Citi Habitats also to close 57th Street branch

By Candace Taylor | January 07, 2009 06:36PM

Citi Habitats said it is closing another one of its branches and laying off employees in a bid to cut costs in the sputtering economy.

In addition to the closure of its Financial District office, which The Real Deal first reported yesterday, the rental brokerage is in the process of closing an office at 346 West 57th Street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats.

By tomorrow, all the agents at the 57th Street office will have been moved to other Citi Habitats locations, he said. The company closed its storefront Financial District branch at 100 John Street between Pearl and William streets when the lease was up December 31, Malin said.

In the process of closing the two branches, some administrative staff lost their jobs, Malin said, though he did not comment on how many.

“Some of the people were moved to other locations, and some we didn’t have space for,” he said. “This whole economic crisis is a very unfortunate situation, but you have to make good, sound business decisions. People do get impacted.”

Citi Habitats, which has 700-plus agents, has more than 10 other offices in the city, Malin said, and the company is looking to reduce expenses by maintaining fewer branches.

“Given the world at large and what’s going on, we felt it was prudent to be proactive, and provide more resources to fewer offices,” he said.

The decision to close the John Street office, which was located in a 221-unit luxury rental building and housed roughly 25 agents, also was impacted by this fall’s Wall Street meltdown, Malin said. The company needed a bigger space, he said, but was reluctant to sign a new lease with the landscape of the financial services industry changing so rapidly.

“It didn’t make sense to go into a market when there’s so much uncertainly,” he said. “We need to let the financial calamity calm itself down, and find out what the new Wall Street is.”