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Low Profile Firm Does High Profile Projects

CONSTRUCTION: PMA Manages Projects Across Public, Private Industries

SOLANA BEACH – Project Management Advisors, with local operations led by San Diego General Manager Andrew Bohnert, has overseen many of San Diego’s most prominent construction projects.

Yet outside of the construction and life science industries, the company has been fairly quiet in establishing a public presence.

Ken Richter
EVP & National Life Science Sector Lead
Project Management Advisors

“The architect and the general contractor are what the public thinks about on these projects, but there’s a lot of planning and organization to make it happen and we’re problem solvers, said Ken Richter, Executive Vice President and National Life Sciences Sector Lead at Project Management Advisors (PMA). “We try to think ahead and understand what may be coming around the corner and solve it before it becomes a problem.”

Among its key clients is the County of San Diego, where PMA managed the $600 million development of the county’s Operations Center on a 38-acre site in Kearny Mesa, and the $49.4 million redevelopment of former surface parking lots at the County Administrative Center into the 12-acre park Waterfront Park across North Harbor Drive from San Diego Bay.

Built by Lowe, the 1.3 million-square-foot Operations Center includes 900,000 square feet of office space, a 160,000-square-foot crime lab, a 120,000-square-foot Registrar of Voters Building, a 12,000-square-foot conference center and a new public health lab.

“It was the biggest construction project ever embarked on by the county,” said Jeff Redlitz, who was the county’s project director for the Operations Center.

Redlitz said that PMA was an essential part of the project and that PMA staffers came with the backgrounds and experience that the county lacked.

“We hired PMA to provide all the services that would normally be provided by five or six (county) employees,” Redlitz said. “They were always good at checking the accounting or the money flow.”

Do it Right

PMA’s other clients have included UC San Diego Health in the construction of the Jacobs Medical Center, Holland Residential, developer of the West apartment tower in downtown San Diego, Healthpeak Properties, a life science developer, based in Irvine with several San Diego projects, Sycuan Casino Resort, and Legoland.

“We’ve probably managed five or six different projects for them (Legoland) over the years, not only hotels, but also some of the rides,” Richter said.

Andrew Bohnert
VP & General Manager
Property Management Advisors

At its core, Andrew Bohnert, PMA vice president and general manager, said that PMA’s role is to be an independent voice on projects.

“Many of our clients are sophisticated developers and builders and facility owners in their own right, but they recognize that the stakes are high, and they need some of that objectivity and some additional expertise brought to bear,” Bohnert said.

With a staff of 23, the San Diego office is one of seven throughout the nation.

“Given the life science work and our history here, we’ve always been one of the more prominent offices,” Bohnert said.

The San Diego office focuses primarily on San Diego County projects, but Bohnert said that the firm also works on projects in Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The company got its start in San Diego in late 1999, working with a single client, Slough Estates, overseeing life science construction projects in Torrey Pines.

“We’ve been doing life science long before it was cool. It was back when it really wasn’t as predominant an industry in San Diego,” Richter said. “We’ve done a lot of work for such entities as Celgene, Vertex, the Scripps Research Institute, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, even science buildings at UCSD (University of California San Diego) and, Point Loma Nazarene University.”

“Do it right,” is the company’s motto.

“That tends to be a simple go-to in those tough moments when you really are evaluating the move forward,” Bohnert said. “There’s always cheaper, but at the end of the day, what’s the right way to go?”

Bohnert said that the San Diego office will likely expand, but he declined to estimate how large the staff would become in the next five to 10 years.

“We’re always looking to add talent and increase our capability,” Bohnert said. “As the industry grows, we’ll grow along with it.”

The company also is looking at artificial intelligence, “and how that could drive efficiency,” Bohnert said.

Project Management Advisors, Inc.
FOUNDED: 1993
HEADQUARTERS: Chicago
SAN DIEGO COUNTY HEADQUARTERS: Solana Beach
CEO: Roger McCarron
SAN DIEGO GENERAL MANAGER: Andrew Bohnert
BUSINESS: construction and management, owners’ representation
SAN DIEGO EMPLOYEES: 24
WEBSITE: www.pmainc.com/office/sandiego
CONTACT: info@pmaiinc.com
NOTABLE: PMA has been instrumental in numerous high-profile life science projects in San Diego County, including Healthpeak Properties’ Boardwalk, Directors Place and Callan Ridge, UC San Diego’s Jacobs Medical Center, Altman Clinical Translational Research Institute and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.

[Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct the job titles of Andrew Bohnert and Ken Richter]

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