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WASHINGTON, DC-Cushman & Wakefield is hoping to ride what it believes will be an uptick in DC’s office condo market with the recent hire of Eugene Kenney, a former broker with Akridge. Except for one-off transactions, C&W has not had a presence in this particular line. Kenney, who has built a reputation for office condo product, is expected to change that.

Demand for office condos is strong–especially with low interest rate financing, according to Jim Underhill, EVP and area leader with Cushman & Wakefield. At the same time, at least one significant listing is expected to come on the market shortly, which C&W hopes Kenney will help it land.

Kenney is one of three hires C&W has recently made–and is part of what Underhill expects will be a greater increase in the number of brokers it employs this year.Also joining C&W are Petch Gibbons, a former executive at J Street Cos., and Matt Alexander from CBRE. Gibbons is what Underhill calls a market share driver. “He is someone that everyone in the area knows, has a good reputation and will be a good facilitator. He will help drive business to the service lines.

Alexander, who has an expertise in retail, is tasked with growing C&W’s retail footprint. C&W began servicing retail about four years ago and now wants to expand that capability, Underhill says. He expects to hire “a couple more” retail brokers this year.

C&W also wants to expand its geographic coverage this year, filling in the gaps it has in the outer-lying suburbs, such as western Fairfax, Loudoun County and outer Montgomery. “We are looking for a long term build-out of getting people specialized and becoming branded as the go-to broker for that particular market.”

Underhill says C&W hasn’t rushed to fill these roles because of the downturn, but that perspective is changing. “We are building with an eye towards 2011 and 2012.” The company also wants to add depth to its specialty groups such as Maryland biotech and life sciences–as well as its capital markets group.

Currently the company has 72 brokers servicing the Washington area and Baltimore. “I can see us getting to the 90s over the next two to three years,” Underhill says. The stopping point, he says, will be 100. “That is the magic number for this market as far as I am concerned. Beyond that you create internal competition among the brokers.”

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