The award-winning Civica Office Commons and the iconic Smith Tower were among the local winners of an award recognizing excellence in building management
SEATTLE (November 20, 2018) — The property management teams of a historic landmark in downtown Seattle and the premier office buildings in Bellevue are this year’s local winners of The Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY®) Awards, presented by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Seattle King County. The iconic Smith Tower in Seattle and the award-winning Civica Office Commons in Bellevue—both owned and managed by Unico Properties LLC, a subsidiary of Unico Investment Group LLC—were recognized by the trade association in an awards ceremony Monday, Nov. 12. Unico Director of Engineering Phillip Bing accepted the award on behalf of the Smith Tower property management team, while Unico Portfolio Chief Engineer Robert Neill accepted the award on behalf of the Civica Office Commons property management team.
“What these awards recognize is the truly exceptional customer service provided by our property management teams,” said Unico Director of Real Estate Services Lynda Collie, who oversees the management of the buildings. “It really was a team effort where every person had a role. Not only did the Smith Tower and Civica Office Commons property management teams go above and beyond in providing best-in-class tenant experience within these buildings, but also made their properties an integral part of the community.”
“The Outstanding Building of the Year Award is the most prestigious recognition and honors the best of the best in the commercial real estate industry recognizing quality in buildings and rewarding excellence in building management,” according to the BOMA Seattle King County in their award announcement. “It recognizes and rewards not only how a building is run and maintained but also recognizes all the hard work people have put into the building.”
During the competitions, all facets of a building’s operations are thoroughly evaluated and are judged on everything from community involvement and site management to environmental and “green” policies and procedures, according to the BOMA Seattle King County website. The local winners then move on to the regional competition.
“Sometimes the small details have the most impact,” said Collie. “While there was a significant investment in both time and money in providing best-in-class service, it takes more than money. Everyone in this industry cares about their real estate and their tenants and their neighbors, but we at Unico care more.”
Collie, a BOMA Seattle King County board member, has this advice to property management teams looking to compete in next year’s TOBY Awards: “Run your real estate better than anyone else can run it. That comes from a combination of great habits, great processes, and great communication with your colleagues and your tenants.”
Smith Tower property management team highlighted public education efforts and community involvement
The Smith Tower is a 42-story, historic Class A high-rise building in the heart of the historic Pioneer Square Neighborhood. Designed by the New York architectural firm Gaggin & Gaggin, construction of the building was completed in 1914 becoming the first skyscraper in Seattle and the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. For years, the building featured the legendary “Chinese Room” at the summit, which is now home to the publicly-accessible Observatory. The interior spaces are a pleasing blend of historical aesthetics and modern additions styled within the neoclassical architecture for which the building was originally designed.
Unico has preserved much of the historic finishes while seamlessly upgrading building systems to match the comfort and professional needs of today’s fast-paced tenants, including newly modernized elevators, a renovated tenant lounge, newly constructed fitness centers, and energy management and HVAC systems improvements. Private equity real estate investment firm Unico acquired the historic tower in 2015.
“As the city’s first skyscraper, the Smith Tower has been a very important part of Seattle’s history,” said Unico Property Manager Meghan Kauffman, who is the property manager for the landmark. “Unico has been intentional in revitalizing the acclaimed landmark for tenants, tourists, and visitors alike; intentional in educating the public about this unique architectural gem through the observatory tours and exhibits; intentional in preserving this landmark’s charm and unique character through the preservation of the original historic Otis Elevators and the operators that everyone has come to know; and intentional in giving back to the community and local businesses.”
“Smith Tower has stood as a cultural icon in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest for more than 100 years. We look forward to continuing to delight tenants and visitors and maintaining its status as a premier building,” said Kauffman.
The Smith Tower property management team includes Director Lynda Collie, Property Manager Meghan Kauffman, Assistant Property Manager Addie Calkin, Property Administrator Kacie Rahm, and Tenant Services Coordinator Samuel McLachlan in the office team and Director Phillip Bing, Lead Building Engineer Paul Garber, Utility Technician Matthew Lorenz, Maintenance Engineer Brandon Lehn, Building Engineer I Ramon Rivera, and Utility Technician Ken Walker in the engineering team.
Exceptional customer service among the achievements Civica Office Commons property management team
Totaling 324,026 square feet, Civica Office Commons is Class A “trophy” two-building complex located in the central business district of Bellevue, Wash. Designed by LMN Architects, the buildings are connected with a striking 45-foot high, fully-enclosed, arched glass atrium lobby and great room that offers a striking office arrival experience. While many assets claim “trophy” status, Civica Office Commons have these characteristics in spades: the aforementioned expansive 45-foot glass-enclosed lobby, best-in-class award-winning design, high-end improvements, and tenant amenities including concierge service, valet-ready parking, an out-of-office lounge area, fitness center and locker rooms, and a collection of on-site retail.
Constructed in 2001, Civica Office Commons was awarded the Office Development of the Year Award by the Washington State chapter of National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP) that year. In 2002, it won the Office Development of the Year from the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR). Real estate investment firm Unico acquired the asset in 2016 as part of a joint venture.
“We treat tenants’ daily needs and requirements as a priority and obligation,” said Unico Property Manager Nancy Anderson, who is the property manager for the office buildings. “We really strive to create a sense of community and family at Civica Office Commons—tenants and visitors are always greeted with a smile by everyone in our staff.”
“We’re charming,” Anderson added with a laugh.
“It really helps that this building lends itself to that,” explained Anderson citing the property’s unique design and striking glass-enclosed atrium. “If we didn’t believe in Civica [Office Commons], we couldn’t sell ‘the experience’ to the tenants.”
The Civica Office Commons property management team includes Director Lynda Collie, Property Manager Nancy Anderson, Property Administrator Emilie Kaufman, and Concierge Guenet Assefa in the office team and Portfolio Chief Engineer Robert Neill, Assistant Chief Engineer Cory Fischer, Lead Engineer Glenn Buyea, and Maintenance Engineer Drew Salmonsen in the engineering team.
- The Smith Tower team actually manage two buildings. The Smith Tower and the adjacent 2-story, 4,800 square foot Florence Building.
- Civica Office Commons is an award-winning development. It won the “Office Development of the Year” awards from NAIOP and SIOR in 2001 and 2002.
- Read about the revitalization of the Smith Tower in a Unico real estate investment case study.