Real estate veteran gets back into sales: Andrew Banister joins CB Richard Ellis team in red-hot market

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In the past five years, local real estate veteran Andrew J. Banister has changed jobs four times.

With the most recent switch, Banister is right back where he started-with the investment sales team at the local office of CB Richard Ellis.

Banister, 55, on Aug. 29 began his first official day working with John Merrill and Gary Woodworth, who in recent years have engineered sales of some of the city’s most prominent office buildings at record-high prices.

It’s a familiar position for Banister. He and Merrill worked together in the same capacity from 1997 until 2000, when Banister took the then-vacant managing director position at the CBRE office. From there, he left for a stint at locally based Providence Partners before coming back to CBRE 18 months ago to work on office leasing.

“My background is really more on the asset side,” said Banister, a certified public accountant who was the chief financial officer at locally based Mansur Group before joining CBRE. “I still really relate better to that.”

The switch comes at a key time for the brokerage’s investment sales team, which has been riding a wave of sales activity among small and large real estate investors.

In the past 18 months, the team has handled transactions totaling $500 million, representing nearly 7 million square feet of office, medical, industrial and retail space. That’s slightly more than the combined transactions of the prior three years, Woodworth said.

Recent sales include One and Two River Crossing, a 205,000-square-foot complex that fetched $41.6 million. That worked out to a price of $203 a square foot, a local record for office space.

In the past several years, the team has handled the sale of some properties, including Castleton Park and National City Center, twice.

At the same time, the team has expanded its geographic reach beyond Indiana. Through collaboration with Keith Yearout in CBRE’s Cincinnati office, it now handles sales in Dayton, Cincinnati, northern Kentucky and Louisville.

When the team’s junior partner, Matt Carlstedt, left a few weeks ago to spearhead creation of an investment fund at locally based Browning Investments Inc., Merrill and Woodworth began rethinking the makeup of their team.

“It made sense to bring in somebody of Andy’s caliber,” Merrill said.

Despite job-hopping the past few years, Banister remains admired and respected in a field often noted for cutthroat competition.

That’s how, Merrill surmises, he ended up as managing director at CBRE.

“There was a groundswell of support” among the office’s brokers for Banister to take the position in 2000, Merrill said. “We must have some pretty effective salespeople, because he bit.”

The administrative nature of the job didn’t suit him well, Banister said, so he left in 2003 to start an acquisition fund at Providence Partners with fellow industry veteran Janice Hawkins.

Although the two successfully raised funds to buy properties, the market was becoming crowded with buyers. As a result, the timing was bad for a small firm to begin making purchases, said Providence Principal David Funke.

“We mutually agreed the prices were getting too high,” Funke said. “It was a great idea, but it was the wrong time to be a buyer, we thought.”

Although the three team members’ roles will evolve in coming months, Merrill likely will still be the most public face of the investment team, the three said. Banister and Woodworth, who managed assets for Duke Realty Corp. before joining CBRE in 1999, will handle many of the financial details for o f t e n – c o m p l ex transactions, they said.

“Our business development’s gone so well, we need to keep up with execution,” Woodworth said.

The team for many years has been “the only game in town” when it comes to large office investment sales, said Mark Vollbrecht, local senior vice president of Chicago-based Zeller Realty Group. Zeller used CBRE as its broker in its $68.5-million sale of Castleton Park in December. The brokerage also handled the sale when Zeller bought the park in 1999.

“The more complex the deals are, the more calm and thoughtful you need to be,” Vollbrecht said. “People tend to get

crazy. [Banister] will be a good moderating influence.”

John Merrill, left, Gary Woodworth and Andy Banister have teamed up to handle asset sales at CB Richard Ellis.

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