Published August 16, 2011
Volume 19, Number 8

Chamberlin Associates Develops for the Long Haul 

Doug Giffin is a partner in the full-service real estate
development firm.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

If Chamberlin Associates could modify the oft-quoted line from the movie “Field of Dreams,” one version might be, “If you build it right, they will come.” The full-service real estate development firm focuses on institutional-grade industrial, office, and life-science development in the greater Bay Area.  Its projects stand the test of time, and its client list includes leading names in the business world.

The firm has always aspired to “keep things at a higher level,” says partner Doug Giffin, pointing out that founder Steve Chamberlin set this tone when he first started doing Bay Area development deals in 1984.

“We have a very different take on development,” Giffin explains. “We generally develop and hold properties for the long term, which gives us a different filter with which to view our real estate. We don’t generally just develop and sell. We’re concerned about how properties perform over the long haul, and we want to keep our tenants happy.” 

To achieve these results, the firm focuses on location and quality. Thoughtfulness and imagination are essential parts of the design process. Features like extra windows, parking, and landscaping—the “little details”—add long-term value and differentiate Chamberlin properties from competitors’.

“We are not simply trying to maximize value by putting the most building we can on a site,” Giffin comments. “We look for a balance between appearance, utility, and financial performance.”

Honest and collaborative relationships with architects, contractors, and clients enhance the firm’s stature. “Development is, foremost, a service business,” notes Giffin, “and we strive to perform at the highest levels in the industry. These practices have enabled us to create projects that are valued at the top range in their respective product sectors.”

That approach has served the firm well. Not only does it have tenants who have stayed in the same building since first occupancy, as far back as 1987, but over its lifetime Chamberlin has developed and redeveloped more than three million square feet of property—all “high quality environments that benefit businesses and our communities,” Giffin remarks. “Development activities have included build-to-suit projects for Fortune 500 companies as well as multi-tenant speculative projects.”

At its recent peak, the Chamberlin portfolio reached 1.1 million square feet. In 2007 and 2010 the company decided to take advantage of “high points in investment pricing for well-located quality buildings,” executing planned dispositions that left it with a current total of 200,000 square feet of operating properties. Now, in keeping with the cyclical nature of the business, it is time to ramp up again.

The company holds 30 acres for development in three sites in the East Bay, and, Giffin notes, is “actively seeking new development and re-development projects.” He is optimistic about the prospects, especially in the Tri-Valley. “The quality and number of tenants relocating to the area is really exciting. We look forward to new ground-up commercial development in the near future.”

In April, Chamberlin Associates moved its offices across the courtyard of the Arbor complex on West Las Positas Blvd. The firm built Arbor in 1987, and originally relocated there from Union City in 1998. For more information, visit www.chamb.com.


Also in this issue ...