The heirs to the Williams Real Estate dynasty recently considered leaving Colliers International, which became a player in New York City commercial brokerage after merging with the family firm.
Colliers brokers Michael T. Cohen, Andrew Roos and Robert Getreu have held talks in recent days with rival brokerages including Avison Young and Cushman & Wakefield about changing companies, sources told The Real Deal.
It’s not clear where those talks ended up, and at least one source speculated the brokers may have held meetings as leverage to negotiate a new contract with Colliers.
When asked for comment, Cohen said the details of TRD’s story were “purposefully misleading.” Representatives for Avison Young and Cushman declined to comment.
Cohen, Roos and Getreu have been working at the firm for several years now without a contract under a handshake agreement with management.
The three industry veterans are not only brokers; they’re also landlords whose sizable property portfolio generates significant income for Colliers. Any move for the trio would potentially include them bringing over that coveted business.
Cohen and Roos are the third generation of one of New York’s storied real estate families.
Their grandfathers, Victor Cohen and Sydney Roos, founded Williams Real Estate Company in the late 1920s as an owner that assembled millions of square feet in Manhattan. From there, the company evolved into a prominent leasing brokerage and building manager.
The second generation of Williams, Michael Cohen and Andy Roos’ fathers, brought on partner Robert Carmel in 1959. Getreu is the son-in-law of Carmel’s brother, and joined Williams in 1992.
The following year, Cohen and Roos took over control of the company from their fathers.
Williams Real Estate’s most notable property is 28-40 West 23rd Street, a pair of buildings the family restored and repositioned as a trendy Midtown South office building.
Colliers International’s predecessor, FirstService REA, acquired a majority interest in Williams in 2008. The company placed sixth among Manhattan’s top office-leasing brokerages last year, with 2.5 million square feet worth of leases.
Williams has groomed many of today’s top dealmakers. Alumni include JLL president Peter Riguardi, Newmark Knight Frank’s Neil Goldmacher and David Falk, Brad Gerla of CBRE and L&L Development Company co-founder David Levinson.
Hiten Samtani contributed reporting.