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December 11, 2014

Survey -- Skanska USA Commercial Development

Image by Studio 216 [enlarge]
400 Fairview started construction in October 2013 in South Lake Union. Retailer Tommy Bahama is one of the tenants.

Specialty: Sustainable office and multifamily projects in urban markets

Management: Lisa Picard, executive vice president and regional manager; Murphy McCullough, vice president of development

Founded: 2011 (commercial development operations in Seattle); 1946 (construction operations in Seattle)

Headquarters: New York City (Skanska USA); Seattle office houses Commercial Development, Building and Civil business units

Projects: 400 Fairview, a 13-story, 337,000-square-foot office building in South Lake Union; Alley 111, a 12-story, 260-unit apartment building in downtown Bellevue; 2&U, a 725,000-square-foot office building in Seattle

Executive Vice President Lisa Picard answered questions about Skanska’s local Commercial Development unit.

Q: How smooth was the development process for your first project, Stone34?

A: Not sure anyone would say the development process for Stone34 was smooth. It was hard work for the seasoned developers and the bright, new professionals we brought in. But the hard work is where you have the greatest potential to lead, to create a market, make an impact and foster change. We partnered with a team that had the passion and energy to pursue our vision for Stone34 — and today it’s a reality.

Q: Where are you looking for development opportunities? Does Skanska have a niche?

A: We always put community and our customer first, which really boils down to people. Currently, people want to be in cities that have the greatest potential for connection — to other people, to business, to dynamic experiences.

We understand that development isn’t the panacea to creating good urban life, but it certainly doesn’t need to be an obstruction to it, either. So we focus on core urban markets, where we can build greater than 100,000 square feet and create an asset for a thriving community.

Q: Who at Skanska approves funding for new projects?

A: Skanska’s Seattle office is one of four development markets in the U.S. (Boston, Houston and D.C. are the others.) Generally, all investments are locally initiated, then approved by an internal U.S. team comprised of local and U.S. executives before final funding approval by Sweden.

Q: What concerns you about the local real estate market’s future?

A: My greatest concern is balancing population growth with public investments to maintain the high quality of life in our region. Without investments in public transportation, community costs, traffic impacts and the lack of mobility will choke the quality of life. Seattle will become less attractive.

Q: How active does Skanska commercial development hope to be here?

A: We will continue to serve the market as long as we continue to build products and places it desires.

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