The Real Deal New York

Trading places: MNS brokers swap desks at Gramercy, Chelsea offices

By Katherine Clarke | March 27, 2013 04:00PM

While gearing up to open its newest Williamsburg outpost, residential real estate brokerage MNS has also been reshuffling personnel at two of its other offices. The goal is to consolidate its rental division at one location and build a more cohesive sales and rental team in its Chelsea retail space.

Last Friday, agents and brokers from the firm’s Gramercy corporate office and the Chelsea retail location could be seen packing up their desks and effectively switching places. Eight of the firm’s rental and relocation agents moved from Chelsea to Gramercy, while eight of the firm’s top sales and rental agents, such as David Favale, Melyssa Ford and Sasha Bruno, lugged boxes of their personal items to Chelsea.

Alex Cho, the former managing director of the firm’s Chelsea office, will now head up leasing at the corporate location at 115 East 23rd Street, while Jennifer Johnsen, the firm’s executive director of sales and leasing, moved to 189 Eighth Avenue. Vicario Phillip, a senior vice president at the firm’s Chelsea office, has also been promoted to assistant manager at that location.

Johnsen said MNS’ top executives looked to make the move in advance of what they think will be a busy rental season. Rather than having the firm’s rental agents spread out over various branches, they will now be consolidated in Gramercy, where they can be close to the firm’s in-house training center and better positioned to service online customers and relocation accounts as well as their exclusive rental contracts, she said.

Meanwhile, the company’s most experienced agents – those who have a dual focus on rentals and sales – will benefit from being on the ground and meeting customers, Johnsen said, especially since the Chelsea outpost has traditionally been the source of the majority of the company’s sales leads. It will also offer those agents an easier commute between Manhattan and Williamsburg, where the firm does a large chunk of its business.

“While most of these [more experienced] people are very independent, retail storefront locations are a privilege,” she told The Real Deal. “They provide high traffic, high volume and a lot of exposure. Because of the high amount of walk-ins, you really want to be able to provide your clients with the best service. The people best equipped to do that are really your most experienced agents.”

MNS, headed by Andrew Barrocas, is also set to launch its second Williamsburg location at the Edge condominium this spring, Johnsen said.

Last fall, it secured 3,000 feet of space for a storefront office at 34 North 6th Street, which will house 40 brokers. While originally set to open in January, the launch was pushed back as the result of permitting and construction delays, she said. The company has another office at 165 Bedford Avenue in the neighborhood.