The Real Deal New York

Heiberger steps away as CEO of Town

Brokerage head’s employment contract will not be renewed, he said
By Katherine Clarke | January 30, 2014 08:00AM

Town Residential founder Andrew Heiberger is no longer serving as chief executive officer of the city’s fastest-growing brokerage, The Real Deal has learned.

The move leaves current president and COO Jeff Appel, who joined the company full-time in September, to oversee the day-to-day operations of the 600-agent firm.

Appel confirmed that Heiberger had ceased to be CEO in recent days. Instead, the former chief will focus on broader business-development issues, Appel said.

“I wasn’t part of the decision,” Appel noted.

When contacted by The Real Deal, Heiberger said the move was the result of the expiration of his three-year employment contract with Town, which was inked in 2011 as part of a deal with the company’s equity partner, Joseph Sitt’s Thor Equities.

Six years after selling his previous venture, rental giant Citi Habitats, to NRT, Heiberger founded Town in 2010. He brought Sitt in as a partner in 2011. Heiberger and Sitt have an equal stake in the firm.

“Upon the commencement of my partnership with Joe Sitt and Thor Equities on January 27, 2011, I signed a three-year exclusive contract with Town to be the acting CEO,” Heiberger said in a statement. “My contract naturally expired two days ago. I am still a 50 percent owner, founder and member of the board.”

While Heiberger declined to comment further, sources told The Real Deal that there had been trouble brewing between Sitt and Heiberger for some time, despite Town’s rapid growth.

Sitt and Heiberger have been partners before. The duo formed a joint venture in 2005 to Purchase 88 Greenwich Street, which they transformed into a luxury condo project. (Town now has an office in the building.)

In a statement, a spokesperson for Thor Equities said: “Andrew and Joe have successfully collaborated for many years and will continue to do so as Town Residential solidifies its position as the top residential brokerage in New York City.”

It may seem like an odd time for the company to switch gears. The three-year-old firm has been on a growth spree since its launch and now has 10 offices.

When mortgage banking veteran Appel, a former vice president of CitiBank who previously served part-time as Town’s director of professional development, moved into his role in September, he said the firm was looking to slow it’s growth and look towards making its operations more efficient.

“The company has been moving at the speed of light for three years,” he said at the time. “At this point, it’s time to reorganize and plan for the future. We need to optimize those offices.”

Appel said Heiberger’s move would not effect operations at Town in the near term. It was not clear if a new CEO would be brought on board.