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Investment Firm Joshua Green Corporation Makes Major Investment in Seattle-based Urban Renaissance Group, LLC

Deal includes $200M merger of real estate equity and additional capital with URG's proven operating platform; Firm plans larger presence in Seattle and Portland, with expansion into Denver and San Francisco.

SEATTLE, Nov. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Joshua Green Corporation (JGC), a Seattle-based investment firm, announced a significant investment in Urban Renaissance Group, LLC (URG), a real estate operating company also based in Seattle.

The transaction includes JGC's existing $150M portfolio, which now becomes part of URG, merging JGC's real estate assets into URG's operating platform. JGC has also committed up to $50M in additional investment for URG's first fund, Urban Renaissance Investment Partners, LLC (URIP). The fund will greatly expand the firm's joint-venture transactions with major institutional investors and expand its co-investment capability, creating $1 billion of investment potential.

"In six short years, URG has emerged as a best-in-class commercial real estate operator and investor," said Stan McCammon, President and CEO of the Joshua Green Corporation. "We believe our investment enables URG to execute its business plan on a broader scale and makes the firm a dominant player in the industry."

In recent years, the Joshua Green Corporation has focused its investment in private operating companies. Today's announcement reflects an extension of the company's real estate business strategy.

Founded in 2006 by CEO Patrick Callahan, URG is a full-service real estate operator with services that include property and asset management, construction management, deal sourcing, investment, leasing and development. Headquartered in Seattle, the company currently has offices and assets in Seattle, Bellevue, and Portland. It has also been active in the Denver market.

"This investment provides us with an extraordinary balance sheet, allowing URG to acquire significant assets on its own account, to enhance services to existing clients, and to expand into additional markets," said URG Founder and CEO Patrick Callahan.

With more than 50 employees, URG has assembled a top-of-class real estate team and a 6 million square foot (sf) operating platform, which has increased to 6.5 million sf with the close of this deal.

The firm's senior leadership, which includes Chief Investment Officer John Bliss, Chief Operating Officer Kimberly Fuller and Vice President, Development & Construction Vince Sheridan, will continue in their roles as the company enters into this new phase.

Prior to founding URG, Callahan spent fifteen years at Equity Office Properties, ultimately serving as the Northwest regional manager and senior vice president, overseeing 114 buildings, 18 million square feet of office space and more than 300 employees located in three metropolitan markets: Seattle, Portland and Denver.

"We value URG's existing strong management team, real estate expertise, urban-focused vision and its solid reputation," McCammon added. "In particular, the background of the principals and key employees, the firm's track record since formation, and their success at previous companies were all factors in our decision to invest in this operating company." 

In October 2012, URG was named one of Puget Sound Business Journal's fastest growing private companies. URG also received two prestigious awards from Washington State's National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) chapter in just three short years, including Renovation of the Year for the Joshua Green Building (2009), and Deal of the Year for 7th and Madison (2011).

A Storied Seattle Investment History: The Green Family Legacy

At the turn of the 20th Century, Seattle pioneer Joshua Green founded or helped start several Puget Sound-area businesses that remain relevant today.  His earliest foray was in shipping, where he and three colleagues founded the LaConnor Trading and Transportation Company, which eventually evolved into the Washington State ferry system. Mr. Green served as president of the company and oversaw its growth until he sold his interest in 1927.  At about the same time, Joshua Green bought a controlling interest in People's Savings Bank, (later renamed People's National Bank of Washington) which became a part of U.S. Bancorp, now the 5th largest commercial bank in the U.S.  It was also during the 1920's that Mr. Green became an early investor in the General Insurance Company of America, later renamed Safeco Insurance Company.  Together with the Joshua Green Building, these three companies formed the basis of the assets that the JGC continues to invest today. For the last four decades, the company has diversified its investment into additional lines of business, including private operating companies and real estate.

A Deeper Look: Behind the JGC, URG Partnership

In late 2007, the Joshua Green Company began exploring the possible renovation of its Seattle landmark, the Joshua Green Building. The 108,000 square foot, 100-year-old office building is located in the heart of downtown Seattle at 4th Ave. and Pike St.  The company contracted with URG to evaluate the renovation potential and later to oversee the redevelopment project.

The award-winning remodel was a resounding success and resulted in a Class-A historic office building that was fully leased in only 18-months despite a challenging real estate climate.  JGC and URG collaborated again in 2012 on the underwriting and purchase of Plaza 600, a 20-story Seattle office building.  These interactions and the ongoing dialogue between the two firms reinforced JGC's decision to advance a more holistic approach to real estate investing and management, leading to a broader discussion between the firms about combining their real estate investing, management, ownership and advisory activities into one operating company.

Seattle-based Heartland, LLC and Heartland Capital Advisors, LLC, served as JGC's advisor as it evaluated its long-term real estate investment plan and developed the strategic business relationship between JGC and URG. Heartland has a long-term relationship with both companies.

About Urban Renaissance Group, LLC

URG focuses on office, retail and mixed-use properties in emerging and urban markets, with a presence in Seattle, Bellevue, Portland and Denver. The firm has been directly involved in five major acquisitions since November 2010, totaling approximately $500M and has built a property management portfolio of more than 6M square feet. Its recent acquisitions include 1600 Seventh Ave, Seattle (600,000 sf), Second & Seneca, Seattle (520,000 sf), Seventh & Madison, Seattle (205,000 sf), Plaza 600 Building, Seattle (209,000 sf), and Yeon Building, Portland (125,000 sf).  In addition, URG was selected in August 2012 by Talon Capital Partners to manage the portfolio formerly owned by Archon. Learn more at www.urbanrengroup.com

About the Joshua Green Corporation

The Joshua Green Corporation is a Seattle investment company that is privately owned by descendants of Joshua Green.  The company has its roots in the shipping industry dating back to the late 1800's, and then expanded in the 1920's into banking and insurance with its acquisition of People's Bank and its investment in Safeco Insurance.  The Joshua Green Corporation invests for the long term, seeking to create value by investing in companies with good management teams and good long-term business prospects.  The Joshua Green Corporation seeks investment opportunities in both privately owned companies and the commercial and retail real estate markets.  Learn more at www.joshuagreencorp.com

SOURCE Urban Renaissance Group

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