Going Commercial

Real estate veteran Alexander Koustas spearheads The Agency’s new Commercial Advisory Board

Written by Wendy Bowman

When the co-founders of The Agency, Mauricio Umansky and Billy Rose, found that they were unable to serve their clients’ commercial transaction requirements, their solution was to form a new division to provide comprehensive commercial services, specializing in investment sales, landlord and tenant leasing representation, and strategic asset positioning— adding to the multibillion-dollar firm’s already thriving real estate brokerage and lifestyle practice.

Tapped to head The Agency Commercial Advisory, based in the company’s Beverly Hills headquarters, is industry veteran Alexander Koustas. Here, the skilled negotiator discusses the new division, L.A.’s up-and-coming commercial pockets and more.

Why is the time right to begin a new commercial division in Los Angeles?

With the emergence of L.A. on the global scene with respect to art, fashion and real estate, we believe now is the opportune time to be at the forefront of the commercial space.

What is your focus and goal with the new division?

To not only service our existing clientele base, but also to build a robust landlord and tenant representation platform to compete with the strongest commercial firms globally. The team will include seasoned professionals and leading real estate experts who bring together years of experience in various industry specialties— including development, asset management, investment sales and leasing.

Elaborate on the services the new division offers.

The merging of our respective strengths, coupled with The Agency’s global reach, makes for a truly dynamic and unparalleled partnership in the industry. As we continue to experience rapid growth in Los Angeles, commercial development and real estate ranks high for investors. In addition to being the provider for our clients and their commercial projects, the team will handle leasing, tenant representation and investment sales for office, industrial, retail, medical, special purpose, flex and multifamily spaces.

Tell us about your commercial background and what makes you a great fit to head the division?

I’ve spent years honing a craft in understanding the investment characteristics of commercial property. In my previous role, I was founding member and president of The December Company Inc., a boutique commercial brokerage firm specializing in high street retail, office and industrial leases and sales transactions. Prior to this post, I served as the acquisitions director for BH properties, where I was responsible for the deployment of $100 million in annual acquisitions throughout the Western U.S.; identifying distressed and value-added commercial investments for the company. With this experience, I have since moved into a purely brokerage role, which today enables me to see opportunities (or potential pitfalls) that may face my clients in a future lease or sales transaction. This unique skill set allows me to bring an unparalleled experience level to my clients and the company at large.

What are some of your top listings to date, and why are they significant?

4215 Admiralty Way is a prime waterfront building in Marina Del Rey with 1,400 feet of marina views, large windows and a loft-like ambience, perfect for an upscale restaurant or a unique tech office. 1360 S. Figueroa Blvd.—in the heart of Downtown L.A.— has more than 3,100 square feet of prime retail frontage across from the Los Angeles Convention Center and just minutes from the Staples Center and surrounding amenities. This area [is] part of a completely transforming live, work, play urban metropolis. 5215 Vineland Ave. is a 1,236-square foot mixed-use property in heart of the vibrant NoHo arts district, which is a young, trendy spot. This property has strong immediate demographics and access to robust multifamily density, along with a shared commercial parking lot.

What areas are hot in L.A. right now for commercial?

West Hollywood (always), Highland Park, Glendale/Burbank and Culver City. For example, in West Hollywood we’re seeing a demand for physical fitness use and restaurant space. In Glendale and Highland Park, we’ve seen an increased demand of and shift to upscale retail and boutiques. In Culver City, creative offices and showroom spaces are hot.

Are you seeing any trends in the market?

There’s a strong push towards creative office, open plan and warm contemporary office designs. The traditional office culture is changing the way people want to work and live. Inspired by the tech industry moving into the Westside of the city (Silicon Beach), the greater L.A. market is shifting to more open, bold cohesive work spaces.

Any predictions for what’s ahead for L.A.’s commercial industry?

Continued growth, with a particular push for architecturally efficient work and shopping environments. In addition to the hot areas mentioned earlier, we definitely will be seeing a continuing expansion of commercial retail into secondary and tertiary markets. Additionally, there is a continued movement of greater density in [A]-plus markets. We will see a continued trend in vertical development in high-density areas.

Finally, what does the new division mean for The Agency and L.A.?

As we continue to develop our foothold in L.A.’s commercial real estate market, The Agency is quickly becoming the leader in the industry for residential, new development and the commercial sectors. As L.A. continues to grow at a rapid pace, both commercial real estate and development is a leading investment for investors around the world. The Agency Commercial Advisory will further strengthen the brand and allow the team to be the provider for our clients and their commercial projects. We’re thrilled the commercial department is making a footprint in the city so quickly.

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