As 2021 gets underway, Milestone Towers, formerly Milestone Communications, has two big reasons to celebrate.
The first is that the Reston, Virginia-based company is celebrating its 20th anniversary — an event that marks two decades of developing and managing thousands of tower properties for its wireless carrier customers. Milestone helps these customers solve their most challenging tower siting problems by forming partnerships with schools, municipalities, and utility landowners. The company has over 50 relationships with public sector owners with exclusive rights to build towers on thousands of locations.
Today, Milestone Towers owns and manages hundreds of structures for collocations in six states, in addition to 8,000 powerline assets in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Milestone has grown exponentially since Len Forkas, a veteran of the commercial real estate industry, founded the company in 2001.
After several years of developing various commercial properties and master-planned communities in the Washington D.C. suburbs, Forkas became intrigued with wireless tower development. Intuitively, he understood that this area was a “vertical” real estate business.
“I started the company because I thought, there has to be a way to integrate tower infrastructure in places in a way that’s more esthetically pleasing,” says Forkas. He recognized that school properties were the ideal locations for tower builds because the preexisting vertical structures would enable the towers to blend in with the surrounding environment. With this specialized approach in mind, Forkas began building strategic partnerships with schools and other municipalities, marketing the publicly owned real estate to carriers that needed to fill coverage gaps in their networks. Twenty years later, this approach, pioneered by Milestone, remains at the heart of its success.
In addition to observing its 20th anniversary, the company’s other news is the debut of its new name, Milestone Towers, and a fresh look. The rebranding is more “true to form to what we do,” explains Forkas. “The updates we’ve made celebrate the evolution of our company since its founding in 2001 and reinforce the core values that continue to serve as the foundation for our growth.”
What characteristics contribute to Milestone’s continual progression? “We speak municipalities,” explains Forkas, “and we understand that transparency resonates with our property owners.”
By bridging the gap between the public and private sectors, Milestone Towers helps narrow the digital divide. “Covid-19 pushed this issue to the forefront and highlighted the imperative role connectivity plays in every aspect of life,” says Milestone’s founder.
With a new look and 20 years of experience under its belt, Milestone is well positioned to help schools and other municipalities reap the benefits of wireless infrastructure. Through its turnkey cell tower development program, Milestone oversees permitting, building and tower management, the development of custom design solutions and the sharing of annual recurring revenue with the landowner partner. Typically, the towers generate over $400,000 yearly in income over a ten-year period.
Milestone’s established relationships and results-driven track record expedite a normally lengthy and arduous process, says Forkas. “Through our dedication to excellence and attention to detail, we have earned the trust of our municipal owners. That trust and our high level of skill are what differentiate us from other tower companies. Plenty of people can build towers, but few can build them in the difficult-to-access places that we’re able to secure.”
Milestone’s presence along the East Coast recently grew stronger after it gained the exclusive rights to build towers for Sarasota, Florida-based Lakewood Ranch, one of the fastest-growing master-planned communities in the United States. “We really shine when it comes to developing long-term, results-oriented relationships with real estate owners,” says Forkas. “The owners at Lakewood Ranch trust us to execute an effective strategy to improve wireless coverage in that community.”
Further north, Milestone is hard at work on five projects with schools in Loudoun County, Virginia, building towers on sites that have been unavailable for years. It also recently signed a contract to manage rooftop sites on 40 buildings for WashREIT, one of the largest real estate development trusts in Washington D.C.
Looking ahead, Milestone plans to expand its geographic footprint in Georgia, Tennessee and other parts of Florida — a vision that seems probable since the company just closed on a $20 million credit line with CIT. “This is really our time,” says Forkas. “The sky is the limit.”
To learn more about Milestone Towers, visit its new site: www.milestonetowers.com.