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[IMGCAP(1)]ANAHEIM, CA-Locally based Milan Capital Management has named former Sperry Van Ness CFO Chris Gilmartin as its new CFO, and in Newport Beach, the New York City-based Emmes Group of Cos. has hired Brian Harnetiaux as leasing director for the Michelson, its newly acquired 532,000-square-foot office building at 3161 Michelson Dr. in Irvine. Harnetiaux formerly held leasing director positions at Rreef and McCarthy Cook & Co., both in Orange County.

[IMGCAP(2)]Anaheim-based Milan Capital, a privately held real estate investment firm, specializes in the acquisition, development and management of multifamily and commercial properties throughout Southern California. Gilmartin, who spent five years with Sperry Van Ness, also also spent five years with KPMG.

Gilmartin’s hiring comes at a time when Milan plans to continue buying value-add assets and “foresees numerous opportunities as the recessionary environment ramps up its pressure on the financial institutions to release underperforming assets at or near market,” according to Chris Nichelson, president of the company. Nichelson observes that, “For those investment companies who kept their leverage low and books clean of high priced assets during the overheated market, opportunities will abound.”

Nichelson points out that, as the markets shifted in the late 90s, Milan traded out of many apartments in is portfolio and focused on acquiring “discounted value-add commercial properties with current cash flow and attractive upside through lease up and renovations.” The firm has acquired and has under management approximately two million square feet of commercial assets along with 350 apartment units, down from 1,200 units at its peak.

The addition of Gilmartin will increase Milan’s financial and accounting services capacities as it buys future assets with its own capital along with both institutional and private equity partners, the company says. Gilmartin points out that Milan’s underwriting standards “have always been based on sound principles of intrinsic value, location, and strength of current income.” He also points out that the company “reined in its commercial acquisitions during the past few years and now has a strong platform for its future business.”

At the Emmes Group, Harnetiaux arrives in his new post with years of experience in the Orange County office market and longstanding relationships with the brokerage community, Emmes points out in its announcement. The new regional director of leasing for the Michelson was based in Orange County in his easing director positions with both Rreef and McCarthy Cook & Co.

Emmes bought the 19-story office tower at 3161 Michelson in June from Los Angeles-based Maguire Properties, which has been selling off its Orange County assets.

The Michelson, at the southeast corner of Jamboree Road and the 405 Freeway, was approximately 60% occupied at the time of its sale in June. Among its tenants are the automaker Hyundai and law firms including Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Jones, Day.

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