When Daun Paris and Peter Hauspurg closed their company Eastern Consolidated this summer, some in the real estate industry figured they would decide to retire. Instead, they’re taking on a pair of new roles at ABS Partners Real Estate.
“We weren’t focused on that. We weren’t,” Paris said, referring to retirement. “We weren’t interested in running a brokerage anymore. We needed some freedom.”
Paris will work as a senior member at the company, while Hauspurg’s will be co-managing partner. Former Eastern CEO Peter Takiff has also joined to work on acquisitions alongside the two.
Sources in the industry had mixed reactions to the pair resurfacing at ABS, with some surprised by the move and others describing it as a good fit. Ron Solarz, who used to work at Eastern but has since joined Newmark Knight Frank, said switching to the investing side of the industry was a natural move for them.
“They’re tremendously successful people,” he said. “This is the next logical step, or the next logical chapter, in their careers.”
Steven Hornstock — who co-founded ABS with Earle S. Altman, Peter Burack and Gregg Schenker in 2000 — said he has known Hauspurg for more than 30 years. The former Eastern heads initially approached ABS after they announced that the firm would shut down to inquire about possible job opportunities for some of their brokers, which eventually parlayed into talks about what they themselves planned to do.
“Peter and Daun did a little lead work for them because they were concerned. They wanted the brokers to end up in as good a spot as they could,” Hornstock said, “so it was just an evolution of all that.”
But the overarching goal of bringing the two on on is to increase the amount of acquisitions ABS does, according to Hornstock. Overall, the company’s portfolio includes more than 96 properties — 52 of which are in Manhattan — across 13.25 million square feet and 10 states.
Most recently, in February, ABS signed a $175 million 99-year ground lease for a pair of Marble Hill commercial properties at 5500 Broadway and 2900 Exterior Street, and the company also recently acquired a 50 percent interest in a portfolio of six research and development properties in Princeton, New Jersey. And The Real Deal recently ranked them as Manhattan’s No. 10 leasing brokerage by deal volume in 2017 with 78 deals across 398,000 square feet.
“We’re going to collaborate. We’re going to try to source, if we can, off-market deals or deals that are being brought to the market,” Hornstock said. “And we’re going to use Peter’s and Daun’s resources as well as ours.”
The way deals are done at ABS are slightly different than at a typical firm. Partners at ABS take ownership stakes themselves in properties that the firm buys, and this structure will likely continue with properties Hauspurg and Paris find. Hauspurg said he and Paris would put “significant equity” into the company themselves but also work with ABS’ partners to contribute.
“We’ll be putting equity into the deals on a deal by deal basis, which is how they do it at ABS,” he said. “It’s a vertically integrated platform, which is attractive to us, meaning they can acquire it, they can finance it, they can manage it, they can lease it, all the way through the food chain.”
Hauspurg said that a typical transaction they would look to do is buy partners out of deals in which the general partner might not want to sell. And Paris stressed that they would not focus on any specific neighborhood or asset class.
“Hopefully we’ll source some ideas, and these guys will either decide to sign on, or we just will pass on the deal,” Hauspurg said, “but we don’t expect to do anything ourselves.”
Most recently at Eastern, Hauspurg led a team that was marketing a six-parcel development site along the Williamsburg waterfront. And in 2017, he and a team represented investor Susan Carmel Lehrman in the $80 million sale of an Upper West Side assemblage to Gary Barnett.
Despite its size, Hauspurg still described ABS as relatively under the radar.
“They’ve been buying very conservatively,” he said. “Never using large leverage, always owning for the long term, so it sort of fits with what our philosophy is as well.”
Eastern Consolidated had closed 47 commercial sales worth $622.4 million in 2017, down 60 percent from the year before. Competitors like Meridian Capital Group brought over its top agents like David Schechtman, Abie Kassin and Lipa Lieberman in 2015.
Several competing firms have already snatched up some of Eastern’s former top brokers. Brian Ezratty is with Solarz at Newmark; Adelaide Polsinelli and her team have joined Compass; and Mark Schnurman will head up sales at Eastern Union.
Paris said she was excited to get away from dealing with management concerns and pay more attention to making acquisitions.
“Now that we don’t have to focus on running a big brokerage, we can focus on buying deals,” she said, “which is what we enjoy doing.”
Hornstock emphasized that their work at ABS would likely be less stressful than their work running their own company.
“They were always busy running a 100-plus person firm, which is impossible on the best day because we have a bit of that, and it’s time consuming,” he said. “Brokers are great, but they’re very needy.”