03 MARCH 2022 05:00
The Port of Gig Harbor custom development crosses the bridge to Tacoma as the real estate company continues to expand with projects not only in the area but also in Texas, California and Florida. The company is moving from its Burnham Drive office to 1201 Pacific Ave., formerly known as Wells Fargo Plaza, downtown. The Tacoma office tower, a Unico property, will also see Northwestern Mutual move from its current office site, 820 A St. Tacoma, to 15,000 square feet of office space, in plans recently confirmed with The NewsTribune.
Harbor Custom Development’s new 10,000 square foot offices are better suited to the company’s growth, according to Sterling Griffin, CEO and Chairman of the company, who recently spoke to The News Tribune during a telephone interview. “The space we have in Gig Harbor just wasn’t adequate. We’re growing very quickly. It made sense to look for a location that allows us to be more competitive near the top talent we’re looking for, as we let’s keep growing,” Griffin said. “The 1201 Pacific tower is great access, great location. People trying to get around from a hybrid schedule, it’s a lot easier than coming to Gig Harbor across the Narrows Bridge.”
The company started in Gig Harbor in 2014. It now has about 70 employees and plans to add about 25 more over the next year to 18 months, Griffin said. Revenue for the publicly traded company is expected to be $160 million in 2022, up from $70 million in 2021. Griffin said the new space allows the company to accommodate hybrid work schedules, with lockers to store laptops and office spaces set up for online virtual video. meetings with customers. Griffin sees the new headquarters as the central hub for its operations in other states.
“Our goal is to go to some of the fastest growing parts of the country,” he said. “They are very similar to the Western Washington Puget Sound area market.”
One of these companies is in Florida. “We are working on a waterfront condominium site, currently going through all stages of planning,” he said. “But in those types of situations, both in Austin, Florida, or Sacramento, we would partner with local builders and developers, so we don’t have important jobs outside of Washington State. The goal is to really focus the effort here and administer the growth of the business from Tacoma.” Closer to home, he is currently developing the 80 Pacific Ridge condos at Tacoma, 8445 Pacific Ave., one of dozens of multi-family projects currently under construction in the city by a range of developers. Griffin says the project, due for completion later this year, could evolve into apartments. “We’re building the product, and when we’re done we’ll figure out what we’ll do, but right now I’d say the Pacific Ridge has moved into the apartment category,” he said.
Market forces over the past 12 months, he explained, have made apartments more valuable than condos. “An apartment there today makes more sense for our business than selling condos,” he said. He said the company is considering sites “right now” in the Tacoma-Pierce County area for future development. Other notable projects nearby include his 177-unit Tanglewilde apartment complex in Lacey. The company announced on February 22 that it had secured a preliminary commitment of $29.75 million in construction financing with the Washington Federal Bank for the project. Tanglewilde is also another project originally planned for condos, aimed at first-time home buyers.
Griffin said in a statement announcing the deal: “Our goal is to complete construction of the Tanglewilde apartment complex in 2023 and sell the project when complete.” The company also made headlines earlier this year when it announced it would accept cryptocurrency for real estate payments for its line of products: single-family homes, condos, land, apartment projects, with a third-party company that manages the conversion. “As a business, we don’t take any risk associated with cryptocurrency volatility. Whatever the price, that’s how much we get in US dollars,” he said. No crypto deal has yet taken place, Griffin said. “Just when we announced it, the cryptocurrency market took a pretty big hit. And now it’s starting to come back.” He sees it as a valuable part of the financial future.
“There’s no reason why we can’t find a way as a country to accept cryptocurrency for a number of products, and we’re just saying, ‘We’re here, happy to do business’ . “