Toronto’s Avison Young acquires Mesa Development in Chicago

avison young mesa

Mark E. Rose, chair and CEO of Toronto-based Avison Young, which describes itself as the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm, announced today that it has acquired Chicago-based real estate development firm Mesa Development, LLC.

The purchase further expands Avison Young’s service offerings in Chicago and the U.S. Midwest to include development, project management, construction management and development management, and adds four employees to the firm’s downtown Chicago office, the company announced in a news release. “The acquisition also adds senior-level capital markets capabilities to Avison Young’s existing capital markets team,” the announcement said.

Established in 2000, Mesa Development specializes in the development of urban, mixed-use, projects that incorporate principles of transit-oriented development, environmental sustainability and design excellence. Notable projects completed in Chicago include the 72-storey Legacy at Millennium Park luxury condominium tower, the 57-storey Heritage at Millennium Park luxury condominium tower, the mixed-income Park Boulevard project at 35th and State Street, and the soon-to-be-developed Vue53 apartment project on 53rd Street in Hyde Park. The firm also completed the 360 Residences building in San Jose, CA,

Effective immediately, Richard Hanson and James Hanson become principals of Avison Young. Richard Hanson brings 40 years of real estate industry experience, primarily in property development, to Avison Young; while James Hanson brings 28 years of capital markets and development experience to the firm. Richard Hanson will lead Avison Young’s local development activities, including the Vue53 apartment project. He will also use the contacts developed over his career to expand Avison Young’s client base in Chicago.

James Hanson will assist in running the development business and also 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 and provide creative solutions to corporate and investor clients.

Also joining Avison Young from Mesa Development are William Lyons, who will serve as Director of Construction in Chicago, and Doris Walters as administrative coordinator.

“Mesa Development brings to Avison Young a great history and variety of real estate experience. 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,” Rose said in a statement. “Rich Hanson’s development expertise, Jim Hanson’s capital markets capabilities and the construction knowledge of Bill Lyons are combined into a platform that blends perfectly with the growth of Avison Young in Chicago, enhancing an already robust business. The ability to advise and service our clients in all areas has just improved exponentially.”

The new development team has coordinated the construction of more than $8 billion worth of residential and commercial real estate projects while with Mesa Development and other companies. Mesa Development’s activities will continue under the Avison Young banner.

Webb said in the announcement: “I have known both Jim and Rich for many years, and Jim and I actually worked together for 10 years at Jones Lang LaSalle, along with Mark Rose for five of those years. 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. Rich built Mesa Development into one of the preeminent development and advisory companies in Chicago, developing such successful projects as The Heritage and The Legacy, both highrise condominium projects on Michigan Avenue. He is also extremely well regarded within the business community in Chicago and will help us expand our client outreach throughout the Midwest as a senior principal in our firm.”

Danny Nikitas, Avison Young principal and managing director of the Chicago office, says the Hansons will play key roles in furthering the company’s aggressive U.S. expansion program, particularly on the development side. Lyons and Walters will provide considerable construction management and project management-related knowledge and expertise that will benefit clients and colleagues alike.

“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. “We are grateful to have Jim, Rich, Bill and Doris on board as Avison Young pursues more local, national and international sustainable development projects.”

Over the past six years, Avison Young has grown from 11 to 66 offices and from 300 to more than 1,700 real estate professionals in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

“I look forward to joining Mark Rose and Earl Webb and assisting them in the development of their unique vision of how a commercial real estate services firm should serve its clients,” says Richard Hanson. “By joining Avison Young and using its increasingly powerful brand, we will gain unprecedented access to capital and opportunities to grow and expand our core development business as part of a full-service model. This move will also enhance our local, national and global competitiveness and enable us to access the full range of commercial real estate expertise and resources that Avison Young can offer.”

Jim Hanson adds: “It’s also exciting to be part of Avison Young’s expansion program and its Principal-led ownership structure, and it’s reassuring to know that we will have a much stronger base of support as we tackle challenges on behalf of new and existing clients in the years ahead. Ultimately, we will serve our clients better and grow as real estate professionals. We also look forward to collaborating with our new colleagues across North America and in Europe.”

Avison Young opened its first U.S. office in Chicago in January 2009 and has been steadily growing over the past six years.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Avison Young opening an office in Duesseldorf, Germany on March 19, 2015.



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