Former Besen brokers open new firm

By Adam Pincus | December 09, 2008 01:46PM

A trio of commercial brokers who left Besen & Associates has formed a new Manhattan-based firm, Onyx Real Estate Advisors, the team told The Real Deal in an interview yesterday.

The group includes Laurence Ross, who partnered with Adelaide Polsinelli to form the “Platinum Team” at Besen from 2005 until 2007. In July 2008, Polsinelli, a 10-year veteran of Besen & Associates, moved to Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services. Polsinelli said she is not going to join the Onyx team.

Ross, Christen Portelli and Joshua Goldflam are equal managing principals in their new venture, which was formally created this month and focuses on commercial sales. The team will also handle leasing, management and financing.

In a city that has been hit with cutbacks at real estate services firms, including to Massey Knakal, Cushman & Wakefield and CB Richard Ellis, the three said their departure was not related to staff reductions.

“It was just time for us to be a little bit more independent,” Portelli said.

Onyx, whose offices are located at 99 University Place, has about a half dozen listings, most in
Midtown South, including an office building at 345 West 35th Street, a
loft building at 242 Fifth Avenue and a residential townhouse at 155
Lexington Avenue.

The firm has two additional salespeople and an office administrator, and hopes to hire six additional brokers by July.

In the new lower-volume sales and leasing market, the principals said they were not cutting their commissions, but were offering more hands-on services.

The three were some of the approximately 10 people who have left Besen and Associates this year, bringing the number of brokers there down to about 25 from around 35, they said.

Ronald Cohen, chief marketing director of Besen & Associates, declined to comment on the current number of employees, but said the firm had recently hired new brokers.

Onyx has a public advertising campaign planned as well, in the “five-figure number,” Goldflam said, that would include signs on the sides of buildings.

Ross spent four years at Winoker Realty Company and since 2002 has worked off-and-on at Besen and Associates; Portelli served as director of sales at Besen & Associates, where she worked for six years; and Goldflam was at Cantor Fitzgerald before joining Besen in 2004.

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