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[IMGCAP(1)]SANTA BARBARA, CA-Lee & Associates has opened a new office in Santa Barbara and has named Stephen Leider and Clarice Cornell Clarke to head the office. Both are also joining Lee as shareholders and principals, brining a combined 40 years of commercial real estate experience in the area to the new office of Corona, CA-based Lee.

Located at 1111 Chapala St. in Downtown Santa Barbara, the office will be a sister operation to Lee & Associates’ San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria offices.

“When Bill Lee contacted us and offered a partnership with him in his Central Coast organization, that was a great fit for us,” says Clarke, who partnered with Leider when the two formed the Leider Group, which became Leider Hayes in 2004. “It gave us a very solid platform to grow our business, with more sophisticated operations and added services.”

Over the last two decades, Leider and Clarke have become well-known brokers in Santa Barbara. Leider has been involved in major retail projects from Oxnard to Paso Robles in the last several years with a focus in large retail transactions from land acquisition to lease-up to sale, as well as in investment properties. Clarke has earned a reputation in retail and office leasing, as well as developing a significant sales practice for her investment clients. She has worked on many of the largest retail deals in the area.

[IMGCAP(2)]Bill Lee, the founder of Lee & Associates, said in a statement: “The Santa Barbara office opening for Lee & Associates represents the fourth location for our organization on the Central Coast with existing offices already in Ventura, Santa Maria & San Luis Obispo. We anticipate a fifth office in Paso Robles before year end.”

Initially Leider and Clarke, along with Jarod King, who will be operating as an agent, will be the only brokers in the Santa Barbara office, but they have plans to add more brokers in the coming months.

Since March, Lee & Associates has opened new offices in Palm Desert and Boise, Idaho and continue to solidify its California presence in commercial real estate with plans to open new offices in the state as well as nationwide.

Leider and Clarke say taht one reason for the change was to take the opportunity to join a firm that’s expanding while many others are shrinking. “That’s exactly the reason we are excited about it,” Leider says, referring to their pairing with Lee.

Because development in the Central Coast is difficult to get off the ground, the massive construction that went on during the real estate boom hasn’t hurt the area as much as other portions of Southern California because building was slower in the area, Leider says.

“There are extremely high barriers to entry, development construction, so we never got into an overbuilding mode,” he adds. “And the premium properties, the well-located properties, are still trading at agressive cap rates, although they are not nearly as low as they were a couple years ago.”

Clarke adds, “We’re still experiencing a slowdown, but it’s during slowdowns when you need to be the most competitive and get a leg up as fast as you can. Pairing with Lee will help us survive this downturn and compete at a higher level.”

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