By Conrad Dudderar
A Yukon native is leaving his mark on the commercial real estate market – both in his hometown and across the Oklahoma City area.
“I’m really interested in the development of Yukon,” Aaron Hanes said. “Yukon desperately needs commercial/industrial-type space – not just retail.
“I’m working with a commercial developer on building an industrial park right now in the Westport Business Park.”
Besides focusing on Yukon, Hanes has set his sights on filling a towering structure in Oklahoma City with quality tenants.
Along with his cousin Chad Khoury, Hanes continues to revitalize the iconic 50 Penn Place off N.W. Expressway near Penn Square Mall.
Khoury, principal at Solas Real Estate, helped guide Hanes into the real estate business.
Born and raised in Yukon, Hanes became interested in real estate starting at age 12 while helping with his grandfather’s rental properties.
“I would go around in his truck with him,” he recalled. “That left an impression on me. About 10 years ago, I got my first rent house and then got another.”
Hanes’ parents are well-known across Yukon, with mother Alicia being a well-respected pediatrician and father David a prominent attorney for decades.
A 2006 University of Oklahoma graduate, Aaron Hanes worked in the oil and gas industry as a petroleum land man before deciding commercial real estate was the career for him. He obtained his real estate license five years ago.
Aaron and wife Maria also own Children’s New World in Yukon.
An Oklahoma City native, Khoury said Hanes’ “intimate knowledge” of Yukon has been “such an asset” since his cousin joined his real estate firm.
Khoury’s commercial real estate journey started during his senior year at Oklahoma City University, where he majored in music composition.
“I was with Collier’s International to start with when they were here,” Khoury said. “50 Penn Place was actually my first real estate assignment.
“I put Oklahoma City Abstract in the old Harold’s space, and a lot of other tenants that are still here today.”
Khoury partnered with Kaci Kaiser, then of Keller Williams Realty, to create a real estate brokerage that wasn’t limited by asset class or product type.
Their firm, Solas Real Estate, handles all real estate-related needs.
“We saw real estate changing,” Khoury shared. “Now that information is so available to the general public, anybody can find commercial property, a house or whatever they’re looking for.
“So, the real estate process became less about helping them find the property and more about helping them with the relationships ‘through to purchase’ – whether that’s navigating the negotiations, the title or financing. Real estate has become very relationship driven.”
IT’S SO DIVERSE
50 Penn Place – featuring a 16-story tower – is “so diverse in its use,” Khoury noted.
“You’ve got office and you’ve got retail,” he added. “And some of it is ‘adaptive reuse’ – what does retail look like post-COVID in the digital era?”
Khoury’s company took over leasing 50 Penn Place in November 2019 when the building was about 80% full.
“It has been a really exciting adventure for us to work on getting this property restored,” Khoury said. “We have been really happy to be a part of that.”
They’ve had to overcome losing some larger tenants (one that occupied 30,000 square feet) as offices closed their doors and went virtual during the pandemic.
Among new tenants is Pragma Dental, which spent nearly $1 million to renovate the former Balliets’ space that had been vacant about 10 years.
Other new tenants include Prairie Dance Theatre, law firms and CPA offices.
Epic Charter Schools is the largest tenant, occupying the entire third retail floor.
About 99% of the 50 Penn Place tower’s 200,000 square feet of leasable office space is full.
“With the letters of intent (LOI) to lease we’ve got working right now, we will only have 2,600 square feet available by the end of this month in the tower,” Khoury shared. “It’s a true 99%.”
Hanes added, “But there’s still a lot of good opportunities for retail.”
About 20,000-22,000 square feet of retail space remains open – leasing for $14 per square foot.
“It’s a great value – and there’s plenty of parking,” Hanes said.
Existing spaces can be customized to accommodate new tenants – a key reason Solas is having success filling 50 Penn Place.
“We can refurbish a space if they need a custom built-out, want new carpet, paint and LED panels,” Hanes said.
Khoury believes 50 Penn Place offers an ideal, affordable spot for online businesses that need a retail presence for shipping, receiving and returns.
The building’s owner, In-Rel Properties of Florida, is investing funds to upgrade the property.
50 Penn Place is the best value and “most affordable place of this caliber” in Oklahoma City, Khoury emphasized.
Office space leases for $18 per square foot, and that includes janitorial and electrical.
“That’s why most of our tenants have been here for seven to 15 years,” Khoury said. “It’s close to everything, the maintenance is good, and the landlord has spent $7-$8 million re-doing all the mechanicals and the elevators.”
Khoury and Hanes are seeking quality new tenants to fill the remaining open spaces – all while protecting existing tenants.
“That’s one thing our ownership is cognizant of,” Hanes said. “Every tenant that we bring – is this a good fit? Is this going to positively influence or negatively influence the atmosphere of the building?”
Hanes joined the Solas Real Estate team after working with and studying under longtime commercial realtor Jerry Hocker.
“I was intrigued with everything they had going on,” Hanes said. “They really had a lot of energy and movement in the city.”
The company’s offices occupy the 17th floor of the historic 33-story City Place skyscraper, 204 N Robinson in Oklahoma City.
While he enjoys his downtown Oklahoma City office, Yukon’s Hanes loves improving his hometown.
“We love the community and there’s a ton of development going on,” he said. “Along with the new development, I’m looking forward to being part of the revitalization of some of the older parts of Yukon – all of that along Main Street is very exciting.”
Anyone who needs help with commercial real estate or potential development projects in the Yukon area may call Hanes at (405) 820-1313.