VOL. 132 | NO. 166 | Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Avison Young’s Memphis Office Uses Diversified Approach
By Patrick Lantrip
Eighteen months ago, real estate brokers Shane Soefker and Jacob Biddle decided they wanted to do things a little differently, so they left their jobs at a local brokerage firm and set off on their own.
Since then, they’ve established a Memphis branch of the principal-owned brokerage firm Avison Young, made more than a few key hires and closed on more than 5 million feet of transactions in 2017 alone.
“We wanted to build an office that really kind of embraced the entrepreneurial aspect of our business,” Soefker said. “We also think that in small markets like Memphis, you need to be somewhat diversified in your approach from a services standpoint.”
With this approach in mind, they brought on Chase Carlisle – formerly director of real estate and development for Carlisle Corp., the Memphis-based firm behind the Hotel Chisca redevelopment and proposed One Beale project – to head up the development arm of their firm.
Having a single company serve as developer and broker isn’t a new model, Carlisle said, but it’s one that hasn’t been seen in the Memphis market in quite some time.
“We don’t see a conflict,” he said. “As a matter of fact, we see it more as that we are aligned with our clients and in this thing together.”
Soefker said the developer/broker model harkens back to the days of Weston Cos. and Trammell Crow.
“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, those were the two most active developers in our market,” he said. “Now, on the industrial side, you have IDI, Hillwood, Panattoni and all those guys, but we think there is a huge opportunity for a small developer in this market who can do multifamily, light industrial, office development, and potentially retail development as the opportunity and need present itself.”
Another advantage the firm feels like it has is the senior leadership’s unique combination of local connections and out-of-market experience.
Soefker is from Memphis but spent many years working in Miami. Carlisle spent time in Los Angeles, away from the family business started by his father, the late real estate developer Gene Carlisle. And Biddle, who is from Austin, Texas, has experience in New York and Baltimore, and his wife is from Memphis.
“This gives us a totally different perspective on just about everything from a lot of people in our market,” Soefker said. “We think having that, combined with our skill set, makes us unique in the market, and it has helped us get to where we are today.”
Biddle added they hope to eventually leverage these connections to bring in outside capital to help spur new development within the city.
“That is what’s driving a lot of the growth in Nashville, Austin, Charlotte and all these other peer cities – bringing in outside capital,” Biddle said. “If we have someone come to us and say, ‘We want to place capital in this specific geographic area, so help us figure that out,’ or if we have an idea and don’t necessarily have the capital or don’t want to put all of the capital up ourselves, we can go to those relationships.”
However, all three men agreed the biggest advantage their multidisciplinary approach brings is the ability to meet a client’s needs across all platforms, from development to leasing to property management.
“Given the diverse style of what goes on in Memphis and the size of this marketplace, being a multidisciplinary firm keeps things interesting enough so that we’re constantly getting to think through the traps of how to make the best deal and solve problems for our clients,” Carlisle said. “Which they appreciate, because we’re going to spend that extra effort to put them in the best position going forward, which in turn will make them want to come back.”