By Marcia Caller Jaffe
Dan Granot is one of two principals in a boutique commercial real estate firm run in much the same way he became a championship tennis player – with grit, charm and fair play. “We have our hands in a lot of things on both sides of the coin: tenants looking to move, landlords, retail investment, purchasing buildings with investors, office, medical and industrial sectors. Doing it this way provides balance.”
Partner Alan Joel, also a native Atlantan, attended the Westminster School. His particular focus has been investments downtown like the first two floors of the Healey Building and 10 Park Place in the heart of Georgia State University, housing divisions of Grady and Fulton County health systems.
Joel said, “Dan and I were both college athletes. I was swimming, while he was playing tennis.”
At Joel & Granot Commercial Real Estate, 13 folks work in their recently renovated state-of-the-art open-spaced modern building off Northside Drive. “We operate with a strong, lean team,” Granot said. “Anyone here who is salaried wears multiple hats. That leaves our super team of agents who expertly cover the city. Some work in teams. Speaking of ‘lean,’ our ping pong table doubles as a conference room expansion. We operate here as one big family.”
Of his blood relatives, Granot’s parents married in Israel before immigrating to Atlanta in 1960 to follow family.
During the Holocaust, Mom at age 2 was sent to live with a Catholic family who had six other children. Dad literally escaped the Warsaw Ghetto at age 14, hopping trains and crisscrossing fields to locate an older brother in Russia. Settling in Israel, he served in the Israel Defense Forces. In Atlanta they were in the sundry and grocery business. “They would go into a center like the original Colony Square, open and build up a store, then sell it, and move on to another,” Granot recalled. “That showed me a comfort with real estate and understanding at the ground level.”
Interestingly, both parents were avid tennis players – mom still is one – who instilled the love of the game in their son. When asked about the derivation of his surname, he revealed that his father’s moniker in Poland was “Zamoscinski,” not exactly close to Granot.
After Briarcliff High School and a brief stint at the University of Georgia, Granot transferred to the University of Arkansas on a scholarship to play tennis. “I was tuned into Nick Bollettieri (famous tennis instructor) who funneled me there, so I knew many of their staff and players. Post-college, I was considering a sales career. …What does that mean? Insurance? Hmmm … I could always go back to law school.” After earning his wings at various commercial real estate firms, Richards Bowers & Co., Insignia, and Avantis Real Estate (which imploded), and a few years on his own, he merged with Joel in 2010.
His recent “best deals” were Levolor Blinds in central Perimeter with 43,000 square feet and the old Kroger building at Brookwood Place, a Selig Enterprises shopping center, where he put in high tech firm FullStory in 50,000 square feet. One of his longstanding professional relationships has been with the Weissman law firm. Another key to his success: being a native Atlantan, he has a “solid Rolodex.”
So far, 2019 has outperformed 2018, which outperformed 2017 – all a pleasant surprise, Granot said. “I am still optimistic about the Atlanta commercial real estate market. Looking at metrics like employment, there is nothing to point to things going south … other than the historic trends that bull markets don’t last forever. … My talent lies in that I am both a ‘people person’ and competitive, but overall want every transaction to be ‘win win.’ I have no interest in beating an opponent into submission, and I eschew a scorched earth approach.”
Except maybe in pickleball.
Granot recently parlayed his tennis acumen into pickleball. He competed in the U.S. singles professional pickleball tournament but injured his foot and navigates in a boot.
“This tendon injury has really been ‘a bear.’ I’ll be back to compete in both singles and doubles at the professional level.”
Seeing that he was “handicapped,” though, I immediately challenged him to a ping-pong match, where we ran each other around mercilessly.
It’s that stamina that keeps Granot and Joel going strong in the commercial real estate market in Atlanta.