Industry Vet Joins Colliers in Washington, D.C.

Industry Vet Joins Colliers in Washington, D.C.

J. Fernando Barrueta, a 30-year veteran of the Washington, D.C. real estate community, has joined Colliers International in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office as managing director.

At Colliers, Barrueta will focus on nonprofit and educational institutions, primarily in the region, building on his recent role as CEO of the Hispanic College Fund, where he worked from 2001 to 2010. Most recently, Barrueta was president of his own consulting firm, which specialized in corporate relations, commercial real estate transaction management and nonprofit management and development. He has also served on boards for other area nonprofits, including the University of the District of Columbia, the Community Foundation of the National Capitol Region, Building Hope and the Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership.

As the CEO of the Hispanic College Fund, Barrueta led the growth of the fund to $7.6 million from $1 million in operating and scholarship funds. Prior to the HCF, Barrueta served from 1996 to 2001 as the executive vice chairman of Carey Winston/Transwestern, where he oversaw the transition of this regional commercial real estate firm to a national firm. He led tenant representation as a national practice in the merged firm and generated $11 million annual revenue.

Prior to this, he founded Barrueta & Associates, where he grew annual revenue to $9 million in 1989 from startup in 1986. Barrueta established this as the only Hispanic-owned commercial real estate firm in the Mid-Atlantic Region and the largest Hispanic-owned commercial real estate firm in the nation.

NREI talked to Barrueta about how commercial real estate investment has changed since he was last in the field and what advice he’d give to a young associate. An edited transcript of that interview follows.

NREI: What has changed in the world of commercial real estate investment since your time with Carey Winston/Transwestern?

Fernando Barrueta: The two basic things are complexity and technology. You can’t be even a little bit computer illiterate. You have to do all the things that are required, and that’s far more than it used to be. And you have to do more for whoever you are representing. Both in landlord and tenant representation, you see brokers doing a lot more things to satisfy the client’s needs.

The companies have changed too. For example, project management used to be something you did through another company or when you needed it. Now it’s required for almost every transaction and it’s done in-house most of the time.

Research and analysis used to be jobs you took as stepping stones to be a broker and now they are professions in and of themselves. They do the analysis and they don’t just go to the broker and ask what they think. The researcher himself or herself does the commentary.

NREI: What are your main goals now with Colliers?

Fernando Barrueta: My first goal is to get myself re-educated on something that I left 10 years ago. Some of this stuff is brand new and I’ve got to become as proficient and competent as anyone else. I think I already bring a few things to the party. That’s a willingness to work hard and smart and to be really conscious of how you’re helping your client as opposed to how much money the client is going to pay you.

I don’t expect I’m going to be the top agent in Washington, D.C. as I was twice during my previous career, but I do expect I will become again a respected, honest, thorough and very helpful tenant representative.

NREI: How do you see your experience with the Hispanic College Fund helping you return to commercial real estate investment?

Fernando Barrueta: Besides the contacts I made, I got to understand even better how the client has needs. And as a broker, you need to answer those needs. It’s not that different from what I did before, but it became very clear to me after my work with the Hispanic College Fund. When you are selling a corporation on providing scholarships to Hispanic kids, if [the clients] are not getting anything out of it, they are not doing it.

That comes down to the same basic thing. You need to figure out what the customer needs. The customer doesn’t care what you need, it’s about what they need. Even if you are trying to do good for the world, that’s still how it works.

NREI: What advice would you give to a younger associate, just starting out in the field?

Fernando Barrueta: It’s the same advice I used to give. You need to do the best you can do. There are no “Bs” in this business. You can’t float along with “Bs”—you have to get “As” with everything you do.

You also have to be prepared to mop the floors. You just have to do what needs to be done. Don’t expect someone else to do it. Just do it. If you do those things, you will be successful. People will respect the use of your intelligence, your creativity.

NREI: That’s great advice for any profession.

Fernando Barrueta: I think so too. This is not rocket science. This is a selling profession. You are selling a service. The better you are serving, the more successful you will be and the happier your clients will be.

Founding Partner at Takes Reins as Co-CEO

Monte Koch, a founding partner and board member of, will take on the additional role of co-CEO.

Koch joins after a long career in investment banking, most recently at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., where he served as that firm's global head of real estate investment banking.

Koch has been a key part of in a non-executive capacity since its inception and has acted as a guiding force in the company’s growth.

As co-CEO, Koch will be responsible for creating an enhanced corporate culture that focuses on scaling the company’s operations to support its continuing growth, both domestically and internationally.

During more than 25 years of investment banking experience, Koch also served as Deutsche Bank's chairman of M&A for the Americas, leading strategic dialog and tactical deal execution for some of the firm's most prominent clients. In the coming months, he will continue to advise on active transactions for his banking clients as he transitions into his new role at

Hires, Moves at Lee & Associates

Peter Braus, managing principal of the New York office of Lee & Associates, has been appointed to chairman of the REBNY retail stores committee. Prior to his appointment, Braus was membership chair of the retail committee for four years. He will serve a term of three years to end in 2015.

Before joining Lee & Associates NYC (formerly Sierra Realty Company) in 2001, Braus worked as a retail leasing broker with New Spectrum Realty Services and Newmark Knight Frank.

Larry Strickland, founding principal of Lee & Associates San Diego County and previously with Lee Carlsbad, has joined the office of Lee San Diego.

Since 1990, Strickland has negotiated transactions totaling over $700 million. Before joining Lee & Associates in 1988, he was a founding principal for First Austin Properties and a branch manager for the IBM Corporation.

Lee also hired Jim Ridens as a senior vice president to the Ontario, Calif. office. After starting his brokerage career in 1987, Ridens started Ridens & Associates in 1994. He currently specializes in the industrial market and focuses on the Inland Empire, mainly Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario and Chino. Recently, Ridens represented the seller for the $7.2 million Rancho Cucamonga Jersey Business Park sales transaction.

Lee & Associates also brought on Valerie Esparza as an associate. Esparza was previously a sales agent/property manager at Ridens & Associates and an escrow officer with Fidelity Escrow.

Berkeley Point Capital Names President

Jim McDevitt is joining Berkeley Point Capital LLC as its president.

He will be responsible for management of the firm’s day-to-day operations, including the firm’s production, underwriting and closing activities. Most recently, McDevitt was with Wells Fargo multifamily capital, serving as executive vice president, in the capacity of head of correspondent development. Previously, he was group head of commercial mortgage banking and multifamily capital, where he managed the firm’s Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, life company, conduit and bank permanent debt placement activities.

Blanca Hires EVP

Blanca Commercial Real Estate welcomes Alison Pages, who will serve as executive vice president for the Miami-based commercial real estate brokerage and advisory firm.

She has closed office transactions totaling approximately 1.5 million sq. ft. of space valued at over $250 million throughout her career.

Pages comes to Blanca from Colliers International South Florida, where she specialized in office and medical leasing as senior vice president. There she was responsible for all aspects of deal generation and establishing long-term relationships with tenants, brokers, and building owners.

Before joining Colliers, Pages worked for Flagler Realty Services Inc. (formerly known as Codina Realty Services Inc.), CB Richard Ellis and Abood & Associates Inc.

Merger Between Keyes and Burst

The Keyes Company has merged with Burst Commercial Real Estate Services Inc., forming the new company KRES Commercial, which will be based in West Palm Beach, Fla. and will specialize in commercial real estate.

John Geisen, executive vice president, will direct the new company, which will be a subsidiary of The Keyes Company. Geisen formerly worked with CB Richard Ellis and Codina / Flagler Real Estate Services.

Burst Commercial Real Estate Services was founded by Tom Burst in 1996. Burst has been active in commercial real estate since 1986 when he first worked with Geisen at CBRE.

KRES Commercial will focus on the sale, leasing, and management of office, industrial and retail commercial properties.

Partner Joins C&W in Munich; Senior Director Comes to Global Hospitality

Thomas Müller has taken over the running of the Munich, Germany investment team of Cushman & Wakefield as a partner. He is making the move after six years as the director and head of investment at Savills Munich and brings some 20 years of experience in the real estate industry.

Cushman &Wakefield also hired James Escarzega for the firm’s global hospitality team as a senior director.

Based in San Francisco, Escarzega will provide debt structuring, debt and equity placement and hotel sales for hospitality clients in the U.S.

Prior to joining Cushman & Wakefield, Escarzega served as senior vice president of Pinnacle Realty Investments, where he was responsible for the sourcing, underwriting, valuing, managing and closing of more than $1.9 billion of lodging transactions and debt and equity placement assignments in all lodging segments and product types across the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Principle Hires New Seniors Housing Head

Principle Valuation LLC has promoted Thomas J. (“TJ”) Griffith to head the firm's seniors housing division.

Griffith will be responsible for all project work for the team which provides valuations and advisory services for the entire spectrum of seniors housing facility types. Griffith has been in the appraisal industry for 10 years. Prior to joining Principle Valuation, he worked at Wellspring Valuation, which was subsequently purchased by Huron Consulting Group.

Shea Names New SVP

Shea Properties named Lillian Kuo as senior vice president of asset management for the company’s commercial management group, based in Orange County, Calif.

Kuo previously worked at Broadreach Capital Partners, where she had asset management responsibility for the Southern California and Arizona regions, including office, retail and research and development properties. In that role, she managed more than 3 million sq. ft. of office, retail and industrial buildings valued at over $1 billion.

Ventas Appoints SVP

Ventas Inc., a Chicago-based healthcare REIT, has appointed John K. Hart to the newly created position of senior vice president and chief information officer.

Hart comes to Ventas from CME Group Inc., where he worked for 16 years, most recently as managing director of technology. At the CME he supervised a team of 200 IT professionals and was responsible for managing the exchange’s enterprise architecture, business systems, security, telecommunications, networking, help desk and operations.

At Ventas, Hart will report to the company’s CFO.

New Office, VPs for Walker & Dunlop

Walker & Dunlop Inc. has opened an office in Madison, Wis., the company’s 12th national office and its second location in Wisconsin.

The firm has hired Michael Lee and Matthew Lund as vice presidents who will be based out of the new office and will focus on financing all types of income-producing properties.

Prior to joining Walker & Dunlop, Lee and Lund were with Grandbridge Real Estate Capital, where they specialized in originating and structuring commercial real estate financing for all property types.

Llamas Promoted to VP

Joseph G. Llamas has been promoted to vice president at McShane Development Company, the national real estate development and investment company that is a subsidiary of The McShane Companies.

Headquartered in McShane’s Austin, Texas regional office, Llamas will oversee the firm’s development activities within the industrial and office markets throughout Texas and portions of the Central Region. He will provide strategic direction and management of McShane’s land selection and acquisition, feasibility/underwriting, entitlements, holdings, build-to-suit opportunities, financing, leasing and disposition activities.

Llamas joined McShane Development Company in 2004 as a development manager headquartered in the firm’s corporate office in suburban Chicago.

Self Storage Experts Join JLL

Jones Lang LaSalle has hired Steve Mellon and Pete Williams as managing directors of the firm’s capital markets business to broaden the firm’s offerings in the sales of self storage facilities.

Mellon, who specializes in acquisitions and dispositions, and Williams, who has been a developer, owner and operator as well as investment sales specialist, will steer the national efforts to expand this product sector expertise around the country.

Both Mellon and Williams come to Jones Lang LaSalle from Grubb & Ellis. Mellon served as director of that firm’s self storage group for the past three years. During his career, he has been involved in more than $1.5 billion in property sales and structured finance/equity placement.

Prior to joining Grubb & Ellis in 2011, Williams was the founder and CEO of Premier Storage Solutions, where he developed, acquired, operated and sold state-of-the-art self storage facilities throughout the country. During his career, he has been involved with more than $1 billion in transactions in 35 states.

Two New Associates at Massey Knakal

Massey Knakal Realty Services brought on Britt Wohler in the firm’s Manhattan division as an associate working alongside First Vice President of Sales Guthrie Garvin. Wohler will focus on Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood. The company also hired Robert Rappa for the Queens division as an associate working alongside Partner Thomas A. Donovan and his team. Rappa will work in Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park, and Ridgewood.

Director Joins Gibbons P.C.

David J. Freeman has joined the New York office of Gibbons P.C. as a director in the real property and environmental department.

Freeman comes to the firm from Paul Hastings. He represents the buyers, sellers and developers of properties in all environmental law areas, including brownfields, due diligence, hazardous waste cleanups and sustainability. He also litigates matters related to remediation, cost recovery, property damage and exposure to toxic substances. Previously in his career, Freeman served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Frank E. Moss and a trial attorney for the Federal Trade Commission.

REBNY Names New Chair

REBNY has named international builder and developer Rob Speyer to chair the organization. Speyer, president and co-chief executive officer of Tishman Speyer, begins his term in January 2013.

Speyer’s assumption of the chairmanship represents the first time in REBNY’s 117-year history that the post will be occupied by three succeeding generations of a family. Jerry Speyer, Rob Speyer’s father, served as chairman from 1986 to 1988. His grandfather, Robert V. Tishman, held the position from 1972 to 1975.

Rob Speyer, who will be 43 years old when his term begins, will be the youngest chairman in REBNY’s history. He succeeds Mary Ann Tighe, who served as the first female chair of REBNY.

Speyer has served as a member of REBNY’s executive committee since 2004 and as a member of the board of governors since 2001. Speyer was named co-chief executive officer of Tishman Speyer in 2008 and continues to serve as president. Since joining the firm in 1995, he has worked in senior positions in each of its major spheres of activity, including acquisitions, development, capital markets and leasing.

Sales Forces Integrated at Griffin

Griffin Capital Securities, the distributor of Griffin Capital Net Lease REIT and Griffin-American Healthcare REIT II, both publicly-registered, non-traded real estate investment trusts, has integrated two previously separate sales forces dedicated to each respective REIT.

In January, 41 of 45 employees of Grubb & Ellis Capital Corporation (the former dealer manager for Griffin-American Healthcare REIT II) joined Griffin Capital Securities, including the entire 30-member internal and external wholesaling team. Griffin-American Healthcare REIT II transitioned its sponsorship from Grubb & Ellis Company to co-sponsorship by Griffin Capital Corporation and American Healthcare Investors on January 9, 2012.

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