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SAN ANTONIO-When Russell Noll and Michael Bakke Jr. left CB Richard Ellis to start a real estate firm several years ago, they intended to focus on tenant representation. That was the part of the business they most enjoyed.

As Noll-Bakke Commercial Real Estate Services got going, however, the firm was drawn into project leasing. Much of those building assignments came through Deborah Amini, another ex-CB Richard Ellis person, who joined Noll and Bakke. “She’s one of the top two project leasing agents in San Antonio,” Noll says.

The firm developed built up a project leasing portfolio of 1.3 million sf, Noll says. It included Bank of America Plaza and the Nowlin Building.

However, the partners realized that about 80% of their time was spent on project leasing, which generated just 15% to 18% of their revenue, Noll tells GlobeSt.com. “It was clear that from a financial perspective and from just a pure zeal of what we like doing best that client representation was what we needed to do,” he says.

So the firm is in the process of phasing out project leasing assignments. That’s how Transwestern Commercial Services picked up the leasing business for the 533,000-sf Bank of America Plaza, owned by Hartford, CT-based Talcott Realty. For previous story, click here

Noll says that when he called Les Tager, Talcott’s senior vice president, to tell him that the firm was resigning as the leasing agent for CBD trophy building, Tager asked, “Are you firing me?”

Their move, Noll says, caught the San Antonio market by surprise. “Most people are generalists here,” he says. “So for us to make that move and purely focus on one side of the business is a step out there for a lot of people.”

Noll says the refocused firm will concentrate on furthering its relationships with clients such as Secure Logix Corp., RG Barry Corp., Wayland Baptist University, Chase Bank and ATX Technologies. It also will seek to develop new clients. Amini, after 20 years in project leasing, will stay with the firm to try her hand at tenant representation, Noll says.

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