the daughter of Herman Russell— an
entrepreneur and philanthropist who turned a small
plastering rm into one of the most successful
African-American-owned real estate development and
construction companies in America.
“I had no idea she had sent my resume to her
father and told him he needed to hire me,” says Perry.
“He (Herman Russell) called me after my graduation,
but I had no interest in coming to Atlanta at the time.
I thought Washington D.C. was where I needed to be,
so that’s where I went.”
But that didn’t last long. Perry says he soon
discovered the “glass ceiling” in D.C. and called Russell.
“He immediately ew me rst class to Atlanta,
and in January 1980, he hired me,” said Perry.
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018
29

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