In the wake of Grubb & Ellis’ many difficulties of late — bankruptcy, lawsuits and staff departing en masse — the head of Grubb & Ellis’ retail division and another executive have departed for Lee & Associates, according to a statement today from Lee & Associates.
Vice chairman Henry Goldfarb and senior managing director Stanley Lindenfeld have retained the titles they held at Grubb, which last week canceled an auction to sell all its assets, leaving BGC Partners the sole bidder for the commercial real estate brokerage, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February. The retail brokers signed on March 15th, but officially started work today, a spokesperson for Lee said.
Goldfarb, who headed up Grubb’s retail division, and Lindenfeld exclusively represented the Crowne Plaza Hotel and AIMCO, one of the largest publicly traded residential real estate investment trusts, according to the statement.
The retail leasing pair told The Real Deal that Lee’s national platform, less corporate approach and experienced leadership were factors in wooing them.
“[Lee is] turning themselves into a juggernaught in the New York commercial real estate market,” Goldfarb said. “They have 49 offices nationwide, which gives us the ability to have a national platform, importing and exporting clients and customers both ways.”
He also cited Lee’s more nimble, hands-on approach with clients as a reason for making the move. As the larger commercial real estate outfits, get larger and larger he feels they are “losing the expertise that brokers built for years,” and that they place “many strictures” on brokers, whereas at Lee “they build their business not on emails, but on handshakes.”
“This is an exciting new platform,” Lindenfeld agreed.
The brokers are not the first duo from Grubb to depart for Lee. Howard Rosen, former regional managing director at Grubb, and John Cannon, former executive managing director, both bolted for Lee in January.
After filing for bankruptcy, Grubb & Ellis sent letters to brokers and employees informing them they wouldn’t be compensated for commissions and other payments they were owed pre-bankruptcy, resulting in more than 300 objections filed across the country by brokers, according to previous reports.
Calls to multiple parties at Grubb & Ellis were not immediately returned.
Sierra Realty partnered with Lee & Associates to become Lee & Associates NYC last November. The firm recently moved into a new office at 600 Madison Avenue. Currently, Lee & Associates NYC has 27 brokers and managers, but they may be expanding further in the coming months.
“There are some significant brokers coming on board,” Lindenfeld said. “There is an excitement and enthusiasm,” at the firm. — Guelda Voien