Tag Archives: Portland on the Park

Shavon Rose, AZ Big Media

RED Awards 2015: Lifetime Achievement Award

On Feb. 26, AZRE hosted the 10th annual RED Awards reception at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2014 and the construction teams involved. RED Award trophies were handed out in 10 project categories, to six brokerage teams and safety, subcontractor, architect, general contractor and developer of the year awards were also presented. AZRE also recognized Sunbelt Holdings President and CEO John Graham with a lifetime achievement award. Click here to view all 2015 RED Awards Winners.

It’s always sunny at Sunbelt Holdings

Decades ago, John Graham would have told you the sight of clouds in Arizona could make his stomach churn.

Anyone who knows Graham, an articulate optimist, most notably during the recent Great Recession, probably wouldn’t believe that statement. But Sunbelt Holdings’ president and CEO, who got his start in real estate managing a portfolio of Coldwell Banker’s “worst properties” in Arizona, insists he was once less sunny, especially when it came to flooded parking lots and leaky roofs.

More than three decades later, he has made a career out of developing properties that his 20-year-old self would have never cringed at managing.

Graham’s real estate career started before he was out of college. He got his real estate license when he was 18, was 24 when he completed his first development and 28 when he became a founding director of responsible development group Valley Partnership.

Graham, whose father worked at Coldwell Banker for nearly 20 years before forming his own firm, is one of the few people in commercial real estate who intentionally ended up in the industry. Though he studied economics at Stanford, all it took was one day of shadowing an accountant to know he would rather follow in his dad’s footsteps. He got his real estate license and worked at Coldwell Banker during his college summers managing “a portfolio of the worst properties they had.”

He took what he learned in his three summers at Coldwell to Koll, where development hooked him by the time he was 23. He met his Norwegian business partner, Tor Adenaes, when he was 24. Adenaes needed someone to manage two properties he purchased in Arizona when he left for Norway the following year. One was what is now Troon North (then Pinnacle Peak Village, which still needed to be annexed and rezoned in Scottsdale), the second property was what Graham says had some of his supporters scratching their heads. It was an assemblage at 44th and Van Buren streets, which at the time was trailer parks and the red light district.

“People said ‘You’re going to fail,’” Graham recalls. “The thing I started to tell people is the worst thing that’s going to happen is failure. I’m 25; I’ll give it a shot.”

Three years later, Sunbelt Holdings delivered Gateway Park Hotel (now a Doubletree) and One Gateway (his first office building).
“We built our reputation on our ability to identify undervalued properties and then strategically and meaningfully increase their value,” Graham is quoted on the Sunbelt Holdings website.

In the 32 years since Graham joined Sunbelt Holdings, it has logged 55,000 acres of land development, ranging from masterplanned communities to the 2MSF Marina Heights, the largest office development in Arizona, and, most recently, urban infill multifamily property Portland on the Park.

“We’ve made an imprint on the world,” reflects Graham.

His partner defines him as intelligent, witty and compassionate.

“When I first met him back in 1982, he was a very young man. He had qualities that made him and Sunbelt a great fit,” says Adenaes.
The qualities Graham values in himself as a CEO are similar to those Adenaes says originally made Graham a good fit with Sunbelt.

“(John) was motivated and hard-working, had mature judgment, knowledge and understanding of real estate, great relationships and network within the business and Phoenix at large and I liked him and his family,” Adenaes says. “A couple years ago, [John] told me that at the time he [started with Sunbelt], he saw no long-term future in the job, especially not working with a crazy Viking named Tor. He had planned his future employment in months, not years.”

Three-hundred-and-ninety-six months later, and Graham is still with his original business partner, Vice President Heidi Kimball and assistant, Sandy Johnson, have all worked together for more than three decades.

“This is like a family — only just a functional one,” Graham says with a laugh. What makes him a strong leader, though, is his work ethic.
“I know I work as hard or harder than anybody,” he says. “I’m here as much or more than anybody else. By emulation, people know part of my ethic is hard work can equate to success.”

While a successful career has its fulfilling facets, Graham is most proud of his community involvement. He has served on more than 40 boards and commissions and has chaired more than 20 of them. There’s no such thing as too many friends for Graham, and that’s probably why a sense of community emerges from nearly all of Sunbelt Holdings’ projects — be it collaboration at the ASU Research Park or neighbors at Vistancia.

Graham even likes to visit Sunbelt’s masterplanned communities, more often than he’d like to admit, he says, to see residents and the public enjoying themselves. Sunbelt is even repositioning its golf course properties to make them more accessible to more people by adding more public amenities. The developer’s most recent venture includes moving the suburban lifestyle to urban environments to infill parcels with existing amenities, such as Tempe Town Lake or Margaret T. Hance Park.

“Our placemaking skills are really good,” he says. “What makes a vibrant place for people to want to be and play is actually very transportable from a suburban to urban setting. I’m very driven to demonstrate and prove it.”

Portland on the Park gains traction with larger units

Portland on the Park, the highly anticipated sister property to Downtown’s award winning Portland Place, has received significant interest from potential homebuyers with 25 units already reserved. The property also has noted a surge in requests for larger floor plans, and in response, has redesigned selected homes. This change led to the creation of four new premium floors called “Club Level Residences” which feature penthouse floor plans. Although the number of total units has decreased from 170 to 149, the overall livable square footage of the property has increased with many of the new floor plans offering more space. Construction of the four-building property will begin this spring and is slated for completion in the summer of 2016.

“Our buyers are sophisticated and know exactly how they want to live,” says David Newcombe of Habitat Urban, designated broker for Portland on the Park. “The interest to live Downtown has been tremendous. Premium buyers are seeking urban amenities and comfort, yet still want a spacious home with lock and leave convenience. By actively listening to our future homeowners, our developers made floor plan changes that meet the needs of this exciting market. It’s refreshing to be involved with a project that is so engaged in Downtown, and is focused on doing what’s best for the neighborhood and the city.

Portland on the Park will consist of four interconnected structures including four-, 12- and 14- story towers with a five-story parking garage for resident and guest use. High-end touches are standard throughout the Tower Residences, Club Level Residences and Penthouse Suites and include things like reclaimed hardwood flooring, quartz counters, soft-close cabinetry and frameless glass showers. Most homes will have a private six-foot deep outdoor balcony, with some measuring more than 40 feet in length.

The urban living project is situated between the three-acre Portland Park and the 32-acre Margaret T. Hance Park along Central Avenue. It will be a welcome addition to the Central Arts District and neighboring Roosevelt Row, the nationally acclaimed arts community. Home sizes range from 745 to 2,490 square feet with 21 floor plans from which to choose. Tower and Loft Residences begin in the low $200,000s with Penthouse Suites available under $1 million.

portland-on-the-park

Phase 2 of Portland on the Park to begin

The award-winning condominium community Portland Place will soon have an adjacent sister property that will begin construction late this year adding 170 true lofts and finished condos to the Downtown Phoenix Roosevelt Historic and Art District. The new urban living project is aptly dubbed Portland on the Park as it is situated between the three-acre Portland Park and the 32-acre Margaret T. Hance Park bordering Central Avenue. Towers of 4 stories, 12-stories and 14-stories will be completed by mid-year 2016, with homes available for sale beginning in the low $200,000’s and penthouse suites under $1 million. Limited reservations will begin mid-summer with presales occurring in the early fall.

“Portland on the Park is a continuation of Portland Place, the most successful condominium project created in Downtown Phoenix,” says Tim Sprague, principal of Habitat Metro, developer of both projects. “The new development will be built to the standards of Portland Place, including concrete construction, which adds structural integrity and stability for our homeowners while delivering a building that will be there for years to come. The team involved with this project are hand-selected because they are the best in the industry, all of whom are committed to creating homes of unmatched quality for the Downtown Phoenix homebuyer.”

For a project valued at over $75 million, Habitat Metro has assembled an expert development team to bring Portland on the Park to fruition. For the first time in a Downtown Phoenix residential project, Sunbelt Holdings has partnered to develop the urban living concept. The DAVIS Architecture team designed the first phase, Portland Place, winning the prestigious Golden Nugget Award for the best multifamily project in the West, and is designing the residential and commercial spaces for the second phase. Sunbelt and DAVIS bring years of residential expertise and quality commercial insight. Both firms are part of the development team of Marina Heights at Tempe Town Lake, which at two million square feet, is the largest single-user office project in Arizona’s history. Rounding out the team are attached housing expert Habitat Urban, Designated Broker David Newcombe. Urban living and lifestyle specialists Braun Allison from Vancouver and Scottsdale-based The James Agency are managing marketing and public relations.

Blurring the distinction between home, work and the neighborhood coffee shop, Portland on the Park will offer its residents an energized, metropolitan standard of living. The first floor 7,200 square foot commercial space will house a coffee shop, wine bar and restaurant providing a social space for residents and the Roosevelt neighborhood. Looking to the future, ample bike storage and electric car charging stations are built-in. A true downtown experience, the Central Avenue and Portland Street area has been rated a “very walkable 86” on WalkScore.com for the significant amount of offerings within walking distance.

The development is designed with generous community amenities including a resort-like pool on the ground level. An open-air gathering spot on top of the 14-story tower will give unobstructed views of the Japanese Friendship Gardens, lush parks and vistas of the mountain preserves as well as the greenery of the surrounding mature neighborhood. A state-of-the-art workout facility will also be available for resident use.
Home sizes range from 745 square feet to 2,381 square feet presented in 21 thoughtful and efficient floor plans. The lofts are true to the urban experience with exposed metal ductwork giving a modern appeal to a comfortable space. Finished condominiums offer homebuyers options of one, two and three bedrooms.

“With a metropolitan mixture of arts and culture, nightlife, boutiques, restaurants and sporting events, Downtown Phoenix is blossoming into the true epicenter of the Valley,” adds Sprague on the future of Downtown Phoenix. “The excitement continues to grow as projects like Portland on the Park attract exceptional partners like Sunbelt and DAVIS. Together, we are proud to help create a welcoming environment where people will affectionately call the area not just amazing or inspired, but most importantly, home.”