Modern Spaces to open first Manhattan office

Queens brokerage with laid-back reputation will open Chelsea space by early 2013
By Guelda Voien | October 26, 2012 04:30PM

The Long Island City-based brokerage Modern Spaces will open its first Manhattan office, The Real Deal has learned. The 1,000-square-foot space, located in Chelsea, will replicate the casual environment of the brokerage’s other offices, said Modern Spaces’ founder and CEO Eric Benaim.

Benaim said the firm had been looking at Manhattan digs for the past two years, but only recently found a that would be a good fit. “Two Sundays ago I came upon a listing and went to see it,” he said. “We got attached to the space on the spot.”

The firm then signed a five-year lease for 220 West 16th Street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

“Chelsea being one of the art capitals of New York, [the location] meshes with us,” said Benaim. The new office — of which he is personally overseeing the re-decoration, infusing the space with a vintage feel, thanks to reclaimed hardwood flooring and other accents — will open at the end of the year or early next year.

“Just because we are in Manhattan, doesn’t mean we are … going to stop having our casual environment, as we do in our other offices,” he added. Benaim is intent on retaining Modern Spaces’ reputation as the brokerage that gives its agents free access to bicycles to get around Williamsburg, and decorates its office interiors with borough-appropriate art.

And that business model has been working out, it seems. It’s been a busy couple of years for the firm, which opened three offices in the past year. In addition to Long Island City, Modern Spaces has outposts in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Astoria. The brokerage has five offices in total.

Benaim said Modern Spaces will be marketing a new development in Murray Hill and that the new office will likely focus its business in that area, as well as in the Chelsea, West Village, Soho and Gramercy Park markets.

Modern Spaces is the exclusive marketing agent for condominiums the Industry, the L Haus, and The View, all in Long Island City.

The new office will employ about 15 agents, with three or four relocating from other Modern Spaces’ offices and the balance hired away from other firms, Benaim said. He is also in talks with prospective new agents and also plans to hire a director for the office, he said, but he has not made any hires as of yet.

Benaim will remain headquartered at the firm’s Williamsburg office, which he has outfitted with works by street artists such as Banksy and Kaws, the sculptor whose work sits in front of the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District.