Eric Sheppard back in his backyard

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Jun.June 04, 2008 02:58 PM

Eric Sheppard grew up on Miami Beach. Now he’s helping Miami Beach grow up.

After spending most of his career developing real estate projects beyond Florida’s borders, Sheppard is making his mark in his own tropical backyard.

The visionary behind Canyon Ranch Living in Miami Beach spent his childhood on residential construction sites his grandfather developed. After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in finance and economics, he launched his career in real estate development with his grandfather’s advice fresh on his mind.

“My grandfather told me, ‘You’re on your own. Good luck,'” Sheppard recalls. “I asked, ‘What about start-up capital?’ And he told me, ‘Your start-up capital is your hard work.’ That’s what I learned from him and that’s what I built my career on.”

Sheppard worked for a regional development firm and later took on the role of vice president of development for a national development company before launching Miami Beach-based WSG Development Co. with partner Phil Wolman in 1995. He specialized in developing commercial shopping centers and office buildings for Fortune 500 companies across the U.S.

Sheppard’s former employer, who he chooses not to name, told him he’d never make it on his own. Since then, WSG has developed more than 70 residential and commercial properties across the nation.

Now, Sheppard is focusing more energy on his home state. Beyond the Canyon Ranch Living project, WSG is developing 4.6 acres a quarter mile from Key West; a 500,000-square-foot project called Indrio Village in St. Lucie County; and Prism, an upscale condo in West Palm Beach. WSG has 18 projects worth more than $1 billion currently under development, and this seems to be just the beginning for the 39-year-old real estate star.

But Sheppard is a family man at heart. When he’s not developing multimillion-dollar properties in Florida, Las Vegas, Colorado or some other strategic location, he’s building his relationships with the loves of his life: his wife and their four-year-old daughter. Sheppard says he lives his life for them, but he also wants to leave a lasting impression on the world around him.

“My passion is to create something that no one has done; something that other people don’t think I can do,” Sheppard says. “I like to surprise people with unique insights. I like changing the world. I like to help other people succeed. My dream is to change landscapes and make people wonder how I did it. You only live once!”


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