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Colliers Atlanta Principal, Former Retail Head Jon Barry Retires

The founder of Colliers International's Atlanta retail platform — and the one-time boss of its embattled former top broker Alexander Deitch — has retired from the firm and given up his Georgia broker's license.

Midtown's Promenade building, home to Colliers International's Atlanta office

Colliers Executive Vice President and principal Jon Barry resigned from the firm late last month. According to records with the Georgia Real Estate Commission & Appraisers Board, Barry voluntarily surrendered his broker's license Jan. 2.

Barry, 64, told Bisnow he instead plans to focus on family and his 40-member commercial property maintenance firm, Spectrum Maintenance Services, which will continue to count Colliers International as a client.

“Between that and grandkids, golf and travel, it was time for me to sell my remaining interest [in Colliers International] and move on," Barry said. "This is what we do when we get to a certain age."

Colliers declined to comment on Barry's departure.

His resignation comes during a time when a cloud hangs over Colliers' Atlanta office, especially its retail division. Late last year, the nation's largest mattress retailer, Mattress Firm, sued Colliers International's Atlanta office, Deitch and two former in-house real estate executives, Bruce Levy and Ryan Vinson, for allegedly steering the retailer to locations with leases well above market rates.

Mattress Firm claimed Deitch, Levy and Vinson received kickbacks and lucrative gifts from developers. Mattress Firm did not name the specific stores that it alleges were part of the fraud, but during the trio's time steering the retailer's real estate growth, Mattress Firm inked more than 1,500 new stores.

Barry said his decision had nothing to do with Mattress Firm's lawsuit. While he did hire Deitch when Barry's Spectrum Realty Advisors was independent of Colliers, Barry said Deitch had not reported directly to him for the past two years.

When asked about surrendering his broker license, Barry said that decision had nothing to do with the lawsuit either.

"It wasn't relevant to me because there was no reason to keep my license active when I'm no longer acting in any way as a broker," he said.

While not unheard of, voluntarily surrendering a real estate license in Georgia is unusual, with only a handful of instances a year, said Georgia Real Estate Commission & Appraisers Board Deputy Commissioner Craig Coffee.

That said, there are a variety of reasons for doing so — if a person is elderly or sick and knows they are not going to work anymore, they could surrender it instead of allowing the license to go into inactive and then lapsed statuses.

“Some people, when they end their real estate career, don't want the license to go from active to inactive to lapsed. They voluntarily surrender it,” Coffee said.

According to commission documents, Barry's license — which he has held since 1982 — was scheduled to expire early next year.

Spectrum merged with what was then Colliers Cauble & Co. in 2006, which sold to Colliers International in 2015. Deitch cited Barry as “an integral part of my growth and career” in a 2015 Atlanta Business Chronicle article.

Barry declined to comment on his relationship with Deitch.

Barry said he has not been actively brokering for some time. Since the Great Recession, Barry headed up Colliers' national distressed asset management platform, he said. The division worked with servicers of distressed CMBS loans to stabilize their individual commercial real estate assets.

In the past eight years, Colliers executed $1.8B in leases and sales in hundreds of transactions in the distressed debt realm, and currently manages 10M SF across the country, Barry said. The division's clients included LNR and C3 Capital Partners.

The economic recovery has greatly stabilized many of those assets and many of the retail buildings are exiting special servicing, Barry said.

Under Colliers Senior Vice President Joe Montgomery's leadership now, the distressed asset platform could “kick back up again if, heaven forbid, we hit another down market,” Barry said.