CB Richard Ellis pitches exclusive contract

Friday, July 9, 2010
Jackie Abernathy, now a former member of Lewisburg's Industrial Development Board, left, confers with Tony Byers, right, as other local officials working on economic development leave City Hall's second floor conference room.

They presented themselves as "the world's largest commercial real estate company;" the "logical choice" for Lewisburg to market its development and sell land in its business park on Mooresville Highway.

And, Jeff Thomas and Lee Black, senior associates of the CB Richard Ellis office in Nashville, want an exclusive sales listing agreement with the city, according to their presentation to Lewisburg's Industrial Development Board on Tuesday afternoon.

Terry Wallace, the recently released economic and community developer for Lewisburg, "arranged for Jeff and Lee to be here and tell us what they do to help people decide to relocate," IDB Chairman Eddie Wiles told the board as the panel's July meeting began in City Hall.

Thomas and Black pointed out advantages and disadvantages for the Lewisburg Business Park - things that have been known, but lost in the forest for the trees locally as the state widening of Mooresville Highway has been criticized here as a road to nowhere even though the business park is between Lewisburg and the interstate highway that goes to Nashville and Birmingham. Huntsville's close, too, Thomas and Black pointed out.

Both big cities' economies are revving engines for an economic recovery and powerful interests have taken steps that will help Lewisburg if it reaches for the brass ring, the IDB was told.

Completion of the widening of State Route 373 to Exit 32 of I-65 is 18 months away, Thomas said.

State contractor crews were taken off the State Route 840 project and put on the Mooresville Highway job, Thomas said during the public meeting.

During times of economic transition, CB Richard Ellis has the resources to make things happen, according to the Thomas and Black presentation and the company's web site.

"The global leader in real estate services... complete(s) thousands of successful assignments - with clients from the gamut of industries," cbre.com says. "This volume creates market knowledge that allows us to seize opportunities, speed the business process and create the most thorough, precisely accurate picture of global commercial real estate conditions and trends.

"Every day, in markets around the globe, we apply our insight, experience, intelligence and resources to help clients make informed real estate decisions," cbre.com says. "We do not exist without our clients."

A proposed "draft" contract in the brochure presented by Thomas and Black says that CB Richard Ellis representatives are paid a commission, so the cost of the proposal depends on the sale of city-owned land in the business park.

"While the cost (of services) is always negotiable," Thomas said Thursday morning, "it is premature to comment where there have been no discussions."

Thomas and Black outlined a 30- 60- and 90-day plan to market city property with cold calls, calls to associates and an all-out attempt to tap into market conditions with cheaper land here for prospects. Their employer already represents Sanford, which wants $2.5 million for its 427,000 square foot recently closed pencil factory.

As for the business park, the IDB chairman explained, the board doesn't own it.

The city does and the city council controls land sale decisions. Councilmen Ronald McRady, Robin Minor, Odie Whitehead Jr. and Hershel Davis - four of the five councilmen - were at the IDB meeting.

"We can't speak for them," Wiles said of the IDB's relationship to the council.

The IDB makes recommendations to the council.

Wiles is concerned about the exclusive nature of the proposed contract.

"Local agents like to get paid, too," Wiles said of Realtors.

Black replied the goal for those involved at the sales level is to earn a commission and "I'm sure they're great... but they don't have our reach."

Wiles noted if one of four agents gets a deal, then three others might be "upset," and "There's a fine balance that we need to find."

Citing an example in Pikeville, Black said the purpose of the exclusive contract "is about getting jobs here, not being friends with the local brokers..."

Quoting an official in Pikeville, Black said there was a realization that they "have got to change their thinking." Others who'd been working for that community "let Red Diamond go and Budweiser... and now they're putting in baseball fields" where businesses could be.

"Now, in that little town, the only place to work is Wal-Mart," Black said. "I'm going to earn my fee."

And he said he's willing to split it with somebody who has a deal, but the company "doesn't ride the fence."

Wiles told Thomas and Black, "Thank you for coming. We've got a good piece of property out there."

Lewisburg's IDB turned to other scheduled matters during its luncheon meeting.