The Real Deal New York

Commercial firms trim back holiday parties

By Adam Pincus | December 16, 2011 03:15PM

The city’s commercial firms generally went with scaled-down holiday parties as the industry licked it wounds in 2011 after making it through a difficult year.

Many commercial firms opted for low-key themes either by spending fewer dollars or going for a less formal environment, for example at least two opted for bowling, and CBRE Group headed to the circus.

The head of one firm that is still having an event, but did not want to be quoted discussing the industry’s party plans, said, “The general consensus is it’s been a cut back from 2008.”

A top executive at another commercial firm, who also asked not to be identified, scaled back from an annual nighttime party to just a lunch this year.

But most have held a function of some sort.

The season’s most exclusive party, hosted by law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson at Cipriani 42nd Street, was packed with an elbow-to-elbow crowd of top industry executives munching on sushi and sipping cocktails. Heads of the major brokerage firms were there, such as Mary Ann Tighe of CBRE Group’s New York region and Barry Gosin of Newmark Knight Frank, as well as executives of investment companies like Christopher Schlank of office owner Savanna and retail-focused Jeff Sutton of Wharton Properties.

CBRE had the most creative answer to the holiday party, although timewise it barely made it into the holiday season, and is not billed as being part of it. The city’s largest commercial brokerage invited the families of their agents and employees to attend a private performance of the Big Apple Circus in early November at the Lincoln Center Plaza.

Investment brokerage Eastern Consolidated and commercial firm UGL Services each opted for bowling this year.

Eastern Consolidated is holding its party this year at Bowlmor lanes at the former New York Times headquarters at 229 West 43rd Street Tuesday night, and UGL held its party at Ruby Foo’s at 1626 Broadway in Times Square Dec. 8.

Peter Hauspurg
, chairman and CEO at Eastern, said their party — like many — is just for the employees.

“If 50 people bring spouses and kids, it becomes a completely different type of affair — we include them in the annual summer outing,” he said. “The Christmas party is to get all of us out at the office and focus only on having a lot of fun together.”

And, he added the employees get along together: “We also have a strict no-asshole rule here.”
Dirk Hrobsky, managing director of the New York office for UGL, said about 60 employees went bowling followed by dinner and an awards ceremony later at Ruby Foo’s.
“We find bowling to be a great equalizer and always provides for good cheer,” Hrobsky said.

Cushman & Wakefield opted for a classic office party — same as last year– held Monday night at their headquarters building at 1290 Sixth Avenue between 51st and 52nd streets. Newmark Knight Frank is holding its party tonight at an event space in 230 Park Avenue, which is a building the firm manages.

Commercial firm Massey Knakal Realty Services had cocktails and a light dinner Tuesday at the Park Avenue Tavern at 99 Park Avenue at 39th Street, for employees and their spouses or partners, Paul Massey, company CEO said.

The firm tends to choose a different venue every year. “We try and mix it up and move it around the city, so occasionally it is near a borough office in Brooklyn or Queens,” he said.

Brooklyn-based CPEX Real Estate held their holiday party last night at the Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Brooklyn, at 181 Third Avenue, in the evolving Gowanus neighborhood. There, they had a jazz band in the hotel’s sunken lobby, and expansive views from the building’s rooftop terrace.

Cassidy Turley held their party last night as well, but in Soho. Their employee-only party was at the offices of the non-profit Housing Works, at 126 Crosby Street.

And to get in the holiday spirit, all the profits from the party were given to Housing Works, which provides housing for people with AIDS.

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