NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area Chapter Celebrates its 40th Anniversary

November 30, 2017

NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (SFBA), the premiere commercial real estate development association, proudly announces its 40th Anniversary. To mark the momentous occasion, the organization hosted an evening of celebration at the Prologis Living Room on Pier 1 in San Francisco on Thursday, November 16, 2017 and honored four of its leaders for over 20 years of distinguished service.

Founded in 1977, the NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area Chapter is the 10th largest in the country and boasts a strong membership base, which comprises over 650 members and includes some of the most prominent and active players in the commercial real estate industry. The mission of the Chapter is to support the local commercial real estate industry by proactively influencing legislative policy, providing superior educational events, and creating networking opportunities. Geographically, NAIOP SFBA covers some of the hottest markets in the country including San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Marin and Sonoma Counties.

“We pride ourselves on having extremely strong participation among owners/developers and investors which differentiates our organization from many of the other industry groups,” said Jay Atkinson, Founder and Managing Principal at Paceline Investors LLC and 2018 Chapter President. “I am delighted to celebrate this important milestone with so many real estate luminaries who have helped shape the skyline, the real estate community in the Bay Area and our thriving NAIOP chapter.”

At the event Atkinson, along with 2017 Chapter President Drew Hess, Regional Director and Market Leader at First Industrial Realty Trust presented awards to:

Luis BelmonteReal Estate Legend and Partner at Seven Hills Properties, former Executive Vice President at AMB Property Corporation (now Prologis, Inc.)

Belmonte served as President in 1991 and helped turn the Chapter around at a key point in its history. Still active in the organization, he regularly presents to up and coming talent participating in NAIOP’s Young Professionals Group. A renowned humorist, Belmonte also presides over the popular annual Best of the Bay Awards. During his tenure as President he, in essence, rebuilt the Chapter after it was nearly obliterated by the recession of the early 1990’s. “When I was asked by the national office to restart the San Francisco Chapter, I spent a year moving it from dormant to a mostly irrelevant part of the local real estate scene,” said Belmonte. “How times change! These days, if you ain’t in NAIOP, you ain’t squat.”

Gordon Hess, Partner and Managing Director of Ellis Partners

Hess served as 2004 Chapter President and is a founder of the Advisory Council (which he has been a member of for over a decade) as well as the Communications Committee. He also played a key role in the launch of the Young Professionals Group and is a strong advocate for NAIOP within the industry. “We add considerable value by participating in legislative advocacy, by producing content-rich programs and by bringing deal makers together,” said Hess, “I am very proud that our hard work has had a significant impact on our members’ businesses as well as the industry at large.”

Richard Morisky, Tax Attorney at Dorband and Schneider LLP

Morisky currently serves on the Board as Chapter Treasurer, a role he has held since 2002. Often his work takes place behind the scenes, however, his diligence in managing and reporting the finances, and his guidance to the Board on budgeting and procedures, has played a large part in helping the Chapter to maintain a healthy financial position and even exceed established goals in recent years.

Dennis Williams, Managing Director at Northmarq Capital

Williams served as Chapter President in 1995 and 2002 and is a Co-Founder of the Advisory Council, serving for over a decade as a trusted advisor and resource to Chapter Presidents and the Board. More than once, Williams has stepped in and provided invaluable support to the Chapter during transitions in leadership and management. He is also the current Chairman and one of the Founders of the NAIOP SFBA Real Estate Challenge.

Click here to view photos from the event

The Real Estate Challenge, which was founded in 1990, under the leadership of Steve Chamberlin, a local developer and emeritus adjunct professor in real estate at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has become one of the Chapter’s most shining accomplishments. NAIOP’s version of the famed Big Game, the program is a development competition between the Haas School and it arch rival Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. “The Challenge provides great benefit to the students, site sponsors and real estate professionals who participate. Over the past 28 years we have given a crash course in development to nearly 300 students while helping site sponsors better understand the potential for their real estate,” said Williams, “In the process, our Chapter has provided the industry with tremendous workforce development, as most of the former participants now work at real estate firms throughout the Bay Area. We are also extremely proud of the fact that this competition has been exported to 14 chapters that now run Challenge programs in partnership with over 40 prestigious Universities.”

Another one of the Chapter’s most significant achievements is the enormously successful Young Professionals Group (YPG), a yearlong educational program for developing leaders. Established in 2013, the program, which like the Challenge is now a model for other chapters, offers instruction in critical components of the real estate industry, personal and professional development coaching, extensive relationship-building activities, and guidance from some of the most iconic leaders in the industry through an intimate speaker series exclusive to YPG. “Our ability to create and sustain such a prolific program is in large part due to the strength of our Chapter and the unwavering commitment of our leadership,” said, Scott Pertel, Managing Director at HFF, YPG Chairman and 2016 Chapter President. “The program has also infused the Chapter with young talent which positions us well for the future.”

In addition to hosting a wide variety of high caliber educational programs, the chapter also holds their annual Best of the Bay awards, hosted by Belmonte. Unique among real estate awards competitions, Best of the Bay features interactive voting with attendees using wireless keypads to select winners in real time. To add an element of levity, as award categories are introduced, nominees give a quick “pitch” to make their case. If they exceed the time limit (or displease Belmonte or the crowd in anyway) they are gonged!

To learn more about these upcoming NAIOP SFBA programs (and more), visit

Click here to download the Bridge Photos

Past NAIOP Presidents include:

2017 Drew Hess – First Industrial Realty Trust
2016 Scott Pertel – HFF
2015 Alexander Mast – Bank of America Merrill Lynch
2014 Russell Cooper – Shorenstein Properties LLC
2013 Lauren Pressman – Hillspire
2012 Terry Daly – Cushman & Wakefield
2011 Awais Mughal – Harvest Properties
2010 Trevor Wilson – Ridge Capital Investors
2009 Don Shaver – LBA Realty
2008 Alison Hawkins – CBRE
2007 Drew Gordon – Hudson Pacific Properties
2006 Ashley Powell – Bentall Kennedy
2005 Vincent Schwab – Marcus & Millichap
2004 Gordon Hess – Ellis Partners LLC
2003 Scott Graeser – Chamberlin Associates
2002 Dennis Williams – Northmarq Capital
2001 Robert Cord – TRI Commercial
2000 Robert Cord – Grubb & Ellis Company
1997-1999 Richard S. Jones – Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co
1996 James Brecht – Simons & Brecht Inc
1995 Dennis Williams – Northmarq Capital
1994 John W. Greer – Trammell Crow Company
1993 Wallace G. Murfit – Wallace Murfit Associates
1992 John Rossi – AMB Property Corporation
1991 Luis Belmonte – Seven Hills Properties
1990 Justin Roach – The Sprincin Company
1989 Stephen Chamberlin – Chamberlin Associates
1987-1988 Stephen R. Finn – Broebeck, Phleger & Harrison
1986 Joseph R. Cusenza – Kaiser Development Company
1985 C. Gerald Engles – Devcon Construction Inc
1980-1984 Thomas R. Gillet – Cygna Development Company
1978-1979 Thomas R. Gillet* – Cygna Development Company
1977 Frank Calton*

(*Northern California Chapter)