In 1917, Hide Naito (1893 – 1988) emigrated from Tara, Japan, a small village outside of Kobe, to America. He opened the first Naito family business, H. Naito Japanese Goods gift shop, in downtown Portland in 1920, and operated a wholesale importing business from his NE Portland home. Later, Hide had two of his sons, Sam and Bill, join the family business.
In the 1950s, the business moved to a warehouse located on NW 6th and Davis. With the success of their wholesale business, the Naito’s began to acquire distressed properties in the downtown/skid row area. They were pioneers in the movement to save historic properties from the wrecking ball. Bill ran the property division, while Sam focused on the mercantile division.
Beginning in the 1960s with the historic Merchant Hotel in Old Town, the Naito’s renovated thirteen of the city’s most beloved buildings, including The Galleria and Montgomery Park, Portland’s second largest office building. In the early 1980s, they built McCormick Pier a 305 unit multi-family apartment complex on the Willamette River. It was one of downtown Portland’s first “work force” housing projects.
In May of 2005, the existing shareholders, all heirs of Sam and Bill Naito, renamed the 94 year old company in honor of the late William Naito (1925 – 1996).
Today the family business operates as a real estate investment and property management company with over 1 million square feet of commercial office and retail space in Portland’s Northwest and Downtown districts.
After Bill Naito’s passing of cancer in 1996 the Portland City Council honored his memory by renaming Front Avenue to Naito Parkway. This was applied to the section of Front Avenue south of NW 15th and Fremont Bridge.