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At the Top: Brokers Who Made the Big Deals in 2001

At the Top: Brokers Who Made the Big Deals in 2001 Ken Ashen Senior vice president CB Richard Ellis Ken Ashen may be known as a jack of all trades in the commercial real estate industry. Which is fine with him: doing so has kept him one of CB Richard Ellis’ top 10 producing brokers in the San Fernando Valley office for the last decade. Since joining CB in 1978, the Thousand Oaks resident has focused on industrial markets. Some of Ashen’s most significant deals include the sale of the 66,408-square-foot Westlake City Center and the former headquarters of Guitar Center on Lindero Canyon Road to a private investor. Gregory K. Barsamian Senior vice president CB Richard Ellis Gregory Barsamian, a former engineer, calls himself the industrial cleanup guy. Why? Since his arrival at CB Richard Ellis in 1994, he’s focused heavily on representing transactions for developments of former industrial land sites, many of which are contaminated. In 1999, he managed the sale of a 100-acre parcel in Valencia to a New Mexico cleanup firm. The land is now earmarked for a 2.5 million-square-foot mixed-use development including 3,000 homes. “I like what I do because I get to see the transformation of a development site through the cleanup process and into the development stage,” Barsamian said. W. Jay Borzi Principal Secured Capital Corp. Over the last several years, Jay Borzi and his partner, Stephen Silk, have been involved in more than one multi-million-dollar deal. But the one that grabbed attention for them in the San Fernando Valley this year was the sale of The Trillium on Canoga Avenue in Woodland Hills. Borzi and Silk represented both the seller and buyer in the $134 million, 655,000-square-foot, five-building deal. That, along with the sale of 801 N. Brand Ave. in Glendale among others, accounted for more than 1 million square feet of San Fernando Valley office space the two negotiated sales of in 2001. Borzi, with Secured Capital Corp. since April 2000, previously spent 16 years with Cushman & Wakefield. Tom Dwyer First vice president CB Richard Ellis Because he works in the same part of the Conejo Valley he’s lived in for decades, Tom Dwyer, who handles leases and sales of commercial and research and development space in the area, said he brings more to the table than your average broker. “I grew up in the Conejo Valley, so I’m able to work in my own back yard,” he said. “And I bring my specialty knowledge of commercial transactions and my personal relationships with our clients into the mix, which gives me a deeper understanding of their needs.” Dwyer represented buyers and sellers in investment property deals worth roughly $36 million in 2001. Barbara L. Emmons Senior vice president CB Richard Ellis After 13 years with CB Richard Ellis, Barbara Emmons knows a thing or two about the Valley industrial and office markets. For starters, she’s only one of a small group of women in that end of the business. And, because she deals primarily with office park leases and sales, she represents a market that, she says, presents some interesting challenges. “I think the hardest thing in the Valley is it’s such a mixed market,” said Emmons. “There’s not a lot of class-A product. It’s kind of a scrappier market. We don’t have a lot of institutional quality real estate. You’re dealing with a lot of different owners versus large owners, so you have to be a little more creative at finding clients and working with a lot of different people.” Emmons recently negotiated a 5-year lease at Cascade Business Park on Sherman Road, representing roughly $2 million worth of business. Paul Farry Senior vice president CB Richard Ellis Paul Farry began his career with CB Richard Ellis in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1984, where he launched the first two industrial bases for black entrepreneurs during the early days of the dismantling of apartheid. Today, Farry focuses on strategic planning for developers’ projects in the West Valley. He recently secured a 10-year, $11.5 million lease in Camarillo for New Focus. Thomas A. Festa Senior vice president Grubb & Ellis Co. For Thomas A. Festa, on Grubb & Ellis Co.’s list of top 10 producers in the L.A. region for the past four years, real estate is just a matter of being prepared. Since joining Grubb in 1996, the 20-plus-year real estate veteran has developed a prestigious client list and a reputation for guiding owners in complex sales and leasing transactions for office and R & D; projects. In the past two years, Festa has leased or sold over 1 million square feet of office space, including the 327,000-square-foot Westlake North Business Park as the exclusive leasing agent for CalPERS. In 2001, Festa represented CalPERS and the Westlake North developer, Investment Development Services, in selling the first phase of the project for $27.1 million. He also represented Pacific Realty Group in the sale of Thousand Oaks Financial Plaza, a $13.9 million deal. Said Sam Monempour, who has partnered with Festa, “He comes up with deals that you would never think of, and he puts two and two together very quickly.” Brian S. Forster Executive Vice President TOLD Partners Inc. Brian S. Forster’s voice mail message says he is not available because he is out closing deals. There was no arguing with that excuse in 2001. Forster, in real estate for more than a decade, leased a total of 366,073 square feet and sold a total of 238,527 square feet of office space in the greater San Fernando Valley region last year. Among the most notable of those transactions: Forster represented Duesenberg Investment Co. in the acquisition of a 115,720-square-foot office building, Westlake Plaza Centre I, for $22 million, and the purchase of a 41,307-square-foot office building at 200 N. Westlake Blvd. for $9.5 million. Forster also represented J.D. Power and Associates in leasing a 133,000-square-foot office building in Westlake Village and Meridian Health Care Management Inc. in its lease of an 80,000-square-foot Warner Center building, an eight-year deal valued at more than $17 million. Nick Gregg First vice president CB Richard Ellis Many of the older industrial facilities along the 101 Corridor all the way through Camarillo are being replaced with newer industrial and commercial developments. And that’s exactly where Nick Gregg, a 17-year CB Richard Ellis veteran, has focused his efforts recently, handling leasing and sales for existing and build-to-suit space. “I’ve enjoyed representing companies in leasing and purchasing industrial and office real estate in the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County,” Gregg said, “and I think now is an excellent opportunity for companies to acquire corporate real estate and lock in attractive facilities costs.” In one of the most substantial deals he was involved in last year, Gregg represented the seller of a 66,000-square-foot facility at Westlake City Center to a large insurance firm. Bill Inglis Senior vice president CB Richard Ellis Anyone looking for a little history on leasing activity at Warner Center since its construction in the late 1970s might want to start with Bill Inglis. Inglis, a Woodland Hills resident, was the original broker on the project. After seven years overseeing leasing activity for Warner Center, he left to handle leasing and sales for other markets in the Valley. However, Inglis returned to his old post as director of leasing back at Warner Center in January. “Who says you can’t go home again?” quipped Inglis, who will mark his 30th anniversary with CB Richard Ellis next month. Chris Jackson Senior associate Grubb & Ellis Co. Chris Jackson is the rookie member on his team, but you might not know that from the results he’s attained. Since he joined Grubb & Ellis in 1998 after graduating from Woodbury University with a business degree, Jackson has worked in real estate sales and leasing and last year, he won top rankings in each of those categories. In 2001, Jackson landed in the number three position for top producing industrial leasing brokers in the Santa Clarita Valley for a six-year, 39,000-square-foot deal he negotiated on behalf of apparel maker Coogi Australia in Valencia. He also won the number two spot as a top producing broker for industrial sales in the Santa Clarita Valley for his work representing Earle Properties in the sale of a 90,000-square-foot industrial building in Valencia. James F. Lindvall Senior vice president Grubb & Ellis Co. Name a blue chip tenant of the San Fernando Valley or its environs and James F. Lindvall has likely had a hand in the company’s real estate transaction. The senior vice president began his career with Grubb & Ellis Co. in 1988, and since then has worked with such clients as Universal Studios, Homestore.com, Dole Foods and Arden Realty, among others. A leasing specialist, Lindvall in 2001 also was a member of the team that helped to sell the 137,762-square-foot Westlake North Business Park building. James Linn Senior vice president Grubb & Ellis His team members call James Linn “the closer.” That gets a self-conscious laugh from Linn, but the 15-year real estate veteran does concede that his experience pays off. “Every deal has a little different nuance,” Linn said. “If you’ve closed 10 deals, you’ve probably learned 10 things. If you’ve closed 100 deals, you’ve probably learned 100 things. Since joining Grubb & Ellis Co. in 1991, Linn has worked with a range of clients, from Investment Development Services to Kraft Foods and Bank of America’s investment development services division. Although he continues to work throughout the San Fernando Valley, Linn now focuses much of his time on the Santa Clarita Valley. In 2001, he represented the seller, Earle Properties, in the sale of a 90,000-square-foot industrial facility in Valencia. Doug Marlow Senior vice president CB Richard Ellis You might say Doug Marlow has a hand in building the Santa Clarita Valley office market from the ground up literally. In 2001, the senior vice president for CB Richard Ellis represented Newhall Land and Farming in office lease deals in the region totaling more than 87,000 square feet, including a 30,000-square-foot lease with Exp@nets, a networked communications provider, and Mercury Insurance Group, which inked a 31,461-square-foot deal. But perhaps more significant for Valencia are the deals Marlow transacted that will result in future tenants. In 2001, Marlow, along with his partner David Solomon, represented Newhall in the sale of 13.8 acres in the Valencia Corporate Center to Specialty Laboratories Inc., a testing services company that will move its corporate headquarters from Santa Monica to a 200,000-square-foot build-to-suit in 2003. He and his partner also transacted a land deal for 60 acres at Rockwell Canyon Road and McBean Parkway, which will house the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Industrial tenants and developers have long sought out the Santa Clarita Valley, creating a 15 million-square-foot market in the region. But the office market, with under 2 million square feet of space in Valencia, has lagged behind by comparison. Marlow, a 13-year veteran of CB, figures that the office market will grow as large as the industrial sector. But, he says, selling land for offices takes a different strategy from your typical office deal. “You’re not dealing with a tangible product,” Marlow said. “What you’re dealing with is a vacant piece of land, so you have to convey the vision to the user, not only the end product, but also the vision of Valencia Gateway.” Sam D. Monempour Senior associate Grubb & Ellis Co. When Sam D. Monempour began working on the sale of Westlake North Business Park, he had the advantage of representing a well-known product in a great location. But that didn’t mean the job was easy. “Anytime you have a project of that size you have to be aggressive, you have to cover the entire market and you just can’t leave any stones unturned,” he said. Monempour, who joined Grubb & Ellis’s internship program three years ago and has worked as a broker for the past two years, has represented tenants including Intel and Prudential Life Insurance. In 2001, his role handling marketing on the sale of Westlake North Business Park’s 137,762-square-foot office building landed Monempour in the number three spot for top producing brokers in the office sales category in the Conejo Valley. Monempour represented the sellers, Investment Development Services, which developed the property, and CalPERS. Craig Peters Senior vice president CB Richard Ellis When Craig Peters began a training program at CB Richard Ellis in 1985, he had no idea it would lead to the formation of one of the first “broker teams” in the industry. Nor did he know that, together, he and partner Doug Sonderegger would represent transactions for one of the largest land developments in the region, brokering industrial deals for Newhall Land and Farming’s Valencia Gateway project. Together, the team represented sales for industrial buildings of more than 900,000 square feet in 2001. Tony Principe Vice president Westcord Commercial Real Estate Services Take a look at the list of deals Westcord Commercial Real Estate’s Tony Principe participated in during 2001 and you get the feeling he follows the old adage, “If you find something you’re good at, stick with it.” And what he’s good at is the Conejo Valley. While Principe is involved in the commercial real estate industry throughout the region, the Conejo Valley and the 101 Corridor all the way to Oxnard is the area he knows best. Principe represented both the landlord and the tenant in the 10-year, $9 million lease of 125,000 square feet in Camarillo to Cardinal Restaurant Supply. He also represented the seller in the $20.4 million sale of 81,000-square-foot Westlake Plaza Center III on Townsgate Road in Westlake Village. Steve Robertson First vice president Daum Commercial Real Estate Services By all accounts, Steve Robertson had a very good year in 2001 with a number of major deals, topped by the $1.4 million sale of a 17,000-square-foot industrial building in Valencia. A resident of the Santa Clarita Valley, Robertson has been with Daum for two years and has previously worked at a number of area real estate firms, including TOLD Partners in Woodland Hills. While much of the Santa Clarita Valley remains undeveloped, Robertson said a slow-growth movement has begun, similar to the one that sprang up in Orange County in the 1980s. “I see growth slowing, but not just yet,” he said. Robertson holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA. Bennett Robinson Senior vice president CB Richard Ellis As a two-time recipient of the CB Dog Soldier Award for excellence in the industry, Bennett Robinson has staked out a firm spot in the Valley industrial market. He’s represented more than 14 million square feet of transactions worth more than $500 million since he came aboard 14 years ago. “I just do what’s right,” said Robinson. “At the end of the day, you just think about the client and do what’s right and everything else comes pretty easy.” Robinson is ranked by CB Richard Ellis as one of its top 50 brokers in the country, and the second highest industrial specialist in Southern California. John A. Sabourin Vice president Colliers Seeley John A. Sabourin said being a team player is important to him. And, after teaming up with Marc Spellman in 1990, the two of them have been responsible for some of the biggest real estate deals in the San Fernando Valley. After graduating from USC with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Sabourin joined the Faulkner Co. where he learned the ropes of the commercial real estate business. He later joined Lee and Associates where he teamed up with Spellman. Although the lease in late 2000 of 296,000 square feet to Health Net was the area’s biggest deal, his lease of a 324,000-squre-foot industrial building in Pacoima a year earlier was a personal best. Madeline Schwartz First vice president CB Richard Ellis Madeline Schwartz got her start in the commercial real estate business at a boutique brokerage house in the Valley 28 years ago. She’s spent the last 20 years at CB Richard Ellis, representing buyers and sellers on transactions for commercial office space, including leases on a 71,255-square-foot development on Calabasas Road in 2001. “I enjoy doing both leasing and sales,” said Schwartz. “I think it’s a good mix. A deal is never made unless both people compromise. It’s been very exciting. “When I started 28 years ago Warner Center wasn’t even built yet, and I feel that I’ve been part of the transformation of the Valley.” Gerald C. Scullin Principal Delphi Business Properties An industrial real estate broker since 1987, Jerry Scullin is in the fortunate position of negotiating leases and sales for nearly 700,000 square feet and calling it an “average year.” “Well, it was average over the last five or six years,” Scullin of Delphi Business Properties said. “I can’t complain.” Scullin was involved with the deal that made the 142,000-square-foot former Applause building on Variel Avenue in Woodland Hills the new home of Optical Communication Products Inc. He said 2002 could end up a good year for him as well – if he can find the properties his clients are looking for. “Purchase opportunities are king right now,” Scullin said, “but there’s very little product out there so far.” Stephen R. Silk Principal Secured Capital Corp. Stephen Silk, along with his partner at Secured Capital Corp., Jay Borzi, clearly appears to be among the winners on the San Fernando Valley commercial real estate scene in 2001. Silk and Borzi negotiated the $134 million sale of The Trillium on Canoga Avenue in Woodland Hills. Silk represented the seller, Commonwealth Partners LLC, and the buyer, Beacon Capital Inc., in the deal for the 655,000-square-foot, five-building complex. Silk joined Secured Capital in April 2000 after 16 years with Cushman & Wakefield. At both firms he has specialized in representing institutional real estate investors. The other substantial Valley deal Silk and Borzi were involved in last year was the sale of 801 N. Brand Ave. in Glendale. Bruce Simpson Partner Delphi Business Properties Bruce Simpson of Delphi Business Properties was the negotiating muscle in 2001 behind a $6.7 million deal that saw Hugo de Castro and William Feldman buy five buildings (87,600 square feet) near Nordhoff Avenue and DeSoto Street in Chatsworth. He represented both the buyer and the seller in the transaction in a style that led him to be named his company’s Broker of the Year in 2001. Simpson focuses much of his energy on the West San Fernando Valley and Conejo Valley, taking credit for more than 375,000 square feet in industrial property sales in 2001, along with more than 300,000 square feet in industrial leases. Michael Slater Senior vice president CB Richard Ellis Specializing in lease and sales of office, high tech and R & D; space, Michael Slater has been named one of CB Richard Ellis’ top producers in the West Valley five times in the last six years. Slater, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCLA, said sincerity and strong ethics have played a key role in his eight-year career with CB. Among his larger transactions in 2001 was a seven-year lease for Guitar Center’s new 69,000-square-foot headquarters in Westlake Village. Slater says, it’s the diversity of the job that keeps things interesting. “Every day is a different day,” he said. “You never know what that next phone call is going to be all about.” Douglas R. Sonderegger Senior vice president CB Richard Ellis Doug Sonderegger likes to think of himself as one of the pioneers of broker partnering, something he said was relatively unheard of 15 years ago when he first met his current partner, Craig Peters, who came to Sonderegger as a trainee. “We were teaming up when teaming up wasn’t cool,” Sonderegger said. Today, he and Peters handle virtually every industrial sale and lease transaction for Santa Clarita’s dominant developer, Newhall Land and Farming, with much of the last decade focused on Newhall’s Valencia Gateway, an 18.5 million-square-foot master-planned center for business, technology and industry. Newhall has tapped Sonderegger as Broker of the Year every year since 1995. Marc Spellman Vice president Colliers Seeley Marc Spellman was planning on a professional football career when he enrolled at Tarkio College in Missouri on an athletic scholarship. Sports on the college level, however, helped him realize commercial real estate might be a more likely calling. Today, the 36-year-old Spellman and his business partner John A. Sabourin are among the area’s top real estate agents. In 2000, the two landed the Valley’s biggest office lease deal when they closed an agreement with Health Net worth about $100 million for 295,786 square feet of office space. Spellman got his start at Lee & Associates in 1988 where he teamed up with Sabourin before both moved on to Colliers Seeley two years ago. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tarkio College. Nigel Stout Associate vice president Grubb & Ellis Co. For Nigel Stout, the key to being an effective real estate broker is matchmaking. “It’s finding the property and then find the owner or user that best fits that,” said Stout, who began his career at the real estate company in 1994 as a research analyst. Of course, the devil is in the details and that, say those who work with him, is where Stout excels. “Nigel is good at figuring out ways to solve the problem,” said Chris Jackson, who worked with Stout on the sale of a 90,000-square-foot Valencia building for $5.7 million. That deal landed Stout in the number two spot for top producing brokers for industrial sales in the Santa Clarita Valley in 2001. Stout, who consistently places in the top 10 for brokers in Grubb & Ellis’s Los Angeles North office and the top 20 for the metropolitan L.A. area, also earned a spot in the Circle of Excellence awarded to the top 10 percent of Grubb & Ellis brokers nationally. Mark Sullivan Executive vice president and branch manager Julien Studley Mark Sullivan joined Julien Studley in 1986 and in his first year was voted rookie of the year. He hasn’t had much time to look back; today he heads the company’s West Coast health care task force and entertainment services group and has been co-branch manager of Studley’s Los Angeles office since 2000. One of the biggest – and most challenging – deals Sullivan got involved in (with teammate Jonathan Wechsler) is the sale of the former Applause building in Woodland Hills to Optical Communication Products. “It was a very challenging request because we had to create an opportunity,” Sullivan said. When none of the properties in the Valley fitted Optical Communication’s needs, Sullivan and Wechsler went out and found what their client wanted – even when it wasn’t on the market. Kevin Tamura Executive vice president Daum Commercial Real Estate Services Kevin Tamura said the current economic climate doesn’t bother him a bit. While some industries are struggling to stay afloat, commercial real estate in the Valley keeps chugging along, said Tamura, who last year was among the area’s top brokers. Thanks to low interest rates and marketable properties, Tamura led his sales office with 196,770 square feet in real estate sales in the Valley last year. Tamura is a graduate of Cal State Northridge where he received a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Ross W. Thomas Principal/Owner Delphi Business Properties To many people, Ross Thomas IS industrial real estate in the San Fernando Valley. Indeed, it seems anybody around the Valley commercial real estate scene for any length of time has almost certainly done business with his company, Delphi Business Properties. Thomas started investing in San Fernando Valley property himself 22 years ago with a 6,000-square-foot facility in North Hollywood. Today, besides the deals he does for others, his personal holdings exceed 650,000 square feet. In 2001, Thomas brokered the sale of a 120,000-square-foot property in Sun Valley to Industrial Holdings and the lease of a 99,000-square-foot property on Woodley Avenue to USA Wireless. As evidence that Thomas has a very high profile way beyond the San Fernando Valley, he was recently installed as president of the American Industrial Real Estate Association. Paulette Toumazos Vice president Daum Commercial Real Estate Services A business graduate of Cal State Northridge, Paulette Toumazos started her work life as a paralegal in a downtown Los Angeles law firm. But when she tackled a project involving small property development, Toumazos knew commercial real estate would be in her future. Today, Toumazos is one of the area’s top commercial real estate brokers, an honor she shares with her partner, Angie Weber. Specializing in space in high-rise office buildings, Toumazos said she particularly enjoys the challenge of putting a deal together. In their biggest transaction of the year, Toumazos and Weber closed a $1.5 million lease in a medical building in West Hills last December. Toumazos has been with Daum for two and a half years. Previously, she was with Wilkins Randle Real Estate in Sherman Oaks. Angie Weber Vice president Daum Commercial Real Estate Services Angie Weber grew up in the real estate business. With a father as a developer, Weber learned the ropes early as she heard his stories about the business and traveled with him to his various development properties. Today, Weber is perfectly comfortable handling multimillion-dollar deals for her institutional clients and the occasional entrepreneur with her partner Paulette Toumazos. She worked at Arden Realty, Beitler Commercial Real Estate and Wilkins Randle Real Estate before joining Daum two and a half years ago. It was at Wilkins Randle that she started the longstanding business partnership with Toumazos. Weber is a USC graduate with a B.A. in communications. Jonathan Wechsler Associate Julien Studley As one part of the team (with his Julien Studley colleague Mark Sullivan) that found Optical Communication Products a building in Woodland Hills when nobody else seemed able to, Wechsler appears clearly to be in his element when it comes to the brokerage business. The truth is, compared to Sullivan who has been with Studley for 16 years, Wechsler is a relative newcomer, having started his career and his tenure with the firm in 1999. Nevertheless, he managed to close deals on 146,000 square feet in the San Fernando Valley last year. What’s his secret? “Practice, practice, practice,” he said. “I have a good feel for the business development aspect of this business.” That’s not all, said Sullivan. “Jonathan came to us with a great deal of experience and from a family of real estate executives,” Sullivan said. Brent Weirick Vice president Colliers Seeley Last year may have been a bad year for the economy in general, but Brent Weirick didn’t notice a thing as he completed some of the biggest deals of his career in 2001. After selling a five-building project in the North San Fernando Valley for $5.5 million, Weirick followed it up with the $7 million sale of an industrial building in Pacoima. The 39-year-old Weirick has been with Colliers Seeley since he became a broker 15 years ago. He is a graduate of the University of Tulsa where he played football and majored in history and real estate.

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