In a tumultuous year for New York’s retail market, a few glimmers of hope pierced the malaise. Thursday evening, the Real Estate Board of New York highlighted those silver linings at its annual Retail Deal of the Year awards.
CBRE’s Eric Gelber, Jordan Kaplan, Gary Trock and Zach Parisi took home the award for Most Ingenious Retail Deal of the Year. Last August, the team secured a 16,500 square foot lease for the restaurant Avra Estiatorio at 1271 Avenue of Americas.
“This has been the most challenging year of my career, and I’m sure all of ours,” said Gelber in his acceptance speech.
Gelber and Kaplan repped the landlord, Rockefeller Group, while Trock and Parisi handled negotiations for Avra. It was New York’s largest restaurant deal during the pandemic, according to REBNY, though the exact length of the long-term lease is unknown. It will be the upscale Greek eatery’s third Midtown location when it opens this fall.
The agreement capped off a multi-year, $325 million renovation of the tower, initiated when anchor tenant Time, Inc. left the building to move downtown in 2015.
The CBRE team shared the spotlight with Matthew Leon of Newmark, who won Most Impactful Retail Deal of the Year. In past years, the award has honored the biggest deal, but this year, REBNY said the judges focused instead on the most meaningful transaction to the city’s overall retail market.
Leon was recognized for finding an off-market, landmarked space for French art exhibitor Culturespaces and British marketing firm IMG to create an immersive, wall-to-wall projected show. The deal represents a “resurrection for the New York City’s [sic] art and cultural scene,” wrote Newmark.
Culturespaces currently operates seven immersive art halls around the world. The exhibitions, which project works by famous artists across the floor and walls of their cavernous spaces, require high ceilings and expansive floor plates.
“When IMG and Culturespaces approached us, it was daunting,” said Leon. On top of the clients’ technical requirements, they needed an aesthetically unique and easily accessible location. Leon and his team honed in on the former Emigrant Savings Bank in Tribeca, whose upper floors are currently being converted into condos by the Chetrit Group.
The deal gives Culturespaces 30,000 square feet across two floors at the landmarked building. Leon said he and his team worked extensively with the City Landmarks Preservation Commission and third-party specialists throughout the process.
“The fact that we had such a strong showing of Submitting Brokers participating in this year’s Retail Deal of the Year Awards contest underscores how our industry buckled down and persevered against all odds to keep the City’s economic engine running,” said REBNY president James Whelan.
Steve Soutendijk of Cushman & Wakefield hosted the event, which was held virtually for the second year in a row. Portions of the proceeds went to Creative Art Works, a local nonprofit that provides art programming and jobs for young New Yorkers.