LOS ANGELES—Retail specialist Faris Lee is planting new roots in the Los Angeles market. The Orange County-based firm is opening its first L.A. office in El Segundo, where the firm will be able to focus on coastal clients and more complex deals. New hire and 30-year retail veteran Patrick Toomey, formerly of Matthews Retail Group, will lead the new office as senior managing director. To find out about the move, we sat down with Toomey for an exclusive interview. Here, he tells us why this is the right time to be in L.A., where his clients are finding the best opportunities in the retail market and his goals for the new office.
GlobeSt.com: Why is this a good time to open an office in the L.A. market?
Patrick Toomey: It’s been a long-term goal of Faris Lee Investments to open a Los Angeles office, but the key is doing it at the right time with the right people. An L.A. office is an important part of our growth and service to our clients. My track record of building highly successful teams at Matthews and CBRE, and working in both the principal and broker roles will be a tremendous asset. I’m also excited about working in Faris Lee’s collaborative and creative platform and to bringing a higher level of service to our mutual clients.
GlobeSt.com: What will this new office focus on, and what are your initial goals in starting this office?
Toomey: A consistent trend in commercial real estate is that coastal buyers, many of whom are in Southern California, comprise a good portion of transactions. It’s important to remain close to clients who are located in this market because while they are here, much of the investment activity may occur anywhere in the US. While we will look to expand our transaction portfolio, it is even more important to work directly with our clients on their investment plans wherever the best property opportunity may be located. From a property perspective we are looking to focus on larger multi-tenant shopping centers and deals with a higher level of complexity.
GlobeSt.com: Where do you see the best opportunities in the L.A. retail market?
Toomey: The Los Angeles retail market never ceases to amaze me – it undergoes numerous changes yet remains very resilient throughout economic cycles. Virtually every retailer in the world wants a presence in the Los Angeles market, giving owners a number of options to merchandise their properties. The market is a bit of a “test lab” for the rest of the country, and it’s exciting to be in the middle of it. A perfect example of this is the transformation of the Abbot Kinney district, which is pushing new boundaries every year and showing strong rent growth.
GlobeSt.com: Is this new office a sign that your firm believes the retail market has runway left?
Toomey: Absolutely. What is exciting is how this market is continually reinventing itself. There is a great deal of activity in greater L.A. and with new development comes opportunity for further reinvention, which leads to investment opportunity. The L.A. market is a frontier for innovation in retail, and shows no signs of slowing down. We’re excited about the future of this market and the value our investors can create here.
GlobeSt.com: What are the biggest challenges for retail investors in L.A., and how are you advising your clients to overcome those challenges?
Toomey: Southern California is a hot market for retail investment. While pricing is much more aggressive than other parts of the nation vis-a-vis lower cap rates, there is lower risk associated with these investments. This is due to the overall stability of the market and the many tenant options that proactive owners have to keep their centers full. Faris Lee has long represented and created wealth for Southern California investors, for investments here in Southern California, as well as other parts of the US.