He sold the Willis Tower and the GM Building. But can Doug Harmon sell the Mountain?

NYC-based agent tapped to sell 157 acres of land in Beverly Hills specializes in record-breaking office deals

TRD LOS ANGELES /
May.May 06, 2020 03:24 PM
Doug Harmon, Chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, and the Mountain of Beverly Hills (Credit: Cushman & Wakefield)
Doug Harmon, Chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, and the Mountain of Beverly Hills (Credit: Cushman & Wakefield)

Top New York City investment-sales broker Doug Harmon snagged himself an assignment unlike any he’s had before — selling a 157-acre hilltop perch in Beverly Hills.

The owner of the so-called Mountain of Beverly Hills, has brought in Harmon and his team at Cushman & Wakefield to sell the property, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Harmon has sold some of the biggest office properties in the country, including the General Motors building in Manhattan and the Willis Tower in Chicago, but his experience does not extend to ultra-pricey Los Angeles residential properties.

But Harmon said it was his commercial experience that got him the job — his extensive Rolodex includes high-net-worth investors across the world.

“We call them ‘inst-ividuals,’” Harmon told the Journal. “They’re families but they’re like institutions and they operate like sovereign-wealth funds.”

The current owners, a trust controlled by the family of late Herbalife founder Mark Hughes, bought the property for $100,000 — plus $200 million in debt — at an auction last year. At one point, the property was listed for $1 billion. Several top residential agents in Los Angeles have been tapped to sell the property since it hit the market in mid-2018, but questions over title and legal issues have complicated matters.

The auction sale last August resolved at least some of the ownership and legal issues plaguing the property up to that point, and Harmon told the Journal that he believes most hurdles are out of the way.

Harmon, who has burnished a reputation as a tireless dealmaker with a frenetic personality, made a name for himself in the 1990s as the top broker at boutique firm Eastdil Secured. He famously unloaded the $5 billion, 125-building commercial and residential portfolio of Leona Helmsley in the late 1990s. And for the next two decades, Eastdil Secured was a dominant presence in investment sales. The capstone came in 2015, when Harmon and partner Adam Spies brokered the record-breaking sale of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village to Blackstone Group and Ivanhoe Cambridge for $5.3 billion.

After 23 years at the brokerage, he and his team decamped for Cushman in 2016. With the top brokers in the fold, Cushman led the pack in The Real Deal‘s March 2020 ranking of investment sales firms in New York City, with $10.9 billion in closed sales.

Harmon is based in New York, but the team at Cushman includes L.A.’s Marc Renard, an executive with the firm’s global capital markets group.

At least one person isn’t convinced the Cushman team is right for the job — former Mountain listing agent Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland.

“What’s this guy going to do every time someone wants to see the property? Fly back from New York? It doesn’t make sense,” he told the Journal. [WSJ]Dennis Lynch


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