by Moxye Staff

A local developer has launched a new real estate advisory company, with the goal of expanding his reach into Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

Aziz Housseini, the CEO of Baltimore-based AZ Group, has brought on a new partner and launched Fortis Advisory, a firm that specializes in helping clients through every step of the development process.

Fortis Advisory offers services from site selection to planning and brokering. The company has already worked on several local projects, including helping Harbor Bank build out a downtown incubator space inside its headquarters, and is working with the Afro-American newspaper on relocating from its current space at 1531 S. Edgewood St. Housseini has also met with leaders at the D.C.-based investment firm Rock Creek Group about potential projects in Baltimore.

Housseini, who has worked on a number of residential real estate projects in Baltimore, says he wants to be the go-to option for companies looking to expand their real estate footprint or relocate, but don’t have the necessary experience.

“If you’re a doctor, and you’re looking to expand, you don’t want to spend time looking at plans and drawings that you don’t fully understand,” he said.

Housseini has brought on D.C. developer Brett Griffith as a partner. He hopes that Griffith’s experience in the D.C. and Virginia markets will allow him to expand his portfolio of clients and reach in the region.

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Fortis Advisory is already speaking to a number of D.C.-area clients who are looking to do business in Baltimore, Housseini said, though he could not give specific names.

Housseini said he has experience working in Baltimore real estate, and knows what it takes to navigate bureaucratic red tape and the necessary timelines to complete projects.

“I talk to people who say they want to get get high-speed internet in their building, but they haven’t laid the proper lines. That can take months,” he said. “We can come in and say, ‘Hey, we’ve done this.'”

The AZ Group is currently working on several apartment projects in the city, including a 17-unit artist housing building near the State Center office complex, as well as a 38-unit building along Howard Street that is targeted toward the city’s middle class. It also served as the developer on the renovation of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.’s 5,000-square-foot government services building, and has also been a contractor for the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor.

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As part of the launch of the new advisory company, Housseini said he is going to be re-tooling the AZ Group to take on more public-facing development projects. Going forward, Housseini said he will only be working on projects that include some sort of a public component — whether it be responding to a government-led request for proposals or buying a property outright from the city.

“If you are working on a public property, a big portion of what you produce should be financially accessible to everyone,” he said. “Everything we do will have a public nature.”

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