New York City’s retail leasing and sales coterie was out in full force last night at the Real Estate Board of New York’s annual Retail Deal of the Year awards, held at Club 101, at 101 Park Avenue.
CBRE’s David LaPierre took home the “most ingenious and creative” award for the 30,000 square feet of space in Times Square he leased to midscale clothier Express last May, while Jacqueline Klinger and Chase Welles of SCG Retail took the “most significant” prize for their work bringing Whole Foods market to Harlem.
The landlord in both winning deals was Jeff Sutton, whose Wharton Properties has become one of the city’s most active retail investors of late.
Notable figures in attendance included, but were not limited to, Massey Knakal’s Ben Fox, Lansco’s Robin Abrams, Cushman & Wakefield’s Joanne Podell and C. Bradley Mendelson, Eastern Consolidated’s Adelaide Polsinelli, and Lee & Associates’ Henry Goldfarb and James Wacht. Peter Braus, also of Lee, served as master of ceremonies.
Express’ journey to the Times Square location was long and fraught. Express had reportedly signed for the long-vacant former ESPN Zone space at the Durst Organization’s 4 Times Square, but the retailer became frustrated when negotiations were slow. LaPierre then entered negotiations with Sutton to lease two parcels – 1552 and 1560 Broadway – the developer had recently assembled in a partnership with SL Green Realty. But LaPierre had to sell Express on considerably higher rent — and do so in just two weeks. In the end, the deal he negotiated provided the opportunity for additional revenue streams for the tenant, including from the lease of certain Times Square signage, in order to make up the difference. Reports at the time valued the deal at $23 million a year.
LaPierre was modest yesterday, however. “Things just happened to click, as with all good deals they do,” he said.
He expressed perceptible surprise at his win, and later told TRD why.
“There have been deals in the past that I felt confident would win,” and he believed might have stood out more than the Express deal, he said. He pointed to assembling and repurposing the space that became Euro-food-market-cum-restaurant Eataly as an example. He said national brand recognition is likely what helped the Express deal take the title.
Welles told the assembled crowd about waiting years for Whole Foods to bite the bullet and sign the lease on 125th Street, where the brand took 39,000 square feet. “We kept taking them up there,” to show off the neighborhood, he said of Whole Foods executives, “and they kept not saying ‘no.’”
In October, the Austin, Texas-based chain finally signed for the space (which is still under construction) at Sutton’s 100 West 125th Street, at Lenox Avenue.
“These two coveted honors were awarded to brokers that showed their sophistication and creativity in getting these deals done,” said REBNY President Steven Spinola in a statement. “They have helped to reinvent the norm – thinking outside-the-box to overcome challenges while helping two major retailers continue to grow in New York.”