Avison Young acquires Commercial Texas, opens new office in Austin, TX

Fast-growing commercial real estate services firm opens 40th U.S. office; 11 members join, Michael Kennedy becomes Managing Director

TORONTO, April 16, 2014 /CNW/ - Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young, the world's fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm, announced today that it has acquired Austin, Texas-based commercial real estate services firm Commercial Texas, LLC and opened a new office in Austin, TX.

The newest American office represents Avison Young's third office in Texas, 40th office in the U.S., 42nd office outside of Canada, and an additional step in the firm's ongoing aggressive global growth and expansion strategy.

Over the past five years, Avison Young has grown from 11 to, now, 57 offices in 46 markets and from 300 to more than 1,500 real estate professionals across Canada, the U.S., and in Europe.

Founded in 1997, Commercial Texas provides tenant representation, landlord representation and sales and advisory services to clients in the office, retail, industrial, multi-residential and investment sectors. Handling more than $67 million in lease and sales transactions in 2013, Commercial Texas has consistently ranked as one of the top 20 commercial real estate firms in Austin, according to the Austin Business Journal's Book of Lists research.

Today's acquisition further expands Avison Young's business-line coverage in Texas and brings 11 new employees to Avison Young. Effective immediately, Michael Kennedy, Carl Condon, Chrissy Cornelius and Burke Kennedy become Principals of Avison Young.

Michael Kennedy also becomes Managing Director of the Austin office. Formerly the founder, President and principal owner of Commercial Texas, he will be responsible for growing a full-service commercial real estate platform in Austin through recruitment and acquisition. He will also manage the day-to-day operations of the office and service new and existing clients. Condon, Cornelius and Burke Kennedy will continue to focus on office brokerage in the Austin market.

"The acquisition of Commercial Texas gives Avison Young a significant presence in the Greater Austin area, which is a core region for our company's long-term growth as a global service provider," comments Rose. "Mike Kennedy and his team are highly regarded as top real estate professionals in Austin. Their joining us is a major brand-elevating event for Avison Young in Austin and throughout Texas. With our resources behind them, we believe the Commercial Texas team will be able to grow dramatically by building a full-service, diversified business in Austin. We couldn't be more thrilled to have Mike and his team on board."

Also joining from Commercial Texas are: John Baird as a Senior Vice-President; Ryan Rice, Associate; Patrick Kennedy, Operations Manager; Andrew Alizzi, research coordinator; Susan Murray, administrative coordinator; Danielle Percy, client service coordinator; and Randa Stringer, marketing coordinator.

"Avison Young has great offices in Houston and Dallas, and their service offerings will be enhanced and complemented by this acquisition. With the addition of Commercial Texas in Austin, we are now well established in Texas," states Earl Webb, Avison Young's President, U.S. Operations. "As Avison Young did not previously have an Austin presence, today's announcement marks our firm's entry into one of the hottest and best-performing markets in the nation."

"Through the knowledge, expertise and positive relationships that Mike Kennedy and his team have developed throughout the state, we are actively pursuing more expansion opportunities in other Texas markets, particularly San Antonio," Webb continues. "Going forward, we'll continue to add people in all of our Texas offices to bolster our service lines."

Avison Young opened its first Texas office in Houston in June 2010 with Rand Stephens joining as a Principal and Managing Director. The company opened its Dallas office in July 2011, and acquired Dallas-based tenant representation firm Dillon Corporate Services/Cresa Dallas in October 2013. The acquisition added 40 members, including Greg Langston as a Principal and Managing Director, Dallas.

"It was apparent when discussions on the acquisition began that Commercial Texas and Avison Young are a perfect fit culturally. Also, Commercial Texas fully embraces Avison Young's mandate to provide best-in-class service," notes Stephens. "Commercial Texas is considered one of the top commercial real estate brokerage firms in Austin. The company's strong skill sets in servicing corporate and investor clients with transaction and advisory services on a local and multi-market basis gel nicely with Avison Young's solutions-oriented, collaborative approach to solving clients' real estate problems."

"Mike Kennedy and the Commercial Texas team have done an excellent job of building a company with a great local presence. Outside of providing more resources, there's no reason to change anything," Stephens adds.

Effective immediately, Commercial Texas' existing office at 515 Congress Avenue, Suite 1500, in downtown Austin will be rebranded as Avison Young.

"It's no secret that commercial real estate firms have long felt the need to align with a national or international network. Certainly, Commercial Texas has considered its options in the past," states Michael Kennedy. "But what always gave us pause for thought was a concern that we wouldn't be able to operate in a way that was consistent with the extremely high level of service and independent manner our clients have always said they appreciate. That was the single biggest hold-up."

He continues: "Significant due diligence has been performed, and I feel confident that Avison Young's brand represents everything Commercial Texas has held near and dear for the past 17 years. Avison Young's Principal-led culture establishes growth opportunities for other team members, and our expectation is that this alignment will help us attract additional top-tier talent here in the Austin market. At the same time, we're confident the acquisition will enhance the way we service our clients – and that makes this a unique and very exciting opportunity."

Located in Central Texas, Austin is the state capital and ranks as the 11th-largest city in the U.S. and the fourth-largest in Texas. With a population of 843,000, Austin is also the second-largest state capital in the U.S. The city's economic development authority has spearheaded approximately 7.2 million square feet (msf) of major redevelopment projects and the downtown area is in the midst of an extensive refurbishment program. Austin has also secured the No. 1 spot on Forbes' annual list of America's fastest-growing cities for the past four years straight. The region's population stands at 1.87 million – a figure anticipated to top 2 million within two years. Major corporate employers include 3M, Apple, Dell, Oracle, Amazon, Cisco Systems, Whole Foods and National Instruments. More than 300 companies have moved to Austin in the past nine years, with approximately 100 of those coming from California.

Today's announcement comes on the heels of Avison Young launching its European presence by acquiring London, U.K.-based NAI Haywards LLC and opening new offices in London and Thames Valley, U.K. on April 1, 2014.

Biographies

Michael Kennedy
Michael Kennedy has more than 30 years of commercial real estate experience. Prior to joining Avison Young, he founded Commercial Texas in Austin in 1997 and grew the firm into one of the region's leading real estate companies. Throughout his career, Kennedy has been recognized as one of the most active office leasing and sales brokers in the Austin area.

A frequently named Austin Business Journal "Heavy Hitter" in both the tenant representation and landlord representation categories, Kennedy has contributed a number of times to the Annual Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Forecast Forum and has spoken at Urban Land Institute (Austin chapter) and continuing legal education events. He is a frequently quoted expert on commercial real estate trends in Austin and has published numerous articles. In addition, he is a member of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), Commercial Brokers Association (of which he is past President), and CoreNet Global; and past Board member and Downtown Chair of the Real Estate Council of Austin. Kennedy is also a founding fellow of the Austin Bar Association and lends his volunteer time to many organizations outside of the commercial real estate industry. He is past President of ZACH Theatre, member of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, and Secretary of The Downtown Austin Alliance. Kennedy holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the South Texas College of Law and a Bachelor of Science in education, English and political science from the University of St. Thomas.

Carl Condon
Carl Condon brings 14 years of commercial real estate experience to Avison Young. Prior to joining the company, he served as a Senior Vice-President with Commercial Texas. Since joining the Commercial Texas team in 2003, Condon has been involved with lease transactions totaling more than 1.8 msf and a transaction value of $215 million on behalf of leading corporations and local organizations.

Condon's commitment to his clients' best interests has landed him on the Austin Business Journal's "Heavy Hitter" list, and he consistently ranks as one of CoStar Group's top office brokers. Condon began his commercial real estate career in 2000 working with Colliers International, where he was quickly recognized for the most transactions closed by a Colliers broker in the Austin office in 2001. Condon is a member of the Commercial Brokers Association and Real Estate Council of Austin, and is a board member of the Capital Certified Development Corporation. He is also active with the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce and First Tee of Greater Austin. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Michigan.

Chrissy Cornelius
Chrissy Cornelius was most recently a Vice-President at Commercial Texas. She joined the firm in 2007 in the company's research and brokerage support division. She was promoted to broker in 2009 and, since that time, has completed more than 80 transactions valued at more than $125 million. Cornelius has been honored as a "Heavy Hitter" in the office tenant lease representation category by the Austin Business Journal. In 2012, she earned her designation as a Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM). Prior to joining Commercial Texas, Cornelius worked with McKinney Properties while attending college. At McKinney, she played an active role in managing the annual budget, and worked with vendors and contractors to research proposals for presentation to corporate officers.

Cornelius is a member of the Real Estate Council of Austin, Austin Technology Council, Association for Corporate Growth and CoreNet Global. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in corporate communications from the University of Texas at Austin.

Burke Kennedy
Burke Kennedy joins Avison Young from Commercial Texas where he most recently served as a Vice-President. He started working at Commercial Texas while in college in 2001 and worked his way up to Associate before attending law school in 2009. Upon graduating from St. Mary's School of Law in 2012, he was admitted to the State Bar of Texas. After taking the Texas Bar exam and while awaiting the results, he immediately returned to Commercial Texas to put his prior eight years of commercial real estate experience and new legal expertise to work. During Burke's commercial real estate career, he has completed more than 80 lease transactions totaling nearly 700,000 sf of space. The deals have a combined transaction value of more than $111 million.

Kennedy is active with the Young Men's Business League, Real Estate Council of Austin and the Commercial Brokers Association. In addition to his law degree, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Southwestern University.

Avison Young is the world's fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Avison Young is a collaborative, global firm owned and operated by its principals. Founded in 1978, the company comprises 1,500 real estate professionals in 57 offices, providing value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management, financing and mortgage placement services to owners and occupiers of office, retail, industrial and multi-family properties.

Editors/Reporters
• Please click on links to view and download photos of Michael Kennedy, Carl Condon, Chrissy Cornelius and Burke Kennedy
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For further information/comment/photos:

Sherry Quan, Principal, National Director of Communications & Media Relations, Avison Young: 604.647-5098; mobile: 604.726-0959

Mark Rose, Chair and CEO, Avison Young: 416.673.4028

Earl Webb, President, U.S. Operations, Avison Young: 312.957.7610

Michael Kennedy, Principal and Managing Director, Austin, Avison Young: 512.474-2411

Avison Young's new Austin, Texas office is located at: 515 Congress Avenue, Suite 1500, Austin, Texas, 78701

www.avisonyoung.com

Avison Young was a winner of Canada's Best Managed Companies program in 2011 and 2012 and requalified in 2013 to maintain its status as a Best Managed company.

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SOURCE Avison Young Commercial Real Estate (BC)



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