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NAPA – Four commercial real estate brokers have formed a new brokerage in Napa.

[caption id="attachment_10401" align="alignright" width="127" caption="Gary Van Dam"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_10402" align="alignright" width="127" caption="Jim Henry"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_10403" align="alignright" width="128" caption="Michael Holcomb"][/caption]

Incorporated as Strong & Hayden, the new Napa-based commercial real estate firm includes Jim Henry and Gary Van Dam. They have been partners in hundreds of thousands of square feet of leasing and sales transactions in Napa and Solano counties for the past several years.

"We want to create something a little different and bring on some other team members," Mr. Van Dam said.

Mr. Henry and Mr. Van Dam have been working together since 2004, when Mr. Henry joined Coldwell Banker Commercial Brokers of the Valley in Napa. Mr. Henry left the brokerage late last year and Mr. Van Dam left that firm in May.

Also joining them is broker Michael Holcomb from Coldwell Banker Commercial Brokers of the Valley and Matt Connolly, whose 28-year brokerage and development background includes oversight of some major downtown Napa projects and properties.

Mr. Connolly most recently was managing construction and development for John Connolly Partners of Larkspur. Before that he was development director for Richmond-based Channel Properties in charge of Winship Building renovation and leasing, acquisition and leasing of Alexandria Square and management of The Riverfront mixed-use project reaching completion along the Napa River.

Prior to Channel, he managed acquisitions, entitlements and construction for Chelsea Property Group's West Coast operations, including the Premium Outlets malls in Napa and Petaluma.

While the sluggish economy has brought much residential and commercial development to a standstill and a number of large companies have been putting off decisions on commercial space until 2010, Mr. Van Dam said now is no time to pull back.

"Our experience is that people are looking now and signing leases now," Mr. Van Dam said. "Even for those that are waiting, they are actively looking and prioritizing the sites that they will pull the trigger on when they get the OK internally."

In the meantime, there are property owners facing the prospect of significant vacancies in their buildings and tenants that want or need rent reductions, according to Mr. Henry. Making the call to sell the property or renegotiate a lease to maintain tenancy and cash flow is challenging in a market with low sales volume and significant reductions in value for some properties.

"We have the ability to help owners analyze where they are and identify options," Mr. Henry said.

For help with business appraisal, investment strategy and tax planning, the new brokerage has brought on Joe Fischer of Whidbey Partners. He is currently consulting in the Copia bankruptcy.

"A lot of people don't have a clear idea of what they want their real estate asset to do," he said. "Many have out-of-whack ownership structures."

Other considerations for existing owners of commercial property and for those considering a purchase at a time of lower prices is whether the property is worth spending additional money to upgrade and whether it is an asset to hold long-term.

Mr. Henry has run commercial brokerages before. In 1989 he started JHL Commercial Properties in Napa, and 10 years later the brokerage part of the business was acquired by Coldwell Banker Commercial Brokers of the Valley. Mr. Henry left the brokerage in 2004 to start his own firm.

For more information, call 707-226-2661.

Strong & Hayden

433 Soscol Ave., Ste. A130, Napa 94559

Phone: 707-226-2661

Fax: 707-226-2339

Business: Commercial real estate brokerage.

Staff: 7