Dunn was widely regarded by the industry as the dean of the commercial real estate brokerage field via Charles Dunn Company and Dunn Property Group. His 62-year career in the Los Angeles area was witness to the spectacular boom and development of the Southern California’s commercial real estate market in the 21st century and Dunn played a significant leadership role in the assembly, sale and/or lease of some of the area’s most signature commercial properties.
Highlights of Dunn’s remarkable Southern California commercial brokerage career include:
---NBC’s purchase of 50 acres in Burbank in the early 1950s.
---The sale of Warner Gateway, a 239,000-square-foot office complex in the west San Fernando Valley.
---Numerous land acquisitions that provided impetus for business growth in the downtown Los Angeles area.
Dunn and the Charles Dunn Company also played a major role in the expansion plans of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, beginning in the late 1940s when Archbishop James Francis McIntyre assigned them the task of buying property for new parishes in outlying areas and the acquisition of the land for the new St. Basil Church on Wilshire Boulevard, among other properties.
In 2009, Dunn orchestrated the $31 million sale and leaseback of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ headquarters, a 13-story office building at 3424 Wilshire Blvd., which Dunn had previously arranged as a gift from Thrifty Payless to the Archdiocese.
While acknowledging the complex changes to the brokerage industry and the vagaries of the economic climate over the past half century, the veteran real estate broker would wryly describe the brokerage business as “still just dirt, people and money.”
At the time of his death, Dunn was managing the Dunn family real estate portfolio and still practicing brokerage with his brother Joe, son Matthew Dunn and nephew Mike Dunn.
Theresa M. Dunn, the eldest of his six children, was the first of the Dunn siblings and cousins to follow their father, uncle and grandfather into the commercial real estate brokerage business.
“Dad was always the client’s broker but his judgment, experience, expertise, prodigious energy and work ethic were highly valued by banks, real estate companies and developers over six decades,” said Theresa. “He and my Uncle Joe (his business partner) also trained hundreds of real estate professionals who now populate the commercial real estate industry throughout the Southland. He was at his desk closing another commercial deal the Friday before his brain hemorrhage.”
Born May 17, 1926 in Los Angeles, the eldest of three children of Charles and Gertrude Dunn, Richard Conway Dunn graduated from Loyola High School in 1944 and was immediately drafted into the Navy where he saw active duty in the South Pacific on the Everett S. Larson.
Following his Navy service in 1946, Dunn returned to Los Angeles and graduated from Loyola University in 1950 with a business degree. Upon graduation, he joined the Charles Dunn Company, where he had been working since his junior year, at its original headquarters at 1339 Wilshire Blvd., an 1890s residence.
“It was just Dad, myself and two other salesmen,” Dunn once commented, recalling those early years. “And we did every kind of brokerage, from rooming houses in the Westlake district, to lots on Wilshire Boulevard, to acreage in the San Fernando Valley. Dad was a general broker, but what he really loved was land deals, and because the postwar housing boom was just getting started, we were in the right place at the right time.”
The Charles Dunn Company began to expand the firm’s commercial real estate business, tracking ownership along the Wilshire Boulevard corridor west of downtown, building relationships with developers, and adding staff to handle the new business, including Dunn’s younger brother Joseph, who joined the company in 1954. The brothers purchased Charles Dunn Company from their father in 1959.
Over the next four decades, the Charles Dunn Company became a leading regional commercial brokerage, office leasing and property management firm in Southern California, capitalizing on the boom of office building development.
Dunn and the Charles Dunn Company also brokered nearly 300 transactions for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the original site purchase or property additions to 75 parishes, 20 high schools, 12 hospitals (including St. John’s, Queen of Angels and St Joseph’s) and over 20 related Catholic religious institutions (including Loyola Law School).
Dunn was honored for his many years of service to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles when he was named a Papal Knight of Malta and a Knight Commander of St. Gregory. In 2007, he received the Cardinal’s Award for service to the local church and community.
In 1995, Dunn and Joseph Dunn sold the Charles Dunn Company to longtime associate Walter J. Conn, with both brothers remaining as brokers until the early 2000s. In 1997, Dunn was named “Salesman of the Year” as the company’s highest-grossing broker.
Dunn married the former Eleanor Patricia (“Patty”) Bailey on Feb. 3, 1951 and they raised their six children in the Glendale/Pasadena area. A former trustee of Loyola Marymount University and a regent of Loyola High School, Dunn was active at St. Andrew Church and in a number of local foundations and Catholic high schools and charities including Fritz Burns, Weingart and Hospitaller Foundations, St. John of God Care Center, Little Sisters of the Poor and Immaculate Heart High School.
He is survived by his wife Patty; daughters Theresa, Ellen McPherson (J.R.) and Maryanne Herrill (Matt); sons Peter (Alicia) Dunn, Matthew (Penny) Dunn and Chuck (Lily); nine grandchildren; a sister and brother, Dorothy Dunn and Joseph (Eleanor) Dunn; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Private burial is on April 26. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Loyola High School, 1901 Venice Blvd., La, CA 90006; Immaculate Heart High School, 5515 Franklin Ave., LA, CA 90028; or to the charity of your choice.
Funeral Mass was celebrated April 20 at St. Pancratius Church in Lakewood for Carmen Weber, longtime administrative assistant in the San Pedro Pastoral Region Office, who died April 14 after a long illness.
Ms. Weber helped open the office in 1987 with Auxiliary Bishop Carl Fisher, the first San Pedro Region bishop, and then served with regional Auxiliary Bishops Joseph Sartoris, Alexander Salazar and Oscar Solis, as well as an episcopal vicar, Msgr. Bernard Leheny.
Condolences may be sent to her son, George Weber, Jr., in care of the San Pedro Pastoral Regional Office, 3555 St. Pancratius Pl., Lakewood, CA 90712-1416.