September 30, 2022

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John Colan, left, and Josh Simon are leading Lee & Associates’ expansion into Richmond. (Photo courtesy of Lee & Associates)
Looking to get a piece of Richmond’s thriving market, a major commercial real estate brokerage from the West Coast has recently planted its flag in town.
Southern California-based Lee & Associates is making its initial push into the region, starting with a small group on the hunt for listings.
The effort is led by Josh Simon, John Colan and Pierson Kreutzer from the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Simon, a president at Lee & Associates, said the goal is to eventually hire a local team on the ground at a formal Richmond office.
Founded in 1979, Lee & Associates has over 1,500 agents and 70 offices across North America, each of which is broker-owned. Simon said the firm works on all sorts of deals including investment sales, development sites, leasing and more. He said the privately held company did over $18 billion in revenue last year.
As Lee’s D.C. office has grown since launching in 2019, Simon said Richmond gradually stood out as a place poised for growth, prompting the firm to expand into the region.
“What we’re seeing is this capital demand pushing further south into other areas like Richmond, Raleigh and Charlotte and other places,” Simon said. “There’s this gap in between (Charlotte and D.C.). We really see Richmond as an area that’s obviously continuing to grow, and we’re going to see more migration from down here for years.”
The firm’s clients had also taken notice of Richmond.
“It was our own clients saying to us, ‘Hey Josh, hey John, find us opportunities in Richmond and the surrounding area for land development, building repurposing or just investment deals,’” Simon said. “It was a function of our clients telling us, ‘We want to break into that area.’”
The group said they’re in talks on their first Richmond-area listings but can’t divulge too many details just yet. Simon said they’ve historically done deals between $5 million and $50 million, but that their “bread-and-butter is $10 million to $20 million investment deals.”
Colan, a Richmond native and UVA alum, has been acting almost like a tour guide for his colleagues.
“We’ve spent a lot of hours in the car just driving around,” Colan said. “It’s been about understanding the narrative of a neighborhood or even one particular building and getting (Simon and Kreutzer) up to speed on that so we can speak fluently about the story we could tell when marketing a site.”
Lee’s expansion into Richmond comes about six months after a national residential brokerage arrived in town. In the spring, Compass expanded into Richmond by acquiring a pair of broker teams at Joyner Fine Properties and Liz Moore & Associates.
Mike Platania joined BizSense in December 2016. He covers commercial real estate, restaurants and breweries. He graduated from Virginia Tech. Reach him at [email protected] or (804) 554-6872.
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