1856: The first land purchase
At the age of 17, FM Hubbell (right), the son of a Connecticut farmer and stonemason, understands enough about real estate to purchase 640 acres in Woodbury County, Iowa. He then becomes a lawyer, investor, and manager in a variety of businesses, but real estate remains the core of the company that still bears his name 160 years later.
1858: Hubbell is admitted to practice law
After working for three years in US land offices, FM joins the firm Casady & Polk, which is renamed Polk & Hubbell within seven years. The firm counsels, owns, and runs railway lines linking Des Moines with the rest of the world.
1860s—1890s: The lawyer connects and invests
FM proves to be more than a smart lawyer and businessman—he is savvy about getting to know people who could invest in both land and enterprise. He corrals investors to join him in building railroads, streetcar systems, the water company, an insurance company, and large pieces of commercial real estate.
1884: A historic home
The Hubbell family buys an iconic Second Empire residence, the Terrace Hill Mansion, an 18,000-square-foot estate that features a 90-foot tower. In 1971, F.M.’s heirs will donate the home to the state of Iowa to serve as the governor’s mansion.
1930: Hubbell dies, his estate restricted
The builder-businessman dies at the age of 91, leaving a considerable inheritance to his heirs. However, his will restricts the first two generations of descendants from divesting the real estate holdings, which effectively provides them with income but locks them into maintaining rather than selling the properties.
1972: Grandson Jim Hubbell II builds RiverPoint
After selling much of its stake in The Equitable Insurance Company, a new generation of Hubbells builds its first commercial property in four decades in Des Moines.
1983: A new Hubbell in charge
Jim Hubbell III becomes Hubbell Realty Company’s president. Four generations removed from its founder and fully emerged from the restrictions of the will, the company begins a new era with hands-on involvement by direct descendants.
1985: Kaleidoscope at the Hub is completed
A multitenant, 100,000-square-foot retail development—with 30 stores, service centers, and restaurants—is one of several new commercial developments for the company. The firm will watch the opening of the Hub Tower (left) a year later.
1990s: Company enters residential land development
In partnership with a retail-brokerage agency, Hubbell Realty Company develops and sells tracts to builders and individual homebuyers. This relationship is terminated within a few years. Then, another continuing partnership with CB Richard Ellis/Hubbell Commercial helps the company succeed in commercial development and management. The company is now on course for full residential- and commercial-property development, ultimately including building, leasing, and sales in its repetoire. In 1998, Hubbell Homes is launched and soon becomes one of the largest residential builders in the state.
2005: The first conservation community
Breaking from tradition, the firm builds smaller residential lots around larger, sustainable open spaces. Stormwater is channeled to grassy prairie for the community’s benefit, giving homeowners a view of nature they do not need to maintain. “Conservation communities became the model for five more developments,” says Rick Tollakson, the firm’s current president and CEO.
2008: Hubbell Construction Services is established
The company adds a commercial developer-builder division, and by 2011 it will be a $45 million entity. “Being the general contractor provides us with greater control of costs, mechanical designs, and subcontractors,” says Steve Niebuhr, current senior vice president of the division.
2009: Nine homes in nine days
Hubbell recruits its trade partners to build and donate a nine-plex structure (valued at $1.5 million, pictured below) for Anawim Housing, a nonprofit affordable-housing provider in Des Moines. The company has built and will continue to build several homes each year for Anawim at below-market cost. ABQ