Cleveland native Jim Gricar, president of Halstead Property, moved to New York as an actor in 1989. He appeared on Broadway, including in “Sweeney Todd” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” But he eventually tired of the nonstop work and wanted to “feel tangible success.” He became a broker with the Corcoran Group in 1998. His network of friends didn’t do much to jumpstart his new career. “My friends were all actors who couldn’t afford cabs, let alone apartments,” he said. A few years later, founder Barbara Corcoran asked Gricar to try management. At first he resisted. “Barbara said, ‘You’re a very good sales agent, but you’ll never be at the utter top of the pile … [but] you would be an exceptional sales manager.’” In 2000, he became associate managing director in the firm’s Madison Avenue headquarters. In six months, he was running their Downtown operations. In 2004, he jumped to Brown Harris Stevens, where he opened operations focusing on the burgeoning West Side condo market, and saw the firm jump to 80 agents from 40. His West Side experience gave him a jump on the expanding condominium market there, and his team handled a number of deals at the Zeckendorfs’ 15 Central Park West, including the penthouse sale to former Citigroup chairman Sandy Weill. In 2011, Gricar became president at Halstead, and since then, the number of brokers there rose to 1,200 from 900. Last month, Gricar showed The Real Deal around his Midtown office.
“Jesus Christ Superstar”
Before making the leap to real estate, Gricar spent a year on the road with a national Broadway tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He played a number of different roles in the production, including Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas and “the third apostle from the left.” For the duration of the show, he was held to a no-haircut clause, which by the end of the run left him with a shoulder blade-length mane.
Gricar added a model Eiffel Tower to his office coffee table after his first trip to Paris in 2004. “After the whole ‘freedom fries’ thing, when everyone was mad at the French, I had the exact opposite reaction and became a Francophile,” he said.
The lamp on Gricar’s desk is a reproduction of a lamp from the 1960s that his father, who was president of sales for a heating and cooling company, had in his office. “I used to love to go to my dad’s office when I was a kid,” Gricar said. “He was kind of a hipster — he had modern furniture and a Flokati rug. I just thought it was magical.” Gricar never uses overhead lighting, which he considers “severe.”
Gricar is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and often hands out small booklet copies of the U.S. Constitution. He views the document as a guide to fairness and fair play, he said. “I just like what it says.”
Gricar’s office is never without a tall jar of Skittles. “I’m addicted,” he said.
Hot Wheels car
Gricar loved Hot Wheels cars as a kid. The 1967 Dodge Challenger was a favorite. When the car was reissued in 2008 in the original orange color, he bought the real thing, too.
1959 executive chair
The chair behind Gricar’s desk is a reproduction of the 1959 Eames Executive Chair, which was designed specifically for the Time Life building in New York. He also has an original Florence Knoll sofa, which he admits is “a little lumpy, but you know, it’s 50 years old.”
Chinese fu dog
Gricar picked up this porcelain Chinese fu dog figurine and leather gorilla at a flea market. The gorilla on his coffee table is actually meant to be used as a doorstop, but one of his three dogs — an Australian cattle dog — kept picking it up and carrying it around.
Gricar purchased this Buddha sculpture at a tag sale in Connecticut. The figurine, he said, exhibits the peace and calm he strives to project in his 499 Park Avenue office. It also connects to yoga, which he began five years ago, after “30 years of going to the gym and hating every minute of it.”