As new buildings continue to rise among the downtown Phoenix skyline, a familiar name is leading his firm’s foray into strategically-based development in the Valley and across the Southwest – George Forristall of Mortenson.
Mortenson recently promoted Forristall to director of real estate development to oversee those services in Phoenix. Forristall, a 20-year Mortenson veteran, previously worked in numerous leadership positions for the company’s construction business.
The move has produced results.
Joining the high-rise buildings in downtown Phoenix is an 11-story, 210-key Hampton Inn & Suites, the first Valley development project for Mortenson. It opened this spring at the intersection of N. 1st and E. Polk streets near entertainment and businesses, and is south of the downtown campus of Arizona State University.
“Mortenson is really bullish on downtown Phoenix and saw the need for a limited-service line hotel,” Forristall said. “Once we secured the flag, we pursued the project. Mortenson has worked with the Hilton product line nationally and we’re extremely happy with it.”
Once the equity was secured, Mortenson began looking for the right location. The process resulted in the Hampton Inn & Suites’ newest Valley property.
“We are seeing very favorable market fundamentals in Metro Phoenix being fueled by accelerating job, income, and population growth,” said Mortenson vice president of real estate development Nate Gundrum. “Mortenson offers a unique value proposition. The market has responded well to this value proposition, and with George leading development efforts, we have made significant inroads across geographic and market sectors throughout the Valley.”
Forristall’s diverse background gives him the right perspective for his position. While on the construction side, he oversaw projects that included a wind farm in Hawaii, a data center in Tokyo, and a ski condo in the Colorado mountains.
“I’m always open to a new challenge,” Forristall said. “My prior position has helped me grow into what I’m doing now. I can take things that I learned while building a ski condo and apply them to building a wind farm. These experiences provide a diverse background to the solution set.
“That’s what is unique to development; it’s a very creative process. There are a lot of barricades to getting development done. You are successful when you can take a different approach to the solutions,” Forristall said.
Mortenson started its national development group in 1975 to provide another service for its clients, Forristall explained. It put the firm in position to provide turnkey developments, lease back opportunities, or act as construction manager.
“We started to pursue real estate development here in earnest two years ago as the market started to recover after the Great Recession,” Forristall said. “The fundamentals of population growth and the drive for more density were in our favor. The new dynamic is people want to be downtown in an urban area. Ours was more of a business core and is now evolving into a live-work-play core.”