In this edition of the HSA Team Member Spotlight, we talk with Ken Verne, vice president – asset manager with HSA Commercial. In his role at HSA, Ken has both property management and leasing responsibilities for a national portfolio of real estate assets owned by HSA’s principals and their related partnerships.
HSA: How do you explain your role as an asset manager at HSA?
Verne: Unlike a traditional property manager, I’m actively involved in the leasing of the majority of the 34 building real estate portfolio that totals about 7 million square feet and includes anything from a 700,000-square-foot bulk industrial building in Rockford, Ill. to a 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art medical office center in Melbourne, Fla. At any given time, there’s a variety of issues that can arise with any one of those 34 properties across the country. That is why ninety-nine percent of the goal of my job is to develop and maintain positive relationships with our partners and our tenants. That way, when those issues do come up, our clients are not dealing with a stranger but someone that they know and trust. Facilitating those relationships is so important, and that’s why I travel to each building a minimum of once a quarter to meet with our tenants and discuss their needs.
HSA: Have there been any new lease deals for HSA’s national assets?
Verne: We’ve kept very busy with the leasing of our industrial properties. In Georgia, we recently completed a renewal for American Driveline, the parent company of AAMCO Transmissions, which expanded the tenant’s premises to 200,000 square feet from roughly half that size while extending the term through 2020. Similarly, in North Carolina, we are finalizing a deal to extend a tenant’s lease by two years and expanding their space from 97,000 to about 169,000 square feet. Last year, we also renewed West-Ward Pharmaceuticals, a division of Hikma Pharmaceuticals, for an additional five years in one of our Memphis properties. Besides our new leases, we’ve also managed over $1.5 million in tenant improvement projects on behalf of Industrial Income Trust for the portfolio of 10 Chicago area industrial properties that they acquired from HSA.
HSA: Aside from the select deals you mentioned, how has the leasing environment been on a national basis?
Verne: Three or four years ago, it seemed that there were three negatives to every positive for each real estate asset across the board. But we are really starting to see things change now, and there is a lot more movement and interest in the market from tenants which we haven’t seen for the past several years. Though we’re not out of the woods yet, there’s good reason to be optimistic.
Ken Verne has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Iowa and is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Illinois.