November 29, 2023

Lawson Dann has more than 30 years of experience in Orlando’s real estate landscape, but his roots in the business go back even further than that.
A native Floridian, Dann is the great-grandson of H. Carl Dann, one of Orlando’s early developers and the founder of Dubsdread Golf Course in College Park.
Even with that legacy, Dann said he is the first of the Orlando real estate icon’s descendants to return to the commercial real estate business as a career. “I was the only one who came back to it.”
Earlier this month, Dann was hired by Orlando-based Foundry Commercial as senior vice president after holding the same title with Avison Young.
Dann specializes in capital markets and land advisory functions, with a long background in office, flex and industrial products, and his transactions are valued at more than $800 million.
Here, Dann sat down with Orlando Business Journal to discuss joining Foundry, where he sees opportunity in the region amid larger economic headwinds and more:
Where do you see opportunities locally? There’s a need in the Central Florida market for what I consider mid-sized capital markets — and that’s generally transactions in the $5 million-$20 million range. Those markets are going to continue to stay strong and they aren’t quite as affected by what you’re seeing out there in the world of larger transactions, which are highly influenced by capital interest rates that you see going up.
Why might deals in that range be less affected? A lot of the smaller capital markets deals are driven independently by owners, and they are much more flexible with their cash. There’s a lot more individual cash out in those ranges and there’s a large appetite to own those types of assets in our marketplace as Florida and Central Florida keep growing. Individual owners who have cash feel very confident in the Central Florida and Florida market that, even though they’re buying at a low cap rate, their return will come back and remain strong throughout the life of that asset. So we feel very bullish on those types of products.
What other trends are you seeing in the marketplace? We’ll go out there directly to the owners. If you’re thinking about selling an asset and receiving a premium price on that, and you’re considering selling that asset sometime in the next two to three years, we would tell you that we’re bullish and we would sell that asset now. The risk in is that if recession goes bigger than it is, then maybe you don’t get that return on that investment that you’re hoping to.
What intrigued you most about the opportunity to join Foundry Commercial? I’ve watched and known a lot of Foundry’s founders. I’ve always been impressed with the platform and the people. Also, it was very important to me knowing that they are based here in Orlando.
How have you seen the commercial real estate industry change during your career in Orlando? A lot of the commercial real estate was bought and sold handled by local people, but as the city has grown, you’ve seen it take on more international and corporate ownership in the marketplace. Obviously, there’s still some family-owned, but you’re seeing that less. As the city grows, it becomes more sophisticated and the real estate does, too. With that comes more of your corporate ownership of assets.
What’s a deal that you’re particularly proud of? It’s not one of my larger deals, but I helped a family-owned business sell an industrial building in Longwood at the peak of the market in 2005 or 2006. They had no idea what the real estate was worth and at closing, I’ll always remember, the owner’s wife was crying and realized she really could retire. It was one of those emotional things and one that makes you feel good.
senior vice president, Foundry Commercial
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