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William Watch, President of First Commercial Realty & Development Co, Inc., founded his Southfield, Michigan-based firm, with partner Warren Terrace, in 1988. Over the years, the company has evolved to become a full service real estate firm offering expertise in the sale, leasing, property management, construction and development of commercial and industrial properties in the Midwest.
Starting in 1981, and continuing through 1987, Watch worked at Perry Drug Stores in the Real Estate Dept. His major responsibilities were: managing a team of site selectors and support personnel, locating new stores, renewing or relocating existing stores and market analysis. He eventually rose to the position of Vice President. After leaving Perry, Watch worked briefly for Clothestime, a west coast based women’s ready to wear chain as Midwest Real Estate Representative before starting First Commercial.
During its 22-year history, First Commercial has developed more than 1.5 million square feet of office and retail properties and currently owns and manages over 2.3 million square feet of real estate. Under Watch’s direction, First Commercial has carved out a niche as an expert in the area of urban development and redevelopment. The company has successfully undertaken a number of urban projects including the redevelopment of community shopping centers in Detroit, Highland Park, Inkster and Toledo, Ohio. In 1996, First Commercial earned national recognition from the National Council for Urban and Economic Development for its development of the Highland Park Place retail center in Highland Park, Mich., The project was cited as an example of an outstanding urban redevelopment project. Two other projects, Toledo Town Center, Toledo OH, and The Shops at Northeast Village, Detroit MI. have been honored by the local communities as outstanding examples of urban redevelopment projects with vision and positive impact on the communities they serve.
Watch attended the University of Michigan, earning a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in 1975, and in 1981, a Masters of Business Administration with a focus on finance and marketing. He is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and The Urban Land Institute (ULI), where he currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Detroit Chapter. He will become the Chairman in July of 2010. Along with his duties as Vice Chairman, he also serves on the Executive Committee and the Program Committee, and is the former Chairman of the annual University of Michigan/ ULI Real Estate Forum, an educational forum which focuses on current trends and issues in the real estate industry.
For the last fifteen years, Watch has been actively involved with the creation of the Graduate Level Real Estate Program at the University of Michigan and is a frequent lecturer at the University. Along with two other graduates he was recently acknowledged as one of the founding supporters of the Real Estate Program.
In 2007, Central Michigan University honored Watch for his work in helping to establish the Undergraduate Real Estate Program at CMU. The M.J. Bowen Real Estate Development Program presented its Annual Leadership Award to Watch for his work with The Urban land Institute and Central Michigan University.
A lifelong metro-Detroit area resident, Watch, his wife, Teryl, and their three children Alison, Logan and Brennan reside in Troy, Mich.