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EXCLUSIVE: Lee & Associates Launches Boston Office, Absorbing Local Brokerage

Landmark Real Estate Advisors has become the Boston office of Lee & Associates, the largest broker-owned commercial real estate firm in North America.

Ty Janney, Eric Solem and Bob Elmer, who served as managing principals at Landmark Real Estate Advisors, will head up the Lee & Associates Boston office.

Eric Solem, Ty Janney and Bob Elmer, who were managing principals of Landmark, will continue to lead the office under the new Lee & Associates Boston brand in a deal that Lee & Associates CEO Jeff Rinkov told Bisnow "has elements of a merger and an acquisition."

The Boston office will receive funding from Lee & Associates to facilitate growth, both locally and internationally, while Lee will absorb Landmark's assets and intellectual property, Rinkov said.

“What really sparked the Lee & Associates transition for us was increased demand on our side for our clients and our team to have a national [and] international presence to meet the global decisions that our clients are making,” Solem said. “We are in the world of representing corporations, and they all have to think internationally and act locally, and we thought the Lee & Associates platform was the best fit for us to have the local expertise and also add to that the international reach to service those needs.”

Lee & Associates’ partnership with Gerald Eve, a U.K.-based real estate advisory firm, was an especially attractive feature of the deal for Landmark, Janney said. 

Lee & Associates, which was founded in Southern California, has long been looking for opportunities to expand in the Midwest and on the East Coast, but particularly into Boston, Rinkov said. Talks for the Boston expansion go back somewhere between six and eight months.

“We’ve attempted for quite a long time to find the right group,” he said. “We do have quite a bit of business that flows through and into Boston. Quite a bit of that comes from our large New York presence, so this is really an advent of our focus on East Coast expansion.”

Rinkov called the Landmark team “the best, most entrepreneurial group that is poised for significant growth in Boston.”

While Landmark, which was founded in 2008 and has represented more than 300 clients, was traditionally a tenant-side leasing brokerage, Elmer said the influx of cash from the Lee & Associates partnership will allow the group to grow its agency and capital markets capabilities.

“The partnership will allow us to hire and add associates and partners to our existing team, which is six right now,” Janney said. “So we’re very much looking forward to an expanded presence in Boston, in our home market, which I think will open up opportunities for us to pursue new lines of business.”

For now, Lee & Associates Boston will continue to focus on its bread and butter: the office and laboratory sectors. And deals in the lab vertical are there to be made despite the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.

“We’ve seen that there’s a real need for space, and so those areas of focus lend themselves to growth, even in a down market,” Solem said. “Conversations we’ve been having with prospective clients over the last few weeks in that sector are active.”

Rinkov said the Boston office is proof that Lee & Associates is committed to expansion despite the pandemic

“The disruption, while it’s significant and it’s concerning, doesn’t interrupt our long-term plans for expansion and increasing our footprint, not only in Boston, but in other parts of the Midwest and the East Coast,” he said.

Rinkov said Lee doesn't have the impediments to expansion that some of its competitors may be facing. 

“While this may seem like a very imperfect time, it’s an absolutely perfect time for Lee & Associates to continue to expand, because I think it really speaks to the difference between Lee and some of our publicly traded competitors that will have to answer to different masters during this time, like debt, like outside shareholders,” he said. "And we don’t have any of those."