It all started with one four-unit hunch. After scraping enough money together to invest in a single building, Mark Weinstein began to develop a keen eye for property investment, in hopes of establishing a successful philanthropic enterprise. As the founder and president of MJW Investments, Weinstein and his associates have acquired more than 4 million square feet of property.
During his time at Loyola Law School, Weinstein realized that his dedication to his prospective profession was lacking heart. He wanted to make a positive impact and create real change in the world. While he enjoyed studying law, he foresaw difficulty devoting time to philanthropy while taking on the commitment necessary to become a successful lawyer. The pragmatic Weinstein recognized that in today’s society, making real change requires real funds, and a generous amount, at that.
“I was 21 years old, and I had an epiphany that being a lawyer would be a great thing and I could do good things in the world,” says Weinstein. “But if I really wanted to have a major impact in the world, I needed to make more money somehow.” Real estate is where he saw his opportunity.
Today, Weinstein’s entrepreneurial spirit – which has made him a key player in large development projects in Los Angeles – overshadows his lack of formal business training. A Southern California native, his understanding of Los Angeles’ housing crisis is hard-wired, which pushes him to incorporate an aspect of affordability into his projects. One of his greatest accomplishments was the refurbishing of DTLA’s Santee Court, an experience that pushed Weinstein and his associates to tackle grander projects. The 550-unit mixed-use complex includes a number of recreational amenities as well as plenty of retail and restaurant space for residents to enjoy.
“[Real estate] afforded me the opportunity…to be a major force in philanthropy in LA while I was also building my business.”
To continue building innovative structures, Weinstein set his sights on the stable student housing market around 2007. He was able to apply his experience with hospitality, customer service, innovative design, and multi-use complexes to student housing. From Oregon to Michigan to Texas, Weinstein’s amenity-rich, off-campus housing structures began to take form near schools across the nation. With growth comes expansion, so Weinstein accepted the challenge to expand eastward. Because of different regional requirements and institutional cultures, Weinstein considers certain factors when it comes to choosing a school with which to partner, including proximity to the institution, atmosphere of the community, and institutional codes of conduct.
Weinstein believes that community involvement is an important part of his career and considers philanthropy as a driving force behind his life’s decisions. He is satisfied with his level of involvement in his family and philanthropic endeavors. The 57-year-old professional is also part of various venture philanthropy groups, which contribute to the community through charitable donations and mentorship programs. These groups, known for serving low-income communities and the elderly, include the Young Presidents’ Organization, the Real Estate Professional Organization, the Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund, and the Guardians.
“[Real estate] afforded me the opportunity…to be a major force in philanthropy in LA while I was also building my business,” he says. The father of twins, Weinstein now looks back on his career path and is glad he established the business he intended to start. Being able to wake up with, dine with, and play with his children, Weinstein considers himself fortunate to live his life balancing his work, family, and aspirations.