NEWPORT BEACH, CA-Rick Gilchrist, formerly president and co-CEO of Maguire Properties in Los Angeles, has been named president of the office properties division of the Irvine Co., filling the post left vacant when Bill Halford resigned earlier this year to become the president and CEO of the Bixby Land Co. Gilchrist will oversee an Irvine Co. office portfolio that includes approximately 400 office buildings, primarily in Orange County, but with significant assets in San Diego County as well as properties in the Silicon Valley and West Los Angeles.

Gilchrist, who assumes his new position July 6, tells that he was not looking for another post when he announced his resignation from Maguire earlier this year. “This is probably the only call that I would have had any interest in pursuing,” says Gilchrist, who has a consulting arrangement with Maguire that continues until June 30.

Gilchrist says his mission at the 110-year-old Irvine Co. is “to provide some leadership for the office division and to make a positive difference incrementally.” He comments, “My mission is certainly not to fix anything because it’s not broken. There will be no sea change because there is no need for it.”

The new position returns Gilchrist to the ranks of privately held companies, where he has spent most of his career. “It was a new adventure for me to be a public company CEO, and I enjoyed it,” he says. Nonetheless, he adds, “Given my choice, I think I prefer the private company setting.”

Gilchrist explains that he was “very comfortable with transparency and all of the good things that have come out of Sarbanes-Oxley,” but he also observes that private companies enjoy a type of freedom in comparison with publicly held firms. Decisionmaking in a public company “sometimes has to be dictated by immediate consequences,” he says, whereas a privately held company can make decisions on the basis of a long-term vision.

“At a private company like the Irvine Co, you can do things that might not translate into results for a number of years, but you know it’s the right real estate decision,” Gilchrist says. He says the Irvine Co. has often done just that, investing and reinvesting in its assets “even in times when new investment is not as feasible as it is today.”

Gilchrist joins the Irvine Co. at a time when the Orange County, San Diego and West Los Angeles office markets “are on most people’s lists of the best markets in the country” for their high occupancy, strong absorption and rising rents, the new Irvine Co. exec points out. In his new post, he will be competing against his former company in the sense that “Yes, we would both chase the same tenants on occasion,” but any market benefits from having “really good, strong, sophisticated landlords” like Maguire and the Irvine Co., he says.

Gilchrist, who calls his new job “a perfect fit,” assumes the helm of the office division at what the Irvine Co. calls “an important juncture.” The company has acquired new office buildings and returned to significant development activity.

For example, the new development includes 20 and 40 Pacifica in Irvine Spectrum, each of which will be 14 stories and 310,000 sf for a total of 620,000 sf. Another project, 18100 Von Karman, will be 10 stories and 231,000 sf. The company is also building new headquarters for Broadcom Corp. at University Research Park, next to UC Irvine, that will be 684,000 sf in eight buildings.

In addition, the company has substantial reinvestment activities under way. These include $63 million of reinvestment in six Downtown San Diego office properties in the company’s 4.5-million-sf San Diego County portfolio.

Besides the new development and capital expenditures for reinvestment, Gilchrist will oversee the division’s leasing, operations, marketing and finance functions. He comes to the new post after a career that included positions before Maguire as president and CEO of Commonwealth Atlantic Properties, which developed one of the East Coast’s largest and most complex mixed-use projects, an 11-million-sf development called Potomac Yard.

He also has experience as an entrepreneur as founder of CommonWealth Partners, which planned and developed a wide range of projects in California. He began his career as a lawyer, establishing one of the premier boutique real estate firms in Los Angeles, Gilchrist & Rutter.

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