The Real Deal New York

Elliman grows, Warburg shrinks office count — again

March 23, 2009 04:34PM
By Candace Taylor

 Dottie Herman (left) and Frederick Peters

Prudential Douglas Elliman has continued its aggressive expansion with a new office at 690 Washington Street in the West Village, while Warburg Realty has announced the closing of its Harlem office.

Elliman’s new office, located between Charles Lane and Charles Street, houses the Raphael DeNiro Group, the Debra Kameros Group and agent David Wannamaker, a senior vice president at Elliman who specializes in the downtown market. The new office is being headed by sales manager Gary Cannata, according to a statement from the company. While Cannata was not immediately available for comment, an Elliman spokesperson said the office is open for business.

Elliman has been taking advantage of the recent drop in office rents to expand its footprint in the city. As The Real Deal first reported, the company announced in early March that it would open a new office in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Elliman also leased additional space at its 205 East 42nd Street location for a new rental division.

Warburg Realty is taking a different tack in the face of the real estate downturn by shuttering its Harlem office, a move the company had previously denied.

When asked in mid-January about rumors that the Harlem location would close, Warburg President Frederick Peters told The Real Deal by e-mail: “I have no plans to close that office.”

A month later, Peters posted on the company blog that the company had indeed decided to jettison the Harlem location, located at 2235 Frederick Douglass Boulevard at 121st Street.

“Deal flow in Harlem has slowed to a trickle,” he wrote in a February 16 post, “and we can comfortably relocate our Harlem agents to our other locations. I personally have put enormous time and resources of every sort into the Harlem location, and Warburg remains committed to and passionate about the Harlem marketplace which we look forward to continuing to serve at the same high level.”

The company announced in January that it would shutter its office at 65 West 13th Street. Its remaining branches are on the Upper East Side and in Tribeca.

In 2004, Warburg became the first major city brokerage to open a Harlem office. The 2,500-square-foot office was located across the street from Corcoran’s Harlem storefront and several blocks from Elliman’s office on 117th Street, at 2169 Frederick Douglass Blvd.

Corcoran has since closed its Harlem branch.

Peters declined to comment further, but Brown Harris Stevens president Hall Willkie speculated that the reason so many companies are closing their Harlem offices is because the area is still “an emerging market.”

Brown Harris Stevens doesn’t have a Harlem office and does most of its Upper Manhattan business from its Upper West Side office, he said.

“It’s more of a limited market,” Willkie said, adding that the area is also easily reachable from other areas of Manhattan. “I know that we as a firm don’t seem to have any problems  [doing Harlem deals] from our other offices.”

The volume of transactions all over the city has fallen by half, he said, and since Harlem generates fewer sales to begin with, it’s likely that the number of transactions there is no longer enough to justify keeping an office open.

The cost-cutting measure is “probably a very smart move on their part,” he said.

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