Mike Mouron said his advice for the younger generation is simple: find a profession you are passionate about.
Mouron graduated from Mountain Brook High School before earning an accounting degree from the University of Alabama. Following a few years working as a CPA in Montgomery, Mouron began pursuing a career in real estate, which he said always interested him.
Working with his wife, Mouron fixed up homes before buying his first commercial property, allowing him to move out of accounting.
Several decades later, Mouron’s love of real estate has landed him in the Alabama Business Hall of Fame. Mouron was inducted as part of the class of 2022 in November.
“It’s obviously a tremendous honor,” Mouron said.
Working as the head of development for a Montgomery company, Mouron began in the field of student housing. “Kiddie condos,” as they were known at the time, were condominiums intended for students or parents of students on or near college campuses. Mouron realized, after examining the financing, that apartments would be easier and wrote a letter outlining the possibilities of changing student housing, making it a better investment for parents and a better opportunity for students.
He purchased a property near Athens, Georgia, the home of the University of Georgia. The rest, as they say, is history.
Mouron was recruited back to Birmingham to develop student housing for Polar BEK in 1985 before forming his own company, Capstone Development, in 1990. Since then, they have introduced student housing in roughly 100 markets coast to coast.
“Capstone has a national footprint,” Mouron said.
Working all over the country has been interesting, Mouron said.
“Campuses are often a fun place to work,” Mouron said. “Usually, universities are pretty places.”
In 2012, at the age of 62, Mouron recognized it was time to transition both himself and Capstone, and he broke the company into four separate companies and put division heads in charge, while he retired. Ten years later, Mouron said all four companies are doing really well.
While Mouron has had a national impact through his business, he has also played a major role in local development in Homewood, even after his official “retirement.” Mouron has developed the Valley Hotel, Edgar’s, Little Donkey and Rodney Scott’s BBQ on 18th Street South. He is also responsible for the renovation of Trustmark Bank on 29th Avenue South and the new Robertson Bank on 18th Place South, as well as the CAPTRUST on 27th Avenue South.
In the future, Mouron is bringing a new Italian restaurant, Luca, to the former Valley Mall location, which will be accompanied by SouthPoint Bank and the new home of Hero Doughnuts.
Businesses that have moved after Mouron purchased the space have almost all stayed within Homewood, something he’s proud of, along with his relationship with city officials.
“When you do things well, they begin to trust you,” Mouron said.
Mouron said he believes his work has “changed Homewood for the better.” He said he hears from neighboring business owners that the Valley Hotel has positively impacted their business.
To see 18th Street renovated with several new businesses is “emotionally rewarding,” Mouron said.
“It’s creation of job opportunities,” Mouron said.
The success of the businesses are proof that the incentives given by the city are effective, he said.
Mouron said the hotel especially has drawn people from all over, leading them to spend money not just on the hotel but on food and retail as well.
In his native Mountain Brook, Mouron renovated and leased out the space now occupied by Little Hardware. Growing up in Mountain Brook was a positive experience for him, he said.
“It’s just a great place to grow up,” Mouron said.
Mouron said he has long-term friendships that stem from his time in Mountain Brook and at the University of Alabama.
In his several decades in real estate, Mouron has seen plenty of changes, he said. Real estate used to be developed by people investing their own money who would retain ownership, he said. Now, the sources of money are usually third-party and developers often do not retain ownership. Mouron tries to retain ownership as much as possible. He is a managing partner and has a third of the ownership stake in the hotel and is a 50% owner of Robertson Bank and CAPTRUST. He owns Edgar’s, Rodney Scott’s and Little Donkey.
Mouron and his wife were recently awarded the “William and Virginia Spencer Outstanding Philanthropist Award” by the Alabama Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and they also serve as co-chairs of Rising Tide, a $1.5 billion capital campaign at UA.
It’s an example of what Mouron hopes to continue in the future.
“I will continue to try and bring my experience and capital … to do good things, both capitalistic and philanthropic,” Mouron said.
Good development might be harder in the future as land and capital costs are increasing everywhere. It may require cities to find more effective ways to incentivize development, he said.
“Development is very complex,” Mouron said. “It’s not easy to read. Cities need to try and be smart.”
Mouron admitted he has no hobbies, making it easy for him to keep working at the job he loves.
“Luckily, I enjoy what I do,” Mouron said. “It’s intellectually challenging and keeps me in touch with a lot of people.
“I don’t ever plan to quit working,” he said.
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