Dickson Flake Partnership Tops List of Property Managers

(Click here to see the list of the state's property management firms.)

A new name tops the list of largest commercial property management firms this year thanks to a merger of two Little Rock concerns.

Dickson Flake Partners manages more than 7.3 million SF of commercial space, nearly twice the total of the next largest Arkansas competitor.

The company, which officially opened its doors on Jan. 1, represents the combination of Barnes Quinn Flake & Anderson and IBR Real Estate.

Joining the new firm as partners were Mark Bentley and Tom Rystrom of IBR. Partners from BQFA are Dickson Flake, Kevin Huchingson, Phyllis Glaze, Gary Jones and Nolan Rushing.

Barnes Quinn Flake & Anderson was ranked as the largest commercial property management firm in Arkansas last year. IBR was ranked at No. 7.

Last year's No. 2 and No. 3 firms flip flopped. Little Rock's Flake & Kelley Commercial (formerly Flake & Kelley Management Inc.) moved up after Cooper Realty Investments Inc. sold Pavilion in the Park in Little Rock.

The shuffle of property management contracts and properties also saw RPM Management Co. of Little Rock drop from No. 5 last year to No. 9. The Hathaway Group of Little Rock went from No. 8 to No. 10.

Hathaway's decline was linked with Arkansas Teacher Retirement System selecting a new property manager for the 75,000-SF Bank of America Plaza in Fayetteville.

The state's largest pension fund chose Irwin & Saviers Co. of Little Rock to replace The Hathaway Group.

A past disagreement was mentioned in passing at a board of trustees meeting in August when the management contract for the building was considered.

"I did question whether we wanted to retain Hathaway because we had a dispute with them that was not resolved," said John Fortenberry of Little Rock, a member of the board of trustees.

That dispute involved the office building that ATRS owns at 1200 W. Third St. in Little Rock and questions raised by a routine state audit of ATRS in 2001.

The audit questioned the 5 percent leasing commission — $69,210 — that The Hathaway Group charged and received for signing the Arkansas Insurance Department to a 25-month lease.

The state Legislative Joint Auditing Committee wrote: "The fee appears excessive considering that Arkansas Insurance Department was a long-term tenant, and the fee normally charged for a renewal lease is based on a rate of 2.5 percent."

Did ATRS punish Hathaway by selecting a new property manager?

"I don't know if it's retribution," said Johnny Kincaid of The Hathaway Group. "We thought that was laid to rest a year ago."

David Malone, executive director of the pension fund, indicated that no management firms are blackballed from doing business with ATRS.

When asked whether The Hathaway Group would remain as the property manager of the Arkansas Insurance Building when that contract comes up for renewal at the end of the year, Malone said, "My attitude is we need to take proposals before we recommend a proposal."

An interesting footnote is that ATRS could have avoided paying any commission at all if it had re-signed the Insurance Department before hiring The Hathaway Group as property manager.

The lease was in hand, according to ATRS officials, but Angelo Coppola, then-deputy director of ATRS, opted to wait to sign it until after The Hathaway Group was hired as property manager.

Coppola's unexplained delay cost the pension fund. Coppola resigned in February 2002 after a series of incidents involving alleged financial misconduct.