Highwoods office leasing veteran honored by Orlando, peers ahead of retirement

Catherine Reeves of Highwoods Properties receiving a "Lifetime Achievement Award" on May 31 from NAIOP Central Florida. Chapter president Joe Rossi stands to the left at podium.
Catherine Reeves of Highwoods Properties receiving a "Lifetime Achievement Award" on May 31 from NAIOP Central Florida. Chapter president Joe Rossi stands to the left at podium. (provided)

With more than 33 years in Orlando's commercial office and development industry, Highwoods Properties' Director of Leasing Catherine Reeves earned a day named in her honor on Thursday. It comes a week ahead of the planned retirement for one of this CRE market's leaders in peer mentoring and volunteerism.

City officials presented Reeves on Thursday afternoon with a proclamation, naming June 7 as "Catherine Reeves Day" in Orlando.


Reeves has worked for more than 33 years in the commercial leasing and development industry, and has long been recognized as one of the leading leasing agents for downtown Orlando office space.

Catherine Reeves of Highwoods Orlando
Catherine Reeves of Highwoods Orlando (Scott Cook Photography)

She has leased more than 7 million square feet at an estimated total of $670 million in revenue, of which 200,000 square feet and $41 million in revenue transacted over the past 12 months, according to Highwoods.

Reeves will serve her last day with Highwoods next Friday (June 15) before retiring.

"Catherine has been a pillar in an ever-changing commercial real estate community here in Central Florida," Nick Poole, managing director at JLL Orlando with an office tenant focus, told GrowthSpotter on Thursday.

"It's been a pleasure working across the table from her and Highwoods. Catherine has always taken a moment to connect on a personal level which is a rare quality in our fast-paced profession often driven by negotiation process, agenda and deadlines."

Reeves moved to Orlando from New York in 1983, and worked for local architecture and development firms in the years that followed. She joined Carnegie Properties in 1987 in a leasing role and migrated to Associated Capital Properties in 1988, which later merged with Highwoods in 1997.

Early insight on where this tenant will be vacating and relocating to, and the change in demand for space that is becoming a trend in the office market.

"Our real estate community has felt the positive impact from Catherine as a professional in all regards during her 30-plus years," said Yvonne Baker, regional managing partner for Franklin Street.

"I can attest that Catherine Reeves has always been a trail blazer for the real estate profession and showed many women the way in this career. She is an amazing example of a life and career well lived – her influence and guidance will be missed."

Reeves was deemed an integral team member in Highwoods' development of the Capital Plaza Two building south of Lake Eola, and has helped grow Highwoods' presence as the largest office owner in downtown Orlando.

Anne Spencer, director of office and healthcare brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield, remembers the kind words Reeves shared during her earliest days in the field.

"I was a young and inexperienced broker, and Catherine took me to lunch," Spencer said. "She befriended me right away, shared stories of how she got into the business, gave me advice on how to tackle being a minority (female) in the business, and let me know that even though we would be negotiating against each other one day, that she always had an open door to talk and seek advice."

Reeves has also served on the board of directors of the Downtown Orlando Partnership, and is a past chairwoman of the Educational Committee with the Orlando Opera Guild.

Last week, she was presented with NAIOP Central Florida's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Learn what improvements this office owner-operator is exploring for one of its most recognizable properties in downtown Orlando.

"It was such an honor for me to present Catherine with this award last week," said Joe Rossi, president of NAIOP CFL and executive managing director for investment services at Colliers International. "She is a legend in the downtown office market and has made countless contributions to our industry during her 30-plus years."


While Reeves is retiring, she also leaves a legacy through her son Kenneth Koch, leasing director in Orlando for Emerson International.

"It has been a great pleasure to work in the same industry as my mother, who is seen as an icon in Orlando's commercial real estate arena," he said Thursday.

"Catherine has been a consummate professional and example to the brokerage community since 1985," said Cindy Schooler, senior vice president for SRS Real Estate Partners and president-elect for CREW Orlando. "It is rare to see a broker withstand the winds of up and down markets and stay vigilant in serving her clients and colleagues.  She is going to be sorely missed in the brokerage community."

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.