Dan Letter: A Perspective on Success in Logistics Real Estate
At Prologis, we have demonstrated that vision, persistence and teamwork pay off. Dan Letter, Prologis global head of capital deployment, a real estate industry veteran who has been with the company for 13 years, has worked on many large initiatives for Prologis. One project, the Oakland Global Logistics Center, a redevelopment project on the site of a former army base, has been in the works for over 10 years. Oakland Global Logistics Center, a partnership between Dan and Mark Hansen, Prologis managing director, Value Added Investments, broke ground in late 2016.
Another one of Dan’s high-visibility projects is Prologis Industrial Park of Commerce (IPC) in Tracy, California. With an overall build-out schedule of more than 10 years, Prologis purchased and entitled the 1,800-acre master-planned park during the economic downturn. It is the Bay Area’s largest logistics real estate site and one of the biggest projects of its kind in the country. IPC’s visionary location balances proximity to Bay Area consumers with availability of developable land. The park, which houses a number of companies involved in various aspects of e-commerce, has been touted as industry-leading by logistics real estate insiders and has been hugely successful. Multiple Fortune 500 companies already call IPC home.
Those in the industry know that large projects can be difficult to bring to fruition. Working with cities and securing entitlements can be a significant challenge. According to Dan, it’s these challenges that make the work fun. To complete their projects, Dan and team negotiate with stakeholders that range from city officials to special interest groups to local residents. He marvels at the tenacity and ability to overcome obstacles that characterize Prologis real estate professionals: “Because our teams are so determined and so patient, we always figure it out.” Dan adds, “Sometimes, no one believes it can be done until you do it.”
Another key to Prologis’ success is the breadth of capabilities available under one roof. Dan works closely with Prologis Associate General Counsel Chris Chen, who is both a partner and trusted advisor. “Having a resource like Chris in-house, rather than having to go outside to find comparable expertise, gives us a significant advantage in the market,” says Dan.
According to Dan, “Everyone at Prologis literally works together.” When he joined in 2004, most real estate professionals at other firms sat behind closed doors in windowed offices. Dan laughs, “Our CEO has sat in a cube for 25 years!”
In recent months, major publications, including the Wall Street Journal, have covered several of Dan’s projects, especially a multistory industrial warehouse in Seattle, which is the first of its kind in the country. Dan partnered closely with the Prologis team in Japan to move the Seattle multistory project forward, tapping into their expertise. Japan has been doing multistory projects for over two decades.
Projects like the Seattle multistory warehouse and the Oakland Global Logistics Center have garnered attention from local and national publications. “It’s tempting to want to fly under the radar when you are on the development side of the logistics real estate business,” says Dan. “But it’s even better to make a solid contribution to the local economy and then see your projects portrayed positively in the media.”