American Life

Specialty: Finances, develops and manages properties
Management: Henry Liebman, president and CEO
Founded: 1996
Headquarters: Seattle
Employees: 15
Recent projects: Homeplate Plaza in Seattle; Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles

Henry Liebman, president and CEO of American Life, is looking at investing in hotel projects.

American Life is already developing a high-profile $118 million project in downtown Los Angeles for the Marriott Corp. Liebman said the business will continue looking for similar opportunities around the country in 2012, ranging from $20 million to $150 million. It is specifically looking in the Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland and Miami areas.

It has a current deal in Atlanta, where it is working on a Hilton Homewood Suites by the airport.

Low optimism

American Life is seeing nice deals in the Riverside County area of California for industrial projects, but overall, Liebman isn’t very optimistic.

“Generally I just see very slow absorption for the next few years without much new construction,” he said. “Bit by bit, things are getting absorbed, which is a good thing. I don’t think you’re going to see much being built other than apartments. I think that’s the hot spot.”

However, Liebman said the jury is still out on whether teams that haven’t already started building apartments have missed the boat. He thinks they likely have.

Heading to Sodo

Liebman sees downtown filling up over the next several years, causing energy and developments to move in the only direction it can — south of downtown. “It’s very hard to find properties south of downtown but if you could find something to hold onto for a few years, it would be a good investment.”

American Life bought two properties in Sodo this year.

Looking forward, Liebman thinks 2012 will be a lot like 2011, which was the same as 2010. “It’s not been different. It seems like things have flat-lined since the crash. I don’t buy this idea that there’s been a recovery.”

Liebman said there are two economies co-existing right now: the one related to technology, which is doing OK, and the one related to real estate, which is “really bad out there.”

Still, Liebman is optimistic for his projects in Seattle and Sodo.

Homeplate Plaza next to Safeco Field is in development. Liebman said he loves the location because it is the place where all city transportation comes together. Once the Alaskan Way Viaduct becomes an underground tunnel, the entry and exit point for all of downtown will be right in front of the Homeplate project. He’s excited for the energy it will bring to the area. “It all meets right there.”

Seattle, he said, is better positioned than other cities to improve economically, due in part to better employment.

EB-5 programs

American Life also works with international investors on immigration-linked investment opportunities, allowing foreign nationals to invest in the U.S. and receive permanent green cards through the EB-5 visa program. Liebman said the recession hasn’t slowed that area of business. “There’s plenty of willingness for those seeking a green card,” he said. “It’s steadily growing.”

Liebman sees the program being continued in the near future.

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