For over 35 years, Bob Naito and his family have been involved in the development of over two million square feet of commercial real estate—both new construction and historic rehabilitation projects—in Oregon and Washington. Operating as Naito Development LLC , Bob Naito and his son Will Naito continue the legacy. Bob’s grandfather, Hide Naito immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1912 eventually settling in Portland where he married, raised a family and built a successful business importing giftware from Asia under the name Norcrest China Company.
Beginning in the 1960’s, Bob Naito’s father, Bill, expanded Norcrest China Company into several other retail and wholesale companies including the Made in Oregon chain of retail stores and Import Plaza, which was modeled after Cost Plus in San Francisco. In addition, Bill Naito began to move into commerical real estate by buying up derelict buildings in Portland’s Skid Road (which he later renamed Old Town) and “fixing them up. ” By investing in Portland’s faded Old Town area and turning it into a viable commercial and retail area, the Naito family made a significant imprint on the City of Portland.
Bob joined his father in the business after graduating from Harvard College and earning his MBA at Stanford. Bob Naito worked on a succession of historic rehabiliation projects in Portland beginning with the Galleria Building in downtown. Other significant projects included:
McCormick Pier Apartments, a 302-unit apartment project built on the Willamette River in NW Portland
Montgomery Park, a historic rehabiliation of an 800,000 square foot Montgomery Ward catalog warehouse in NW Portland
Albers Mill, a historic rehabilitation of an abandoned grain mill located on the Willamette River in NW Portland
The Dekum Building, a historic rehabilitation of an eight story, Richardsonian Romanesque office building in downtown Portland
In the early 90’s, Bob Naito branched out from the more traditional business of Norcrest China Company and with his father formed a partnership to distribute Dr. Martens footwear in the United States. In addition, Bob Naito started several retail businesses of his own including an ice cream store, a bakery, a chocolate truffle shop and a specialty bicycle shop.
Following the death of his father in 1996, Bob left the family business to pursue new development opportunities. Bob also volunteered countless hours to complete his father’s last civic project—the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Old Town/Chinatown. He chaired the fundraising campaign and the first board of directors that built and opened the garden. Later working as a fee developer for Ecotrust, he developed the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center which has received national recognition for combining sustainable development and historic preservation. Other projects have included moving and restoring the historic Simon Benson House for Portland State; developing a national headquarters building for the Delta Society; conversion of a vacant office building to a secure residential treatment facility; and a LEED Platinum renovation of the 150 Harrison Building.
To this day, Bill Naito’s presence is still felt in Portland and his legacy of community service to a number of civic, cultural and educational organizations remains. He served as a trustee of Reed College, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Wildlife Federation. He chaired the Multnomah County Library, and founded the Urban Forestry Commission, Artquake, the Association for Portland Progress and Portland Vintage Trolley. He worked on drafting the landmark Portland Downtown Plan and influenced development in the Central City for decades after.
Today, Naito Development is inspired by Bill Naito’s vision, creativity, tenacity and unquenchable optimism. We are guided by his example of unquestioned personal integrity. We strive in our work to build successful projects that create lasting community benefits.
For a biography of Bill Naito see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Naito