Jeffrey Brooker, a pioneer of Harlem real estate and president of residential and commercial firm Webb & Brooker, passed away last Friday at the age of 55, after suffering an unexpected heart attack.
Brooker, a commercial real estate veteran, began at Webb & Brooker, where his father was president, as an agent in 1985. Following his father’s death in 1993, Brooker stepped into his shoes, becoming president.
An avid neighborhood advocate, Brooker was a fixture in his community, serving as a member of numerous local organizations including the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, the Harlem Business Alliance and the 125th Street Business Improvement District.
Brooker was also a member of the Real Estate Board of New York for more than 30 years, according to REBNY President Steven Spinola, who knew Brooker well.
“Jeffrey really set the standards up in that community,” Spinola said of Brooker’s advocacy in Harlem. “[He] always understood the community in which he was so involved and did things there not just for the sake of making a deal… but in many cases [to do] what was best for the community.”
Bernard Warren, executive vice president with Webb & Brooker, said Brooker was enthused about Harlem commercial real estate at an early age, noting that the late company president began working as a porter in one of the firm’s buildings during his summer vacations from Dartmouth College.
Brooker helped broker the sale of the Alhambra building — the one-time vaudeville venue built in 1905 — at 2116 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in 2006 for roughly $6 million, Warren said, a deal that Brooker counted among his greatest accomplishments during his more than 25-year tenure in the Harlem commercial market.
“He pretty much knew every landlord on 125th Street,” Warren said.
But 125th Street wasn’t the only domain in which Brooker excelled. Friends, who described him as both “jovial” and “no-nonsense,” noted that he was an exceptional golfer, who traveled the country to various courses and hit the links almost every weekend in New Jersey, Connecticut and upstate New York.
“If you brought up golf, Jeff would talk to you for hours. His main thing was playing golf,” Warren said.
While Brooker’s other love, the New York Knicks, left him broken-hearted nearly every year, Warren said he never wavered in his loyalty.
“He had a very strong personality. [He] was a very likeable guy, but if you asked a question, he was going to tell you the truth. He did not mince words,” Warren added. “As a commercial broker, he said ‘you have to be tough to do those kinds of deals.'”
Brooker is survived by his brother and sister-in-law. No date for a memorial has been set.