By Debra Gelbart
Experienced developer. Innovative investment builder. Award-winning property manager. Multinational organization. Qualified fiduciary. Hines, one of the world’s largest real estate organizations, is expanding again—this time into multifamily development—and the expansion will affect Greater Phoenix.
The firm’s portfolio of projects completed, underway, acquired or managed includes 1,273 properties representing more than 500 million square feet of office, residential, mixed-use, industrial, hotel and land developments.
And now, Hines is adding to its portfolio.
“We have approximately $1.5 billion in multifamily projects underway throughout the country, including here in the Southwestern U.S.,” says Bill Olson, Managing Director/Designated Broker for Hines in Arizona. “In Phoenix, where the competition for the best development parcels has been extraordinarily steep, we have looked seriously at several sites.”
The company chose a plum location next to Chandler Fashion Center for its first Arizona multifamily project which will break ground in 2014.
Olson, who has worked in all aspects of commercial real estate for 30 years, says the Valley is an ideal location for multifamily projects.
“Phoenix has always been a growth market because of affordability, its business-friendly government and tax structure, a well-educated workforce, proximity to the West Coast and fabulous weather,” he says. “These attributes will continue to attract companies and their employees to the market, and they all need housing.”
The timing of Hines’ entrance into this exciting sector, Olson says, was tied to changes in the demographics and the growth in renter demand.
“Hines has executed residential, multifamily and condominium developments in Europe and Latin America for many years, together with residential master planned communities and condominium developments in the U.S.” explains Olson. “Two years ago, Hines launched the multifamily platform as part of diversifying our investment strategy.”As of summer 2013, Hines’ multifamily division has more than 5,000 units in 13 projects in various stages of development.
“We think Hines will be a very successful player in multifamily, especially with the team we have in place,” says Hines President and CEO Jeff Hines. “The multifamily sector is poised for near-term growth and we are seeing strong interest among our investors.”
This doesn’t mean the company will be pulling away from other sectors.
“Hines remains the diversified firm it has always been, with development and management expertise in office, mixed-use, industrial, medical, hotel, sports facilities, horizontal land development for residential communities, and, of course, multifamily,” Olson says.
Hines has a presence in more than 100 cities around the globe and investor relationships with many of the world’s largest financial institutions. The company has offices in 18 countries, with regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston (the U.S. headquarters), London (the European headquarters), New York, San Francisco and Phoenix, as well as 67 other U.S. cities. Currently, the firm controls assets valued at approximately $24.3 billion.
Olson opened the Phoenix office for Hines in 1997. He is responsible for new business pursuits, development, management, marketing and leasing and feasibility analysis in the Southwest.
Olson says being a broker allows him to enjoy the “creativity of deal-making and the opportunity to work with people,” but notes economic downturns are the bane of the brokerage business.
“I have lived through a few downturns in my career that change all the market dynamics,” he says. But he lives by this credo: “That same challenge creates opportunity.”