Avison Young Boosts Midwest Offerings

Canadian-based Avison Young is expanding its Midwest United States business and service offerings.
James Hanson

James Hanson, Mesa

Canadian­­-based Avison Young is expanding its Midwest United States business and service offerings with the acquisition of Chicago real estate development firm Mesa Development L.L.C.

No financial details were released about the purchase of the 15-year-old company that brings development, construction and project management expertise to Avison Young’s downtown Chicago office along with four employees. The acquisition also adds senior-level capital markets capabilities to Avison Young’s existing capital markets teams.

“Mesa Development brings to Avison Young a great history and variety of real estate experience,” Avison Young chair & CEO Mark Rose said in a news release. “The group has collectively developed, built, bought and sold some of the highest-quality institutional assets in Chicago and other metro areas over the course of the last 30 years.”

Mesa Development specializes in urban, mixed-use projects that feature transit-oriented development and environmental sustainability. The firm’s completed projects in Chicago include the 72-story Legacy at Millennium Park and 57-story Heritage at Millennium Park, both luxury condominium towers, and the mixed-income Park Boulevard project at 35th and State streets. The firm is also developing Vue53 apartments on 53 Street in the Hyde Park neighborhood, which will continue under the Avison Young banner. It also built 360 Residences, a 213-unit condominium tower in San Jose, Calif.

Richard Hanson

Richard Hanson, Mesa

Rich Hanson, the founding principal and former chairman of Mesa, and his son Jim Hanson, also a former principal at Mesa, have become principals at Avison Young. Rich Hanson, who has 40 years experience, primarily in property development, will lead Avison Young’s local development activities, including the Vue53 apartment project. Jim Hanson, who has 28 years experience in capital markets and development, will assist in running the development business and work with Earl Webb, Avison Young’s president of U.S. operations, and Avison Young Principals Erik Foster and Michael Wilson to expand the firm’s capital markets team in Chicago.

Also joining Avison Young from Mesa are William Lyons, who is now director of construction in Chicago, and administrative coordinator Doris Walters.

“From the Mesa point of view, it gave us the advantage of joining a very popular, growing company, a national and international company and a lot of opportunity,” Rich Hanson told Commercial Property Executive.

Webb said he has known Jim and Rich Hanson for many years.

“Jim and I actually worked together for 10 years at Jones Lang LaSalle, along with Mark Rose, for five of those years,” Webb said in the news release. “Rich has been an integral part of the development of Chicago’s skyline during his 40-year career, and his knowledge of Chicago as well as other key U.S. markets will be invaluable to our firm.”

Danny Nikitas, Avison Young principal and managing director of the Chicago office, said in the release that the Hansons will play key roles in the company’s aggressive U.S. expansion program, especially in development.

“Jim, in addition to being one of the most creative and real-estate savvy professionals in our market, brings a deep experience in capital markets – both in investment sales of large office, retail and multi-family properties, and also in complex, structured debt- and equity-finance transactions,” Nikitas said.

He said the four former Mesa employees would be important as “Avison Young pursues more local, national and international sustainable development projects.”

Rich Hanson told CPE that most of Mesa’s work had been in the Chicago region, but the plan is to now seek more development opportunities outside Chicago. While Mesa may be one of the few development companies acquired by Avison Young, he said the New York and Atlanta offices have development capabilities and he expects there to be collaboration in the future.

The consolidation trend in the CRE industry was a factor in the Hansons’ decision to join Avison Young, Rich Hanson said.

“As an industry, we are consolidating, especially if you’re a developer as we were, you need a larger platform,” he told CPE.

“Ultimately, we will serve our clients better and grow as real estate professionals. We look forward to collaborating with our new colleagues across North America and Europe,” Jim Hanson stated in the release.

Avison Young, the world’s fastest growing commercial real estate services firm, has been in Chicago since January 2009. Last month, the firm added another Midwest office, this one in Indianapolis headed up by Bill Ehret, who became a principal and managing director of the office. He had previously been a co-founder and partner of Cushman & Wakefield/Summit in Indianapolis. Nancy Gibbs, most recently a client coordinator at the same firm, joined Avison Young as a senior associate.

Earlier in March, Avison Young had entered the Minneapolis-St. Paul market, tapping Mark Evenson, a former DTZ managing director, to head up the office as principal and managing director.

Overseas, the firm opened an office in Dusseldorf, Germany, in March, its third German office and the fifth in Europe.

Avison Young currently has 66 offices around the globe.