Although Tulsa Hills Shopping Center offers only 8-percent
vacancy, Mendy Parish considers it an achievement to take over
leasing chores for the growing west Tulsa complex.
"There will always be work to do, even in a project as successful
as this one," said Parish, a Tulsa retail specialist with CB Richard
Ellis of Oklahoma. "Tulsa Hills is one of the shining jewels in this
Terry Argue faces the opposite challenge. After almost 18 years
managing downtown Tulsa's historic Mid-Continent Tower, Argue
expects to lose that contract when that 321,500-square-foot office
complex hits the Tulsa County sheriff's auction block.
"It's almost inevitable," he said, noting most new owners change
building managers after signing the deed. That's how Parish landed
the Tulsa Hills job, after the Inland Real Estate Group of Oak
Brook, Ill., bought the three-year-old center last month from
Collett and Associates for $54 million.
Those cases represent the triumphs and pitfalls of property
leasing and management. Lacking the "home run" payoffs of investment
brokering, these sides of commercial real estate often gained far
less attention. But as the "go-go" property sales dried up under
this recession, the steady, day-to-day business of leasing and
management spelled survival for many firms.
"The most stable income is with the management side of the
business," said Jim Parrack, a senior vice president with Price
Edwards in Oklahoma City. "You make a monthly fee on all of the
projects that you manage. As long as you do a good job, that is a
relatively stable part of business."
That is demonstrated by Argue's 18 years at Mid-Continent.
While Tulsa-based Argue Properties handles other properties, Mid-
Continent makes up the majority of its cash flow. At 88-percent
occupancy, with little turnover, the two buildings making up that
tower provide Argue with both a steady management fee and
reimbursement for certain expenses.
Some headaches come with such contracts, from unclogging toilets
to working through emergencies. Argue still cringes at memories of
the 2007 ice storm, which shut off power to four-fifths of Tulsa.
"Retailers depend on Christmas sales," Parish noted, "so if you
have ice on the sidewalks, you have to get that out of there. Their
sales depend on it."
But Argue appreciates the close relationships property management
allows him to build with both co-workers and tenants, and the trust
they put in his confidence and services.
"They're just always a joy to be around," he said. "Most are
entrepreneurial. They're creative. They have tremendous energy.
They're great people to work with, to try and provide a quality
The cyclical thing
Offering leases represents the middle ground between management
"With the leasing silo, income varies more with what's going on
with the economy and the market in general, but you always have
something going on," said Parrack. "There's people doing their
leases or there's people doing their renewals."
That's the angle that keeps Parish intrigued.
"Assuming I do a good job and they keep me, it has the potential
to have commissions forever," said Parish, who draws 80 percent of
her income from the leasing space at 30 centers.
A new five-year lease would typically provide her checks for 6
percent its total value, half upon execution and half upon
"It does end up being kind of an ongoing cyclical thing," said
Parish. "You constantly have business because you constantly have
turnover. No matter how good your center is, there will always be
The star performance of the 700,000-square-foot Tulsa Hills puts
pressure on Parish to maintain that momentum, with Charlotte, N. …