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February 22, 2018

Survey -- Urban Renaissance Group

Jeff Amram Photography [enlarge]
URG acquired the former home of The Oregonian newspaper, at 1320 S.W. Broadway in downtown Portland, in 2014 and led a complete renovation. Credit Suisse Asset Management bought the building in 2017 for $95 million.

Specialty: Full-service commercial real estate company

Management: Pat Callahan, CEO

Founded: 2006

Headquarters: Seattle

Projects: Troy Block, a two-building office in South Lake Union totaling 820,000 square feet; Tilt49, a 300,000-square-foot, 11-story mixed-use office in downtown Seattle; Hill7, an 11-story, 285,000-square-foot office building in Seattle’s South Lake Union.

Company CEO Pat Callahan responded to questions about his firm’s activities.

Q: Which recent acquisitions have been important to URG?

A: In 2012, the Joshua Green Corp. announced a substantial $200 million investment in the firm. The transaction provided robust investment potential and an even larger platform for URG to operate. In 2014, URG acquired prominent Seattle real estate development firm Touchstone and finished the capitalization of six Touchstone projects. In 2016, URG acquired the operating portfolio of Portland-based real estate company Langley Investment Properties.

With these acquisitions, URG’s total operating platform exceeded more than 10 million square feet in Portland, Seattle and Denver.

Q: Where are the greatest opportunities for expansion?

A: We believe the markets we are currently in have strong potential for expansion, including Seattle and Bellevue. In addition, we have a lot of room to grow in Denver, where we currently own the Market Center building, a historic five-story commercial office and retail building in downtown Denver; the three-story 100 Speer office and broadcasting building located in the Cherry Creek North Shopping District; and the historic 2301 Blake Street office and retail building in Denver’s River North Arts District.

Q: Acquisition, development or management — which has performed best?

A: It’s difficult to choose between these three sectors because, in this environment, everything is performing well. In this cycle, we have delivered four office assets and three hotels, including Troy Block, Tilt49 and Hill7. All of these development projects have performed well. We are also proud of the acquisition and major redevelopment of our 1320 Broadway project in Portland.

Q: What headwinds do you face in the next year?

A: We see the strongest headwinds as political in nature — locally and nationally. The inability of government at all levels to solve problems is a significant concern.

Q: How important is adaptive re-use to your business model?

A: Adaptive reuse, redevelopment, renovation, construction management and development, particularly with historic product, are all important pillars of URG’s invest/operate/build business strategy. Reuse is not only critical for our business model, but more importantly, it is critical to the rejuvenation of our cities, especially given the environmental benefit. Through our many adaptive reuse projects, it has been exciting to breathe new life to assets with qualities that transcend cycles.

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