Cipriani in Midtown was abuzz Tuesday night as hundreds of the city’s most powerful brokers, developers and lenders descended on law firm Fried Frank’s annual holiday extravaganza to trade intel, schmooze and engage in a mandatory back-slapping session.
But while the mood was undoubtedly festive, even the brokers had to admit the market outlook seemed a little grimmer than it did this time last year.
“Anyone who tells you they know what the market will be like next year is full of it,” said Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s Dan Gronich.
Attendees included Ofer Yardeni of Stonehenge Partners; Murray Hill Properties’ Norman Sturner; Related Companies’ Jeff Blau; JDS Development Group’s Michael Stern; Ziel Feldman of HFZ Capital Group; Mary Ann Tighe of CBRE; Jimmy Kuhn of Newmark; Melissa Burch of Lend Lease; Paul Massey, Bob Knakal, Bruce Mosler, Doug Harmon and Adam Spies of Cushman & Wakefield; Josh Zegen and Brian Shatz of Madison Realty Capital; Anthony Malkin of Empire State Realty Trust; Ken Horn of Alchemy Properties; and Roy March of Eastdil Secured.
Much of the evening’s chattered centered around a couple of high-profile moves in the commercial brokerage business. Namely, Harmon and Spies’ moves from Eastdil to Cushman and Richard Baxter, Yoron Cohen and Scott Latham’s jump to Colliers from JLL.
March, to whom the Harmon and Spies loss was likely a hit, stationed himself toward the front of the room, fielding an assembly line of handshakes.
Latham and Cohen joked around with Mosler, with Cohen administering a friendly noogie. Latham’s name tag sparked giggles, since it still read “Jones Lang LaSalle.” Dustin Stolly of JLL, who remains at the company, came over and jokingly cursed the pair for leaving.
Cohen said he’s just gotten back from the Bahamas, where he had gone to celebrate a deal.
He wasn’t the only one sporting a tan.
Stern said he was just back from Art Basel in Miami where he threw several parties at a restaurant he owns. “There’s no such thing as a Miami developer,” he quipped. “There are just New York guys who happen to do business there.”
TRD caught Sturner as he hovered by the coat check. He was keen to talk about his leasing success at 180 Maiden Lane in the Financial District.
“Persistence is my best characteristic,” he said.
He also recounted some insight he was given by his grandmother.
“She always told the story about the difference between smarts and luck,” Sturner said. “Luck always wins.”
For his part, Zegen lamented that the market was becoming overcrowded with developer-lenders as the construction lending market takes a dip. He cautioned his colleagues against getting into the debt market lightly.
“There’s a barrier to entry,” he said. “It takes a certain level of sophistication.”
Toll Brothers’ David Von Spreckelsen complained about how excess condo inventory was hurting sales velocity in Manhattan.
“There’s just so many apartments out there,” he said.
While the room was filled to the brim with suits, one outfit stood out. Kushner’s Brooklyn partner, LIVWRK’s Asher Abehsera, turned up in a leather jacket and a baseball cap.
“I’m representing Brooklyn,” he quipped.
Mechanic, of course, held court at the entrance to the venue all night long, greeting all his clients with a kiss and a bear hug.
“I’m happy to be here at Jonathan Mechanic’s bar mitzvah,” Blau joked.