Ending months of speculation, top retail broker Faith Hope Consolo and leasing partner Joseph Aquino joined Douglas Elliman last month, where they will head up an expanded retail division.
The pair defected from Garrick-Aug, where Consolo founded the company’s international division in 1987. Consolo and Aquino will now serve as chairman and executive vice president, respectively, of the division at Douglas Elliman, the residential brokerage which has done only a tiny amount of retail business in the past.
Consolo is bringing a staff of 12 to her new company, which had five retail brokers previously.
She said she had been approached by dozens of companies over the years, but decided to make the move after she met Elliman CEO Dottie Herman at PR mogul Howard Rubenstein’s 50th anniversary party at Tavern on the Green last summer.
“When Dottie and I first met, we knew immediately that we could harness the tremendous resources of Prudential Douglas Elliman to build the ‘You Need Faith’ brand to a new level,” said Consolo.
Real estate consultant, educator and The Real Deal columnist Esther Muller, who introduced the pair at the party, said they are a “great match, and they have a lot in common.”
“It will be exciting to see what these two divas of real estate do together,” she said.
The marriage of residential and retail real estate provides for good synergy, Muller said.
“Today’s current trend is mixed-use properties,” Muller said, citing examples like the Time Warner Center. “Also, Douglas Elliman manages over 200 apartment buildings,” many with retail components. “Now, they will be able to be under one umbrella.”
One player who wasn’t pleased with Consolo’s move was Garrick-Aug chairman and CEO Lawrence Selevan, according to a story in the New York Sun. “I’m quite offended she did this before we had a final chance to talk, but somehow I’m not surprised,” he reportedly said.
News of Consolo’s move was apparently released prematurely, and Selevan responded by locking the broker out of her office, the story said.
Consolo and Aquino, who have done deals with the likes of Cartier, Alfred Dunhill, Godiva and Jimmy Choo, in 2004 alone brought a number of luxury retailers to their New York flagships, most notably Judith Leiber to 680 Madison Avenue and Searle to 635 Madison Avenue. The pair also represented the landlord exclusively in bringing Barneys Co-Op to its first Upper West Side store, A Bathing Ape in making its U.S. debut in Soho, and Lacoste, in opening its first Soho store.