07/14/2009 | By Allen Kenney
Office REIT Highwoods Properties Inc. (NYSE: HIW) has been named 2009 Developer of the Year by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.
NAIOP will present Ed Fritsch, president and CEO of Highwoods, with the award on Oct. 15 at the association's annual meeting in Chicago. Presented annually, the award goes to a company that "best exemplifies leadership and innovation in the commercial real estate industry." Thomas J. Bisacquino, NAIOP president, praised Highwoods' strong performance "no matter what the real estate cycle."
In an interview with REIT.com, Fritsch emphasized that the award recognized a "full team effort" by all of Highwoods' employees. He noted that Highwoods seeks to tailor its operating strategy appropriately to market conditions, prompting the company to sell off nearly $1 billion in assets during the last five years. Also, Highwoods gradually "ratcheted back" its development activities as the commercial real estate market began to slow in recently, meaning that development "overhang" was minimized, according to Fritsch.
Currently, Fritsch said Highwoods is avoiding "speculative" building, opting for build-to-suit development projects with "high-credit" customers. For instance, the company is in the midst of completing two facilities for the federal government, its largest customer. Going forward, Fritsch said the company would focus on preparing to take advantage of opportunities once the market stabilizes.
"We're just making sure that we're ready to deliver on development projects when the timing is right," he said.