We’re Grounded in Community.

We focus on overlooked markets that can support unique project concepts, tailoring our vision for every site with economic and cultural development strategies to deliver positive outcomes for both our investors and the community at large.

Elevator City Partners combines real estate and economic development from project conception to completion. We are confident that attention to financial metrics and inclusion will ensure our ventures outperform conventional real estate developments by creating the physical space and the financial structure needed to support both natives and newcomers in each stage of the project. This approach will do more than maximize profits, it will allow the full spectrum of citizens, community businesses, and national brands to participate in the city’s next phase of growth and prosperity.

Ryan Gravel
Co-Founder, Elevator City Partners

Ryan Gravel is the globally recognized visionary behind the Atlanta BeltLine – a proposed 22-mile transit greenway encircling the city that even in its early stages of implementation has generated over $4 Billion in private investment. With another $4 Billion of investment already in the pipeline as of 2018, the project is on track to create $20 Billion of investments by 2030.

Ryan has received numerous awards and press for his work on the Atlanta BeltLine, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN International, USA Today, and Esquire Magazine. Today, he’s working on strategies to ensure the project lives up to the hype.

“I believe the private sector can lead delivery of the Atlanta BeltLine’s promise by diversifying the ecosystem of partners in real estate development and providing ladders of opportunity for local people and businesses to participate in the change coming to their communities.”


Donray Von
Co-Founder, Elevator City Partners

Donray Von is an Atlanta native who advises investors and family offices on opportunities in technology, real estate and financial inclusion. To date, Donray has been involved in four acquisitions and over a dozen venture capital deals, co-invested alongside Google Ventures, Guggenheim, TPG, Wellington and Lower Case Capital.

  • GYFT acquired by First Data.
  • GoPop acquired by BuzzFeed.
  • TimeLine acquired by SeaChange.
  • StrikeAd acquired by Sizmek.

Donray began his career consulting and managing music superstars including OutKast, The Roots, K’naan, and Cody ChesnuTT. In 2012 Donray partnered with Nick Gross, the son of bond guru and Pimco founder Bill Gross, to establish a VC fund focused on investing in opportunities at the intersection of media and technology. That venture was fueled by capital from the Gross Family Office. He is now focused on diversity and public private partnerships.


Advocates & Advisors

Kat Cole
COO, Focus Brands

Focus Brands is an affiliate of the Atlanta-based private equity firm, Roark Capital Group, which owns the Schlotzsky’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli, Auntie Anne’s and Jamba Juice brands and operates over 5,000 stores. Kat Cole is the company’s Chief Operating Officer and President. She joined FOCUS Brands in 2010 as President of Cinnabon and successfully drove the multi-channel brand team to record comp sales and growth, brand expansion and franchise evolution throughout her seven-year tenure in the role. Cole now oversees FOCUS Brands’ licensing division, building revenues and profits through global licensing, manufacturing, and ecommerce. Prior to FOCUS Brands, Cole was a Vice President at Hooters of America, Inc. She received her MBA from Georgia State University and received an honorary doctorate from Johnson and Wales University. She invests in and advises founders and early stage startups, is past chair of the Women’s Foodservice Forum and is an active humanitarian, on the United Nations Global Entrepreneurs Council.

Sonny Morris
Chairman, Morris Manning & Martin, LLP

John G. “Sonny” Morris is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Morris, Manning, & Martin and a Senior Partner in the Real Estate and Real Estate Capital Markets Practices. Morris, Manning & Martin has been recognized by Chambers USA as a top four law firm in the state of Georgia for 2014 as well as among the leading real estate practices in the nation by Commercial Property Executive for 2014.

Morris’ achievements include leading the expansion of the Firm’s real estate practice from an Atlanta market focus to a national practice representing clients in major markets throughout the US.  This expansion has been supported by the growth of the Firm’s related practice areas that are critical to today’s sophisticated and complex real estate financings and transactions, such as tax, securities, environmental, construction and litigation. Morris demonstrates comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of the real estate business. He represented Cole Real Estate Investments in its 2014 $11.2 billion merger which created the largest net lease REIT, with an enterprise value of $21.5 billion. He represents investors and companies in major acquisitions, financings and developments, including complex mixed-use developments and multi-asset acquisitions and dispositions in direct asset transactions or through corporate M&A transactions. Morris, Manning, & Martin LLP was named “The Best Lawyers in America” by Real Estate Law in 2019.

Frank Turner
Investment Banker

Frank Turner is the former Chief Investment Officer of DLI, a $700M hedge fund. He was responsible for sourcing and conducting due diligence on prospective investments and was a member of the firm’s Management and Investment Committees. Before joining DLI in 2016, he served as the Portfolio Manager for the MIG Diversified Fund at MIG Capital where he was responsible for managing all aspects of the investment program and leading the investment committee. Prior to MIG, Turner served as the Consumer Innovation Executive at Bank of America, managing firm-wide initiatives across various consumer banking divisions. At Goldman Sachs, he ended his tenure as Treasurer of a $20 billion alternative investment franchise, where he was responsible for over $4 billion in financings, credit facilities, and synthetic leverage transactions. Over his career, Turner has been responsible for several innovative transactions such as the first European securitizations of private placements, the first web originated credit card ABS programs, and a consumer credit linked synthetic risk securitizations. He holds two patents in financial product design and graduated cum laude with a B.B.A. in Finance from Howard University.

Stuart Graham
President & CEO 2002-2008,
Chairman 2012-2016, Skanska

Stuart Graham was appointed President and CEO of Skanska in September 2002 and has been a member of Skanska’s Senior Executive Team since 1998. He has been employed by Skanska since 1990 when the American company Sordoni was acquired.

Graham was the first American to lead the firm, which has grown to become the eighth largest global contractor, with $15.7-billion in total worldwide revenue and the second largest in contracting revenue outside its home country, with more than $12.3 billion. He served as a Director of Skanska AB from May 2003 to April 2008.  Also serving as the Chairman of the Engineering and Construction Governors Council of the World Economic Forum and was founder of the Engineering and Construction Risk Institute. Mr. Graham holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from Holy Cross College.

Charles Whatley
Managing Director, UrbanIS USA

Charles Whatley provides economic development, incentive finance, site selection, and real estate advisory services for public and private entities. With over 20 years of professional experience in economic development, Whatley has been the Director of Economic Development for DeKalb County, and the Director of Commerce and Entrepreneurship and Manager of Business Development for Invest Atlanta. He also spent 15 years as an independent consultant specializing in business models, strategic planning, and opportunity/economic feasibility studies. He has served on the boards of Southface Energy Institute, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), Truly Living Well Urban Farms (TLW), and Georgia Organics. He is also a member of numerous professional organizations including, the Urban Land Institute, International Economic Development Council, Council for Development Finance Agencies, and International Council of Shopping Centers.