Avison Young Buys Witherspoon & Carswell, L&W; Opens 5th Office in Florida

Avison Young has launched its fifth Florida office in the past year with the purchase of Tampa-based Lane Witherspoon & Carswell Commercial Real Estate Advisors and sister company L&W Commercial Property Management.

Ed Finkel, Contributing Writer

Ken_Lane

Ken Lane, of Avison Young

Avison Young has launched its fifth Florida office in the past year with the purchase of Tampa-based Lane Witherspoon & Carswell Commercial Real Estate Advisors and sister company L&W Commercial Property Management.

The acquisition extends Avison Young’s reach from south to west-central Florida, adding 6.3 million square feet of agency listings and more than 2.3 million square feet of property management assignments to its portfolio.

Ken Lane, Clay Witherspoon and Trey Carswell have become principals of Avison Young, with Lane and Witherspoon named co-managing directors of the new Avison office, and their 16 colleagues are also now Avison Young members.

Lane told Commercial Property Executive that Lane Witherspoon & Carswell hadn’t been actively seeking a buyer, but periodically “people kept knocking on the door, interested in what we were doing,” he said. “Avison Young just had a fresh way of looking at things. It felt very entrepreneurial and energizing .… This will allow us to be a lot more interactive with our clients.”

“We have [had] an entrepreneurial company, on our own,” Witherspoon added. “This was the one [offer] that felt really right. We felt like this was best for our customers and our employees, being able to offer the services and operate under an entrepreneurial spirit. This was the right feel, right time, right approach.”

Both co-managing directors of the new Avison Young Tampa office expressed optimism about the local commercial real estate economy. “People are viewing Tampa as affordable again,” Lane said. “We’re able to compete with cities across the country that we had been losing to, because of housing prices and unemployment numbers. Tampa’s just jumped back into the spotlight.”

Witherspoon reported a “huge uptick in activity,” in particular in new net absorption deals among larger users, of 50,000 square feet and above. “Tampa is starting to win those beauty contests,” he said. “We’re just seeing larger blocks of space—corporations starting to open their pocketbooks and looking at relocating to Tampa from the Northeast and the Midwest.”

Lane and Witherspoon both expect to grow the firm from its current 19 employees, both on the brokerage side and the property management side. “The news has been well received by our existing clients,” Witherspoon said. “Avison Young offers the platform that we feel like we can be successful in attracting other good, new clients.”

“We definitely want to expand our footprint, but have it be smart growth. We’re looking to populate the rest of the state as well,” although it’s unclear whether the Tampa office will be tasked with scouting out such future acquisitions, Lane concluded. “Avison Young, they recognize the potential of having the state of Florida as a power center to service our clients.”

During the past four years, Avison Young has grown from 11 to 51 offices in 40 markets across Canada and the United States, including the four other offices that have opened in Florida during the past year, in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Baton, Miami and West Palm Beach.

The new Tampa office will provide landlord and tenant representation during office, industrial and retail leasing; seller and buyer representation for building sales; and the full spate of property management and property management accounting services.