Dan Macdonald says “I’m one of the luckiest & happiest guys alive with a beautiful wife, Michelle, a lovely daughter, Danielle, and a unique home. I’ve always been very fortunate though…Years ago, I fell into the world of commercial property development from a background in architecture and construction. I love it and it has looked after me very, very well”.
Born on a croft in Dornoch, Dan is very proud of his Highland roots. His and Michelle’s rural attachment live on with them in the family’s love of horses. They have several racehorses and Danielle, born in 2005 rides her pony regularly. In 2014, their racehorse, Silsol, won the Welsh Champion Hurdle and they have celebrated other wins and places throughout Scottish & English racecourses.
Founded by Macdonald in 1997, Macdonald Estates saw solid, climbing growth as it subsequently became one of the most successful Scottish property companies ever. During the years following the 2007 economic crash, that saw thereafter the disintegration of the commercial property sector, and more particularly development, Macdonald Estates became one of very few to survive. Dan says, “Basically, we resisted taking on any corporate debt whatsoever, preferring to continue our basic philosophy of rigidly controlling risk, such as we could interpret accurately outcomes, and thereby returns on our very carefully managed projects. We chose too, always to sell, usually to the London based institutional investment market rather than retain our completed investment product, so not only did we avoid bank borrowing, and gearing, but the inevitable write downs associated with those disintegrating property values of slump years.”
Macdonald Estates followed opportunities in other sectors when the retail, industrial and other development dried up, which sees them from 2010 set up and build out student residences.
Of his projects, the one he most enjoys reviewing is The Exchange, Edinburgh which was carried out when he was a director of Morrison Construction where he developed the Group’s very successful national property company from London, Manchester, Scotland and centres throughout the UK. “The Architect was Terry Farrell and The Exchange, is one of the best pieces of office based real estate Edinburgh will ever see. A good example too, of successful outcome based on collaborative effort between public and private sectors, it bucked trends at a time when the market was sluggish and we funded it (thank you, Andy Irvine of JLL) against the odds”.