An Eastside development company that was on an upward trajectory before the recession with tower projects in Seattle and Bellevue has re-emerged.
The principals of GIS International Group want another crack at a Seattle tower, and as they wait, they’re under construction on two developments, including its downtown Bellevue headquarters, GIS Plaza.
The six-story project, which also has retail and 16 residential units, is rising where GIS planned a condo project, European Tower. With its one-home-per-floor design, it got a lot of buzz before the recession.
GIS also is under construction on Madison Plaza, a seven-story, mixed-use apartment project in downtown Kent near the Sounder station.
“The walkability there is amazing,” said GIS Principal Ryan Grams, who added that some units in existing apartment buildings near the train station “are getting Bellevue rents.”
GIS, which has its roots in Russia, has quietly become a full-service real estate development, general contracting company with design, 3D visualization and other services.
“We decided it was a good time for us to follow in our father’s footsteps and start our own construction company,” said GIS CEO Eugene Gershman.
The family moved from Moscow to Bellevue in the 1990s, and he and sister Tanya have been running GIS for 16 years. She married Grams, who grew up in Bellevue.
The Gershmans’ father Igor still runs the GIS concrete plant in central Russia, making products for projects in far-flung locations with extreme environments. In the Puget Sound region, the company is applying that knowledge to build mostly custom homes on sites with steep slopes and other challenges.
“When we first look at a project that would have to be set on pilings — one most builders would look away from and not ever come back — to us it’s like, ‘Well OK, we’re going to have to drop some piles in the ground. We’ve done that before,’” Eugene Gershman said.
GIS no longer owns the Seattle site at the southwest corner of Stewart Street and Minor Avenue, where they had planned a 25-story hotel/residential tower.
“We still want to do a tower (in Seattle),” Ryan Grams said, adding it’s a medium-term goal. “Short term we’re hoping to capitalize on a few more projects (the size of Madison Plaza) and just keep going.”
GIS International Group
Real estate development services company
- Founded: 1992
- Employees: 15 in the office and a handful in the field
- Past projects: Custom homes, historic preservation work, 12-unit town-home project in Bellevue