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CHICAGO-Sperry Van Ness LLC has expanded its Chicago office in recent months with six hires in the first quarter. The commercial real estate advisory firm’s 6,500-square-foot Chicago office was opened by Scott Maesel a little more than a year ago at 112 S. Sangamon with 12 advisers, and it has since grown to 22 advisers. Maesel says the time is right to grow the office further, as he plans further expansion into the surrounding suburbs.

“The strategy is that we firmly believe right now there is a lot talent out there that seems to be losing jobs or cutting back,” Maesel says. “Sperry Van Ness hasn’t been encumbered by heavy debt or corporate service like other companies and we run leaner. I’m a firm believer that the contrarians, those who go in the opposite direction of people in a market like this, are the ones that are going to survive and thrive.”

Maesel opened the office under a regional developers agreement with Sperry, which allows him to control all future growth. Such expansion could come in the form of acquisitions of other firms, joint ventures or opening of satellite offices. Maesel is one of only three people in the country with whom Sperry has such an agreement.

Sperry’s recent hires included Alex Mitrovic, previously with Metro Real Estate, to concentrate on tenant representation; Sean Lutz, formerly of Ross Group, who will focus on investment sales and leasing office and retail properties; and Jason Sander, coming from Marcus & Millichap to handle retail sales. The office was also grown with the addition of Eric Fried, who will handle investment sales; John Skalla, to join the office team; and Laurie Ramirez, to concentrate on retail tenant representation.

The next step in the Chicago office’s expansion will be to establish a presence in the northern, western and southern suburbs, Maesel says. He is currently in discussions with a North Shore firm which would help establish Sperry’s presence on the north side of the city.

“We have a strong downtown office and we believe Chicago is a marketplace that could handle growth further into Cook and the surrounding collar companies,” he says. “We’re a market that could definitely support offices with different specialties and geographic focuses.”

The economy, while challenging, is presenting once in a lifetime opportunities, Maesel says. “There’s a little less deal flow, but the impact is a positive one, because it gives us more opportunities to hone our skills and fine tune how we approach the business,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity to pick up market share and better talent.”

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