Grubb & Ellis seeks protection; local office not affected
Cash-strapped commercial real estate giant Grubb & Ellis Co. sought bankruptcy protection late Monday, but the move is not expected to drastically affect the company's affiliate in the Charleston area.
Chris Fraser, president of Grubb & Ellis|WRS, said his Mount Pleasant-based brokerage and leasing operation is independently owned and is financially stable.
"This has nothing to do with us," Fraser said. "Our clients are not at all exposed to any of this."
Fraser said WRS was reviewing whether to remain affiliated with the Grubb & Ellis franchise even before the bankruptcy. The deal is up for renewal this year, he said.
"This might give us more options," said Fraser.
Grubb & Ellis, which was formed in 1958 and manages more than 250 million square feet of property, struggled as the commercial real estate market has been slow to rebound from the long economic downturn.
Its purchase of NNN Realty Advisors at the peak of the market in late 2007 compounded its money problems.
Grubb & Ellis said it does not have enough cash to survive beyond March 31.
As part of its bankruptcy, the Santa Ana, Calif,-based firm is seeking a quick sale of most of its assets to BGC Partners Inc. for an undisclosed price. Fraser noted that BGC last year bought Newmark Knight Frank, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the country.
"To the extent they will have affiliates and want affiliates, that's an option we'll consider. ... Maybe one day our signs will change," he said.
Grubb & Ellis entered the Charleston market under a 2006 deal with Fraser's previous firm, which merged with WRS Realty three years later.