Who We Are
Who is Aspirant?
Empire’s founding partners have over four decades of experience in developing and redeveloping unique, value-added real estate assets in the greater Phoenix metropolitan market. Our intense focus on performance, innovation and market leadership has consistently resulted in positive experiences for the end users of our projects as well as generous returns for our underlying investors.
Geoff Jacobs – Partner
Mr. Jacobs is the managing partner of Aspirant Development and a principal of The Empire Group of affiliated companies. Most recently, Mr. Jacobs was a principal with Progress Residential, the fourth largest single-family rental real estate fund in the country. He was one of the original partners in both the general partnership and the management company and helped Progress grow from a startup, including active involvement in a $1.2 billion equity raise, to an organization with over $2.5 billion in assets and nearly 15,000 single-family rental homes in over 20 markets. In addition, in 2019 Mr. Jacobs completed the first high rise apartment in Phoenix, The Stewart, offering 312 units. His current Empire responsibilities include (a) acquisition, financing, planning, zoning, entitlement, development, improvement, and management of all of the Empire Group’s anchored and non-anchored mixed-use, retail, and office projects; (b) supervising the leasing of the company’s projects, including ground leases, build-to-suit leases, and space leases in company-owned shops buildings; and (c) supervision of the sale of shopping center pad sites. In 1991, Mr. Jacobs graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in international finance. In 1992, Mr. Jacobs graduated from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, where he earned his master’s degree in international management. Mr. Jacobs has called Phoenix home for over 30 years and is a graduate of Brophy College Preparatory High School.
Randy Grudzinski – Partner
Since entering the alternative investments industry in 2001, Randy has structured and raised over $525 MM for private investment programs, including approximately $325 MM+ for over 20 separate partnerships managed by Aspirant’s sister company – The Empire Group. By focusing on the retail investment community, Randy has built lasting and valuable relationships with hundreds of registered investment advisors and investment brokers throughout the United States, as well as over 2,000 accredited clients. Prior to his roles with Aspirant and Empire, Randy was a Senior Managing Director with Advanced Equities, Inc., where he acted as external Placement Agent for Empire’s family of Phoenix-based distressed housing funds. Mr. Grudzinski was also a Senior Vice President with GK Development, Inc., a $500 MM value-added owner and redeveloper of retail real estate properties, and the President of InvestLinc Capital Services and InvestLinc Securities, which are the merchant banking and broker-dealer divisions of The InvestLinc Group, LLC, a boutique financial services firm. Mr. Grudzinski is a High Honors graduate of the JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and acts as a guest lecturer at both Kellogg and the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business. Mr. Grudzinski also is a graduate of DePauw University and the London School of Economics – earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. Mr. Grudzinski is a FINRA registered representative with Series 22, 24, 28, 62, 63, 79 and 99 designations.
Richard Felker – Partner
Richard began his business career in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he owned and operated furniture/appliance stores. After 10 years or so, in the early 1970s, he moved into the real estate development business in Wisconsin, and for the last 27 years he has focused on real estate developments in the Phoenix metropolitan area. During his 40 years of real estate experience, Mr. Felker has developed over 100 projects valued at over $1 Billion. Those projects have included more than 2,157 apartment units; 128 apartment units converted to condominiums; 835 condominium units, 5,168 single family lots (consisting of lots sold to builders; custom lots sold to upscale buyers and single family/townhouse homes) and more than a dozen retail/commercial/office projects. His vision, ability to recognize current and future trends, extensive contacts with lenders, brokers and municipal and community leaders and his wealth of experience in all phases of residential and commercial development, financing, construction, and property management, combined with his ability to assemble and lead great teams, have all helped create the success of his investment/development entities, collectively known as The Empire Group. These accomplishments have led him to be the recipient of nine National Awards for Excellence for his projects, including recognition for Design and Excellence by the Pacific Coast Builders Conference, Professional Builder Magazine and the National Association of Realtors; Builders Magazine “Best in the West” Award, and the MAME Award.