Author Archives: Ben Azulay

Ten with Ben 026: Meet Aghfar Arun

In the latest episode of Ten with Ben, Ben Azulay dives into the world of hotel real estate with Aghfar Arun, Director, Hospitality at Bradford Allen. Aghfar discusses his journey into hospitality and the intricacies of acquiring hotel properties, emphasizing the importance of brand affiliation with major players like Hilton and Marriott. He also explores the specialized challenges of converting properties in the hotel sector compared to other real estate markets. The conversation also touches on the impact of the pandemic on operations and the disruption introduced by competitive platforms like Airbnb.



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Ten with Ben 025: Meet Jimmy Sarnoff

In the latest episode of Ten with Ben, Ben welcomes Jimmy Sarnoff, Managing Partner at Sarnoff & Baccash, to discuss the intricacies of property taxation in Chicago. They dive into how recent changes by the City’s Assessor have impacted property assessments and taxes, particularly highlighting the triennial reassessment cycle and various tax-saving strategies. Jimmy offers insights on leveraging property tax incentives for commercial and residential developments, and the potential benefits of converting commercial properties to residential to revitalize Chicago’s LaSalle Street. This episode provides crucial advice for navigating the complex landscape of property taxes and making informed real estate investment decisions in Chicago.



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Ten with Ben 024: Meet Aaron Letzeiser

This episode of Ten with Ben features Aaron Letzeiser, co-founder of Obie, who discusses the innovative ways his company is simplifying the insurance process for real estate investors and owners. Aaron shares insights on how Obie leverages technology to offer rates instantly and provide transparent insurance options, making the process more manageable and empowering for investors. Aaron’s journey from selling insurance in college to revolutionizing the insurance buying experience for real estate investors highlights the episode’s theme of innovation and adaptation in the real estate world.


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Ten with Ben 023: Work Family

In this special episode of Ten with Ben Ben is joined by Justin Kessler, Nathan Meisner, and Lauryn Sussman for a compelling conversation on their unique team dynamics and experiences in real estate. The episode focuses on the team’s strong bond as they navigate various aspects of the industry together. Justin shares insights from a notable microbrewery deal, while Nathan reflects on adapting strategies during the pandemic and Lauren speaks to her development within the team’s nurturing environment. Together, they offer an optimistic but cautious outlook of the market headed into 2024. The episode wraps up with a friendly and insightful discussion, illustrating the team’s camaraderie and collective expertise.


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Ten with Ben 022: Opportunities in the Market

Ten with Ben is back to showcase the “power of the ask.” Today’s market is all about seizing opportunities through creative negotiation. Current conditions present unique opportunities for tenants to renegotiate leases and for landlords to showcase their financial stability as a major strength. Ben offers actionable insight to both tenants and landlords on how to navigate the market effectively, from securing favorable lease terms to arranging unexpected perks.

This week, Ben gets candid about the lessons he’s learned over twenty years in real estate—and how the best advice always transcends the business. As a proud American Jew, Ben also reminds us to check in on Jewish friends and colleagues as fallout from the war in Israel continues to be felt around the world. Be present for one another—we are in this together.

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Ten with Ben 021: Wrapping Up Q3 2023

In this week’s episode, Ben reflects on his two-decade-long journey as a tenant rep broker, shares current market conditions, and identifies recent challenges the industry is facing. From the bustling Fulton Market district to new activity throughout the Loop, get an expert view on what’s shaping Chicago’s office landscape. Post-pandemic, the deals may be smaller, but leases are being signed. Ben also touches on the perseverance of brokers, the importance of location to tenants, and just what makes Chicago such a dynamic and resilient city.


In the wake of the unprecedented terrorist attack that ignited war in Israel, we recognize this is a time of immeasurable grief and hardship for many around the world. Ben begins this week’s podcast expressing his feelings with an open discussion about his connection to Israel.

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Ten with Ben 020: Brian Dovalovsky, Asset Management

In our latest Ten with Ben, we catch up with Bradford Allen’s Brian Dovalovsky (Senior Managing Director, Asset Management). Drawing from years of industry experience, Brian brings a depth of knowledge from every facet of the real estate cycle.

Get insight into the critical role of asset managers in closing deals, learn what office users are looking for in the current market, and see how some owners are better positioned to accommodate those needs. Highlighting the importance of furnished, turnkey space and easing the leasing process for potential tenants, Brian shares his take on the key differentiators of high-performing office buildings post-pandemic.

Watch the video below for more—including why the next 18 months could bring big change to the leasing landscape.

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Ten with Ben 019: Meet Rob Healy

In our latest Ten with Ben, we sit down with longtime property manager Rob Healy, Vice President and General Manager at CIM Group, L.P. to discuss the vital role of property management and why they’re too often an unsung hero in getting deals done. As a former property manager at the BMO Harris Bank building, Rob also shares his thoughts on the planned revitalization of LaSalle Street and the challenges of redeveloping its infrastructure for multifamily. Catch the full show to learn more about Rob and hear his take on current trends and market conditions:


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Ten with Ben 018: State of the Market

In our latest Ten with Ben, we sit down with BA’s own Dan Fernitz and Justin Kessler to discuss the state of the market. What were the big trends in 2022? Will they carry over to 2023? What’s next for the flight-to-quality, the return-to-office, supercharged amenities, suburbs vs downtown, foreclosures, and distress. With over a century’s worth of cumulative market knowledge at the table, the conversation was wide-ranging, well-informed, and chock full of insights.


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Ten With Ben 017: Meet Eric Janssen

This week on Ten with Ben, we meet with Eric Janssen, president and founder of Chicago Real Estate Resources (CRER), a full-service commercial real estate firm with a focus on investment, retail, and office leasing and a fellow Chicago affiliate of TCN. Eric is an award-winning and well-traveled real estate professional with a multitude of diverse experiences under his belt and has been working in the Chicago market for over three decades. Expertly weathering the challenges in today’s market, Eric’s optimism encourages his brokers to adapt to the changes and persevere, noting “it always comes back.”


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Client Success Story: Lindsay, Pickett & Postel, LLC

Lindsay, Pickett & Postel, LLC (LPP) was occupying two separate offices in the same building and wanted to consolidate to a single, high-class, high-rise space with east-facing views and abundant natural light. Bradford Allen identified suitable options, negotiated hard for client-friendly terms, and provided a solution for the client to sublease its existing spaces.

Watch the video to hear Managing Partner Christopher J. Pickett discuss working with the Azulay Team at Bradford Allen’s Tenant Representation Practice.

 

Ten with Ben 016: “Meet Ross Ford”

On Ten With Ben, we regularly speak with experts in their respective fields, but rarely has a guest come with such an immense amount of market knowledge. Ross Ford is a fourth-generation commercial real estate professional. And with nearly a quarter-century at the helm of TCN Worldwide, a consortium of independent commercial real estate firms, Ross has seen the ups and downs of several market cycles across every real estate segment. One lesson that holds true across time is that real estate is a “business of the moment.”

And in this particular moment–full of uncertainty and disruption and opportunity—the value of a professional broker/agent has never higher. We were excited to sit down with Ross and get his perspectives on the state of current market. We always learn something new and valuable speaking with Ross, and we know you will too.


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Ten with Ben 015: “Meet Michelle Jones”

Today we are joined by Michelle Jones, Director of Interiors at Shive-Hattery. With over 20 years’ design experience, Michelle has always been driven by creating something new and bringing it to life — the office is an art form. With so many facets, there is always something to be learned throughout each project while staying on top of trends.

But in today’s ever-changing world, the biggest question seems to be, “how do we do the next project better?” Bringing an architect in from the beginning of your project is the best place to start. In order to create a true collaboration among office tenant and architect, timing is key. Even while touring space, Michelle suggests bringing your architect along to provide critical feedback and visionary tools to provide crucial elements in a thoughtful vision for your workplace.

It’s clear that the office is here to stay, so how do you build a space when you don’t know what the next five years will look like? Are there best practices for tenants to follow?

Michelle’s advice: start with asking how you’re going to use your space.


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Ten with Ben 014: “Industrial Real Estate w/Ronan Remandaban”

There are no two ways about it—the industrial real estate market is on fire. It’s been the leading sector for a couple of years, owing to the pandemic and supply chain disruptions. Logistics have shifted from just-in-time to just-in-case, driving demand for localized warehousing and manufacturing space. Vacancy rates are at all-time lows, cap rates have plunged to low single digits, rents and construction costs are growing at a record-setting pace.

To understand these rapid changes and see where the industrial market can go from here, TWB sat down with Ronan Remandaban, Executive Managing Director and Industrial Market Leader at Bradford Allen. Ronan is a tech-savvy professional whose career has been dedicated to the industrial segment. He’s seen every type of deal and development over the course his 20 years in the business.

The current environment is all about being adaptive, whether that’s repurposing property or moving fast on transactions. Join us as Ronan and Ben discuss how we got here and what’s next for the industrial sector of commercial real estate.

 

Ten with Ben 013: “Meet Aaron Zaretsky”

Real estate is a relationship business, but it’s not often you get to work with a lifelong friend. In this Ten With Ben episode we’re joined by Aaron Zaretsky, Leasing Director at Urban Innovations, an integrated real estate development company. Aaron’s path crossed with Ben’s more than 40 years ago, decades before either had closed a lease deal.

As these long-time friends catch up on the state of the market, Ben and Aaron discuss the importance of nurturing long-term relationships with clients. People have good memories, so how you treat them matters, especially when it comes to big moments like leasing office space. It may be an everyday experience for a broker, but not for most business owners.

And the relationship-building doesn’t end when the lease is signed. Being present for all stages of your client’s growth and being a trusted, ever-present partner are the foundations for success in commercial real estate, and in business in general.


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Ten with Ben 012: “Meet Tim Brigham”

In our latest episode, Ben sits down with Tim Brigham, all-star mortgage broker and BA client. With a competitive spirit and laser-sharp focus on his customer’s needs, Tim’s found a winning combination for success in real estate, and in life. In addition to managing Union Home Mortgage’s Chicago office, Tim runs the Superhero Collective, a non-profit that brings comic-book heroes to life for children’s hospitals all around Chicago.

Whether he’s swapping a business suit for a batsuit or locking-in fixed-rate financing for a new family’s first home, Tim’s authentic passion for people resonates with his customers and with us.


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Ten with Ben 011: “Welcoming Laurence Elbaum, Co-Founder of Bradford Allen”

With 30 years of experience in commercial real estate, today’s guest knows what the fundamentals of the business are all about. Meet Laurence Elbaum, Principal and Co-Founder of Bradford Allen.

When he began Bradford Allen with business partner Jeffrey Bernstein in 2003, he was certain of just one thing: BA would succeed, because failure was not an option. That mindset has translated into a philosophy that continues to drive the firm today. Listen in as Larry explains why technology will not replace the ground work involved in CRE, the importance of knowing the value of a dollar for your client, and how our investment strategy changed during the course of the pandemic.

As BA’s suburban portfolio grows, the comparisons to downtown become more prevalent. While Chicago’s Loop has not seen the same return to work as many suburban buildings, Larry speculates that new changes will come as Gen Z’s presence emerges within the work force.

 

Ten with Ben 010: “Meet Joel Berger”

In this episode, Ben takes to the Chicago suburbs and sits down with suburban Senior Managing Director Joel Berger. Having been responsible for Bradford Allen’s suburban market presence for over fifteen years, Joel’s market knowledge is vast and insightful!

We begin by getting to know Joel before diving into a look at how the Chicago suburbs became the rapidly growing market we know today. Joel shares the invaluable lessons he’s learned over the years, outlines the lasting impact of the pandemic, and offers his view of the market’s trajectory in a post-Covid world.

Listen to the show below to get to know Joel Berger, learn more about the Chicago suburban market, and even hear his take on why the Chicago Bears are missing out!

 

Ten with Ben 009: “Meet Andy DeMoss”

We’re back with another special guest in today’s Ten with Ben: Andy DeMoss, the firm’s lead downtown agency broker. Having known each other for over a decade, Ben and Andy discuss the past, present, and future of the Chicago market.

Listen as they explore the importance of communication between landlords and tenants, what improvements landlords have been making to keep their buildings relevant, and the heavy concession packages tenants have been acquiring.

Although a vaccine doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet, the two have seen enough through the years to keep them excited and driving Chicago’s commercial real estate forward.

 

Ten with Ben 008: “What If’s”

“Is today the day we return to pre-pandemic days?”

If you’re like Ben, this has been a question you’ve asked yourself more than once over the past year. The what if’s keep us guessing as to what could have happened and what may happen next.

This week, Ten with Ben is back to bring some insight into how office leasing has changed due to the pandemic. Ben answers questions like: “Would deal terms be the same if the pandemic never happened?”

Negotiating deals in the current environment is giving tenants incentives like how they can use their tenant allowance and rent abatement. The market will continue this way for a while, potentially through 2023, and one thing is clear — it is essential to take advantage of the current situation and capture the savings of this moment in time.


 

Ten with Ben 007: “Forecasting 2021”

Ben is back, and like most of us, he’s ready to leave 2020 in the rearview mirror! Kick off the new year with Episode 007 of Ten with Ben.

We all hope 2021 will bring lots of excitement, but like Ben says, even after 20 years in the industry, “You just never know!” Listen as he discusses the differences between speculation and reality, why there is no doubt companies will come back to the office (eventually), and what “pent-up demand” means. Even after the COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, it won’t just be like flipping a switch getting back to our normal routines. Office schedules will still vary through at least the next 18 months.

The year will bring uncertainty, but more importantly, it will bring evaluation and opportunities to both landlords and tenants.


 

Ten with Ben 006: “The Amenities Arms Race”

A brand-new Ten with Ben has arrived, and today we’re talking building amenities. Listen as Ben compares the latest and greatest benefits available to office tenants. Buildings are working harder than ever to give employees a balance that incorporates work, health, and wellness. The days of a coffee pot being your only work perk are over. Now, most Class A buildings have an onsite café or food service, but it doesn’t stop there.

Ben discusses the significance of fitness centers, bike rooms, conferencing facilities, outdoor space, private decks, and tenant lounges — but most importantly: how it all fits into tenant costs.


 

Ten with Ben 005: “Listener Q&A”

This week, Ben is taking on listener questions to give his feedback on the CRE market and occupancy trends. Ben shares how companies can benefit through landlords cutting rental rates and buildout costs in addition to sublease spaces coming to the market in mass. Taking a look at your lease now will help you evaluate your needs when you’re ready to renegotiate.

How will the Chicago market look in five years? Are the aftereffects of COVID-19 going to change things indefinitely? Listen as Ben walks us through the office footprint of the future.

Lastly, we’re focusing on the positives to come from the past seven months — learning to prioritize, finding a work-life balance, and increasing efficiency throughout your workday.

 

Ten with Ben 004: “Meet Justin Kessler”

We’re back with a special guest in today’s Ten with Ben: Justin Kessler, Ben’s business partner. Ben and Justin explore thoughts on commercial real estate, COVID-19, and takeaways on working from home.

Listen as they discuss the importance of a tenant rep broker’s role with their clients and how engaging now — even if you aren’t ready to make decisions today — will set you up for success down the road.

While the return to work looks different for everyone, we all need to be safe, smart, and respectful in the workplace. Many continue to work from home and remain productive, but are there lost opportunities staying virtual?

 

Ten with Ben 003: “Exploring Your Lease Options”

Ben Azulay is back in this week’s Ten with Ben, diving into real estate in the new world. This week, he is focused on lease options and explains why a tenant may want to consider renewal, termination, or expansion options in their lease. Learn why these decisions are crucial for tenants, and why landlords may be hesitant to provide these options based on the market. And, what about possible signage or relocation options?

Listen as Ben discusses the importance, now more than ever, for leases to have flexibility — as well as protection — when tenants are moving into a new space.

 

Ten with Ben 002: “Negotiating Leases During Covid”

Ben Azulay is back in this week’s ­Ten with Ben to continue exploring leases in the “new world.” Many companies haven’t committed to a return date to the office, and it’s brought uncertainty to the market. There will be both temporary and permanent changes in the way we operate moving forward, but how will it affect your lease? Is now the time to renegotiate? If you have a lease expiration coming this year or next, you should be considering the options available to you.

Listen as Ben explains how we’ll be monitoring the market in the months to come to ensure we can position tenants in the space they need with a lease that’s right for them.

 

Ten with Ben Pilot: “Subleases”

In the debut episode of Ten with Ben, Bradford Allen’s own Ben Azulay (Principal & Executive Managing Director), discusses commercial real estate in a COVID-19 world. Cities are reopening, but a “new normal” is upon us. So what does that mean for you and your space? If you’re utilizing less of it — or none at all — a sublease might be the ideal solution to shed unused space and save valuable capital in the months ahead.
 
Listen as Ben walks us though the basics of subleases, where we’re seeing them pop up in the local market, and why they’re a great value play for tenants — a plug-and-play solution that’s ready to go and priced below market.