The Real Deal New York

William Raveis NYC puts brakes on new development

"You have to walk before you can run": Paul Purcell
By E.B. Solomont | March 13, 2015 12:56PM

Suburban brokerage William Raveis has built and sold some 8,800 new homes throughout the Northeast. But new development sales in New York City are proving tougher to crack.

Months after planting a flag in Manhattan, William Raveis NYC is postponing the launch of its new development division, which was to be headed by Julia Boland, who joined the firm in September. Boland jumped to the Corcoran Group last week along with two of the firm’s other early hires, Fabienne Lecole and Maria Wall, as The Real Deal reported.

“It was premature,” Paul Purcell, co-managing director of William Raveis NYC, told TRD of the firm’s new development push in New York, where a building boom and rising condo prices have made new development one of the hottest segments of the residential market. “We’re re-evaluating that entire area.”

While suburban brokerages have found it difficult to break into New York’s urban market, Purcell said the decision to delay new development work came from company founder Bill Raveis. Raveis experienced changes in his personal life and, as a result, did not have the time to work with Boland on the launch as he previously planned to do, Purcell said.

“The timing was off,” Boland told TRD this week. She cited the delay of the new development division launch as one of her reasons for leaving William Raveis.

In Manhattan, at least 6,500 condo units are expected to come online this year, compared with about 2,500 units in 2014, according to Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. Last year, the average price of new development condos was $3.8 million, up 3 percent from the prior year. There were 175 new development sales above $10 million, a whopping 39 percent jump from 2013.

Purcell, who was tapped to spearhead the suburban powerhouse brokerage’s entry into New York along with Kathy Braddock, said a new development division is still part of the firm’s strategy going forward.

“Are we doing it tomorrow? No,” he said. “You have to walk before you run.”

When it does kick off, the new development division will be  integrated with Raveis Marketing Group, the parent company’s new development arm, which opened an office in Boston this past fall. “They’re creating a powerful presence,” Purcell said. “We’re going to meld that into New York but it’s a complete rethinking of how we will do it.”

Prior to joining William Raveis, Boland spent seven years at Halstead, where she was sales director of the Adeline, an 83-unit condo in Harlem.

“We parted ways with no hard feelings,” Boland said. “When Bill decided that he couldn’t move forward, I reached out to Bill [Cunningham, of Corcoran] and we made it work.”

Last week, Purcell chalked up recent departures – including Boland, Fabienne Lecole and Maria Wall – to growing pains associated with being a startup. “Now we hit the reset button and we know what to do,” he said.