Written by The Business Journal Staff
A north Fresno commercial real estate broker is pulling up stakes and making the move to Downtown Fresno. Rob Boese, president of Boese Commercial, has signed a lease to occupy more than 3,300 square feet on the ground floor of the historic Hotel Virginia building on Kern Street and plans to make the move early next month.
Boese inked the lease last week. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has pinned her legacy to downtown revitalization and the mayor’s economic development team has reached out to Boese to aid in the company’s downtown transition.
“When I first saw the space, I decided to take it immediately,” Boese said. “It’s very cool and will be a natural fit for our company.”
Developer Will Dyck’s Summa Development Group has gone to great lengths to renovate the historic Hotel Virginia building, which is now almost fully occupied. Summa construction crews have already renovated the two suites in Boese’s new office in preparation for the impending move.
Erin Lussier, Boese’s general manager, said company signs “will be going up soon.”
The commercial real estate brokerage office will be next door to the new Tree of Life restaurant and Boese said he is “very excited” to be among the first commercial brokers to set up shop downtown.
A native New Yorker who grew up on Long Island and moved to Fresno in 2009, Boese, 40, is also an enthusiastic proponent of Downtown Fresno’s revitalization.
“I am extremely positive about downtown and, overall, see the city’s future as very bright,” he said. “Many of our clients, who tend to be from out of town or even out of the country, are looking for good urban real estate investments and Downtown Fresno is where it’s all happening right now. It’s where we wanted to be too.”
A doctor’s son and graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Boese’s first experience in real estate came from managing his father’s commercial office buildings in New York. Eventually, he built a successful career handling “high-end” real estate in New York City. And then the Great Recession hit.
So Boese and his wife decided to move to California. “We wanted to be closer to my wife’s family,” he said. His wife Maureen is a Fresno native and Bullard High grad who works in the health care industry.
After Boese moved to Fresno, one of his first meetings was with local real estate pioneer — and legend — Charles Tingey, who suggested Boese start his Valley real estate career by working for a local developer. “He said it would give me a good foundation and better understanding of the Valley real estate scene,” Boese said.
So Boese went to work as a personal assistant for Darius Assemi at Granville Homes.
“I just basically did whatever Darius wanted me to do,” Boese said. “He taught me how things worked here in the Valley — and how to get things done.”
After working for Assemi for six months, Boese joined local property management titan Manco Abbott and spent two and a half years there working his way up the ranks before venturing out on his own in 2013 to open his own commercial real estate firm on West Shaw Avenue.
In the beginning, he only had one client, the Papazian family, who hired Boese to manage the family’s 34 commercial properties and 225 tenants.
“The Papazians gave me an office, desk and phone and told me to go to work,” Boese said. “Unfortunately, it was an incredibly valuable antique, Louis XVI desk, so I was always worried about spilling coffee on it. And people were shorter back then so it was about three inches lower than a regular desk and I was always knocking my knees on it.”
For the first six months he was in business for himself, Boese said he “answered all the calls, did all the leasing, paperwork and property management by myself. Eventually, I was able to hire some other people and began picking up new clients.”
Today, Boese Commercial is a full-service brokerage dealing with commercial properties in the Fresno area and specializing in the sales, leasing and management of office, retail, industrial and land.
“We’re very Fresno-centric,” Boese said. “Our intention is to be very local. We won’t take work outside of Fresno County.”
Boese said he has been concentrating his business activities lately in some of Fresno’s “underserved areas.” He currently has a seven-member staff but said the company is “growing extremely fast. We are looking to hire a number of new employees over the next few months,” he added.
Boese is also planning to launch a new real estate technology company soon. “It will be focused on databases,” he said.
And within the next two years, Boese said he plans to start a new commercial real estate school.
“One of the problems I had in staffing up my company was that I had to train all of my people myself,” he said. “One of the hardest things about running a commercial real estate business is finding and hiring talent.”
Boese’s decision to relocate to Downtown Fresno has created a stir in the local business community.
“I can’t remember the last time a north Fresno real estate company moved downtown,” said John Ostlund, owner of One Putt Broadcasting and one of the biggest boosters of the effort to revitalize Downtown Fresno.
“I’m very excited about Rob’s company moving in across the street,” said Kate McKnight, owner of The Republican bar and restaurant, which is across the street from the Hotel Virginia building.
“We’d love to see more restaurants like The Tree of Life and businesses like Rob’s come into the area,” McKnight said. “I know Rob is really determined to bring more people — and business — into downtown and that will be good for everybody.”
George Lurie | Reporter can be reached at:
490-3464 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org