The Real Deal New York

Citi Habitats to shutter longtime West Village office

Resi brokerage said closure was part of move away from small storefront model
By Katherine Clarke | December 23, 2016 04:09PM

114 Perry Street in the West Village (inset: Gary Malin)

Citi Habitats is shuttering one of its oldest storefront locations in the West Village. The company has operated a location there for nearly two decades.

Company president Gary Malin said the decision to close the office, at 114 Perry Street, came amid a shift in the firm’s Manhattan business plan to focus less on brick-and-mortar storefronts and more on larger consolidated spaces where all of its agents can be in one place.

The closure brings Citi’s total office count to just five in Manhattan, down from 17 at its peak, though the remaining spaces are larger.

“Small storefronts no longer fit with our Manhattan business plan,” Malin said. “To better accommodate our clients and agents, we opened a large, state-of-the-art office at 665 Broadway at Bond Street to serve downtown Manhattan. This workspace was designed to replace our old storefront locations in the East and West Village – as their respective leases expired.”

Citi, one of the largest residential brokerages in the city, has been consolidating its Manhattan presence for several years. In 2012, it shuttered two offices at 27 East 22nd Street and 32 East 22nd Street and relocated agents to the firm’s headquarters on Park Avenue South.  In 2013, it closed its two Upper West Side offices in favor of a larger, single location at 157 Columbus Avenue. The Village office was renovated in as recently as 2012.

The firm leased the Broadway space in 2014.

In a recent shift in strategy, Citi has been looking increasingly toward the boroughs for growth opportunities. Last year, the company purchased Brooklyn-based brokerage Aptsandlofts.com and tapped its founder, David Maundrell, to lead new development deals in Brooklyn and Queens. The company added Aptsandlofts.com’s three Brooklyn offices to its list of storefronts.

The closure of the Village office comes amid a more recent downturn in the local rental market. Just over 25 percent of all Manhattan leases signed in November had some type of landlord concession, reaching a high of a least six years, according to a recent report. By comparison, more than 13 percent of leases signed during the same period in 2015 came with concessions.

“There remains a disconnect between what tenants can afford to pay, and what landlords believe tenants can afford to pay,” Malin said of the market earlier this month. “Many people are simply at their breaking point.  Building owners continue to lean on concessions to drive traffic, but these incentives have yet to lower the vacancy rate as anticipated.”

Malin bemoaned the state of the market at JDS Development Group’s holiday party last week, saying rentals were hurting. “It’s been going on for two years,” he said.

Malin said the state of the rental market had not contributed to the decision to vacate the office.