Seattle commercial real estate leader honored for company performance, commitment to sustainability
June 28, 2016
NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, has selected Touchstone as the 2016 Developer of the Year – the association’s highest honor.
Headquartered in Seattle, Touchstone is a leader in the commercial real estate industry for designing and building high-performance, sustainable buildings. The company is largely focused on development of urban infill projects, including commercial office, technology, biotechnology R&D buildings and business hotels.
In the last decade, Touchstone has broken ground on 12 projects comprising nearly 3 million square feet. It is currently developing 2 million square feet of real estate in the greater Seattle area – primarily projects that the company lined up during the last downturn when many market participants had been sidelined.
”Touchstone has a long-standing commitment to the Seattle market, so we work hard all the time to make the Seattle region stronger. We try to build a more delightful city in every way, because we will inherit that city in the next round and the next one after that,” says Touchstone President A-P Hurd.
Founded in 1982, Touchstone specializes in building highly efficient office buildings geared toward technology tenants. These projects are always sited near transit to improve access and minimize vehicular carbon pollution. Touchstone also pays considerable attention to how each building interacts with the street to create a high-quality pedestrian and retail environment. As a result, the buildings and their surroundings are more walkable and welcoming than conventional office buildings, with texture and detail inviting attention and discovery. Touchstone recruits local retailers who have high quality products, and then mentors them to ensure that they have strong business plans and marketing ideas to expand their businesses successfully. This focus takes time, but ensures that each building contributes to the vibrancy and quality of the neighborhood and becomes a meaningful part of the urban community.
All Touchstone buildings are qualified as LEED Silver certified or better, and most are LEED Gold certified. The company is known for going beyond compliance with sustainability standards and leading efforts to elevate those standards. It worked with the U.S. Green Building Council to develop the pilot “Shell and Core” designation and is advancing the art of reusing and incorporating older urban buildings in new construction.
Touchstone’s commitment to Seattle and the Puget Sound region has helped form ongoing relationships that transcend individual transactions, deals or projects, and earned the company a stellar reputation for innovative, high-value solutions that have a long-term, community-based orientation.
The company energetically advocates for policies that will help the region and state be sustainable and competitive. This holistic approach distinguishes Touchstone as a leader and vested partner in Seattle’s long-term urban progress and evolution.
Touchstone’s financial consistency and stability is a credit to the company’s ability to follow the rhythm of market cycles. The company is disciplined about securing sites during downturns, negotiating the lengthy entitlement process during such times, and strongly positioning itself to proceed with projects once the market turns up and investors are ready. Completed projects are typically sold while the market is at its peak, leaving Touchstone in a cash-advantaged position for the next downturn.
In 2014, Touchstone was acquired by Seattle’s Urban Renaissance Group, backed by the venerable Seattle investment company Joshua Green Corporation. This successful transition from a founder-led company was the culmination of eight years of planning, again reflecting Touchstone’s deliberate approach. Besides strengthening Touchstone’s financial position and securing its talented team, the move brings together an impressive set of relationship capital and aligns three Northwest companies with deep local roots.
“NAIOP is honored to present Touchstone with our Developer of the Year award,” said Thomas J. Bisacquino, NAIOP president and CEO. “Touchstone is a proven leader in commercial real estate, and the company’s impressive portfolio and commitment to sustainability is a testament to their enthusiasm for building better spaces to live, work and play.”
About the Award
The 2016 Developer of the Year award will be presented on Wednesday, September 28, at NAIOP’s Commercial Real Estate Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. Touchstone was selected from an impressive slate of nominees and was evaluated by a team of seasoned developers on the following criteria: outstanding quality of projects and services; active support of the industry through NAIOP; financial consistency and stability; ability to adapt to market conditions; and support of the local community.
Since 1979, the Developer of the Year award has been presented to a development company that best exemplifies leadership and innovation. Past recipients include Majestic Realty Co., Brandywine Realty Trust, Vulcan Real Estate, The JBG Companies and CenterPoint Properties.
NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association is the leading organization for developers, owners, investors and related professionals in office, industrial, retail and mixed-use real estate. NAIOP provides unparalleled industry networking and education and advocates for effective legislation on behalf of our members. NAIOP advances responsible, sustainable development that creates jobs and benefits the communities in which our members work and live. For more information, visit naiop.org.
Touchstone is a Seattle-based developer with more than 30 years of experience developing commercial real estate across the Puget Sound region. Touchstone is committed to sustainable long‐term growth for their region, and builds highly efficient, transit-oriented office, hotel and mixed-use projects primarily in urban neighborhoods. Touchstone’s careful consideration of the tenant and community experience informs their development strategy and has positioned them as a premier developer in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at touchstonenw.com.
Kathryn Hamilton, NAIOP vice president for marketing and communications
703-904-7100, ext. 165
A-P Hurd, Touchstone president
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