CBRE bets on outer boroughs with expanded retail coverage

TRD New York /
Dec.December 09, 2009 02:53 PM

Despite a grinding recession producing “for rent” signs all over the city, commercial services firm CB Richard Ellis is beefing up its presence in the outer boroughs.

The California-based company recently opened a new office in a retail space in Long Island City, replacing a nearby now-shuttered office location, and for the first time, is basing two retail brokers in the borough. The firm also is interviewing to hire new brokers, the managing director for Long Island and the outer boroughs, Ellen Rudin, said.

The LIC office, covering all the outer boroughs, houses eight agents including the two retail brokers (one of whom splits his time with the firm’s Woodbury, LI, office), one investment sales broker and five office and industrial brokers, Rudin said. The firm is the only national brokerage with an office in the outer boroughs, even as most also do deals there.

Although CBRE’s number of brokers working outside Manhattan is about the same as in recent years, this is the first time it has based any retail brokers in an outer-borough location.

The 2,000-square-foot office, at 47-09 Center Boulevard near the East River, opened in October, and has replaced the prior LIC location at 30-30 Thomson Avenue.

Cory Zelnik, president of commercial brokerage Zelnik & Company, which structures deals in the outer boroughs as well as Manhattan but only operates out of Manhattan, said the move was telling.

“I think that speaks to the fact that activity is picking up,” he said, and added: “As an organization, CBRE wants to project that they cover everything and everywhere.”

He also said it was unusual for a commercial firm, as opposed to a residential firm, to move into a retail location.

“I think that will be close to a first,” he said. “That’s interesting.”

Rudin said the company chose the retail space to increase its street presence.

“The truth is we are looking to expand and get our name out there in the outer boroughs, and we thought this would help do that,” Rudin said. “I think there is an opportunity now, largely because of the market. We want to be well poised for the upturn.”

Broker Dean Rosenzweig, who works out of the Woodbury and LIC locations, has completed several deals since the Queens office opened, including a 1,200-square-foot lease for Sprint on Staten Island this month and a 3,000-square-foot lease in Bay Plaza the Bronx, for plus-size retailer Fashion to Figure, in November.

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