Town to close UES office, move staff into flagship at 888 Seventh Ave.

Resi firm is moving away from retail storefronts

Mar.March 09, 2018 03:05 PM

Andrew Heiberger and 888 Seventh Avenue (Credit: Studio Scrivo and Vornado)

Town Residential is closing its Upper East Side office amid a restructuring of its physical footprint.

In a LinkedIn post on Thursday, CEO Andrew Heiberger said the East 79th Street location would be folded into Town’s new flagship at 888 Seventh Avenue, which opened in November. He said the move reflected the industry’s shift away from brokerage storefronts, which are becoming obsolete.

“From property searches to listing exposure, technology has changed the real estate industry,” Heiberger wrote. “Walk-in traffic has significantly dwindled, and the positive attributes of the storefront have since become negatives.”

Town inked a five-year lease for 15,000 square feet on the second floor of 888 Seventh Avenue in July, and it opened the new digs in November. In the next few weeks, around 30 agents from the East Side office will move to 888 Seventh, which has been outfitted with a lounge, executive conference room and two kitchens. Dean Dunbar, Town’s East Side manager, who will join the West Side office’s management team of Adam Taylor and Gary Lacy.

In addition to 888 Seventh, Town has three other permanent locations — including 110 Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron, 26 Astor Place and 33 Irving Place. (The Flatiron office has 16,600 square feet; Astor has 6,800 square feet and Irving has 8,250 square feet.)

Town declined to state what it’s paying in rent at Vornado Realty Trust’s 888 Seventh, but a lease deal struck last year on the 19th floor featured asking rents in the low $80s a square foot.

The brokerage also folded its Soho office into the Astor Place location last year. And Heiberger’s firm plans to consolidate its foothold in Brooklyn, where it currently operates out of a WeWork location at 240 Bedford Avenue.

Heiberger said the decision to shake up its footprint was the result of a “careful and thoughtful analysis of the real estate industry.” Last year, Douglas Elliman combined two offices in Midtown South after opening new digs at 111 Fifth Avenue, where it took 19,500 square feet.  The firm also expanded its headquarters at 575 Madison Avenue to 100,000 square feet from 60,000 square feet.

Heiberger launched Town in 2010 — and scaled rapidly by opening sleek offices, throwing flashy parties and hiring top brokers. By 2013, it had 600 brokers and 10 offices. In 2015, Town closed offices in the Meatpacking District and Greenwich Village to cut expenses.

In 2016, Heiberger bought out partner Joseph Sitt’s 50 percent stake in Town for an undisclosed amount. At the time, sources said he was financing the deal with an investment from one or more high net-worth individuals.

Town closed $659.6 million in sell-side deals in 2017, down 24 percent from 2016, according to The Real Deal’s 2018 ranking of the city’s top residential firms. Town said that including buy-side business, it sold just under $2 billion last year, compared to $2.35 billion in 2016.

Town had 442 agents, according to TRD’s February 2018 ranking.

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