Paul Gemmel Reflects on 27 Years With CBRE Edmonton

July 11, 2022 3 Minute Read

Multifamily Residence

Change is coming to Edmonton. Paul Gemmel, Senior Vice President, Capital Markets, has retired, bringing an end to a 27-year legacy that has shaped the city’s multifamily market and facilitated over $4 billion of commercial property transactions.

Although Edmonton has been the backdrop to much of Gemmel’s career, his foray into real estate began in Calgary. He credits joining Knowlton Realty as a turning point in his career; the company made him more focused and disciplined but, most importantly, it introduced him to Dave Young.

Gemmel saw success in Calgary, but knew he wanted to expand. So, when he got a call from Young asking him to join the newly opened CBRE Edmonton, he headed north.

“I didn’t know Edmonton,” he recalls of the move. “But I knew apartments.” It was 1995, and the multifamily vacancy rate was high in Alberta’s capital city. Gemmel was told it was 14%, but he estimates it was closer to 25%. Trying to sell apartment buildings with large vacancies was, admittedly, a challenge. But what set him apart from the other brokers, and ultimately led to his success, was his outlook.

“I had an optimistic attitude,” Gemmel recalls. “I just went in being very forthright about the challenges and the opportunities, but I always kept a positive outlook and tried to make it work. And it did.”

Gemmel credits his unwavering honesty as another differentiator, as well as a “fair amount” of persistence. The former is a practice he’s seen woven into the fabric of CBRE Edmonton over the years.

A career highlight is the 2007 sale of a 500-plus unit property in Grand Prairie. Gemmel and team listed the property with no price tag, a novel strategy at the time. The client hoped it would go for $55 million. It sold for $80 million.

That deal, along with another $75 million sale the following year, were two of the largest transactions that had ever taken place in Alberta at the time. Behind the landmark transactions were solid relationships, the bedrock of the real estate industry and Gemmel’s career.

“When you develop a relationship, you have to maintain it,” Gemmel says. “Don’t just walk away and forget about a client when the deal is done.” Considering that his first large transaction – the 240-unit Wellington Park Townhomes – was also one of his last, it’s apt advice.

Paul Gemmel reflects on 27 years with CBRE Edmonton
Wellington Park Townhomes

Gemmel’s $4 billion of commercial property sales made him a Top Producer in the CBRE Edmonton office nine times – six on his own and three as a member of the National Investment Team – and a Top Producer in Alberta twice.

Along with his partners on the National Investment Team, Gemmel was recognized with the Hutcheson Award for Top Team in Canada in 2006 and in 2007.

“Those are some of the highlights of my career,” Gemmel says of his accolades. “I had always envisioned myself as being the Top Producer. I think you have to have that mentality to be successful. You have to have that drive.”

Dave Young, Managing Director for CBRE in Edmonton says that there are a few icons in Alberta real estate and Gemmel is one of them.

“Paul has consistently set a standard of excellence for the industry, and his success has influenced a generation of real estate professionals. His legacy is in good hands thanks to his mentorship and leadership.”

Gemmel touts Thomas Chibri, Associate Vice President, Capital Markets, and Cody Nelson, Associate Vice President, Land and Development Advisory, as two brokers for whom he foresees a bright future.

Smart and successful, Chibri and Nelson will become key players in the Edmonton real estate market, Gemmel predicts.

Reflecting on the last 27 years – a process he notes is “bittersweet” – Gemmel says he’d be remiss if he didn’t give credit to his wife, family and his colleagues on the National Investment Team. Their support has been paramount to his success. “Reaching this point, you’re walking away from something you’ve spent your entire life building. I’m going to miss it,” Gemmel says.

“But I’m making way for the next generation, who are incredible and know the business very well. It’s time for a new direction, but I’m proud of all that was accomplished and the mark I’ve been able to make on this industry.”

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