The Real Deal New York

A.C. Lawrence to absorb C21 NY Metro

By Candace Taylor | November 24, 2010 02:54PM

From left: A.C. Lawrence co-founders Anthony DeGrotta and Larry Friedman and Century 21 NY Metro CEO Marc Lewis

Struggling brokerage Century 21 NY Metro is merging with A.C. Lawrence, industry sources said today.

The Real Deal reported yesterday that Century 21 NY Metro — a Manhattan-based, independently owned franchise of the Century 21 brand — has experienced cash flow problems in recent weeks and has been looking for new investors to inject fresh capital into the firm.

It appears they may have found it.

Agents were told today that Century 21 NY Metro would be absorbed into the boutique sales and rental firm A.C. Lawrence. It’s unclear what the new entity would be called.

A.C. Lawrence co-founders Anthony DeGrotta and Larry Friedman — who both declined to comment — are now listed as agents on the Century 21 NY Metro website. DeGrotta and Friedman are Citi Habitats alums who founded A.C. Lawrence in 2006.

Industry insiders speculated that investor Leonard Franzblau is involved in the transaction. Several years ago, Franzblau injected capital into a competing rental firm, Manhattan Apartments, where Marc Lewis, the president and CEO of Century 21 NY Metro, used to work. Franzblau recently hired Degrotta and Friedman as consultants to help manage the struggling Manhattan Apartments. At the time, there was talk of a merger between A.C. Lawrence and Manhattan Apartments, but as of now it appears the two firms are still separate entities.

Franzblau and Lewis declined to comment for the piece. It’s unclear what the future relationship between the three firms will be if Franzblau invests in Century 21 NY Metro.

Antonio del Rosario, the former president of the sales division at A.C. Lawrence, said Century 21 NY Metro and AC Lawrence have been “courting” each other for a while.

“Those two companies are a good match,” he said, since Lawrence, Degrotta and Friedman have a similar background in rentals. It’s a smart move for both to share overhead costs, he said.

“They want to make an alliance and be strong together,” said Rosario, who left A.C. Lawrence in October and has founded his own group,adrnewyork, at Charles Rutenberg Realty.

Lewis founded his own firm, Marc Lewis Realty, in 1988. In 2002, he merged the firm with Manhattan Apartments, then joined Century 21 NY Metro in 2007 as COO. A year later, he was made CEO.

Earlier this year, Century 21 New York Metro had around 150 agents with plans to expand, but many agents have left in recent weeks, sources said.

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