Mark David Co. shrinks space, not ranks

By Candace Taylor | February 06, 2009 06:50PM

Boutique residential real estate firm Mark David & Company has downsized from three offices to one.

The company has closed its 3,500-square-foot former headquarters at 60 Madison Avenue, said founder Mark David Fromm, as well as a separate 900-square-foot space in the same building that the company used for its investment sales division. All 70 of the company’s agents have now moved into the company’s Soho office at 560 Broadway, which formerly housed only the rental division.

The move was completed in August, said Fromm, who’s hoping to use the transition as a value play in the slowing commercial leasing market.

“I saw what was going on,” Fromm said. In anticipation of the downturn, he negotiated with his landlord to break his leases at 60 Madison Avenue, where he was paying roughly $45 per square foot. He plans to rent a new space in the next 12 months for much less. “We’ll be able to get a nicer space at probably 50 percent off what we were paying,” he said.

The company chose to keep the 4,000-square-foot Soho office, opened in 2005, because of its location at the corner of Broadway and Prince, Fromm said.

“We’re on the busiest corner in Soho,” he said, adding that the space has “tremendous signage” and 10-foot by 10-foot windows. “It’s nice exposure for us.”

The Madison Avenue headquarters, by contrast, was on the 11th floor of an office building, he said.

The Soho space isn’t quite big enough for the whole company, he said, with more people than desks. But he said he’s enjoying having the whole company under one roof. “It’s definitely tight, but I’ve been in the business for 14 years and the energy in my office has never been better,” he said.

Better yet, Fromm said, he’s used the money he’s saved in rent to design a new Web site for the company.

Fromm founded the company in 2003 as a residential rental brokerage along with his wife, Claudia Saez-Fromm. In 2005, they opened the sales office and launched a residential sales division, adding an investment sales and commercial leasing division two years ago.

Recent deals include a $25,000-a-month three-bedroom rental off of Central Park West, and representing Kumon math and reading center in leasing a new 1,800-square-foot space at 235 East 22nd Street, he said.

Mark David & Company is just one of a myriad of real estate companies that has cut back on company square footage. The Corcoran Group is closing its Harlem office, Citi Habitats closed two offices, Bellmarc Realty closed its corporate headquarters and Warburg Realty announced it will shutter an office and a smaller brokerage, Homestead, closed its shop before the New Year.