Staffing the operation at 3333 Speedway will be Robert L. Davis,William L. DiVito and Howard Kong, who came from CB Richard Ellis'Tucson office. Also on staff will be Scott Soelter and MichaelTownsdin, formerly with Bourn Partners LLC of Tucson. CBRE declinedto comment on the team's departure and Bourn Partners could not bereached for comment by deadline.

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Gregory Coxon, president of the western region for Santa Ana,CA-based Grubb & Ellis, says Tucson wasn't part of thecompany's near-term expansion plan. But, Davis, DiVito and Kongcontacted him expressing an interest in opening a new shop so hegave it serious thought. Coxon says he started his real estatecareer with the original Grubb & Ellis' Tucson office, whichplayed a huge role in the decision to open a new one in thecity.

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"I'd officed in Tucson at one time and didn't want to ignore it.With the right people in place, it made sense to have a presencethere," says Coxon, who was hired to lead the western region lastyear after spending many years with CBRE in Phoenix as seniormanaging director.

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Davis says one reason why he and his colleagues contacted Coxonwas because they missed him after he left CBRE and wanted to workwith him again. "When Greg left CBRE, we wanted to follow him,"Davis says. "We thought a fresh approach to the market would begreat and being able to help him get an office started here wasappealing."

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Grubb & Ellis' original presence in Tucson came to an end in2001 when the corporate office was sold andbecame an affiliate led by Ronald C. Scholl, a principal of WestarPartners LLC and a former Grubb & Ellis broker. The office at3434 E. Broadway Rd. closed two years later.

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Davis tells GlobeSt.com that Tucson is far different now thanwhen Scholl bought the business seven years ago. For one thing, thearea's population growth has surpassed one million. "That's asignificant milestone in a community for a lot of differentreasons," he explains. "Everyone looks at you differently when youhave a million people--from retailers to manufacturers."

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Tucson's coming of age hasn't been lost on Coxon. While Grubb& Ellis/BRE Commercial LLC's Phoenix operation has done anoutstanding job in handling Tucson deals, Coxon points out that thecities are more than 100 miles apart and have differentcharacteristics. "The bottom line is we need someone who is in themarket, who knows the market and who has a very deep understandingand knowledge of the marketplace," he stresses.

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The Phoenix operation, an affiliate owned by BRE Commercial LLCof San Diego, will continue to handle transactions in the Phoenixmetro while the new team will oversee assignments in Tucson. AGrubb & Ellis spokeswoman says the Tucson and Phoenix officeswill likely refer local deals to appropriate offices as the needarises.

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In terms of local expansion, Coxon says the goal is to startsmall, then add employees as business grows. He says the existingoffice has enough room for about 12 people. Over time, he'd like tosee the staff grow to 15 people and possibly include a valuationand property management group.

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"If we keep recruiting the level of talent we already have inplace, we'll be looking forward to a tremendous amount of businessin Greater Tucson," Coxon predicts. "We should be very competitivein the Tucson market."

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