Awards program celebrates excellence in NM commercial real estate - Albuquerque Journal

Awards program celebrates excellence in NM commercial real estate

The update and modernization of University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center received recognition from NAIOP NM’s Awards of Excellence program. (Courtesy of NAIOP New Mexico)

It’s a year of pluses and minuses for NAIOP New Mexico.

On the plus side, the commercial real estate development association’s 2021 NAIOP Annual Awards of Excellence was held indoors Friday after a year dominated by Zoom meetings sparked by the pandemic.

Top winners this year include Titan Development for the 2021 NAIOP Chairman Award, the City of Rio Rancho public/private partnership with Los Diamantes and Rio Rancho Public Schools for the 2021 Cleve Matthews Vision Award; and NAIOP New Mexico’s own Lynne Andersen and husband John Gallegos, who were named winners of the Chuck Gara Community Leader Award.

That’s where the minus comes in. Andersen and Gallegos — who have headed the organization for years — are both retiring.

For the top winners, these awards matter.

Rio Rancho partnership

Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull helps the grandchildren of the late Joe Harris Sr. work the giant scissors to cut the ribbon to officially celebrate Joe Harris Elementary School in August. The City of Rio Rancho public/private partnership around Los Diamantes Rio Rancho Public Schools received the 2021 Cleve Matthews Vision Award from NAIOP NM this year. (Gary Herron/Rio Rancho Observer)

The City of Rio Rancho’s public-private partnership revolves around the Los Diamantes master-planned community, the city and the Unser Gateway coalition.

Los Diamantes community was master planned for 578 single-family, residential units; 394 acres for a business park and multifamily; and five acres for recreational parks and open space. The plan also called for a new four-lane arterial which extends Westside from Unser beyond the new Joe Harris Elementary school, to the development, according to NAIOP NM.

Rio Rancho Public Schools had purchased land for an elementary school at a different site but lacked the system-level infrastructure to support it.

“Moving swiftly against a tight schedule, Mayor Gregg Hull orchestrated instrumental meetings to strike a public-private partnership across the City, including Rio Rancho Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sue Cleveland, and the private developer, Pierre Amestoy. After a rare joint session of the Rio Rancho Governing Body and the School Board, the board voted to change plans and build their new Joe Harris elementary school in the Unser Gateway, adjacent to Los Diamantes,” NAIOP NM wrote in a release. “The school was funded with a $30 million public bond. With unanimous City Council support, Mayor Hull was able to secure $3 million dollars in utility funding, to offset public infrastructure improvements.”

Additional private partners contributed right-of-way for the construction and widening of the four-lane arterial, according to NAIOP NM.

Hull said in a statement that the city is “really excited about this amazing public/private partnership.”

“This is truly a testament to the great and important work that can be accomplished when public organizations like the Rio Rancho Public School District, the City of Rio Rancho, and (Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority) collaborate with private developers to raise the level of quality on projects like this one,” he said.

Titan Development

Kurt Browning. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Kurt Browning, one of the partners of Titan Development, said the award is confirmation of the company’s work.

“Titan is a full-service real estate investment company and their recognition of that is important,” he said.

In the past five years, the company has raised almost $250 million, he said.

The award, he added, “is about our Titan team. We work hard, play hard and are a well-oiled machine. It’s a reflection of my two partners — Ben Spencer and Kevin Reid. They built the foundation.”

Reid works out of the firm’s Austin office, while Spencer and Browning work out of Albuquerque.

“We do a lot of work in our own backyard,” Browning said.

Change of guard

Lynne Andersen and John Gallegos. (Elizabeth Tucker/Journal)

Andersen and Gallegos said they are stepping down at the right time, leaving a strong organization to new, younger leadership. Rhiannon Samuel — who served as the director of communications for former Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry before becoming the founding executive director of nonpartisan political education group Viante New Mexico — has been named as NAIOP New Mexico’s new executive director.

Andersen and Gallegos left their mark, however. Andersen, who took over in 1995 as executive director, led the group’s growth from 70 members to more than 300.

“It was just an incredible group of people,” she said. “These were all pretty small businesses by national standards, local, and in many cases their children would be coming into the business.

Nationally, NAIOP is primarily a developer organization, “but in New Mexico, you could probably get all the people who develop solely in a very small meeting room.”

NAIOP New Mexico expanded the businesses who could be members, Andersen said.

“We are so different from national chapters,” Andersen said. “We are inclusive in terms of all the people who were involved in commercial real estate — architects, contractors, engineers, developers, banks, investment companies, landowners, attorneys, title companies, brokers. It became a very diverse group of people, all the people who touch a project to make it happen.”

Last year, the pandemic hampered things but Zoom came to the rescue. In June, Andersen said, the organization returned to in-person meetings and events.

“Half of what NAIOP is about is the networking, she said. “It’s the place you come to meet the people you do business with.”

In the last couple of years, NAIOP entered the realm of politics.

Advocacy, Andersen said, “became an important part of what we did.

“No matter what you’re building you’ve got to go to some governmental entity to get approval, even if it’s on your own land. There’s always that side of the equation, you just don’t buy a property and build what you want on it. It’s a very complex world.”

Awards

The annual Awards of Excellence — which were held Friday — have also grown through the years. Initially, “it was just a very small affair that sort of has become a pretty amazing production.”

The awards are done by a system of nominations and peer selection.

This year 55 companies and projects were winners in categories including retail, office, mixed use and multifamily, community civic and public of more than 100,000 square feet, community civic public of less than 17,000 square feet, education, hospitality, industrial/infrastructure and medical.

The committee included co-chairs Jim Strozier and Angela Valdez, Shirley Anderson, Darin Davis, Ryan Garcia, Doug Majewski, Kevin Patton, Karl Smith and Bruce Stidworthy.

The event — co-hosted this year by Andersen, Samuel and Lance Sigmon of Allen Sigmon Real Estate Group, who will serve as NAIOP NM’s chair in 2022 — typically kicks off with the fun part of the show, which this year included creative skits.

The second half is where people and businesses get the credit for “creating where you work, play and live.”

The credit for the success of NAIOP New Mexico should go to the members, Andersen and Gallegos said.

“They do the heavy lifting,” Gallegos said.

Andersen agreed.

“It’s membership-driven,” she said. “It’s their chapter and they feel strongly that it is their chapter.”

What is NAIOP NM?

NAIOP New Mexico is a commercial real estate development association with more than 300 members who come from all industries that touch on commercial real estate, including architects, contractors, engineers, developers and more. NAIOP NM is a local chapter of the national organization.

And, believe it or not, “NAIOP” isn’t an acronym — not anymore, anyway. The letters comes from a past version of the organization’s name, which once was the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. The national branch is now simply known as the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

The Journal is NAIOP NM’s media partner for its annual Awards of Excellence program.

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