President, CEO and Principal
Bill Watch, President, CEO and Principal of First Commercial Realty & Development Co, Inc., founded the Southfield, Michigan, based firm with partner Warren Terrace in 1988. Over the years, the company –which will soon be celebrating its 35th year in operation– 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.
First Commercial has been an active participant in real estate development for over 30 years and has developed over 3 million square feet of real estate throughout Michigan and the Midwest. Much of the company’s success results from Bill’s ability to work with large corporate entities and public/private partnerships to facilitate the development process, including land assemblage, governmental approval and financing. He has undertaken several difficult projects, successfully bringing to life commercial development in many cities. Under his leadership, the company has carved out a niche as an expert in the area of urban development and redevelopment, and has successfully completed a number of urban projects, including the development and redevelopment of shopping centers in Detroit, Highland Park, Inkster and Toledo, Ohio communities.
Bill attended the University of Michigan, earning a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in 1975, and a Masters of Business Administration with a focus on finance and marketing in 1981. Starting in 1981 and continuing through 1987, Bill worked at Perry Drug Stores in the Real Estate Department. His major responsibilities included 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 fashion chain, as Midwest Real Estate Representative.
He is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), and The Urban Land Institute (ULI), where he served as Chairman of the Michigan District Council from 2010 through 2014, and currently serves on the Advisory Board. He is the former Chairman of the University of Michigan/ ULI Real Estate Forum, an annual educational forum which focuses on current trends and issues in the real estate industry. Bill was actively involved with the creation of the Graduate Level Real Estate Program at the University of Michigan, was a frequent lecturer at the University, and was acknowledged as one of the founding supporters of the U of M Graduate Real Estate Program.
In 2007, Central Michigan University honored him 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. Additionally, he has been honored with the National Council for Urban and Economic Development Silver Award in 1996 for Highland Park Place, the City of Toledo Mayoral Proclamation for the Toledo Town Center shopping center, and the City of Detroit Visionary Award for the Shops at Northeast Village shopping center.
Throughout his life, Bill has had numerous notable interests; he is a certified Visual Flight Rules (VFR) pilot, a certified SCUBA diver, a competitive and recreational skier, a competitive sailor and marathon runner. A lifelong metro-Detroit resident, Bill and his wife, Teryl, currently reside in Troy, Michigan. They have three adult children, Alison, Logan and Brennan.