Citi Habitats shutters two offices, preps for rebranding campaign

Brokerage is consolidating Gramercy presence, seeking space in Soho or Tribeca
By Katherine Clarke | July 10, 2012 11:30AM

Rental and sales brokerage Citi Habitats is shuttering two of its Gramercy-area offices in an effort to consolidate its presence in the neighborhood and expand elsewhere in the city.

The two offices at 27 East 22nd Street and 32 East 22nd Street will close in the next few months, company president Gary Malin told The Real Deal today; the 55 agents currently operating from those spaces will be relocated to the firm’s revamped company headquarters at 250 Park Avenue South.

The decision to close the two offices is part of a larger office renovation and rebranding campaign on which the residential brokerage Citi Habitats, in business since 1994, is about to embark. The company, which brokers sales and rentals, has been working with advertising agency Ammirati to overhaul the firm’s image. Changes will likely be made to the company logo, website and offices. In Gramercy, company officials decided that it didn’t make any sense to have two offices so close to each other; instead, the firm will be scouting office space in Tribeca and Soho.

“In today’s day and age, retail locations are not so valuable unless they’re in a really special location like our West Village office,” Malin said. “At the moment, we’re over-represented in certain parts of the city and under-represented in others.”

Renovations are underway at the firm’s headquarters, where the company has three full floors totaling 33,000 square feet. Approximately 200 agents will be working from that office once the other Gramercy locations close. The firm’s West Village office, at 114 Perry Street, will be renovated next.

“The pattern of business has changed,” said Malin, who joined Citi Habitats in 1998. “Citi recognizes that the needs of consumers have shifted from being able to walk into a storefront to working online with technologically savvy agents. We are focused on introducing a new paradigm in our business, one that emphasizes smarter, more flexible office spaces that address this reality.”

While Malin recognized that there would likely be speculation over the office closures, he said that any suggestion the offices were not doing well “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“Sometimes when you want to take steps as a company, you have to look at your prior business model. You can’t be tied to the past,” he said.

Malin declined to comment explicitly on how much of a monetary investment in the company’s infrastructure is actually being made.

The firm will now have nine offices in total, including its West Village location as well as two Upper East Side offices and another two on the Upper West Side.