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LOS ANGELES-Nearly 500 of Southern California’s top real estate professionals turned out last night to honor prominent developer Gerald L. Katell and Walt Disney Co. executive Lynn G. Kious as NACORE International’s “executives of the year.”

Katell, president of locally based Katell Properties LLC, has built more than five million sf of commercial space since starting his firm in 1976. Before that, the native New Yorker was involved in countless projects as an executive at companies that included the Oceanic Properties unit of Castle & Cooke in Hawaii, Farwest Capital Co. in Seattle, and Parking Structures International in Los Angeles. From 1976 to 1983, he also served as president of W&K Co.—the joint venture he struck with his longtime friend and mentor, Ray Watt of Southland-based building giant Watt Industries.

Katell is perhaps best known for his work in the San Fernando Valley, where the offices and shopping centers he built helped turn the once-quiet bedroom community into a bustling center of commerce. “People talk a lot about the Valley projects, but there really was no ‘secret’ to their success,” Katell told GlobeSt.com. “We just started building projects close to where all the executives and workers lived.”

Kious, NACORE’s other honoree, essentially runs all of Burbank-based Walt Disney Co.’s real estate portfolio except for its stores and theme parks. The job means overseeing more than 18.5 million sf of space in 48 nations.

Before joining Disney, Kious held executive positions at companies that include United Systems Integrators Corp., real estate services giant CB Richard Ellis and First Interstate Bank.

Steven E. Marcussen, the Cushman & Wakefield executive and broker who chaired the committee that put on this year’s NACORE awards, says Katell and Kious were chosen not just for their accomplishments in the real estate industry but also for their work in the community.

Katell, for example, serves as board chair of L.A.’s Best—a nonprofit that provides after-school education and enrichment programs for 10,000 inner-city school children. Kious is a board member and officer of the Los Angeles Headquarters Association, which also helps disadvantaged youths, and is also active in several real estate-related organizations.

NACORE International is the only professional organization that specializes in bringing together business leaders engaged in the strategic management of real estate for large corporations. It is in the final steps of completing a merger with the International Research and Development Council, the Atlanta-based group that integrates strategic research with executive development.

The merged group will be called CoreNet Global, The Corporate Real Estate Network, and will instantly become the world’s largest commercial real estate tenants’ organization.

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