Autonomy in Real Estate: Lee & Associates Diversifies in Local Commercial Market

Two commercial real estate veterans with a combined 44 years of experience are applying their entrepreneurial skills and high energy to numerous brokerage, integrated services and construction initiatives throughout the Lincoln and Omaha area. The employee-owned firm gives the co-founders autonomy via a loose affiliation with Lee & Associates. 

Co-Managing Principals Daniel J. Goaley and Daniel Dutton opened the Lee & Associates office at 12020 Shamrock Plaza, Suite 333, and plan to open a Lincoln branch later this year. At present, the firm has seven brokers in Omaha and two in Lincoln.

Nebraska’s Lee & Associates office is the 70th for the organization, which was founded in 1979 by the late Bill Lee in Orange County, California. The Nebraska office is among new affiliations opened by Lee & Associates in eight states over the last five years. 

Rather than establishing a structural hierarchy, Lee & Associates allows much of the decision-making to be made at the local level.

“Each office serves the [local] brokers that its owners have brought on board and there’s a lot of encouragement to be entrepreneurial,” said Dutton, a Lincoln native now living in Gretna.

Although robust growth is a strong expectation, the Omaha team is growing steadily, as each broker hired has to be entrepreneurial and transactional in their thinking and should have a successful record thus far in their career.

“We’re self-structured to the core and we seek out those who can be a bit disruptive,” Dutton said. “Every one of our people is expected to pursue a road map to ownership.” 

The Omaha team includes Scott Moore, Benjamin Pearson, Grace Newton, Jordan Potthoff and Ammar Abu-Hamda.

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Re-imaging Commercial Real Estate

“What we’re building is a group of local market experts re-imagining commercial real estate,” Goaley said. “We’re excited about bringing a first-of-its-kind broker-owned office to the Omaha market.”

Both Goaley and Dutton credit some entrepreneurial thinking in their backgrounds as being important in their decision to affiliate with the progressive-minded Lee & Associates. Believing that necessity is the mother of invention, the duo created PartnersBid in 2020, an auction company for landlords, investors, and business owners who wanted to liquidate stagnate assets and equipment as COVID-19 spread across the country.

“Our culture is one that promotes working together for the shared good so we ask what we can do and provide our clients what is needed as we raise everyone up,” Dutton said.

In 2020, Dutton and Goaley initiated Dans On Site, a podcast and YouTube show that involved various guests in discussing the changing times brought on by COVID-19.

Notable transactions handled by Dutton over the years include the $31.3 million sale of Montclair on Center (a 250,000-square-foot power center), the Old Market Lofts and American Plaza, among others. There have been 30 lease transactions for Rexius Nutrition and Iron Heaven Gym, plus multiple locations for Ross Dress For Less, and Caliber Collision, among others.

While Goaley partnered with Dutton on several transactions, he has also led the successful sale of a 1,000-acre Sarpy County farm, $3.8 million in office buildings for the city of Bellevue, and a $10 million Verizon call center. He also handled a 60,000 Nelnet lease.

Both cite the Boardwalk Square project as being both challenging and innovative because it involved a lease-up, sales, subdivision and resale.

Tools for the Future

Goaley and Dutton expect their successes to be amplified since inking their affiliation with Lee & Associates earlier this year.

“The culture is one of working together for the common good and in the opportunities we [now] provide for our brokers and clients,” Dutton said.

For Goaley, part of the culture is an emphasis on equality from the newest to the most experienced broker. An internship program is in the process of being developed in Omaha, which should help generate additional broker talent with the same mindset.

Dutton and Goaley cite an example of their go-the-extra-mile-to-help-a-client growth mantra. It can be found in the continuing growth of Tim Rexius’ Omaha-based Rexius Nutrition for which the duo has done 30 deals in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, among others.

High-end mapping of competitor locations is being generated, as well as a possible location’s proximity to a gym or health club.

“Now we have the ability to produce high-quality marketing materials for our clients and in a very short period of time,” Dutton said. “In addition to aerial photos, we are creating 90-second videos of everything that’s happening in downtown Lincoln.”

The duo is finding a lot is happening. 

Lincoln Growth

Transactions in the Capital City have included the former Burrito Express building at 831 N. 48th St. and are due to “inside collaboration” among Lee & Associates professionals. Dutton said the addition of Boomer Peterson in June, a 10-year veteran of the Lincoln market, has been important to multiple projects. Peterson started his career as an investment adviser.

Interest remains high in leases at 200 South 21st St., with 13,330 square feet in what is being dubbed part of The Telegraph District, a mixed-use development. The property consists of restaurants, retail, and office, and also offers some innovative housing opportunities with at least 400 apartment units.

The project revitalizes the industrial elements of the former Lincoln Telephone & Telegraph campus on South 21st Street and Capital Parkway.

Both Dutton and Goaley said the local retail market is hitting historic lows in terms of vacancies, even lower without the inclusion of malls. In the Omaha area, The L Street Marketplace, northwest of 120th & L streets, has had strong interest in retail space, when it becomes available. Baker Square, a 50-year-old shopping center at 132nd Street & West Center Road, is attracting additional interest in the space available. A recent lease involves Pet Supplies Plus.

For now, the Goaley and Dutton duo are looking straight forward at numerous growth opportunities, but with the autonomy, creativity and resources of their entrepreneurial mindsets.

531-721-288812020 Shamrock Plaza, Suite 333, Omaha 68154
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