Bourn Companies Specializes in Large-Scale, Mixed-Use Projects
By Rodney Campbell
Forgive Don Bourn if he’s feeling a sense of déjà vu.
His Bourn Companies is in the middle of a longterm revitalization of Foothills Mall for the second time. During the first go-round in 1994, the mall was at 12% occupancy. When Bourn sold the property in 1999, Foothills Mall was 95% full.
Now, partly because of the 2015 opening of Tucson Premium Outlets in Marana, Foothills Mall needs reinvention. Bourn Companies reacquired the 750,000-square-foot center in late 2016 and will transform the space with a new vision.
“The redevelopment of the Foothills Mall will have a major impact on the community,” Bourn said. “We have plans to build over 2 million square feet of space to include retail, restaurants and entertainment, hotels, apartments and townhomes, and corporate and medical office space, as well as open spaces, plazas and trails with a strong health and wellness emphasis.
“We believe it will become a destination and gathering spot.”
The work is part of Bourn’s focus on improving his adopted hometown. He got his start in Tucson when he moved here in 1986 after graduating from the University of Nebraska. He came to Tucson to work with Trammell Crow, which was the largest real estate development company in the country at the time.
“They had a leasing position open in Tucson, which was their (market) entry for learning the development business,” Bourn said.
Some of Bourn’s development projects were instrumental in revitalizing downtown Tucson. In the early 2000s, then-Mayor Bob Walkup would prod Bourn a couple of times a year to get involved. But not everyone shared Walkup’s vision of a vibrant downtown where people could eat, shop and live.
“Many savvy real estate people cautioned me, but I thought it was an opportunity to use our business to help our community,” Bourn said. “It turned out to be extremely challenging, but we are proud to have contributed, along with a number of other developers, to the re-birth of our downtown, which is important to our overall community.”
Bourn Companies’ downtown work includes City Park, a 101,000-square-foot transit-oriented mixed-use project that includes dining, entertainment and office and retail space. The project is so appealing that Bourn Companies put its home office at the Congress Street site. Bourn worked with Hexagon Mining to place its international headquarters at City Park.
“Bourn was a pleasure to work with,” Hexagon Mining Division President Nick Hare said. “Don and his team bring a humble, down-to-earth, realistic approach that creates a true business partnership compared to what is typically seen in the industry. We felt like we were working on the same side of the table throughout the project phase and after.”
The final piece of the City Park project will be the redevelopment of The Indian Trading Post, a building originally constructed in 1897. Located downtown, the historic landmark will include a blend of office and retail space.
The Bridges at 36th Street and Kino Parkway is another example among the many large-scale, mixed-used projects that Bourn has created. Located near UA Tech Parks, The Bridges is home to GEICO’s regional headquarters, a Pima County Joint Technical Education District (JTED) technical education campus, several residential communities and a 25-acre park.
“We have evolved our business to execute large, integrated projects that include multiple uses,” Bourn said. “The deep understanding of the nuances of each of these product types allows us to best serve the needs of our traditional corporate office and retail clients with distinct attention to detail.”
Deep knowledge of the region and its players is key. Matching clients with opportunities for success is a Bourn specialty.
“It is a tremendous advantage to have more than 30 years of experience in Tucson,” he said. “Over three decades we built a fantastic team and great relationships across important areas of our business, with in-depth knowledge of the market. But we never assume that we know everything because our business is constantly changing and we need to be innovative and forward thinking.”
Work never gets old or routine for Bourn and his team. Even after 31 years and more than 4 million square feet of projects, the organization is excited about opportunities to improve Tucson.
“Our current projects are the ones that I am most excited about,” Bourn said. “Our ability to create great environments for our clients and our communities continues to get better and better.”