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Local Commercial Real Estate Firm Reaches $1B Mark, Other Milestones

By Cece Nunn, posted May 19, 2017
Wilmington-based firm Cape Fear Commercial has reached more than $1 billion in commercial real estate transactions and is celebrating its 15th year, with an updated website and logo and new signs. (Photo courtesy of Morvil Advertising + Design)
Wilmington-based commercial real estate firm Cape Fear Commercial is celebrating more than one major milestone this year.

"As we reach our 15th year in business, we've hit more than $1 billion in transactions," said Brian Eckel, partner and co-founder along with Vin Wells, in a news release. "These two achievements show phenomenal growth in this market. We are pleased and proud of that, but we are just beginning to hit our stride." 

Eckel said Thursday that there's no specific type of transaction that put Cape Fear Commercial over that $1 billion threshold.

"Our team of brokers have been privileged to generate big volumes in every product type.  We have market leaders in every category of office, industrial, retail and land," he said in an email. "We were also very fortunate in the midst of the real estate recession to represent 21 different banks on REO [Real-Estate Owned] sales, workouts and note sales."
More than half of the members of the company's brokerage team -- Eckel, Wells, Hank Miller, Mike Brown, Howard Coupland and Will Leonard -- grew up in Wilmington and have known each other since they were kids, Eckel said.

"Vin Wells and I discussed forming a business together over a beer at a wedding in 1999.  I was in Atlanta and Vin was in Greensboro at the time," Eckel said. "We worked on a business plan together over the next couple of years and waited for the right time.  It was pretty clear in early 2001 that the commercial market was going to take a beating, so I called Vin to tell him I thought the timing was right and he said, 'Let's do it. I am in.'"

Before co-founding Cape Fear Commercial, as the company's website explains, Eckel was vice president of Ackerman & Co. in Atlanta, where he specialized in representing Fortune 500 companies, as well as emerging growth technology organizations in the acquisition and disposition of their real estate requirements.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Eckel began his career in college in the brokerage Department of Edens and Avant, a commercial real estate firm in Columbia, South Carolina.

Before CFC, Wells was a leasing representative with Highwoods Properties, a publicly traded real estate investment trust that owns more than 45 million square feet throughout the country. He was responsible for leasing and marketing a combined portfolio of 13.4 million square feet, consisting of retail, office, warehouse, industrial and flex space in Tampa, Florida and Greensboro.

Wells received a business administration degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.  

CFC has 10 full-time brokers, and an 11th, Lindsey Hess, on the way as Hess transitions from lead analyst to investment sales.

One of those brokers, Coupland, recently represented the seller in a $4.5 million purchase by national used car retailer CarMax Auto Superstores of property on Market Street in Wilmington.

The firm often works with local, regional and national companies, among them Walgreens and Publix, throughout the Cape Fear region and beyond. Cape Fear Commercial opened an office in Fayetteville last year, and is marketing the 200-acre Military Business Park there.

In addition to sales, the firm has managed more than 2 million square feet of property, and in the past five years, developed more than $100 million in projects.

Among the numerous high-profile developments CFC has been involved in, the firm, along with its development partner GHK Cape Fear, created 101 N. Third St., a 69,000-square-foot, class-A office building at the corner of Third and Princess streets in downtown Wilmington.

Working with Morvil Advertising + Design, Cape Fear Commercial recently unveiled a new logo, updated signs and a new website.

"Cape Fear Commercial was already such a known, reputable company, we didn't want to lose their established equity," said Jeff Morvil, president of Morvil Advertising + Design, in the release. Of the new logo, Morvil said, "The gradations of blue not only suggest our coastal region, they symbolize the firm's impact nationally, and even internationally, as it sweeps across the globe."

Wells said the new website "reflects our very targeted approach, offering our clients services and solutions that are tailored not only for their company, but for each individual project." 

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