Tag Archives: Pete Bolton

valley partnership - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Valley Partnership Former Chairmen Discuss Phoenix Development – Part 1

Valley Partnership is celebrating 25 years as Metro Phoenix’s premier advocacy group for responsible development. In looking back – and also looking ahead – AZRE magazine brought together six former chairmen to discuss goals the group has successfully achieved and challenges that lie ahead.

With the commercial real estate industry making a slow recovery from the Great Recession, the advocacy role undertaken by a group such as Valley Partnership is magnified. “The surge in commercial real estate is evident,” says Richard Hubbard, president and CEO of Valley Partnership. “The comments from our past chairs provide great direction to Valley Partnership for the next several years. “With the increasing activity, it is imperative we re-energize our advocacy efforts with particular focus on the local communities while always monitoring our state and federal governments for any issue that affects our industry.” Participating were John Graham (JG), Sunbelt Holdings, chairman in 1989; Dave Scholl (DS), Westcor-Vintage Partners, chairman in 1990; Clesson Hill (CH), Grayhawk Development, chairman in 1997 and 1998; Jim Pederson (JP),  The Pederson Group, chairman in 1999; Pete Bolton (PB), CBRE/Grubb & Ellis (Newmark Grubb Knight Frank), chairman in 2004; and Charley Freericks (CF), DMB Associates, chairman in 2006. Rick Hearn (RH) of Vestar, the current chairman, served as moderator.

RH: During the past 25 years, has the level of economic development undertaken by local governments and the state been inadequate, adequate or exceptional?

PB: Frankly it’s all three. Over the years, it’s been inadequate, and it’s gone to adequate, and then I think in some cases it’s been exceptional. It also depends on which state we compare ourselves with because some states are exceptional and then some states are just barely adequate. And then you can go in the opposite direction, say inadequate, compared to Texas, and some of the other big ones across the country. Overall, we are doing a better job today.

CH: I would agree. I think there is lack of funding these days and I think that education has suffered greatly and that is a major infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. Not just here but everywhere, and as we move forward and embrace new technology, it is a new way of life as we look toward the future.

DS: When I looked at this question, I really focused on the side of economic development and “are cities making investments?” I think that a lot of ways the cities have been trying to operate with their arm tied behind their backs. The constitution and our legislators have never really given our local government a whole lot of choices in their tool boxes. With the limited tools they have in there, they have done a pretty good job. I think that the industry I have been in has had a lot of city participation in economic development, and I think that they have been pretty aggressive about getting the most out of what limited tools the state’s constitutional statues have given.

RH: Charley, your company was impacted by this exact thing at Eastmark (in Mesa) in regard to Apple. What are your thoughts?

CF: Well it was not just Apple. It happened to us positively with First Solar. We were able to compete and win there. And with Apple, to be in the mix, I’m where Pete was. It is an evolution where economic development has come a long way since 1987. I had to think about 25 years, and I didn’t know I had been in the business that long. I look at what has happened now as the communication level of real prospects is very high and people know they’re coming and looking, which in the old days you would hear about it and it was here and gone. I’ve been in that side of the business almost my entire career chasing prospects from out of state. We come in second place to states that want to write checks. When we lose, we lose because somebody wrote a check and throws money at it to the prospect. I’ve never been a huge advocate at writing big checks. It’s a complicated business. I think we are doing a lot better chasing these deals and being in the running and again the tool kit is very limited.

JG: I’m actually optimistic about many things and this is actually one of them. My view is that being a young state one of the things that we did probably an amateurish job in early on was in economic development. I think that was a maturity problem not a “we didn’t quite get it problem.” With what we have now with GPEC and ACA and trying to address some of our structural and political and legislative problems, we got a really good pipeline of stuff that is being looked at and is being professionally handled.

JP: Certainly economic development depends on how you define it. A lot of people think that dangling a check in front of a major company is going to bring jobs into the state. But as Clesson mentioned, it’s more than that. It is infrastructure investment; it’s education and venture capital.

RH: Has Valley Partnership had a positive effect of creating a better image for developers?

Pete Bolton - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Pete Bolton

JP: There is a word that has been overused but I think that it is applicable. In this case, that is sustainability — the sustainability of our communities. It directly relates to our industry because we plunk down projects, neighborhoods or communities, and we depend upon a standard of living that is directly dependent on the rents that we get for our properties. During recession times, construction prices go down, land prices go down, but you have to achieve the rents if you are going to be successful at the end of the day. What Valley Partnership has done, by emphasizing how development relates to a sustainable lifestyle in the various communities where we live, is to look more beyond the block of where you are developing. It’s looking at your community, looking at your neighborhood. Looking at the various infrastructure investments that are critical to the kinds of things we do. We manufacture a product. And to manufacture the product, you need certain things, at least in the shopping center business. You need good tools. You need quality neighborhoods. You need good infrastructure investments. All of those things that directly relate to the level of rents we are going to get. In that regard I think Valley Partnership over the past 20 years has been excellent. I think it’s an organization that has emphasized the sustainability concept.

JG: I think the short answer is yes, that is has improved the reputation of how people view the development industry. The other part of that is the role that Valley Partnership will never go away because inherently we are in a conflict relationship with neighborhoods and other people. No matter how good of a job we did, it’s always going to be viewed that way. I think we have changed the conversation from one that was always in essence an adversarial, to at least everyone understanding that it is a two- or three-legged stool at a minimum, and that things have to be done by more than consensus. It has to be more by partnership and good conversation. That is why Valley Partnership will always have a role to the extent of how we want to have it because no matter how good a job we do, we will have different rubs with different constituency groups. But I think the role we need to continue to take is being the group that is not adversarial, rather constructive in those conversations for solutions.

CF: I was more optimistic on this one. My immediate reaction was absolutely that my focus was on the government. As an industry dealing with all of the city, town and county issues for regulations of our industries locally, I think Valley Partnership’s reputation really had a big impact because we have rational and moderate voices coming through consistently saying, “Gee, your regulation here is either irresponsible or maybe needs a little tune-up or maybe you missed a big idea here.” So from the professionals within our industry that we deal with, staff level government in particular, I think our reputation over the past 20 years has improved radically. I’m with the other guys here. The challenge we face will always be in conflict with residents and neighborhoods, and we need to keep doing our jobs well to keep doing that and not be controversial.

DS: I agree. I think that whenever you look at an image, you have to talk about which audience you are talking about. I think among consumers or neighborhood groups and homeowners, I don’t know if they have enough regular engagement to really understand who Valley Partnership is. I don’t know if the developers’ image among the average fellow on the street has improved that much. I agree with Charley. I think we are front of mind when a city or a local government says, “We need input, or we are thinking about changing this part of our code.” I think we are one of the first people they think of to come to the table and have the dialogue; whereas before Valley Partnership, it was a very splintered industry, and I don’t think there was a common voice and more importantly a common set of ears that listened to cities when they needed have that dialogue, too. So I think it has been vastly improved.

PB: What Valley Partnership has really accomplished with the local municipalities is to provide them with a dependable, educated voice. I remember sitting on a board and something would come up and a local municipality would ask, “Can you guys put something together on this billboard issue?”, and we would have six very educated voices at the table later that afternoon. That just doesn’t happen in any other organization. From my side of the business (brokerage), that has been extremely positive. As soon as we get the local municipalities on board, which they are, the neighborhoods rarely follow, but they don’t have much depth of voice anymore because if the politicos are truly believing the intelligent voices of the marketplace, they have a tendency to be more objective.

CH: I think part of the sustainability of 25 years of leadership is that Valley Partnership has been able to maintain frontline guys and women who are involved in development and kept them passionate about Valley Partnership. It has never faded away or lost its image in the cities to know that if we come, we will get quality people stepping up and get engaged and deliver some kind of end product. I think it’s a tribute to the leadership inside Valley Partnership to maintain that constant level of quality people.

Continue reading this article.

For more information on Valley Partnership, visit Valley Partnership’s website at valleypartnership.org.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Property Taxes, AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

Property Taxes: Keep A Keen Eye On County Valuation Notices

What if your business was overcharged for its electricity, natural gas, or perhaps new computers or furniture? Most of us would take a look at our bills, determine where the mistakes occurred and then take the needed steps to resolve the discrepancies. But what if your business is being overcharged for its property taxes by thousands of dollars each year? Is there a course of action to fix this potentially costly problem? The answer is yes.

Each year, typically in February, the county assessor releases “postcard” valuations for each property in the county. In some cases, these valuations exceed the properties’ market value. The problem that we see in Arizona is that many people do not take notice of their property taxes until the county treasurer’s office mails its annual tax bill. But in Arizona, you cannot protest your taxes — only the postcard valuation. Therefore, the time to review your property taxes is when your values are mailed in February, not when you receive your tax bills in October.

What does this mean for local business owners?

Without protesting a postcard valuation, a business owner’s taxes may be substantially higher. In many cases, they need not be. If a business owner paid $4M for an office building last year, on average, the owner will owe approximately $100,000 in real property taxes. However, if the county assessor values the property at $7M based on its computerized mass appraisal, and the business owner does not protest, the owner’s taxes may exceed $175,000.

Why would my property be overvalued?

Over the past several years we have seen significant changes in commercial values, with prices quickly rising in 2005 and 2006, and falling over the past couple of years. Today, however, there are signs of hope. According to William Spart, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Bank, “some submarkets and property types, including apartments, are showing signs of firming up.”

These drastic changes in the market over the past several years have made it difficult for county assessors to determine property value. It is not feasible for the assessors to separately analyze the unique characteristics of each and every parcel. Therefore, the assessor must rely on a blanket formulary approach that attempts to classify buildings and land into various categories to produce a valuation.

The positive is that many people, including Pete Bolton, executive vice president and managing director of Grubb & Ellis, says he believe that we are at the bottom of the market. According to Bolton, the “market has definitely stabilized and we are seeing five to seven main groups, including the FDIC, national banks, CMBS special servicers and others slowly releasing property to the market with market values bouncing along the bottom.”

What if I recently acquired my property?

In Arizona, real property is assessed on an annual basis by the assessor’s office of the county, where the property is physically located. Property tax values are released around February prior to the tax year. While existing owners of real property are required to file all administrative protests within 60 days of release of the postcard values, Arizona has special rules for new owners.

Under Arizona law, new owners have the ability to either take over the old owners’ appeal or if an appeal was not filed, they can typically appeal their valuation to the County Superior Court until Dec. 15 of the valuation year. If the prior owner did not appeal the current year taxes (prior year’s postcard values), you may be able to appeal these taxes as well.

For more information about property taxes, visit wwptax.com.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2011

 

CBRE, AZ Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

CBRE’s Top Arizona Executives Describe The Company’s 100-Year Legacy

Looking Ahead

CBRE’s top Arizona executives describe the company’s 100-year legacy and their vision for the future.

By Melanie Winderlich

Pete Bolton, senior managing director-Phoenix, seven and a half years at CBRE
A marathon, not a sprint: The key to CBRE’s sustainability is flexibility, awareness of market conditions and selection of excellent people (including staff, brokers, management)—we have been able to do this work for 100 years. Nearly 20 years ago, the company decided to do commercial real estate exclusively and walked away from the residential side. They understood market conditions and could plan for the future of the market.

Looking AheadAlso, risk taking has been extremely effective here. Some competitors scoffed at some of the major risks we’ve taken and swore those risks would bury us. But we’ve always made strong, calculated risks. For example, Sears, Roebuck and Co. acquired 100 percent of Coldwell Banker commercial and residential in the early 1980s. However, in 1989, the employees invested their own money, and with others, acquired the company’s operations to form CB Commercial. The men and women who worked here invested hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the commercial side away from Sears. That was the launch, a very risky move, which could have been very tough if the market would have experienced a downturn.

Industry progression: In our business, if things aren’t changing, then things aren’t happening. We had a challenging, tough time from the beginning of 2001 toward the middle of 2004 because there was so much uncertainty and nobody was doing anything. Today, in Arizona we’re seeing far more than our share of expansions, which is extremely important for this state. Many companies are either completely relocating to Arizona or expanding by adding a regional hub in the Valley. Phoenix has proven in the last 15 years, to the national marketplace, that we’re a player, not a ‘boom or bust’ economy. It’s consistency from various sources—from the governor’s office to everyday people on the street—that generates interest about developing here.

I hope there can be more openness, from the community, in regards to change. I’ve been in the Valley for more than 52 years and seen so many people move here and give back to the community. What I see a lot of is newcomers (all types) pushing back against change and growth. Any kind of big project is always a battle with the neighborhoods. The change can be good, but they just vehemently resist. Our community needs to become more open to change, more open to density, more open to becoming the city we are destined to become. Luckily we have a very business-friendly government and a governor that listens to the business community and respects our concerns.

Greg Coxon, left, senior managing director-Phoenix and Pete Bolton, senior managing director-Phoenix

 

Greg Coxon & Peter Bolton

 

Tim Prouty, managing director—Tucson, six years with CBRE

Tim Prouty

 

The 100-year legacy: CBRE is all about the client. We want to reduce our clients’ risk. These transactions can be massive, one bad decision can ruin a career, so you better be giving good advice and data. That’s our prime legacy, we’re very sure about the information we’re providing.

Vision quest: CBRE would like to continue to be the place to work. If you have happy people internally and continue to educate them, then your company continues to grow and benefits clients. We’re the only commercial brokerage company I know of that has its own university. About 40 minutes outside of Chicago, our teaching facility educates employees at all different levels. The intensive CBRE curriculum and professional coaches are all geared to create the strongest, most intelligent group to represent the company. CB Richard Ellis is the biggest, most profitable commercial real estate services company in the world, earning about $3 billion worldwide. Our closest competitor pulls in about $780 million. We would like to continue that tradition.

On-the-job satisfaction: I work at CBRE because it’s fun. When you think about it, we spend more time at work than with our families. I work about 10 to 12 hours a day—I get home at 7:30 p.m., spend a couple hours with my kids then go to bed. When you spend 40 to 60 hours a week with the same group of people, you want to be with people you enjoy. Not only is CBRE the No. 1 commercial real estate company in Arizona, the country and the world (by revenue), but our people are wonderfully intelligent, creative and fun. We truly make a difference because of the advice we give. This is a great place for me to apply my trade.

Greg Coxon, senior managing director-Phoenix, 19 years with CBRE
In it for the long haul: The biggest reason CBRE is still around today is our people. We’re blessed to have high caliber people working here. They are unbelievably motivated to execute our business goals. The other part of that secret is our ability to retain these people. CBRE is a great company— the No. 1 company by any comparative standard, that fact coupled with our awesome people who offer expertise and longevity, is a fabulous recipe for success.

A star is born: From an organizational standpoint, we’ve been lucky and had incredibly talented people sitting at the leadership chair of this company. These leaders have been unbelievable with growing this company. Each owner, CEO, manager, and so on has taken this organization to a different level. And this fact has allowed the next CEO or director to grab onto that success and take it to the next level—success begets success. It’s almost incumbent on the incoming leaders to take their role and responsibility to that level of quality. I expect CBRE to get bigger and better as we look forward to the future.

What the community should know: The one thing I would like the community to know about CBRE is how giving we are. Our employees are involved in countless organizations—we have people who sit on boards, volunteer with charities, work with nonprofits. We give money and time to our community. For example, CBRE has held a charity golf tournament every year for the past eight years and over time, has raised nearly $750,000 for several charities. ChildHelp is the biggest benefactor of this event, but it is one of many things we do. I would like people to know about how our people join together when they see a need for their involvement and what they are prepared to do in time of crisis. It’s unbelievable.

Vision quest: We would like to continue to be bigger—growing by employees, geography and revenue. One of our corporate initiatives, at the highest level, is to be the No. 1 provider of commercial real estate services in the world. We can do that by hiring professional, knowledgeable people. We’re looking into other areas that are related to our industry. We’ve started an equipment and asset financing business within CBRE | Melody. A few years ago, we created a team of real estate professionals focused on the acquisition and disposition of mining properties, especially appropriate in Arizona—few people think about mining operations or equipment that are very beneficial to specific clients. We’re continually spawning other niche service lines because CBRE is very entrepreneurial at its roots.

The need for CBRE: Commercial real estate is a fragmented business; there is not another dominant company that provides real estate services across the world. As we go into a global economy, every country has different laws and regulations regarding real estate. The United States’ real estate practices are some of the most advanced in the industry. Given such a good foundation, in terms of ownership and standards, CBRE applies these standards to every market in the world. One of our top attributes is that we have our best practices implemented everywhere in the world, which is good for the client who might not understand the real estate regulations in Japan or Russia, but must have a presence there.

There is not any one company that has the vast majority of the marketplace. We apply our standards to a very vast area of geography—an important fact if you have someone who cannot navigate laws specific to certain areas around the world. We are an economic development engine on a global scale.

A look into the next 100 years: The next 100 years will be better than the last 100 years. We’ve always made the future better than what was in the past. We’re making major advancements. We won’t give up things we value most—our high ethical standards, client needs, giving employees latitude to achieve the level of success they desire—we will meet these successes as a call of duty.

Tim Prouty, managing director—Tucson, six years with CBRE
Benefiting Arizona: CBRE’s 100-year presence all boils down to the people who we’ve been able to attract to the platform. If you get people who want to make things happen, then things will happen. When each individual person contributes, their work creates a huge contribution statewide.

In Tucson, CBRE orchestrated the sale of the IBM plant to the University of Arizona, which then led to the development of the University of Arizona Science Park. This project, which sold for nearly $100 million, created huge employment numbers and added another avenue of research for the school and the state—that’s a pretty significant contribution

AZ Business Magazine October November 2006Changes through the years: Corporate real estate, over time, has continued to focus on outsourcing to real estate service providers, which means more services for us to be ready to provide (from the occupier side). From the investor side, the world is awash with investment capital so we must find appropriate spots to invest that capital. Vision quest: I see continued growth in our company, to serve our clients, in CBRE’s future. We strive to help our clients as one, integrated Arizona company with a consistent level of service in the state. Also, the opportunity to go in fields of different business and serve new clients. For example, clients have changing needs as it relates to finance, construction, facility management. Anything that has to do with real estate, our company wants to be a part of that.

Where work and play merge: I work at CBRE because it’s fun. It’s a great company with a state-of-the-art platform, working on the leading edge of the commercial real estate industry. This business is a blast and it’s always changing—the challenge is never the same. Every client, every building, every concern is unique. The real estate business runs through everybody’s life; every business has a real estate component and I get to interact with almost every industry out there.

 

 

Arizona Business Magazine Oct/Nov 2006