Leland Speed, founder and chairman of EastGroup Properties, Inc. (NYSE: EGP) and Parkway Properties, Inc. (NYSE: PKY), has died at the age of 88. Speed was awarded Nareit’s Industry Leadership Award in 2008 in recognition of his “significant and lasting contribution to the growth and betterment of the industry.” Nareit’s Real Estate Portfolio magazine profiled Speed in its September/October 2003 edition.
Speed was a REIT pioneer, beginning his career in 1978 when the industry was composed primarily of mortgage REITs. He built an enterprise through the acquisitions of a series of mortgage REITs through the 1980s and was an early champion of the potential for publicly traded equity REITs in the 1990s.
Speed went on to found office REIT Parkway Properties and industrial REIT EastGroup Properties, making them among the first public equity REITs that launched the “modern REIT era.” He served as chairman of the board of Parkway Properties from 1980 until 2011, and chairman of the board of EastGroup Properties from 1983 until 2015. He also served as CEO at both companies until 1997.
Speed graduated from Georgia Tech and Harvard Business School and served with the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command. He also served two terms as the Mississippi state economic development director and was a member of the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame.
Speed, who was married to his wife Bessie for more than 50 years, is survived by his son Warren.