A local commercial real estate firm is adding to its property management and leasing portfolio by focusing on financially distressed properties. And it’s adding diversity to an industry that lacks it.
DTM Real Estate Services LLC landed management and leasing for Fortune Park buildings 5, 6 and 7 in August, about a year after getting the management contract for a 360,000-square-foot portfolio in Park 100.
Ezra Burdix, 51, started DTM 12 years ago after working for First American Title and then operating his own commercial property appraisal business, which did work for local banks, the city and the Indianapolis Airport Authority.
DTM now has 11 employees, including Eric Thompson, formerly with Simon Property Group, who is in charge of property management; and Marvin Murdock, formerly a vice president in the local office of Powers & Sons Construction Co., who heads up the firm’s construction management unit.
A minority-owned-and-operated mainstream commercial real estate firm like DTM is rare here—and in many markets, said Burdix, who is black.
Burdix, who is from northern California, initially was under the impression that the lack of diversity in commercial real estate here was an Indiana problem. But as he began operating in regional and national circles, he discovered the situation is no different in other parts of the country.
“I thought, ‘Wow, how good would it be to develop an avenue that could provide some diversity for this space?' But that fades away when you get into the work," Burdix said. "Now, I look at us as a good, competitive company that happens to be minority.”
DTM’s focus these days has turned to competing for the right to manage and lease properties that have been foreclosed on or landed with lenders via a deed hand-off.
Those contracts, which can last a year or more, can be lucrative for the firm and give DTM an opportunity to build a reputation with bigger commercial real estate firms it interacts with in the process. “It allows us to share our story with a variety of local real estate players,” Burdix said.
Last month, DTM was placed in charge of managing and leasing a trio of Fortune Park buildings northwest of 86th Street and Michigan Road that had been owned by a New Mexico-based partnership.
CW Capital, a special servicer of commercial debt, picked DTM to manage and lease them. A court then named DTM the receiver. Burdix himself will handle leasing of the buildings, all of which were built in 1984 and 1985.
The largest, a 35,000-square-foot office building, is fully leased. An office flex building with almost 21,000 square feet is completely vacant and the smallest building, at just more than 18,000 square feet, is 70-percent occupied.
Last year, DTM picked up management of a 360,000-square-foot portfolio in Park 100 that had been owned by California-based Blue Real Estate. Leasing is handled by CBRE.
Not all of DTM’s work involves financially distressed properties. It manages 500 Place, a 32,000-square-foot office building at 501 Indiana Ave., and Walker Plaza, a 30,000-square-foot office building at 719 Indiana. Burdix’s goal is for the company to get into property ownership by the end of next year.
The firm also has forged strong relationships with important clients who can attest to the quality of its work.
In the last three years, Key Bank has added 14 branches in the Indianapolis area. The bank’s Cleveland-based commercial real estate group hired DTM to help with site selection, a relationship that eventually led Burdix to work directly with Gary Hentschel, president of the bank’s central Indiana region.
“Ezra has been instrumental in helping us find locations for a number of those branches,” Hentschel said.