The Real Deal New York

Top Retail Brokers

August 01, 2004
By Carl Unegbu

Here’s a look at retail industry leaders in New York and what they’ve been up to lately:

Newmark New Spectrum

For 15 years, New Spectrum specialized as a thriving boutique firm until its leadership decided it wanted to be part of something bigger. That chance came about five years ago, when it joined forces with Newmark, the profitable office leasing business, which was looking for a retail division to complement its other operations. That merger created Newmark New Spectrum, which now has 50 retail brokers and other support staff. This year, the Newmark division won a REBNY Deal of the Year award for bringing the Guitar Center to a run-down building at 25 West 14th Street.

Although the core of Newmark New Spectrum’s operations is in the New York metro and the tri-state areas, its national operations are growing fast, the company says. It has offices in the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. areas and services clients in other cities through affiliates.

It represents landlords and tenants in equal proportion, and splits evenly between big chains and small boutiques. But it’s the firm’s ability to engineer a strong market entry for retail clients that grabs the most headlines, it says.

“Our specialty is to help retailers roll out and expand quickly,” says Jeffrey Roseman, an executive vice president and the point man of a four-person team that runs the division.

Recently, Newmark New Spectrum brought Colorado-based Chipotle to the New York market. The McDonald’s Corp. subsidiary has signed seven restaurant leases and plans to have 25 locations within 12 months. In two years, the company has also broadened the reach of Cherry Hill, N.J.- based Commerce Bank, which has signed 20 leases in Manhattan.

Even overseas clients coming into the country have been added to the mix. It is presently working to bring the clothing company Reiss from London to New York. Ten years ago, New Spectrum brought the entire U.S. operations of HMV Records from Britain to New York, Boston and Washington. D.C.

Newmark New Spectrum’s most important deal over the past year was the 35,000-square-foot transaction that brought California-based musical instruments seller Guitar Center to West 14th Street. Changing Guitar Center’s negative opinion of the area and convincing them to become an anchor tenant was a challenge, Roseman says. Roseman and fellow broker Paul Berkman won REBNY’s award for the Transaction that Most Benefits Manhattan’s Retail Market in 2003 for their efforts.

CB Richard Ellis

When CB Richard Ellis acquired Insignia/ESG last July, it not only got many of the city’s top office brokers, but filled what it had always considered a chink in its armor by acquiring Insignia’s retail group in New York.

The formation of CBRE’s New York retail division boosted its global retail operations to about 400 brokers, about a quarter of whom are spread through its overseas locations.

“It was the biggest missing piece of their puzzle,” says Alan Schmerzler, managing director of CBRE’s retail services team for the New York tri-state region, who previously headed the Insignia retail group. After entering the competitive New York market, CBRE has managed to establish itself quickly, amassing a mix of clients from small luxury retailers to superstores. On the landlord side, it counts both large institutional corporate entities like Boston Properties and Tishman Speyer as well smaller owners of individual properties as clients.

With 23 brokers, the New York area retail division accounts for 15 percent of the company’s nationwide retail brokerage revenues.

Schmerzler says the company’s 28,000-square-foot deal on behalf of landlord The New 42nd Street was its most significant transaction of the last year. In the deal, announced last month, Ecko Unlimited took on three levels at the Times Square Theatre at 217 West 42nd Street. The urban clothing company will transform the theater into a four-level retail space.

But CBRE and the other global commercial firms don’t impress broker Robert K. Futterman, who runs a retail-only brokerage.

“Just because a company is a powerhouse, that’s not a reason to hire them,” he said. “Clients want brokers very in tune with the street and their needs and market research.”

Garrick-Aug

Stalwart Garrick-Aug remains one of the city’s leading retail brokers nearly 30 years after founder and chairman Charles Aug entered the business – just as the market for office leasing seemed to ebb during the city’s grim economic decline of the 1970s.

Vice chairman Faith Hope Consolo is strongly identified with Garrick-Aug, and is known as one of the top brokers of retail space in New York. The company has 65 brokers and support staff, and works both nationally and internationally. Luxury retailers are its niche clientele, with brands such as Cartier and Versace high on its list. Operations are balanced evenly between landlord and tenant representation.

In 2002, Garrick-Aug pulled off its biggest square-footage deal, representing the landlord in a 160,000-square-foot transaction with the Sports Club Company at 330 East 61st Street.

Consolo joined the company in 1985 and in 1989 started its international operations, which focus largely on Europe.

Consolo is described by Crain’s as “the city’s reigning maven of retail real estate,” and is part of a powerful pairing with leasing partner, Joseph Aquino.

Despite the big hits of 2002, Consolo said her company’s operations in 2004 will surpass its total for 1999, a banner year in the industry for both retailers and landlords. Already, the company has done more business in the first half of 2004 than in all of 2003, she said.

These days, Garrick-Aug is busy in Soho, trying to revitalize a neighborhood market Consolo says was hurt by Sept. 11 and now has the largest amount of vacant retail space in the city. From its 70 Wooster St. office, the company is hard at work promoting its 40 available retail spaces in the area with its ad campaign, “The Soho Specialist.”

But the firm could see changes soon. Charles Aug was reportedly negotiating to merge or sell the company earlier this year, and some reports said Consolo and Aquino were expected to make a separate deal.

“I don’t think they are still in business,” sniped rival broker Robert K. Futterman, commenting on Garrick-Aug.

Cushman & Wakefield

The New York retail side of the mammoth brokerage’s business has only been around for six of its 87 years, but Cushman & Wakefield didn’t start from scratch. Decades of office leasing and investment sales experience informed the retail expansion from the outset, and all three divisions benefit from shared information and tips about possible deals at periodic “market meetings.”

Veterans Gene Spiegelman, Susan Kurland and Joanne Podell – all winners of REBNY Deal of the Year awards – make up the backbone of the retail unit. Kurland won most creative deal in 2002 for her part in bringing American Girl Place, a retail store with a cafeacute; and theater that caters to young girls, to 609 Fifth Avenue. While still at Newmark, Podell won the award for the deal most benefiting Manhattan for her part in bringing Ethan Allan to 101 West End Avenue. Spiegelman won for arranging Crate and Barrel’s lease at 611 Broadway.

“We’re not looking to be a company that does the most amount of deals, but deals of significance as to the client or building,” said Kenneth Krasnow, the company’s executive managing director for the New York area.

With a staff of 17 professionals out of 30 for the entire country, the New York retail leasing division is the company’s largest domestic operation in the U.S., and 90 percent of leasing nationwide is done here. Landlord and retailers are represented about equally.

One client that has benefited is Swedish clothing retailer H & M, whose entry into the U.S. market required more than just doing the deal, including assistance with distribution and other factors. Cushman & Wakefield counts its 50,000-square-foot deal at 640 Fifth Avenue for H & M in 2000 among its largest deals. Over the past year, its largest deal was one for 30,000 square feet at 540 Madison Avenue for Charlotte, N.C.-based Wachovia Bank.

C & W is presently working on a deal to bring a Spanish retailer named Mango to Soho as a first step in its penetration of the U.S. market.

Despite its accomplishments, rival broker Faith Hope Consolo seems to characterize C & W’s retail operation as just an add on to their office leasing.

“The company wants to be all things to all people,” she said. “And most of their leads in retail come from corporate.”

Robert K. Futterman & Associates

Founded in 1998 by Robert Futterman (pictured on cover page), a former Garrick-Aug broker, the company is one of a handful of industry players that focus exclusively on retail leasing.

Although countrywide in outlook, the bulk of its operations are still run from its New York office, where it maintains a staff of around 50. New York area transactions account for 75 percent of the firm’s overall business, with landlords and retailers being represented in equal parts.

The company has often acted as a leasing consultant to large developers, including the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle, where 375,000 square feet of retail space was up for grabs. The firm’s other recent work in that vein includes consultancy on 700,000 square feet of space at Xanadu in the Meadowlands, an entertainment, office and hotel project in New Jersey, and one million square feet of retail space at the Heartland Town Square in Islip, Long Island.

In 1999, the firm did what was perhaps the largest deal in the Upper East Side at the time when it represented both landlord Milstein Properties and tenant Bed Bath & Beyond in a 90,000 square foot lease at 401 East 61st Street. In January, the firm represented shoe retailer Adidas in a 55,000-square-foot lease at 610 Broadway.

RKF plans to increase its national operations until they make up about 40 percent of its overall business, with another 5 percent coming from its now tiny overseas operations. The firm is opening offices in Los Angeles, Miami and also Las Vegas, where the company is acting as leasing consultant on a 475,000-square-foot shopping center.

“Robert K. Futterman came out of my office,” said broker Faith Hope Consolo, vice chairman of Garrick-Aug Worldwide. “They go more after the mid-range, main and main retailers, like P.C. Richard. I like the luxury retailer, he likes the larger store.”

Lansco

Lansco says it is a strong player in the high-end luxury market, with high-end apparel retailers in Manhattan a particular specialty.

Founded in 1965 as an office and retail leasing company, Lansco has grown its retail operation about as fast as its office side over the years. The company’s retail division, headed by executive vice presidents Alan Victor and Robin Abrams, consists of 20 brokers. Abrams also chairs the REBNY committee that oversees retail leasing.

Over the past year, Lansco’s largest deal was the 40,000-square-foot transaction last March at 105 Wooster Street in Soho for furniture retailer Room & Board Inc. from Minneapolis. But Lansco’s all time largest was the 110,000-square-foot deal at One Times Square for the Warner Brothers Studio in 1996.

The company’s business is split around 50-50 between representing landlords and tenants. Around one-third of Lansco’s work is done in the outer boroughs, and the company’s national work has been increasing.

Rival broker Faith Hope Consolo said it is a negative that the firm’s business is split between office leasing and retail.

“This is an example of, ‘you should know your niche,’” she said. “If I were a doctor, I’d want to be the best plastic surgeon, not a generalist.”

Madison HGCD

“You don’t have to be a deceitful broker to operate in New York City,” says Richard Hodos, president and CEO of Madison HGCD, likening public perception of the profession to the disdain usually felt for, say, dishonest used car salesmen. Hodos takes a different stance, and says that his company won’t make a deal if it will not serve its clients well. “We’re technically brokers but we act like consultants,” he said.

Based in New York, the 14-broker firm has existed in its present form since 2002 following a merger with Washington, D.C.- based developer Madison Marquette. It also has an office in San Francisco and plans to open in Chicago, though New York accounts for 80 percent of the company’s transactions.

So far, the company’s largest deal was in 2002, when it brought bookseller Borders to 35,000 square feet at 100 Broadway, a sizeable transaction by the firm’s standards. Over the past year, the most notable deal the company has done was a 12,000-square-foot transaction at 110 Fifth Avenue for the German apparel company Esprit, which is seeking to re-enter the U.S. market after being bought out by European investors. Madison HGCD is also presently working for the landlord at One Times Square on a 20,000-square-foot deal to bring in an international electronics company.

Overall, Madison HGCD represents more tenants than landlords by a ratio of 80 to 20, but plans to increase the percentage of landlord representation to around 40 percent.

Hodos says expansion is in the cards, with the company planning to double the size of its New York office within the next 18 months and set up a new office in San Francisco.

Mogull Realty

Newcomer Mogull Realty is barely a year old, but quickly established itself in the New York leasing market, becoming a force not to be ignored. The company, founded by Kim Mogull, who also serves as its president, has already amassed a bevy of A-list clients, including the Trump Organization. It claims more than 200,000 square feet of retail exclusives, and says it has already closed deals worth $100 million.

Mogull, a driven, ambitious and sunny character in her thirties, is no stranger to real estate. The New Jersey native was literally born into the industry, riding in the back of her mother’s car as a six-year-old with her two older brothers, as her mother, a struggling real estate broker, had the kids write down the available properties. Mogull’s first job in real estate came 17 years ago at Coldwell Banker Real Estate Services in Manhattan.

The firm has lately been most active in the meatpacking district, where it has done about 10 high-value deals totaling approximately 40,000 square feet. It represents the Hotel Gansevoort plus an entire block of retail space along Washington Street.

Besides the Trump Organization, the firm’s most important clients include the clothing company Scoop Apparel, the developers Jack Parker Corporation, Sherwood Equities and Urban Investments.

Mogull’s operation is small and nimble, with only seven employees, with plans for only a minor expansion. She says there are no hierarchies or titles in the organization, where the central goal is to serve demanding clients like Donald “You’re Fired” Trump “fast and with integrity.”

“We love Kim and think she does a great job,” Trump said earlier this year.

Comments are closed.

MENU

Subscribe to our email newsletters

New York Real Estate News
South Florida Real Estate News