The Hoyt Organization on LinkedIn

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Real-Estate Firms Get a Handle on Twitter

Real-Estate Firms Get a Handle on Twitter

The commercial real-estate industry is notorious for being slow to embrace new technology. Social networking is no exception.
But that is finally beginning to change. Some top firms are beefing up their activity on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, and some brokers say they are doing deals thanks to leads generated by the sites.
As recently as 2010, four years after the launch of Twitter, many brokers didn't even know what the service was.
"People don't understand it," confessed Ron Houghtaling, CBRE Group Inc.'s head of social media, at a 2010 technology conference.
Today, CBRE leads the Twitter pack among major firms with more than 26,000 followers. Meanwhile Jones Lang LaSalle, is second with 16,048 and has a four-person social-media team that also manages accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites.

View the full article.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tech-savvy Moms Lead Home-based Food Culture

According to “Moms as Food Shoppers: Grocery Store and Supercenter Patterns and Trends,” a recently released report from market research firm Packaged Facts, the modern American mom is at the center of the new home-based food culture and at the front lines of the movement toward healthy eating.

Each year, moms contribute to spending nearly $200 billion on food purchased for use at home. The report reveals that 13.3 million moms (41 percent) consider their kitchen to be the most important room in their home, while 19.7 million (61 percent) say they enjoy cooking.

A growing number of these moms want to put a new spin on the same old menus, especially with new recipes and food products, and this growing desire has given influence to the internet and social media when it comes to household food purchases.

Read the full article here:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Retail Auctions Heat Up (VIDEO)

Who is interested in buying retail real estate in an auction environment? How much of auctioned retail real estate is distressed?’s Joe Cuomo answers those questions on GlobeSt TV this week at ICSC-New York.

View the full video here:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Housing Starts Surge, But Rentals Are the Drivers

The headline number for housing starts was big, exceeding expectations and sending the home builder stocks on yet another tear.

New Home Construction
Tim Boyle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Starts hit 894,000 (annualized) in October, over 50,000 more than the analysts forecast. Housing starts are now at their highest level since July 2008. (Read More: Good News Keeps Coming for Housing as Starts Surge)

“We expect the builder equities will react positively initially, but then fade through the day once the report is fully digested as 'multifamily' was the key driver of the results,” warned Stephen East at ISI.

There is no question that home builders are benefiting from tight supply in the existing home market and overall improved consumer confidence. That was apparent in the home builder confidence numbers released this week, which hit the highest level in six years. (Read MoreBuilders Bump Up Thanks to Drop in Existing Home Supply.)

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Recovery to Advance in 2013 for CRE

San Francisco Named Top City in 2013 Real Estate Forecast

  • San Francisco displaces Washington, D.C., as top-ranked city.
  • Apartment sector remains investors' favored property type.
  • Secondary markets to gain favor as investors search for yield beyond high-priced core markets.
  • Office sector has started to come back; retail "not as bad as feared;" hotels are "surprisingly good."
  • U.S. is still seen as a safe harbor for global investment.

 "This is our recovery," Jonathan D. Miller, principal author of the report, said when the Emerging Trends in Real Estate forecast was presented at ULI's Fall Meeting in Denver. "It's a recovery, but anchored in considerable uncertainty," Miller said. He cited Europe's economic troubles, a slowdown in China, and the "fiscal cliff" looming in the United States. But the forecast says modest gains in leasing, rents, and pricing will extend across U.S. markets from coast-to-coast and improve prospects for all property sectors. 

According to survey participants, despite a slower-than-normal real estate recovery track, U.S. property sectors and markets will register noticeably better prospects as compared with last year. Recent job creation should be enough to increase absorption and push down vacancy rates in the office, industrial, and retail sectors, helped by the limited new supply in commercial markets. Robust demand for apartments should hold up, survey respondents indicate, even as new construction ramps up – and even the housing sector makes progress in most regions. Additionally, improving fundamentals should help with rents and net operating incomes, building confidence about sustained growth and strengthening recent appreciation.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

CRE recovery will continue, report says

The Chicago skyline.

The nation’s commercial real estate recovery will advance in 2013 with modest gains in leasing, rents, and sales prices, industry leaders said in a report.
Recent job creation should be enough to increase absorption and push down vacancy rates in the office, industrial and retail sectors. Despite being on a slower-than-normal recovery track, U.S. property sectors and markets have “noticeably” better prospects compared with last year, the report said.

View the full story here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Are Boomers the Reason Urban Rents Are Rising?

We know that home ownership is downsuper-tiny and very-narrow houses are springing up, and urban rents are rising. Here's another trend to add to the mix: .
On Sunday, the website posted an infographic on their blog examining the renting habits of baby boomers and their offspring. RENTCafé project manager Catriona Orosco explained the trend in an email:
What we're seeing is a wholesale recalibration of expectations. Americans just starting their professional lives are realizing that it will be less likely for them to be able to afford the things their parents had, so they are making different choices about how to live. They also crave flexibility, so if a job or personal opportunity presents itself, they can say yes without being tied to a mortgage.
As for Americans nearing retirement, they are being cautious with the resources that are still available to them — they're downsizing not just for convenience, but because they want to be financially smart and prepared for the future. Maybe the best way to put it is that we're all just being a bit more realistic about our American dream these days.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Can This Mall Be Saved? Need Lower Debt, Deep Pockets

Despite Major Risks, Some Gutsy Owners and Investors Are Hoping To Cash In On Value-Add B-Mall Turnarounds and Repositionings

Last week, CoStar News reported on the daunting challenges faced by hundreds of outmoded malls in remaining relevant in a increasingly Darwinian retail environment. In this, the second of a three-part series, we look at the signs that may signal a mall's days may be numbered, and how some gutsy investors are taking on the challenge of reviving moribund properties. 

According to retail property experts, changes in a couple of key vital signs often provide the first signs that a mall may be in trouble. 

Consistent declines in retail sales per square foot over an extended time is one big warning sign, according to Gerard V. Mason, veteran retail specialist and executive managing director of Savills US. Higher quality class A malls should take in at least $400 per square foot, while a decent B-class mall will yield about $350 a square foot. Any time a mall's sales fall below $300 per square foot, it's likely in very serious trouble, according to Mason. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Best Multi-Family Investment Opportunities

CPE-TV interviews Starpoint Properties CEO Paul Daneshrad on the best locations for multi-family property investment.

Watch the full clip here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How High-Tech Is Changing Retail

The difference between the winners and losers in retail increasingly comes down to one factor: tech savvy.

shopping mall

The retail industry is undergoing significant changes in the merchandising process--at least, so says a recent survey by retail consulting firm RSR. The best of the national performers have picked up on a crucial strategy: Target your store's selection of goods to the needs and interests of specific communities. It's better for sales and for controlling costs. The savviest retailers know this and they're using technology to help give them edge.

How High-tech Has Changed the Game
According to the survey, firms that outperform industry averages for annual same-store sales comparisons tend to use and understand specialized computer software tools to manage specific aspects of merchandising. The most important tool was forecasting. Such systems help predict what goods customers might want and stocking patterns to satisfy customer demand while minimizing the amount of capital invested in excess inventory. Three quarters of the retailers surveyed said that retail forecasting is "extremely important" to financial success.
This is an interesting shift. In the past, forecasting systems were largely seen as supply chain management tools, where the focus was on reducing operational costs. Now such systems and techniques have become important to expand sales opportunities, moving from a strictly bottom-line focus to a top-line one. As RSR says, "Advances in hardware computing power make sku-level forecasts not only feasible, but imperative."
Almost equally as important as demand forecasting is customer analytics. This makes a great deal of sense. You can't create a good demand forecast without understanding your customers and what they might want. About 34% of the respondents plan to optimize product assortment for key customer segments this year.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Home Prices Gain for 5th month in June: S&P

Home prices rose more than expected in June, the fifth month in a row of gains in a fresh sign of improvement in the housing market, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday.

The S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping economists' forecasts for 0.5 percent, according to a Reuters poll.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, prices were even stronger, up 2.3 percent.

"We seem to be witnessing exactly what we needed for a sustained recovery; monthly increases coupled with improving annual rates of change," David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a statement.

"The market may have finally turned around."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

5 Ways to Use Pinterest to Boost Press Results

Pinterest is taking over social media like a tsunami of college students on a pizza delivery guy. Why not? It’s fun, highly addictive and – newly announced as the 3rd most popular social network in the World – it’s creeping up on Facebook with 11+ million users.
So how can you leverage that popularity to expand the reach of your press releases? Try these tactics.
1. Add an Infographic to Your Release, Then Pin It
Including a relevant infographic with your press release is a fantastic way to give media and news outlets a visual to go with your story, plus it takes advantage of one of the most popular ways to share data.
For inspiration, try searching wire service websites like or using the keyword “infographic.” It turns up examples like these:Kronos, PayAsUGym, Ebates and BackPainRelief.
This may seem obvious – but don’t just run the infographic with your wire release, or embed it in your email. Be sure to upload it on Pinterest, then add a hyperlink back to the full release with a short summary and a few keyword hashtags.

The Bad News Behind the Good News That Home Prices Are Rising

Doesn't it sometimes seem like every time there's good news about the economy, it comes with a big, infuriating catch? 
Take housing. Over the last few months, economists have been noticing glimmers of good news out of the real estate market - signs that home values may have finally bottomed out and are now turning a corner. There are more buyers and fewer houses sitting around on the market. And according to new stats from from Fannie Mae and CoreLogic, prices kept chugging higher through June, as illustrated in the chart below. 

Read the full article here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The World Cities That Tweet the Most

More tweets come from Jakarta, Indonesia's capitol, than New York, Tokyo, London, or São Paulo, according to a recent study of Twitter's geographic footprint.
The study, released by Paris-based Semiocast, tracked the number of tweets with location info in the month of June, 2012. New York is the top U.S. city for tweets, outranking Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, and Houston. San Francisco, the city that the social media company calls home, doesn't make an appearance in the top 20. 
While Jakarta's high ranking might surprise some, it did not surprise my University of Toronto colleague, Barry Wellman, the leading social media sociologist and co-author of the book,Networked"I'm not surprised, because I saw Indonesian language a lot on Twitter Trending Topics," writes Wellman in an email. "As far as U.S. cities, it looks mostly like a size effect."

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Facebook - Does it Extend to CRE?

There’s been a lot of talk regarding why CRE brokers should not promote their business on Facebook. The main gist: Facebook isn’t a professional network. None of your friends are on Facebook looking for a 5,000sf office or a 10,000sf industrial warehouse.
Yes, Facebook is fairly social and personal but on the other hand, as the largest social media engine, Facebook is a perfect branding vehicle for a brokerage firm or individual broker. It’s easy to control content for the most part and is a much more visual medium than many other social media tools. The photo album feature is easy-to-use and links come with a nice preview, even when you are sharing a link from another Page. Coy Davidson and Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial are great examples of broker and brokerage pages with depth.

Friday, July 27, 2012

9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People

9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People

1. Time doesn't fill me. I fill time.
Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a good way. The average person who is given two weeks to complete a task will instinctively adjust his effort so it actually takes two weeks.

Forget deadlines, at least as a way to manage your activity. Tasks should only take as long as they need to take. Do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then use your "free" time to get other things done just as quickly and effectively.

Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time.

2. The people around me are the people I chose.
Some of your employees drive you nuts. Some of your customers are obnoxious. Some of your friends are selfish, all-about-me jerks.

You chose them. If the people around you make you unhappy it's not their fault. It's your fault. They're in your professional or personal life because you drew them to you--and you let them remain.

Think about the type of people you want to work with. Think about the types of customers you would enjoy serving. Think about the friends you want to have.

Then change what you do so you can start attracting those people. Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people like to associate with kind people. Remarkable employees want to work for remarkable bosses.

Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.

Read on for the full list.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rents Now Rising Faster Than Home Prices

Rents Now Rising Even Faster Than Home Prices

U.S. housing prices are up for the first time in a while, prompting a number of commentaries about how home prices may have finally begun to bounce off the bottom. As it turns out, though, rents are increasing faster.

That's according to the just released Housing and Rental Price Monitors from Trulia, developed by their chief economist and occasional Cities contributor Jed Kolko. He's calculated that in 22 of the 25 largest U.S. rental markets, rents are outpacing home prices.

Housing prices are rising the most, not surprisingly, in markets that took the biggest hits. Phoenix and Miami have seen big increases, as have Cape Coral and West Palm Beach. Housing prices have also come back up in Detroit and nearby Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, as well as Pittsburgh. Denver and Orlando also number among the top ten, as well as San Jose – the Silicon Valley area – where housing prices did not dip that much but continue to be under pressure from the tech boom.

Read the full article.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Big U.S. Cities Growing Faster than Suburbs

Big U.S. Cities Growing Faster than Suburbs

(WASHINGTON) — For the first time in a century, most of America's largest cities are growing at a faster rate than their surrounding suburbs as young adults seeking a foothold in the weak job market shun home-buying and stay put in bustling urban centers.

New 2011 census estimates released Thursday highlight the dramatic switch.

Driving the resurgence are young adults, who are delaying careers, marriage and having children amid persistently high unemployment. Burdened with college debt or toiling in temporary, lower-wage positions, they are spurning homeownership in the suburbs for shorter-term, no-strings-attached apartment living, public transit and proximity to potential jobs in larger cities.

Read the full article.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Home Price Index Climbs in April

An index of home values in the nation’s largest cities increased in April over March after seven months of consecutive declines.

Home prices

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index, a measure closely followed by economists, increased 1.3% month-over-month but was down 1.9% compared with April 2011.

Almost every city managed to post a month-over-month gain. Detroit was the only city out of the 20 followed by the index that fell, down 3.6%.

View the full article here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

America's Richest Cities, 1978 and Now

In many ways, the contemporary history of America's economy is really a story about cities. Metro areas rise and fall with each generation, buoyed or sunk by the industries and trends that support them.
The chart below, from the McKinsey Global Institute, does a beautiful job telling that story. On the left, we have the top 30 U.S. metro areas ranked by real GDP as of 1978. On the right, the top 30 for 2010. That cross-hatch of red and blue lines shows just how much churn there has been in the economy. But I think there are three main trends to take away from this.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Americans Want More City Planning

Americans Want More City Planning

What's most important to economic development in your community? Better transit, thriving local businesses, more affordable housing?
Community plans are a key component in bringing those ideas to life. According to a new pollfrom the American Planning Association, Americans agree. Two-thirds of the 1,300 Americans surveyed said that their community needs both planning and market forces to improve its economic situation.

To read the full story online, click here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

L.A. Housing Market Still Suffering

Richard Green of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate recently sat down with KTLA and provided insight into why California is having such a hard time climbing out of the mortgage mess.

View the entire interview here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

U.S. Homeownership Rate at 15-year Low

U.S. homeownership rate at 15-year low

May 1, 2012

High foreclosure rates and a strong rental market pushed the homeownership rate in the U.S. to a 15-year low, even as projections for the housing market grew brighter.
The 65.4% rate in the first quarter is down from the 66% rate in the fourth quarter and 66.4% in the first quarter of last year, according to the Census Bureau. Before the housing bubble burst, homeownership reached a high of 69.2% in 2004.
The current rate is low compared with the last decade partly because earlier homeownership rates were inflated by people who hadn't made down payments and were really "renters with an option to buy," said Richard K. Green, director of USC's Lusk Center for Real Estate.
In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the homeownership rate stayed roughly in the mid-60% range, Green said.
"We were getting numbers up toward 70% that just didn't make any sense," he said. "If the number goes below 64%, it'll be something to be alarmed about. But above that — we're just going back to where we should be."

View the full article here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

THO Wins Three 2012 Hermes Awards

The Hoyt Organization was awarded three Hermes Creative Awards for 2012. View the full list of winners on the official website.

Hermes Creative Awards, Gold Winner
Pro Bono
Los Angeles Headquarters Association 

Hermes Creative Awards, Gold Winner
Television Placement
Westside Estate Agency

Hermes Creative Awards, Honorable Mention
Gumbiner Savett

Friday, May 4, 2012

Shopping Centers Panel Talks Growth

RETAIL: Shopping centers panel talks growth


Every two hours, a new 7-Eleven is born. That’s the rate at which the convenience stores are opening in new locations worldwide, according to Don Tucker, a real estate manager for the company.
Tucker was among a panel of retail and real estate experts assembled earlier this week for the International Council of Shopping Centers Inland Empire Breakfast Program.
The Ontario event also featured panelists from Rite Aid, Big Lots, Smart & Final and Supervalu, the Minnesota-based company that owns Albertsons and other grocery store chains. The discussion was moderated by Bill Worsley, vice president of Lewis Retail Centers.

View the entire article here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Hoyt Organization Ranked in Top 25 PR Firms in LA

THO has been recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the top 25 largest independent PR agencies in Los Angeles county.

View the full list here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

5 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Realtor

Be Picky! 5 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Realtor

By Stephen Shapiro, WEA

With home prices down 30 percent and real estate transactions diminished by somewhere between one-third and one-half from their peak levels, a huge number of agents -- thousands on the West side of Los Angeles -- are working a much smaller pool of listings and buyers.
The good news for buyers and sellers: You can be a lot pickier than in the past.

View the full article here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

C.W. Driver at Caltech

Six simultaneous projects at Caltech underscore builder’s expertise in campus facilities

PASADENA, Calif. — March 20, 2012 — Already a leading builder of campus buildings and laboratories, C.W. Driver will make its mark on one of the world’s preeminent research institutions when it completes six simultaneous projects at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
Managed by C.W. Driver’s independent company, Driver SPG, the construction projects include new biological labs and educational facilities on the campus. As a premier builder serving the Western U.S. since 1919, C.W. Driver has a deep understanding of Caltech’s ever-changing needs in the area of biotechnology research, as well as the need to preserve its historic architecture.
“C.W. Driver has been entrusted with updating the same facilities where some of the brightest minds in the world have taught,” said C.W. Driver Senior Vice President of Business Development Bob Maxwell. “As our team builds facilities that support the precise needs of today’s top biotechnology researchers and students, we take pride in our careful preservation of campus history.”
Driver SPG provides a competitive edge for performing work on a moment’s notice and adjusting to the specialized and evolving needs of the end user. At Caltech, a precise laboratory or state-of-the-art lecture hall – such as the recently completed remodel of the lecture hall where Richard Feynman delivered his seminal “Lectures on Physics” from 1961-1963 – must be delivered without interrupting campus operations or disturbing sensitive research.
“It comes down to understanding not only the project, but how it impacts the entire campus community,” said Karl Kreutziger, Driver SPG’s executive vice president, who pointed to one researcher’s use of mirrors and lasers valued at $3 million. “It’s essential that our work – even demolition –does not ruin an experiment or disrupt a lecture.”
The Driver SPG team was tasked with upgrading the facility to accommodate the growing needs for the campus and its students, yet protecting and embracing the historical significance of the university grounds. Including the remodeled lecture hall, Driver SPG will complete six projects during the current academic year. The following projects will be completed before the fall semester begins:
The Richard P. Feynman Lecture Hall
  • 2,375-square-foot housing a 250-seat auditorium
  • Remodel of the historic lecture hall where Richard P. Feynman delivered his “Lectures on Physics”
  • One of C.W. Driver’s first projects on the campus
  • Construction of the hall was completed in Sept. 2011
  • Located on the second and third floors of the East Bridge building

“Wet Lab”
  • Project was completed in Dec. 2011
  • Located in the Beckman Institute basement

Arthur Amos Noyes Laboratory of Chemical Physics
  • Remodel of student office space on the first floor
  • Began construction in Jan. 2012 and is slated for completion in March 2012
  • Located adjacent to an existing laser lab

New laboratory for an incoming Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
  • Class 10,000 Clean Room
  • New 1,100-square-foot laser laboratory 
  • Design-build with AC Martin
  • Construction began in Feb. 2012 and is slated for completion in June 2012
  • Located on the basement level of the Keck Building

New lab for a newly hired Assistant Professor of Aerospace
  • Multi-phased project for a 650-square-foot laser lab
  • Construction began in Jan. 2012 and is slated for completion in April 2012
  • Located on the third floor of the Guggenheim building and approximately 250 square-feet in the basement of the Firestone building

New lab spaces for newly hired and long tenured Biology faculty
  • Remodel of a biological facility includes 3,000 square-feet of lab space used for neuroscience experiments  
  • Design-build with Gensler Architects
  • Began construction in Feb. 2012 and is slated for completion in July 2012
  • Located in the subbasement and second floor of the Alles Building, and the second floor of the Kerckhoff building

Monday, March 19, 2012

Honorable Borrowers Pay for Housing Market Collapse

By Stephen Sharpiro, Westside Estate Agency
I can finally say it: Things are getting better in the L.A. residential market.
But not for everyone. In fact, in many cases, not even for those who are fiscally responsible.
It’s true that compared with a few years ago there are less foreclosures on high-end luxury homes on the Westside. Most troubled sellers have sold or otherwise restructured their mortgages, making troubled homes scarce as foreclosures reach their bottom.
But today, after spending 35 years in L.A. residential real estate, – I’ve learned that numbers don’t tell the whole story. Unfortunately, in an election year, numbers are also motivating poorly conceived public policy that rewards the bubble’s most irresponsible borrowers while honest homeowners suffer the consequences.
In fact, one example of a fiscally responsible person who is bearing the brunt of the market with no way out is my son, a successful Realtor who understands the complex local market, who is being strangled by a high-interest loan on an underwater condo.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mountain Real Estate Expands SoCal JV Program

Acquisition of bank-owned L.A. site marks Mountain’s sixth joint venture in the area
LOS ANGELES – March 18, 2012 – The joint venture between Mountain Real Estate Capital (MREC) and Harridge Development has recently acquired a bank-owned residential infill site located at 5120 Melrose Avenue, situated five miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles adjacent to Paramount Studios. The partners are in the process of re-entitling the site from multifamily to single family lots which they plan to sell to homebuilders. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
“The acquisition of this project on Melrose Avenue is the exact type of infill opportunity MREC and our developer partners have been seeking and closing in Southern California,” said Peter Fioretti, MREC’s chief executive officer. “Identifying such opportunities is just the first step – the more challenging part is value-add through creative land planning and product design to meet current market demands. That is why we team up with best-in-class developers and builders like Harridge on projects like this: to identify and create hidden value and assure success.”
The Melrose acquisition represents MREC’s sixth joint venture in Southern California, accounting for over 300 lots for development and house construction, with projected sales value exceeding $140 million. Since 2010, MREC has purchased assets in 10 states from 30 financial institutions and is capitalized with $1 billion to acquire distressed notes and assets. Since 2010, MREC has invested $260 million to acquire 10,000 lots/homes and 9,000 acres, with projected sales exceeding $1.2 billion.          
Harridge Development was recently formed by David Schwartzman, a Los Angeles-based real estate developer. Schwartzman has more than 22 years of real estate experience beginning with his homebuilding-development career in 1990. He has completed more than 20 projects in Los Angeles and controls approximately 700 lots in Southern California.  Said Schwartzman, “It was fortunate that we had recently closed our first joint venture with MREC, because this new opportunity on Melrose involved some tricky land use and development issues, and also required a quick decision.  Because MREC’s principals have development experience and not merely capital providers, I was confident that we could work together to overcome these challenges in a timely fashion.”
Mountain Real Estate Capital is the equity investment arm of the Mountain Real Estate Group, founded in 1993 by its CEO, Peter Fioretti. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., its homebuilder joint venture and asset management groups, headed by Managing Director Joel Kaul, are based in Minneapolis, and its national origination team has additional offices in New York, Los Angeles, Richmond, Va., and Newport Beach, Calif. Lance Franklin, senior investment manager in Los Angeles, originated and managed the closing of this transaction for MREC.
“The Harridge team has demonstrated a unique ability identifying niche infill opportunities in the Los Angeles area and creating value through creative re-entitlement and site design,” said Franklin.  “We believe that Harridge will continue to be a great partner in pursuing additional infill Los Angeles opportunities.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Top Female Broker Adds Beauty to African Village

Lee & Associates’ Christine Deschaine returns home after helping village open its first self-sustaining business in Uganda, Africa
LOS ANGELES — March 14, 2012 — Christine Deschaine is a very busy woman. What with her 24-7 work ethic toward her job as a retail broker for Lee & Associates LA North/Ventura, Inc., it’s a wonder the Los Angeles resident has time for anything else but showing properties, managing tenants and landlords and fielding the many calls and emails from clients and other brokers. But despite her time-consuming professional life, she still makes time for the small village of Kaihura, Uganda.
 “I dedicate time, energy, or even my thoughts to Africa at least once a day. Once you have witnessed their plight and been moved by their gratitude and welcoming faces, it is hard not to think about the people of Africa,” says Deschaine, who has just returned from her third trip to Kaihura, Uganda.
As one of Lee & Associates’ most successful retail brokers, and in fact, one of the few women brokers in the profession, Deschaine somehow finds time for Kaihura and its villagers, which she connected with through Global Support Mission (GSM). GSM is a Tennessee-based charity organization that connects volunteers with grass-roots community programs in developing nations. In this particular case, Deschaine, who has developed a passion for global volunteer initiatives over the years, helped build a hair salon and bridal boutique for the village in southern Uganda.
GSM has assisted with many projects in Kaihura, which they are affiliated with through Bringing Hope to the Family, a community program that aids local orphans and vulnerable children who have lost their parents to violence, poverty, or disease. Some previous projects include the building of a medical clinic, a vocational school and an orphanage as well as mosquito net outreach to the surrounding community. But the people of Kaihura have been very excited for the addition of Village Art Hair Salon and Bridal Boutique, their first self-sustaining business. Given Deschaine’s background with retail, it was a perfect project for her to get involved with.
So after three years in the making, trips back-and-forth from California to Africa and a little physical labor, Deschaine is pleased to announce that Kaihura’s Village Art Hair Salon and Bridal Boutique had a successful grand opening. Along with Deschaine, the local community and other volunteers from GSM came together to make possible a business that will provide skills and jobs to several people in the village. In addition, the profits from the salon help sustain Bringing Hope to the Family.
For Deschaine, who grew up with a family-owned beauty salon business, her broker experience has put her in front of some of Beverly Hills most prominent high-end spas and salons. But this one-room -- with its bright green and orange painted walls, its two chairs and single hair-washing station -- is as beautiful as any place on Rodeo Drive.
“Because of my background with the family-run beauty salon, I was able to help train the local women on how to give manicures and pedicures. They were so eager to learn! It is great to foster the entrepreneurial spirit there, because that is how the village will be able to help itself,” said Deschaine.
 Even from home she was able to contribute to the project by gathering resources and raising money and awareness with her friends, family, and even her retail clients, many of which donated beauty products that Deschaine personally brought to Kaihura in overstuffed suitcases.
“The beauty about this project is that it will provide women and men in the community with skills that they can use to add value to their families and communities,” says Deschaine. “No one really thought that shops like these were possible in the village setting, but Village Art is already more successful than we could have hoped for.”
Deschaine is no stranger to working against the odds as a woman who has been incredibly successful in a man’s world. With more than 18 years of experience in retail tenant and landlord representation, she has consistently ranked among the top producers of Lee & Associates. Specializing in urban redevelopment with some of the Los Angeles’ most prominent retail developers, she has been an integral part of the resurgence of neighborhoods such as Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, downtown Burbank Village, Hollywood Boulevard and Culver City. 
“Christine’s work ethic and her dedication to improving the quality of life wherever she goes has made her a major asset to our team,” said Mike Tingus president of Lee & Associates’ Los Angeles North/Ventura office. “Constantly reminding us of how important it is to give back, she has truly bridged the gap between Africa and Los Angeles for our office and our clients. I consider myself very lucky to know such an inspiring person.” 
Just days after her return, Deschaine is already looking forward to her next trip to Kaihura, where three new construction projects await her. She has also found a way to help the people of Kaihura from home in the interim by spearheading two action groups for Bringing Hope to the Family, through which she plans to raise money for uniforms and school fees for an entire school year for over 115 students.
Contributions can be made to any GSM affiliate at, where Deschaine’s action groups are “Scholarship Fund” and “Secondary Education and Uniforms.”