Industry veterans branching out to create new market competition
From the June 17, 2005 print edition
Carl Cronan
Senior Staff Writer

TAMPA -- The same rule applies to women's careers in commercial real estate as with practically all aspects of business and life: If you want something done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself.

Several of the Tampa Bay area's female commercial leaders have succeeded in going their own way, stepping out from under the financial security of working for larger companies. Reasons for striving for independence have as much to do with flexibility in raising families as simply wanting to become one's own boss.

Widely recognized examples include Nancy Phaneuf, a former development manager for EastGroup Properties who launched NPR Development two years ago, and Julia Rettig, a busy commercial leader who launched Tampa Bay Development earlier this year.

Phaneuf, who originally planned to start her own restaurant while attending Cornell University, cautioned others wanting to go independent to make sure they have the proper experience, along with some reserve funds if they rely on commissions.

"When you go out on your own, you get the money but you also get the responsibility," Phaneuf said. She advises commercial rookies to start with a larger firm to gain on-the-job experience as well as reimbursement opportunities for furthering their education.

The most recent independence instance involves Donamae Clinebell, an 18-year commercial veteran who established Stalwart Capital just last month. She saw the move as matter of timing as the local market strengthens for multifamily housing, especially condominium and townhome developments.

"When opportunity knocks, are you going to answer the door or not?" said Clinebell, who most recently served as first VP of commercial lending with LaSalle Bank in Tampa. She said the new firm focuses on assisting regional and national developers in securing construction and permanent financing.

A graduate of Mississippi State University, Clinebell started as a certified public accountant before exploring career avenues in real estate investment, asset management and finance. She worked for the past seven years as a senior loan origination officer, responsible for new business development and origination of commercial real estate loans.

The new business venture is already off to a good start, Clinebell said, with four deals financed and two others in development within the first month. At the same time, she is able to see previous projects being completed, namely the Walter's Crossing retail center off Dale Mabry Highway and Interstate 275.

Although she has worked with a broad range of real estate firms including Trammell Crow Co., The Balcor Co. and MetLife Real Estate Investments, the single mother of two set a long-term goal of starting her own company as she gained experience in developing and managing all types of commercial projects.

"This is a better fit for me because I can stay involved," said Clinebell, a member of various industry organizations including the Bay area chapters of Commercial Real Estate Women, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties and the Real Estate Investment Council.

Besides being able to spend time with her children, ages 13 and 9, Clinebell said going independent eliminated the possibility that a larger national company would force her to transfer to another market.

However, she noted that mentoring and empowerment from managers is helpful in making career decisions, whether they involve going solo or advancing with an established firm. She said she would like for her new venture to allow sufficient time to offer that same kind of help.

"My next step," she said, "is to serve as a mentor to others -- including men." | 813.342.2468
© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc.


Press Room


TAMPA, FLA. (March 29, 2005) --- LaSalle Bank’s Tampa office has closed a $58.3 million construction loan in favor of Ariel Dunes II; the financing will allow the condominium developer to build a 230 unit project in Destin, Fla. The Ariel Dunes II development is located in Seascape, a high-end planned residential community and it will provide residents access to conference facilities, an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis courts and a private Gulf front beach.

The Aerial Dunes II project deal sponsors are the principles of The Ambling Group, a Georgia-based developer specializing in affordable and student housing development, as well as three local real estate professionals from the Destin area.

LaSalle Bank underwrote and held 50 percent of the loan and the balance was syndicated to two other lenders. “This partnership, led by LaSalle Bank and Senior Relationship Manager Donamae Clinebell, allows us to apply our substantial condominium lending expertise to develop a loan structure that met the borrower’s objectives,” explained Paul Deschamps, senior vice president of Commercial Real Estate.

“It was advantageous for us to have worked with a locally-based commercial banking and real estate team that understood the needs of our newest project in central Florida,” added Ryan Holmes, executive vice president of The Ambling Group.

Real estate development in the Destin, San Destin and South Walton County area in central Florida has been strong during the last fifteen years. Upscale commercial, retail and residential development projects have been particularly successful since this region has become a popular vacation destination and location for second homes. Condominium developments, including Ariel Dunes I (Ariel Dunes II’s predecessor), have largely been completely sold out prior to completion of construction.

LaSalle Bank’s Tampa office opened in September of 2002 and has originated nearly half a billion in commitments. LaSalle Bank, which has three commercial lending offices in Florida, has financed construction loans for all commercial property types, (including condominiums) as well as provides bridge, acquisition, mezzanine and permanent financing.

LaSalle Bank is headquartered in Chicago and has $63.7 billion in assets and $37.7 billion in deposits. One of the largest banks in the Midwest and second largest in Chicago, LaSalle Bank serves individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies and institutions with streamlined solutions to meet the scope of customers’ financial needs. LaSalle has more than 140 retail locations and 500 ATMs throughout Chicago and the neighboring suburbs. Online banking is offered through

LaSalle maintains commercial offices in Boca Raton, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New England (covering Connecticut, Boston and New Jersey), Pittsburgh, Des Moines, Rockford and Peoria, Illinois, St. Louis, Tampa and Miami. Subsidiaries include LaSalle National Leasing Corporation, LaSalle Business Credit, LLC and ABN AMRO Financial Services, Inc.

Parent company LaSalle Bank Corporation is headquartered in Chicago with $103.4 billion in assets. LaSalle Bank Corporation is a subsidiary of Netherlands-based ABN AMRO Bank N.V., one of the world’s largest banks with total assets of EUR 632.8 billion with more than 3,000 locations in over 60 countries.

Contact: Jane M. Broski (312) 904-1540

© 2005 LaSalle Bank Corporation. All rights reserved. LaSalle Bank N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. Equal Opportunity Lender.


Making their mark: Women take on leading roles in commercial real estate
From the June 17, 2005 print edition
Carl Cronan
Senior Staff Writer

Commercial real estate in the United States has always been dominated by men, dating all the way back to those landowners who signed the Declaration of Independence nearly 229 years ago.

While white males still represent an estimated 90 percent to 95 percent of executives and employees in the field, women have still managed to pave lucrative career paths beyond clerical work or simply convincing tenants to sign leases.

The Tampa Bay area has numerous examples of women advancing into leadership positions on the commercial side of real estate, and several have achieved statewide recognition. In turn, many of them are trying to encourage the next generation to join the ranks of brokers and prospective leaders.

Commercial real estate isn't necessarily considered a glamour profession, and it isn't likely to be the basis of a popular weekly television show. But its professionals locally say they have been able to achieve career goals while balancing the reality of raising families.

"It unfortunately comes with a lot of hard work and extracurricular activity," said Cheri O'Neil, senior managing director and branch manager for the Tampa office of Julien J. Studley Inc., a New York-based commercial services firm. O'Neil established Studley's first local office after a lengthy career with Atlanta-based Carter, most recently serving as senior VP in Tampa, and brought along five others to join the new firm.

While the perception of a "glass ceiling" limiting women's advancement potential is practically nonexistent in local commercial circles, larger brokerages are cognizant of the fact that women and minorities make up such small numbers within their ranks.

"They're aware that it's an issue in the business," said Elaine Kennedy, portfolio manager in the asset services division of Cushman & Wakefield of Florida in Tampa and president-elect of the Bay area chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women. Kennedy noted that men have joined the local CREW chapter in recent years.

The national CREW Network, in keeping with its mission of advancing the success of women in commercial real estate, has launched a comprehensive study of the current status and achievements of women in the field.

The study, according to the group's Web site, is designed to gather "information that will enable our industry to facilitate and benefit from the continued achievements of women, and to identify ways employers can encourage the success of talented women in their companies." The Lawrence, Kan.-based organization is currently seeking sponsors to underwrite the $200,000 estimated budget for the project.

Meanwhile, local CREW chapters are already offering their members as mentors to high school or junior college students who might be interested in pursuing careers in commercial real estate.

"It's exciting to hear the stories from someone first hand," Kennedy said. "A lot of (young women) out there don't realize what they can do."

Examples of commercial-related fields may include banking, architecture, engineering, law and contracting, in addition to other disciplines that reflect the makeup of CREW Tampa Bay, she said.

CREW's Miami chapter is part of the network's program that sends members to local high schools to address female students. The pilot program also includes chapters in Houston, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Lisa Johnson, a broker with Crescent Real Estate Equities in Miami, said the program isn't aimed at selling students on a real estate career, but rather getting them to think in broader terms about what they want to do for a living after they graduate.

"We are just trying to introduce some career opportunities and ideas to you that are not mainstream," Johnson said during a recent session covered by the South Florida Business Journal. "You don't see many TV series on office buildings. You should."

O'Neil, who joined Studley as an upward career move, advised would-be women commercial brokers that networking is the single most important thing they should learn. She stresses the importance of maintaining a positive attitude in approaching a largely male-dominated field, noting that it counts toward far more points than educational background.

"It takes away some of the need to prove your credentials," she said. "You are much more welcomed in this industry when you don't put up that wall."

An equally important aspect toward approaching a commercial career is not to feel outnumbered, said Donamae Clinebell, a respected industry veteran who recently launched Stalwart Capital, a Tampa-based real estate finance and investment company.

"A lot of women let the male domination intimidate them," she said. "It's never inhibited or intimidated me."

Leading the way

Examples of women in leadership roles within Tampa Bay area commercial real estate: | 813.342.2468


L. J. MELODY & COMPANY - A CB Richard Ellis Company
Volume 4 / Issue 1 / May 2002

Apartment Portfolio

Donamae Clinebell in L.J. Melody & Company’s Tampa office recently closed a $228,211,000 transaction on behalf of eleven Dreilander Funds, closed end investment funds formed by Kapital Consults, a European Investment group headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.  European Investors, based in New York City, represents Kapital Consults and brought the borrower to L.J. Melody & Company. The transaction included the permanent financing of 17 Class A, luxury apartment properties totaling 4,005 units located in Houston and Phoenix. L.J. Melody & Company provided the funding and subsequently sold the loan to Freddie Mac.