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As the commercial real estate market tightens countywide, across all product types (but particularly in larger blocks of space over 50,000 square feet and the Class A office market), tenants need to adapt their thinking when they are looking to lease or purchase new space for their businesses. Having experienced the ups and downs in the San Diego commercial real estate market over the last 23 years, which now enters the third commercial real estate recovery cycle, there are four major considerations that tenants need to think about when going to the market.

Shay Hughes is the first to admit that she has taken an unusual path to her executive role as chief operating officer at Hughes Marino, San Diego’s largest commercial real estate firm exclusively representing tenants. “When people ask me what my background is in, they usually think its in interior design or advertising. I love to tell them I’ve been a stay at home for 20 years!” Now that her children are 21, 19, and 17, Shay, who is 43, says she first got “unknowingly recruited” into the business by her husband, Jason Hughes, president of Hughes Marino, who the firm is named for, when he encouraged her to act as producer of the firm’s high-profile television commercials. With eight TV spots under her belt, she began quietly and systematically revamping the company’s website, marketing efforts, business strategies, and internal operations. It wasn’t until the past year that she began getting recognition for her leadership in the firm (“an injection of creativity and love” she says) with the unveiling of the company’s new headquarters located on the corner of Front and Beech Streets in Downtown.

Real estate is typically the second largest fixed cost line item on a company’s expense statement after payroll. Company owners and management teams diligently seek to manage and reduce these real estate costs in every way possible. Doing more with less represents increasing productivity and profitability. But there is a larger and often missed opportunity with corporate real estate that has less to do with managing expenses, and more to do with realizing the potential of an organization. As we are now poised on the brink of another economic recovery, with the prospect of rising rents driving key corporate real estate decisions, this is a perfect time to consider a fresh mindset and a new real estate paradigm with powerful implications for the success of your company.

Over the last four years of the commercial real estate recession, most tenants’ leases in San Diego County have expired. When faced with that event, there has been a tremendous migration of tenants in all office submarkets moving from Class B buildings to Class A buildings. Tenants that signed leases for Class B space in 2003-2006, signed as the market was inflating, and had subsequent expirations in the most favorable tenant market in 15 years from 2008-2011.

Hughes Marino congratulates president Jason Hughes for his award as a San Diego Metro Movers to Watch in 2012. The San Diego Metro Movers list recognizes twenty-five of San Diego’s leaders in industry and the community that will be “making news” in the next year. Hughes’s expertise, passion for real estate and commitment to the San Diego community has led Hughes Marino to become the leading commercial real estate company that exclusively represents tenants, as well as an advocate for San Diego business owners and the community at large.

One’s stand on an improving commercial real estate market all depends on where one sits. For tenants, an improving commercial market results in higher rents, fewer concessions and less flexibility. For a landlord, it results in higher income, less costs and more stability. But whether you are a winner or loser in an improved commercial real estate market, the fact is that 2012 will be a transitional year on the way to a more healthy commercial real estate market for property owners.

The bottom line is that commercial real estate tenants don’t typically look for only the cheapest space in a vacuum–it’s not just about rent. Tenants want to pay the least possible rent for a building that meets their bundled minimum standards for location, cultural fit, quality, amenities and expandability. Business owners want to pay the least possible rent for space that works. There is no point in getting a great deal on terrible space that can’t support the success of the business.

Nik Bandak has joined Hughes Marino Construction Management as a project engineer. Bandak joins construction management industry experts Kirt Gilliland, Dean Petersen, and Steven Gorup, recently promoted to project manager.

Companies looking to lease space, or buy their own building, often ask us which office submarkets are the best to locate to. Some companies will locate in submarkets most convenient to where the CEO or business owner lives. However, most of our clients really care about where the entire employee base is commuting from, and want to understand how locations can help them attract future employees. Here is a simple summary of what is going on in the region.

Hughes Marino, a commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation, announced that it will provide businesses with free space availability surveys for all areas of San Diego. Surveys will be available for the entire county, for lease or purchase, and be segregated by Office, Industrial, Retail, Medical or Laboratory space. The surveys can be accessed at

Jason Hughes

jason hughes headshot Jason Hughes is president and CEO of Hughes Marino, as well as a featured columnist for the San Diego Business Journal and past columnist for the San Diego Daily Transcript. Jason has written well over 100 articles, is a real estate resource for the Wall Street Journal, and has been profiled in the San Diego Union Tribune, San Diego Business Journal, San Diego Daily Transcript, San Diego Metro, Smart Business San Diego, California Real Estate Journal, and Western Real Estate Business.

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David Marino

david marino headshot David Marino is executive vice president of Hughes Marino, as well as a monthly columnist for the San Diego Metro. Specializing in high-value, time-critical and complex transactions for technology, life science, and business service companies, David has been featured in the San Diego Union Tribune, San Diego Business Journal, Smart Business San Diego, and Western Real Estate Journal.

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Nik Bandak

nik bandak headshot Nik Bandak is project manager for Hughes Marino CM. Nik earned a degree in Financial Services from Saint Mary’s College of California where he graduated with honors. As a project engineer, Nik is knowledgeable in estimating, documentation control, construction scheduling and processes, contract administration, and financial analysis. Prior to joining Hughes Marino, Nik worked for Bechtel International on the Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone in Taweelah, United Arab Emirates, where he monitored and oversaw the daily construction activities and progress of 5,000 field workers in 53 buildings within the Industrial Zone borders.

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Dave Bates

dave bates headshot Dave Bates, Vice President of Hughes Marino CM, has more than 20 years of construction and project management experience in San Diego. He has overseen the construction of several million square feet of projects ranging from typical office space and specialty tenant improvement projects to large-scale new building construction. Dave is LEED accredited and OSHA 30 qualified, and has been named one of San Diego's top project managers several times over the course of his career.

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Robert Bello

robert bello headshot Robert Bello, general counsel for Hughes Marino, is a member of the State bar of California, the Association of Corporate Counsel, and the San Diego County Bar Association. Robert holds degrees in economics and political science from Northwestern University, an M.B.A. from San Diego State University, a J.D. from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and is also on the Board of Directors for the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Alumni Association.

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Travis Carter

travis carter headshot Travis Carter, a San Diego native, serves as vice president of Hughes Marino. A licensed real estate broker, Travis specializes in representing legal and accounting firms throughout the UTC, Del Mar Heights, Mission Valley and Downtown markets. Travis, a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University, was honored as one of SD Metro's 40 under 40 recipients in 2011.

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Brendan Foote

brendan foote headshot Brendan Foote is senior vice president of Tax Credit Services for Hughes Marino, which focuses on securing tax refunds and savings for California businesses who are eligible for various economic development programs. With an expertise in such programs as the California Enterprise Zone Program, the Federal Empowerment Zone Program and the LAMBRA Program, Brendan and his team generate substantial tax savings for businesses located in these incentive zones. Brendan is an active member of the Downtown San Diego Partnership and a board member of the East Village Association.

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Heather Fox

heather fox headshot Heather Fox is Controller at Hughes Marino. Heather earned a degree in Accounting from University of Phoenix. As controller, Heather is responsible for accounts receivable and accounts payable, and works closely with the director of finance in all aspects of the firm’s accounting and finances. Prior to joining Hughes Marino, Heather was a senior staff accountant at a public tax and accounting firm for ten years. Heather also assisted with corporate and non-profit compilations, reviews and audits.

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Kirt Gilliland

kirt gilliland headshot Kirt Gilliland, division president of Hughes Marino CM, has over 25 years of construction and project management experience in San Diego, having managed over 6 million square feet of projects valued in excess of $400 million. Among the most notable projects are a 23 story, $70 million affordable housing project at 10th and B Street, and the nationally-recognized, award-winning 45,000 square foot New Children’s Museum.

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Scot Ginsburg

scot ginsburg headshot Scot Ginsburg has been solely focused on exclusively representing tenants and occupiers of commercial space throughout his career. With over 8,000,000 square feet of experience, Scot specializes in high-tech, life science, business service, research and development, and other growth-oriented companies. Scot is a guest columnist for California Real Estate Journal and the San Diego Daily Transcript.

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Steven Gorup

steven gorup headshot Steven Gorup is project manager/LEED AP BD+C for Hughes Marino CM, which is essential for green-building technology implementation. In 2009, Steven obtained the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certificate, a strategy designed to improve quality while simultaneously eliminating cost and administrative excess. Prior to serving as a project engineer on University of San Diego’s LEED Silver-certified, award-winning Student Life Pavilion, Steven earned a degree in Construction Science and Management from Kansas State University.

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Shay Hughes

shay hughes headshot Shay Hughes, chief operating officer, plays a key role in all aspects of the organization, including internal operations, marketing, business strategy, and end-to-end management. A San Diego native, her versatile skills range from designing Hughes Marino’s corporate headquarters, managing the day-to-day operations of the firm, and a strong understanding of the local marketplace and client needs.

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Star Hughes

star hughes headshot Star Hughes is a director at Hughes Marino, the largest tenant representation company in San Diego. A San Diego native, Star specializes in downtown San Diego real estate. Star earned her Masters of Business Administration at University of San Diego, where she was the first and youngest full-time MBA student to complete the two-year program in one year, at the age of twenty-one. Star graduated from University of San Diego with her Bachelor of Business Administration at the age of nineteen after completing her undergraduate degree in two years with a 4.0 overall GPA and highest academic average in the graduating class.

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Tucker Hughes

tucker hughes headshot Tucker Hughes is a director at Hughes Marino where he specializes in tenant representation throughout San Diego. A native San Diegan, Tucker is a member of one of the most experienced and respected commercial real estate teams in San Diego, contributing to his ability to provide the best service to his clients. Tucker graduated from the University of San Diego magna cum laude with his Bachelor of Business Administration and is currently pursuing his Master of Science in Real Estate also from the University of San Diego.

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John Jarvis

john jarvis headshot John Jarvis is senior vice president of Hughes Marino, a past contributor to Smart Business San Diego, and a leader in countless local charitable, professional and civic organizations. A member of Biocom, International Facility Management Association, and Corporate Finance Council, as well as a graduate of LEAD San Diego, John has earned the trust of a loyal clientele by consistently providing thoughtful and creative solutions on high value real estate projects.

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Craig Knox

craig knox headshot Craig Knox is senior vice president of Hughes Marino, where he is an insightful advisor and aggressive advocate for tenants, especially those in the life sciences and technology sectors where his technical background is a key asset. A graduate of Stanford’s M.B.A. and Master of Engineering programs, Craig serves as a board member of the San Diego Venture Group, a chair of CommNexus’ Capital Markets Committee, and is in charge of real estate for the EvoNexus start-up incubator.

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Ashley Lewis

ashley lewis headshot Ashley Lewis, director of marketing, is responsible for brand development and marketing strategy for Hughes Marino. As a graphic designer she creates original marketing pieces and advertisements, in addition to writing for the Hughes Marino blog. Prior to joining Hughes Marino, Ashley ran her own graphic design business, specializing in brand identity, print design, web design and illustration. In a previous life, Ashley was an engineer and naval officer who served on San Diego based ships USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and USS Jarrett (FFG-33).

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Ed Muna

ed muna headshot Ed Muna is senior vice president of Lease Audit Services, providing tenants with a resource to review and audit their landlord charges, ensuring fairness and proper billing by landlords for operating expenses, CAM charges, and property tax expenses. A twenty year veteran of San Diego’s commercial real estate industry, Ed brings a unique perspective having worked as an owner’s representative, asset manager, and property manager in the development, leasing, management and operations of several million square feet. He is currently involved in the Downtown San Diego Partnership and North County Chamber of Commerce.

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Dean Petersen

dean petersen headshot Dean Petersen, senior vice president and LEED AP, has been responsible for the management of over 5 million square feet of construction valued in excess of $225 million throughout his 30 years of construction and project management experience. Having directed a wide range of projects, from ground up historical building remodels, multi-million dollar tenant improvement projects, award-winning residential work/live highrises, hospital facilities, airport terminals and universities, Dean brings a strong knowledge of project cost estimating and control, scheduling, quality control, contract administration, and construction means and methods to his clients.

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Shane Poppen

shane poppen headshot Shane Poppen is a native Southern Californian who specializes in tenant representation in the suburban markets of San Diego County, partnering with companies to make the most of their real estate decisions. His experience includes site selection, strategic planning and needs assessment, financial analysis, negotiation and transaction structuring for lease renewals, relocations and renegotiations. Shane brings persistence, a strong work ethic, dependability, and a results-driven attitude to the Hughes Marino team.

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JP Roach

jp roach headshot JP Roach, Vice President, Healthcare Practice Group, is a licensed California real estate broker, as well as member of the State Bar of California, the Consumer Attorneys of San Diego, and the San Diego County Bar Association. A San Diego native, JP combines his business and legal background to produce a unique and effective form of zealous advocacy for his clients. JP’s practice, which is focused on the medical and legal sectors in San Diego County, is a natural extension of his background as an attorney. JP holds an MBA from Point Loma Nazarene University and a JD from Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

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