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CHARLOTTE, NC-CresaPartners has expanded into the local market with the opening of a new office led by principals Mark Ayers, Tim Brotherton and Edwin Yarbrough, formerly of Jones Lang LaSalle/the Staubach Co. Four additional brokers will join the team in its efforts to establish a client base focused on office tenants, and position the firm for future growth in the industrial sector.

Ayers, who will serve as managing principal, says the founders chose to join CresaPartners, the largest pure tenant representation firm in the US and Canada, because of their belief in the firm’s model and the Charlotte market overall. “We felt it was important to have the national platform that CresaPartners offers,” says Ayners, who formerly served as managing director of the Staubach Co.’s Charlotte office and previously was vice president with the local office of Trammell Crow Co.

The new office has already gained clients, including former tenants that have come up with new requirements, Ayers tells GlobeSt.com. “Clearly with the market and economy in a downturn, we know companies are focused on their real estate and our goal is to establish our foundation and capture growth when the economy changes,” he says.

The two most important pieces of advice that can be offered to tenants in this economic environment, says Ayers, is to step back and look at its real estate in terms of where it’s going, and be sure to hire the right people to evaluate that real estate, which is one of the three largest expenses of most companies. “The market is changing every day, and it’s becoming more tenant-friendly. Tenants can gain leverage by engaging someone to go talk to their landlord that has the knowledge of what’s happening in local buildings.”

Brokers are confident in the Charlotte commercial market’s long-term viability, despite the fact that there has been softening over the last year. The 75 million-square-foot office sector had a vacancy rate of 10.4% and average rental rates at $20.04 per square foot at year-end 2008, according to research by Colliers Pinkard. The CBD’s vacancy rate has remained low at only 2.4%, but has the potential to rise to 12% by the middle of 2010 due to the consolidation of banks and returned space. “So far, the effects of the Wells Fargo purchase of Wachovia and Bank of America’s purchase of Merrill Lynch are slow and incremental,” the report states.

Tenants should be prepared to take advantage of the situation, which sometimes involves planning two or three years in advance, says Ayers. “It’s a matter of weathering the storm.”

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