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First Washington Aims To Be Its Tenants' Favorite Landlord

Wright Sigmund and with his wife, with Bed Bath & Beyond vice president of real estate Seth Geldzahler and his wife at a recent New York ICSC party

First Washington Realty has built a reputation as a solid name in retail real estate over its 30-year history, both inside the Beltway and far beyond.

The privately owned firm has amassed a portfolio of 92 shopping centers totaling about 12.5M SF in top markets across 22 states, with an asset value well north of $4B.

That kind of success comes from adapting to the changing demands of retailers and the markets they serve, VP and national director of leasing Wright Sigmund said. Sigmund said he boards upward of 30 flights a year so he can be immersed in markets where First Washington owns property and is working on deals.

Rendering of the Sunset Plaza Mall in Babylon once PetSmart and LA Fitness move in.

He and his team know markets like Austin, Long Island and Chicago with an intimacy that comes from being there, and being there a lot. It is all in the service of a bigger goal: to be an indispensable part of serving tenants’ needs in a variety of ways — whether in an existing property, or as a tenant expands into new markets or new neighborhoods.

That can mean developing a mixed-use destination through First Washington’s build-to-core initiative, which enables tenants to access walkable urban neighborhoods, whether the retail space has traditional surface parking or has other uses built above it.

In Long Island, this was the approach First Washington took in helping LA Fitness expand its footprint through redevelopment.

Power Life Yoga patrons in Prairie Village, Kan.

And in the Kansas City area, First Washington worked with Power Life Yoga to expand its regional footprint in the strongest demographic area in the State of Kansas, by redeveloping a traditional shopping center space to give it a contemporary look.

And if a tenant has its eye on being in a particular location, First Washington’s nimble approach to dealmaking and ability to acquire properties in all-cash deals allows for the option to buy a site, first and foremost, because a particular tenant wants to be there.

“We’re finding local retailers that have potential to really grow,” Wright said. “And if we can be the impetus for them spreading across the country, then that’s the whole point.”

As Wright puts it, the approach First Washington takes to being a landlord is that it is providing a service for tenants, not just renting them space.

He said tenants appreciate that when they work with First Washington, it is about forging long-standing partnerships that are bigger than any one part of town or any one market, and growing along with tenants.

“Their success is our success,” he said. “And if we can help them grow, we try to do that in all kinds of ways.”

We are thrilled First Washington has joined us as a founding partner of our Bisnow Beltway Bash, to be held at the TAO Nightclub in the Venetian on Monday, May 22, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Las Vegas. Register here.