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Tricor’s Avison Young acquires Chicago-based Mesa Development

Avison Young Inc has bought Mesa Development LLC, a real estate management company based in Chicago. The financial terms of the deal were not released. Avison said the transaction expands its service offerings in Chicago and the U.S. Midwest to include development, project management, construction management and development management. Based in Toronto, Avison is a commercial real estate services specialist. It has been a portfolio investment of Canadian private equity firm Tricor Pacifc Capital since 2011.


Avison Young acquires Chicago-based Mesa Development, LLC

TORONTO, April 23, 2015 /CNW/ – Mark E. Rose, Chair and CEO of Avison Young, the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm, announced today that it has acquired Chicago-based real estate development firm Mesa Development, LLC.

The purchase further expands Avison Young’s service offerings in Chicago and the U.S. Midwest to include development, project management, construction management and development management, and adds four employees to the firm’s downtown Chicago office. The acquisition also adds senior-level capital markets capabilities to Avison Young’s existing capital markets team.

Established in 2000, Mesa Development specializes in the development of urban, mixed-use, projects that incorporate principles of transit-oriented development, environmental sustainability and design excellence. Notable projects completed in Chicago include the 72-storey Legacy at Millennium Park luxury condominium tower, the 57-storey Heritage at Millennium Park luxury condominium tower, the mixed-income Park Boulevard project at 35th and State Street, and the soon-to-be-developed Vue53 apartment project on 53rd Street in Hyde Park. The firm also completed the 360 Residences building in San Jose, CA,

Effective immediately, Richard Hanson and James Hanson become Principals of Avison Young. Richard Hanson brings 40 years of real estate industry experience, primarily in property development, to Avison Young; while James Hanson brings 28 years of capital markets and development experience to the firm. Richard Hanson will lead Avison Young’s local development activities, including the Vue53 apartment project. He will also use the contacts developed over his career to expand Avison Young’s client base in Chicago.

James Hanson will assist in running the development business and also work with Earl Webb, Avison Young’s President of U.S. Operations, and Avison Young Principals Erik Foster and Michael Wilson to expand the firm’s capital markets team in Chicago and provide creative solutions to corporate and investor clients.

Also joining Avison Young from Mesa Development are William Lyons, who will serve as Director of Construction in Chicago, and Doris Walters as administrative coordinator.

“Mesa Development brings to Avison Young a great history and variety of real estate experience. The group has collectively developed, built, bought and sold some of the highest-quality institutional assets in Chicago and other metro areas over the course of the last 30 years,” comments Rose. “Rich Hanson’s development expertise, Jim Hanson’s capital markets capabilities and the construction knowledge of Bill Lyons are combined into a platform that blends perfectly with the growth of Avison Young in Chicago, enhancing an already robust business. The ability to advise and service our clients in all areas has just improved exponentially.”

The new development team has coordinated the construction of more than $8 billion worth of residential and commercial real estate projects while with Mesa Development and other companies. Mesa Development’s activities will continue under the Avison Young banner.

Adds Webb: “I have known both Jim and Rich for many years, and Jim and I actually worked together for 10 years at Jones Lang LaSalle, along with Mark Rose for five of those years. Rich has been an integral part of the development of Chicago’s skyline during his 40-year career, and his knowledge of Chicago as well as other key U.S. markets will be invaluable to our firm. Rich built Mesa Development into one of the preeminent development and advisory companies in Chicago, developing such successful projects as The Heritage and The Legacy, both highrise condominium projects on Michigan Avenue. He is also extremely well regarded within the business community in Chicago and will help us expand our client outreach throughout the Midwest as a senior Principal in our firm.”

Danny Nikitas, Avison Young Principal and Managing Director of the Chicago office, says the Hansons will play key roles in furthering the company’s aggressive U.S. expansion program, particularly on the development side. Lyons and Walters will provide considerable construction management and project management-related knowledge and expertise that will benefit clients and colleagues alike.

“Jim, in addition to being one of the most creative and real-estate-savvy professionals in our market, brings a deep experience in capital markets – both in investment sales of large office, retail and multi-family properties, and also in complex, structured debt- and equity-finance transactions,” states Nikitas. “We are grateful to have Jim, Rich, Bill and Doris on board as Avison Young pursues more local, national and international sustainable development projects.”

Over the past six years, Avison Young has grown from 11 to 66 offices and from 300 to more than 1,700 real estate professionals in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

“I look forward to joining Mark Rose and Earl Webb and assisting them in the development of their unique vision of how a commercial real estate services firm should serve its clients,” says Richard Hanson. “By joining Avison Young and using its increasingly powerful brand, we will gain unprecedented access to capital and opportunities to grow and expand our core development business as part of a full-service model. This move will also enhance our local, national and global competitiveness and enable us to access the full range of commercial real estate expertise and resources that Avison Young can offer.”

Jim Hanson adds: “It’s also exciting to be part of Avison Young’s expansion program and its Principal-led ownership structure, and it’s reassuring to know that we will have a much stronger base of support as we tackle challenges on behalf of new and existing clients in the years ahead. Ultimately, we will serve our clients better and grow as real estate professionals. We also look forward to collaborating with our new colleagues across North America and in Europe.”

Avison Young opened its first U.S. office in Chicago in January 2009 and has been steadily growing over the past six years.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Avison Young opening an office in Duesseldorf, Germany on March 19, 2015.


Richard Hanson
Richard Hanson brings 40 years of real estate experience to Avison Young. In his former role of Principal of Mesa Development, he led the conceptualization, entitlements and construction of projects valued in excess of $1 billion. Prior to forming Mesa Development in 2000, he was President of Stein & Company/Mesirow Stein Real Estate, Inc., where he oversaw more than $5 billion of public and private development and brokerage transactions. Notable completed development projects included Franklin Center, 203 North LaSalle Street, US Cellular Field, United Center, West Hall of McCormick Place, and the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center.

Prior to joining Stein & Company, Hanson was a partner at public accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouse Coopers), where he rose to the position of Chair of the Real Estate Tax Practice, overseeing 93 offices in the United States. Hanson’s professional affiliations include the Counselors of Real Estate (past Chair), Urban Land Institute (lifetime achievement award winner, Chicago Chapter), NAIOP (past President, Chicago chapter) and the Real Estate Investment Association (past President). He has also played leading roles with not-for-profit organizations, including DePaul University Board of Trustees (past Chair of property committee), Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (treasurer), City Colleges of Chicago Foundation, Civic Federation and Lawson House YMCA (past Chair).

James Hanson
James Hanson brings 28 years of real estate experience to Avison Young. He most recently served as a Principal of Mesa Development, where his primary responsibilities were the identification of new development opportunities and the sourcing of all development capital, both equity and debt. During the last 10 years, he has structured more than $750 million in capital for approximately 3 million square feet (msf) of new construction. His projects include the Legacy at Millennium Park, the Heritage at Millennium Park, 360 Residences and Vue53. All are urban, mixed-use projects that incorporate retail, parking and residential uses.

Prior to joining Mesa Development in 2004, Hanson was a Managing Director at Jones Lang LaSalle in Chicago, where he ran the firm’s capital markets group in the central region of the U.S. In that capacity, he closed more than $3.5 billion of investment sale, financing, advisory and structured corporate real estate transactions. While at Jones Lang LaSalle, he was awarded the Investment Broker of the Year award by the annual Greater Chicago Food Depository Real Estate Awards (2003) and was also recognized as one of Chicago’s “40 Under 40” young business leaders by Crain’s Chicago Business.

William Lyons
William Lyons brings 40 years of real estate and built environment experience to Avison Young. In his former position as director of construction for Mesa Development, he oversaw the design, construction and contract administration for all of the firm’s projects. Prior to joining Mesa in 2005, he was a Senior Vice-President/Chicago Territory Manager for AMEC Construction Management (Morse/Diesel), where he managed and oversaw 27 msf of construction. He was also responsible for full general management of approximately 100 construction professionals and annual construction volume of $200 million-plus.

Lyons’ construction management experience includes more than 3,600 residential units, 550 units of senior housing, 15 msf of office projects, 2.6 msf of retail projects, and parking facilities containing in excess of 10,000 stalls. His professional affiliations include the Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, and the Chicago Building Congress.

Avison Young is the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate services firm. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Avison Young is a collaborative, global firm owned and operated by its principals. Founded in 1978, the company comprises 1,700 real estate professionals in 66 offices, providing value-added, client-centric investment sales, leasing, advisory, management, financing and mortgage placement services to owners and occupiers of office, retail, industrial and multi-family properties.


• Please click on links to view and download photos of Richard Hanson, James Hanson and William Lyons

For further information/comment/photos:

• Sherry Quan, Principal, National Director of Communications & Media Relations, Avison Young: 604.647-5098; mobile: 604.726-0959

• Mark Rose, Chair and CEO, Avison Young: 416.673.4028

• Earl Webb, President, U.S. Operations, Avison Young: 312.957.7610

• Danny Nikitas, Principal & Managing Director, Chicago, Avison Young: 312.940.8794

• Richard Hanson, Principal, Avison Young: 312.273-4505

• James Hanson, Principal, Avison Young: 312.273-4506

Avison Young was a winner of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and has demonstrated its commitment to the program and successfully reapplied for the designation as a Gold Standard winner in 2014.

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