Retail brokerage Northwest Atlantic merges with national firm

By Adam Pincus | February 02, 2012 05:30PM

Westchester tenant-advisory firm Northwest Atlantic Real Estate Services, best-known as the Manhattan representative for Starbucks Coffee and Whole Foods, merged with the Atlanta-based retail brokerage Shopping Center Group, company officials told The Real Deal.

Northwest Atlantic, a 10-broker company The Real Deal ranked as the ninth most active retail brokerage in Manhattan by square feet leased, joins a firm with about 120 licensed professionals in 15 states.

The firms decided to merge in order to broaden Northwest Atlantic’s services into investment sales and landlord-representation, and to give the Georgia-based firm a foothold for the first time north of Virginia.

“With [retail] brokerage more competitive, we had been thinking about this for a while,” said David Firestein, former president of Northwest Atlantic, and now a managing partner of the newly merged office. “We talked with some of the other New York companies first, but went with the Shopping Center Group for many reasons — the national scope, the chemistry, we worked with them and shared clients — and we were comfortable with them.”

Firestein said he plans to hire new brokers, and open an office in Manhattan. He is already interviewing brokers in New York City to expand into agency representation and property sales, he said.

Another top broker from Northwest Atlantic is executive vice president Chase Wells, who represents Whole Foods and Staples.

The announcement comes during a period of rapid change in the retail brokerage landscape in New York City. In the past year, commercial owner and developer Joseph Sitt started Thor High Street Advisory Group, Crown Acquisitions ramped up its retail team, Massey Knakal Retail Services opened a retail division, and Studley poached a retail broker from Grubb & Ellis to head the commercial firm’s first Manhattan store-leasing team.

Jason Pruger, an executive managing director at Newmark Knight Frank Retail, said the move was a good one for Northwest Atlantic, which now is based in White Plains.

“It gives them access to tenants, and it gives them a presence in the city,” he said.

The merger was finalized Dec. 31, 2011 and the four partners at Northwest Atlantic, Firestein, Wells, Jacqueline Klinger and Steven Gillman, were given shares of the Shopping Center Group. There was no cash involved in the deal.

About five years ago, Firestein’s office became independent from the Seattle-based tenant-representative firm, also called Northwest Atlantic, which has five offices across the country, Firestein said. He said the companies worked closely in the past and that is not expected to change.