Cushman & Wakefield today announced the formation of its North American Religious Facilities Group, a specialized team exclusively devoted to the real estate needs of religious organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada. The group adds to the company’s broad range of more than 20 individual specialty practices that service the unique and often complex requirements of companies in select industries and/or with highly technical real estate assets.
Based in San Diego, the new group will be headed by Eric Knowles and Robert Fletcher, a highly respected real estate duo with a 15-year national track record in this specialized real estate niche. The team recently joined Cushman & Wakefield from CBRE where they formed and subsequently directed its religious facilities group.
“This is an exciting move for Cushman & Wakefield since it allows us to grow our platform to serve the unique needs of religious organizations with advisory, acquisition, disposition and real estate consulting services,” said Steve Rosetta, vice chairman with Cushman & Wakefield’s San Diego County offices. “Eric and Robert are among a handful of real estate experts in the country who understand the nuances surrounding religious facility assets. We are honored to have the Religious Facilities Group become an integral part of the Cushman & Wakefield platform.”
According to Mark Turner, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield’s Specialty Practice Group program, “The formation of our Religious Facilities Group exemplifies Cushman & Wakefield’s vision to provide the most creative and innovative services on a consistent basis, to drive meaningful value to our clients. Faith-based non-profit organizations have a unique set of challenges and issues when it comes to their real estate assets. In response, we are delivering specialized acquisition and disposition strategies, as well as the resources to help clients make informed decisions relative to valuation, assessments of facility needs, phased growth plans, creation of unrelated business income, and understanding zoning and conditional use permit hurdles.”
Knowles, whose commercial real estate career spans 30 years, will serve as senior director and practice leader of the new Cushman & Wakefield Religious Facilities Group. Fletcher, with eight years of real estate experience, will serve as associate director.
“Our move to Cushman & Wakefield allows us to leverage the company’s extensive platform to expose religious properties to qualified buyers, ultimately translating into higher values,” said Knowles. “The firm’s strong focus on supporting specialty practices allows us to more efficiently mobilize and deliver our knowledge, resources and talent on behalf of religious organizations, enabling them to make the most informed real estate decisions.”
The Cushman & Wakefield Religious Facilities Group serves all denominations and all states within the U.S. and is positioned to meet the needs of all faith-based entities from emerging groups to ultra large “giga” congregations.
Knowles’ career includes his founding of Church Brokers (of Diversified Realty Advisors Inc.), a real estate brokerage and investment firm which specialized in real estate for religious facilities. He also was founder and CEO of several other real estate-related companies offering expertise in brokerage, investment, construction, real estate asset management, and venture lending. He is a graduate of San Diego State University, and is active in numerous professional and community organizations including the Institute of Real Estate Management, San Diego Rescue Mission (Chairman of the Board Emeritus), and Family Focus Christian Counseling (Board Member Emeritus).
Fletcher, a graduate of the University of Alabama, holds an MBA from National University. A former professional baseball player with the Chicago White Sox, Montreal Expos and Oakland Athletics organizations, Fletcher was head coach for the University of California San Diego baseball program before pursuing a career in real estate.