Director of Creative Synergy

In business, as in life, there are the conveners, the connectors, the glue. Or the directors of creative synergy, which was the title Alexander P. Divaris gave himself when he started the Town Center Office Suites in Virginia Beach with friend Joash Schulman in April 2015. “Alex’s gift was bringing people together,” Schulman said.

An affable recruiter of young professionals in particular, Divaris helped launch CBDX in 2009, for the next generation of business people in the Central Business District Association, and Generation MOCA in 2013, to foster a new class of art supporters for the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. Friends and family said he championed the up-and-comers, the under-40 set who would eventually lead Hampton Roads if they weren’t already. Divaris, though, barely got to see 40. He died early Monday after first being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at age 38. “We definitely lost someone we needed,” Schulman said of the witty friend who could remember the smallest details about another person’s life. “The kind most people would forget.”

Divaris, the father of two young children and son of Gerald Divaris, who leads the Virginia Beach commercial real estate firm of the same name, had always wanted to join the family business and rose to the position of executive vice president at Divaris Real Estate of Virginia Beach.

“He was somebody that not only lived up to the reputation of his family name, but was just so gracious about it,” Schulman said. A graduate of Norfolk Academy and an alumnus of William & Mary, where he met his wife, Emily, he first moved to Virginia Beach from Cape Town, South Africa with his family when he was 3 years old. He had remained an active member of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church since that time. In 2014, Divaris was named one of Inside Business’s “40 Under 40” leaders. A light rail advocate, he said at the time that if he could change one thing about Hampton Roads, it would be to try to, “change people’s minds. We live in a unique area that could be even greater if we worked harder at regionalism and invested in uniform mass transit options.”

His CBDX group advocated for the interests of a younger generation, encouraging members to make a difference and turning friends into family along the way. And those friends-turned-family described him as loyal and dynamic, with an infectious energy. “He is living and giving back in ways he’ll never realize,” said Kaitlin Burket who joined the group several years ago at Divaris’ urging, later serving as its president.

An annual casino night fundraiser he started 10 years ago has raised $250,000 for local causes, including Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads. “He cared tremendously about the organization,” she said of CBDX. “It was in his heart until the day he passed away.” Schulman said he and Divaris, both born in 1979, considered themselves “cuspers,” technically Generation X but not far from being a millennial. He said Divaris didn’t want the groups to have a specific label, because “it’s all about the next generation because there will always be one.”

The two met through CBDX 10 years ago. When they talked about starting Town Center Office Suites, “I saw the value of what he created and jumped head first,” Schulman said. “Business is all really about trust,” he said, and once you take that leap with a partner, “it better be like family.” Schulman said Divaris was most proud of his young children, Hazel and Gabriel.

In 2014, Divaris told Inside Business his biggest motivation was starting his own family. “I’ve lived here over 30 years and hope my children will grow up to find a community that provides everything they need to start a family and careers.”

(This article first appeared in The Virginian-Pilot on April 10, 2019.  By Kimberly Pierceall and Trevor Metcalf, reporters.)