Downtown L.A. real estate brokerage Charles Dunn Co. is aiming to expand its reach beyond California for the first time in the firm’s 95-year history.

To lead the charge, Charles Dunn last week hired David Pinsel as its new president of brokerage services.

Pinsel, 38, joined the firm from Seattle commercial real estate giant Colliers International, where he spent the last four years growing its North Texas presence.

“We started with 16 brokers and got down to 12 and were losing money,” Pinsel said. “But when I left, we had 80 brokers and were very profitable.”

That’s the type of growth Charles Dunn is hoping Pinsel can achieve again.

“After several months of evaluating our strategy and goals, we determined it is time to elevate our presence in our current markets as well as look toward expanding our geographic scope,” Walter F. Conn, who was previously in Pinsel’s new role, said in a statement. “David has a proven track record of successfully building larger teams and we consider this move a significant milestone for our firm.”

Conn, now serving as managing principal of brokerage services, plans to remain active in the firm, he said.

One of the first new markets Pinsel has in mind is North Texas, primarily because he saw the strength of the region during his time there.

“Oil prices withstanding, Dallas is a great place to do business,” he said. “I can see us expanding into that market by the end of the year or early next year.”

But first, Pinsel said he wants to strengthen the Charles Dunn brand in Los Angeles, which now has about 50 brokers.

“Job No. 1 is to ensure we have the resources that allow us to compete with the CBRE’s and JLL’s of the world,” he said.

Heating Up

Echo Park’s increasing popularity has not gone unnoticed by Brian Good, chief executive at West L.A. lender iBorrow.

What’s more, Good said he anticipates the neighborhood is extremely likely to stay hot in the foreseeable future.

“Echo Park and Silver Lake really remind me of where Venice was at 10 years ago,” he said. “When Santa Monica got too expensive, people started moving to Venice. Now, Venice is probably one of the hottest parts of L.A.”

Much like the trendy beach community, Echo Park is benefitting from a flood of people seeking less expensive housing. Specifically, Good has noticed a swarm of people gravitating from Hollywood.

That’s a big reason why Good agreed this month to provide a $3.7 million loan to a local investor who’s looking to revamp his Echo Park bungalows.

The investor, whom Good declined to identify, also owns the property at 1538 W. Sunset Blvd., which houses the Lost Knight restaurant and pub.

Part of the loan will be used to upgrade the bungalows, at 1127 Laguna Ave., which sit right behind the Lost Knight, while the remaining portion will repay existing debt, he said.

The borrower previously invested about $1 million to renovate the restaurant and pub, Good said, and the bungalow project is expected to add even more value to the portfolio.

“It’s nowhere but up for these guys,” he said. “I think this area is going to see property values go through the roof very quickly.”

Moving In

West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center will soon welcome three new tenants to its colorful office complex at 8687 Melrose Ave.

Known for its three distinct buildings – each of which boast shades of blue, green or red – the PDC has inked three new lease deals for its Green Building this year alone.

WME-the Wall Group, which formed last year after talent agency William Morris Endeavor acquired Wall Group, will take 6,500 square feet of the Green Building’s available office space, according to New York’s Cohen Brothers Realty Corp., which owns the PDC and announced the deal to the Business Journal exclusively.

The agency plans to move in sometime next quarter.

Cohen Brothers also struck a deal with Dan Klores Communications, which will take 4,700 square feet in the Green Building. DKC is moving out of its space in Beverly Hills and is expected to complete the move by next quarter.

The third deal was struck with Pro Tour Memorabilia, which markets sports gifts and collector memorabilia. The company is leaving its current location in Chatsworth to a 7,250-square-foot space in the Green Building. Pro Tour is expected to complete its move before the end of next month.

Cohen Brothers wouldn’t provide specific details about its recent deals, but noted that each lease starts at about $3.50 a square foot a month and ranges from five to 10 years.

While it has already leased more than 20,000 square feet this quarter, Cohen Brothers anticipates even more deals will be finalized before the next quarter’s start in April.

Staff reporter Cale Ottens can be reached at cottens@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 221.

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