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Richmond McCoy

Prominent real estate executive Richmond McCoy was born to a large family in 1954, in upstate New York, and grew up in a rural area where his parents owned a dairy farm. His father also owned several apartment buildings in Harlem, and young Richmond often accompanied him to collect rent, sewing the seeds of his interest in real estate early on. When he was a teenager, McCoy's father died suddenly leaving his mother and his siblings to fend for themselves. After graduating from high school, McCoy left for the West Coast where he sold encyclopedias.

After returning to New York and pursuing sales and other opportunities, McCoy decided to pursue a career in commercial real estate obtaining his license in 1979. In 1984, McCoy embarked on his first entrepreneurial venture when he became one of the founding partners of Richard Sykes & Partners. There, McCoy widened his base of knowledge by doing transactions throughout the United States. In 1991, seeing a possible niche, McCoy set up his own firm, the R.M.C. Group, to provide corporate real estate services to major companies that wanted to work with minority-owned enterprises. By 1993, McCoy's business had expanded and he created the McCoy Realty Group, to provide asset management services to pension funds and large financial institutions such as Pitney-Bowes, Chase Manhattan Bank and the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, the world's largest privately managed pension fund.

By the mid-1990s McCoy saw a growing need for real estate and institutional asset management in African American communities and the not-for-profit sector. He attempted to fulfill these needs with the founding of UrbanAmerica. As President and chief executive officer, McCoy has seen UrbanAmerica grow tremendously. Some of its projects have included shopping malls in Florida, medical offices in Las Vegas, and police precincts in Maryland.

McCoy is a rising star in black business today having been profiled by Fortune, U.S. News & World Report, Black Enterprise, Time and the Wall Street Journal. In addition, he is the recipient of numerous awards and an honorary degree.

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Archival Photo 1
Interview Date


Last Name


Maker Category

Beekman Elementary School

LaGrange Middle School

Arlington High School

Fordham University

Archival Photo 2
First Name


Birth City, State, Country




Favorite Season



New York

Favorite Vacation Destination


Favorite Quote

How do you like me now?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date


Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York



Favorite Food


Short Description

Real estate entrepreneur Richmond McCoy (1954 - ) is the founder, president and CEO of UrbanAmerica. The company works in real estate and institutional asset management in African American communities and the not-for-profit sector. Some of its projects have included shopping malls in Florida, medical offices in Las Vegas, and police precincts in Maryland.


Collier Encyclopedias


CB Richard Ellis

Richard Sykes & Partners

McCoy Realty Group

UrbanAmerica LP

Favorite Color


Timing Pairs

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Richmond McCoy interview</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Richmond McCoy's favorites</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Richmond McCoy discusses his mother's background</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Richmond McCoy discusses his father's background</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Richmond McCoy explains how his parents met</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Richmond McCoy lists his siblings and explains his father's choice to move out of the city</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Richmond McCoy recalls growing up on a farm in upstate New York</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Richmond McCoy shares childhood memories of racism at school</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Richmond McCoy recalls his elementary school years</a>

<a href="">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Richmond McCoy discusses his father's terminal illness and its effect on the family</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Richmond McCoy considers race matters</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Richmond McCoy discusses his father's death when he was thirteen</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Richmond McCoy remembers father figures in his life after his own father's death</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Richmond McCoy describes his interests as a youth</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Richmond McCoy talks about his middle and high schools, with a tiny black minority</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Richmond McCoy meets with success selling encylopedias after high school</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Richmond McCoy shares lessons in motivation and marketing from his first job in sales</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Richmond McCoy recalls his experience living in Canada</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Richmond McCoy discusses the road to a career in real estate</a>

<a href="">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Richmond McCoy describes his real estate endeavors</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Richmond McCoy discusses the evolution of his business platform and his work for faith-based not-for-profit organizations</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Richmond McCoy recounts an instance of racism in the business world</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Richmond McCoy discusses the development of his company, UrbanAmerica, L.P.</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Richmond McCoy considers the success of UrbanAmerica, L.P.</a>

<a href="">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Richmond McCoy discusses factors that contributed to his success</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Richmond McCoy describes the need for collaborative business practices among African Americans</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Richmond McCoy discusses economic development in urban markets</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Richmond McCoy expresses his concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Richmond McCoy shares his personal philosophy</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Richmond McCoy considers his father's response to his success</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Richmond McCoy considers his legacy</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Richmond McCoy discusses his two marriages</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Photo - Richmond McCoy with his two brothers, ca. 1969</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Photo - Richmond McCoy with his mother, father and adopted aunt at the family farm in Poughquag, New York, 1963</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Photo - Richmond McCoy with his daughter in New Jersey, 1980</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Photo - Richmond McCoy in Capetown, South Africa, 1995</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Photo - Richmond McCoy on a spiritual journey in Peru, 1996</a>

<a href="">Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Photo - Richmond McCoy and his wife as he is awarded an honorary doctorate from Destiny Bible College, Tampa, Floria, 1998</a>







Richmond McCoy meets with success selling encylopedias after high school
Richmond McCoy discusses the development of his company, UrbanAmerica, L.P.
It's coming time for you to graduate [from Arlington High School, Poughkeepsie, New York]. And so what are your thoughts about what you want to do?$$I didn't really have any. I just wanted to have a good time, was in love with a young lady, who, Italian lady--Italian girl who had moved. That's what was on my mind I remember. But you know, I graduated, within a couple months I moved down to Florida trying to find her. And, went down there, found her. And was dating her for a while. And then one day her father came by my apartment and suggested that it was a good idea if I left town. And, so I did and, ended up going to--getting on a bus to, San Francisco [California]. This was in 1974, it was right around the time that Patty Hearst was abducted. I remember I was out there, had this big Afro and everything. And then I went to (laughs), went to San Francisco. And, didn't know anybody. I had a few hundred dollars in my pocket. Had gotten some phone numbers from some friends and went out there to just see--you know, do something different.$$And so how long did you stay out there?$$About four years.$$Okay. Okay.$$I had--It was a great experience, rented a hotel room, out in Berkeley [California], started looking for a job. Ended up, responding to an ad for, for sales selling door to door encyclopedias, for Collier Encyclopedias. I went in there, they said, "Look we think you could do it." They hired me, trained me and I got totally into it. I started reading all the positive thinking books, Norman Vincent Peale, O, O, Og Mandino, the world's best salesman. I just totally saturated my spirit with salesmanship, and positive attitude and really got into it. And, was a phenom for that company. I did extremely well, for them, sold a lot of encyclopedias. Had people underneath me that I was training. Within a year they gave me the opportunity to, open an office in Canada with myself and another gentleman named Ted Lane who is an Afri--another African-American, they financed us to go up to western Canada in the--in the province of Sas--Saskatchewan and I had the office to open in Saskatoon [Canada] and they gave me, the money to go open an office, and (chuckling) and rent furniture, phones. I put an ad in the paper. Hired, hired about twenty college students to come in, trained them and, worked up there for about eight months, up there doing the marketing of, of the encyclopedias up there in, in Canada. So it was a tremendous experience and I did really well at it. Then we ended up coming back down to the U.S. up to, the northwest and I opened an office in Portland, Oregon. And my associate was in Seattle [Washington]. I did that for about another two years and then decided it was time to come back east. I you know really missed my family. So I ended up, coming back to, to upstate New York.$$Now did you participate at all at--Well it's a little later in the (unclear) culture at Berkeley? You know Berkeley has always been known as being sort of--No you were very business oriented.$$Very business oriented from, from day one was out there. Focused on that and, that's what I did. So I, I, I didn't no.$$Okay. Now , what--You know you knew from a young person that you sort of had a, a sense of hustle. You know, in business.$$Yeah.$$So the market--the sales and marketing was sort of a natural.$$Yes.$John Utendahl and I started talking about creating UrbanAmerica, the investment fund. And John and I had known each other in passing as business leaders in our community, but never really done anything together and really hadn't spoken. We were both in the Fortune [magazine] article together. And through that meeting, we had a luncheon up at the Time-Life Building [New York, New York] with all the people in the article. John and I had a conversation there. He said, "You know we're thinking about creating this fund." I said, "Well so am I!" He said, "Well we ought to get together." So literally that's what happened and, in the fall of 1997, and a year later we started--September of '98 [1998], we started UrbanAmerica. And, so it all kind of--When I look back on it, it was all you know, destiny that kind of you know, unraveled itself. And in making the decision to do--to join John it was a big decision. Because I was giving up my own company, my own name, my own freedom, to do this. But to come in with him and a lot of other you know, well recognized individuals to, do something that was bigger than all of us. And that was I think, a place of maturity for, for my part. And to get back into another corporate structure, which we have and--but to do something very large.$$And so what--tell us about UrbanAmerica and its plans and what you know, sort of a strategic positioning. Because this is the first time that you're part of something where you were ra--you know you actually raised the funds.$$Yes it is. Yeah. UrbanAmerica is, it's the first company of its kind. And that's historic and sad at the same time. It's a celebration and it's like, "Why?" (Laughing). But it's really the first time that, a group of people of color, came together and put together a real estate investment company to acquire institutional real estate in a number of different markets. , to really become the preeminent real estate owner in, in our urban ethnic markets. So the concept was, was once again, to, address the need and take advantage of an opportunity. The need being there is almost a trillion dollars of pent up equity, cash, in debt dollars available from, from financial institutions through the Community Reinvestment Act to put money into low to moderate income communities. In 1997, the Federal Reserve Bank, came up with a new regulation to require an investment category for the banks to put money into these markets. The banks have struggled to find qualified investments. So we created our company to be a vehicle for that. And then the--and then the thus the need we're meeting. The opportunity was there's just really good real estate deals out in these markets that we're comfortable with that we feel we could put together a large portfolio to go forward with. So that was the idea. So we got together a great group of people. Included [Kenneth] Ken Chenault, who was the president of American Express, [Richard D.] Dick Parsons of Time Warner AOL [AOL-Time Warner], [Joseph H.] Joe Flom from the Skadden Arps [Slate Meagher & Flom & Affiliates] law firm, John Utendahl, myself I mean a great group of people. Then we had to put together a terrific corporate board with, with Ed Lewis from Essence, Marcus Alexis from Northwestern University [Evanston, Illinois], the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago [Illinois], he's also on the board at Teachers' Insurance [Company], Mario [L.] Baeza, from TCW Capital. Just a great group of people who proved the corporate governments to the activities. We wanted to create a company that looked like the rest of these real estate institutional advisors. It had all the components to it. So we sat out to raise 110 million dollars from financial institutions, to buy a portfolio of properties. So we started, in September of '98 [1998]. --And we've raised sixty million dollars of cash to date. We have soft circles on another fifty at this, this day here, we started buying properties last year beginning in January of 2000. We've bought sixteen properties since then. And we're buying supermarket anchored shopping centers and office buildings that are in these urban markets. 165 million dollars worth of properties and we're we look to be a billion dollar company in five years. So it's been very exciting. We operate quite a bit differently than, I think traditional investors in these markets. We once again have a very aggressive program of putting dollars back into the communities where we invest, and also bringing new goods and services into the market. So over 65% of all the vendors that we hire to work on our properties are minority owned companies that are from those communities. And, we've created over a hundred new jobs in, in the one year that we've been active. And we really see that, continuing to multiply and, and to grow. So we're bringing what's been missing in our m--communities, for many, many years. That's the unencumbered equity. To come in with the cash to do the deals. We control the deals. We hire who we want to hire. We improve the buildings. We increase security and really bring a class a environment into our markets that hasn't been there before.