John Haney talks office market, downtown redevelopment

HaneyThis month, NAI welcomed a new broker to the team. John Haney is a former vice president at Trotter & Company whose specialties include office sales and leasing, retail properties and tenant representation.

Haney previously practiced commercial law in Indianapolis, and also worked as a news and sports anchor at television stations in Mississippi, Nebraska and Tennessee, including WATE-Channel 6.

Q: Welcome to NAI! Why did you decide to make the move?

A: I was fortunate that NAI expressed an interest in having me join the team. And after discussions and conversations it became clear to me that this would be a great platform to further my career and also help generate the most return for my clients. NAI may be the most respected commercial real estate firm in Knoxville, and I was thrilled to be able to join a team with such a wide variety of professional skill sets.

Q: You’ve previously worked as an attorney and a broadcaster — how does that varied experience enhance your skill set as a commercial real estate broker?

A: One thing I tell folks is that if you’ve been an attorney and a journalist you certainly know how to keep a secret. So my clients feel comfortable sharing their plans with me and know I’ll protect that information if it’s not ready for public consumption.

As a journalist, I interacted with all types of people, so I’m very comfortable meeting new clients, forging relationships and building rapport. The attorney skill set has been beneficial because of the documentation that is involved in some of the transactions. Although I’m not a practicing attorney, I have a familiarity with the language and intent of the documents, which provides additional value to my clients.

Q: What’s happening in the professional office market?

A: There’s been a reduction in the amount of space each worker requires, so you’re seeing some companies move into smaller locations. A lot of the older properties were built with a private-office setup in mind, but many clients are now looking for more of an open location, so landlords may need to accommodate renovation requests. Of course, some professions still need private offices — attorneys would be a notable example.

Q: You’ve been active in the downtown market, which has changed dramatically over the last decade. What do you see as the next stage of evolution downtown?

A: You still have additional units coming online for new residences, mostly apartments and some condominiums. And there continues to be strong interest in the downtown lifestyle. As more and more residents move downtown, that should eventually create additional retail opportunities.

The vast majority of downtown retail spaces are still food-oriented or maybe small boutique shops. There will be an opportunity for larger retailers to emerge in the marketplace, assuming they can find suitable space. Most of the buildings have been redeveloped, although there are still some pockets of opportunity, such as the Supreme Court site or the McClung warehouse site.

The office buildings that have been turned into residential living have helped the office market downtown, just by taking some of the oversupply out of the mix.

Q: What do you enjoy about commercial real estate?

A: It’s a business that is far from monotonous. Every day is a different day, it takes you to different places and lets you meet different people. I enjoy helping clients with a critical part of their business — where they’re going to operate.

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