Massey Knakal broker launches Bronx/Northern Manhattan firm

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From left: David Simone, Marco Lala and Kenneth Krasnow

After nearly seven years in the Manhattan office of Massey Knakal Realty Services, David Simone said that he’s left the firm to start Yellow Brick Realty, which will focus exclusively on commercial sales in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan in the near-term.

During his tenure with Massey Knakal, and his two and a half years with Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services before that, Simone said he brokered more than 100 deals in the Bronx and believed the time had come for him to do something on his own and something specific to the Bronx and Upper Manhattan.

“I didn’t see other firms that were actually located in the Bronx or Upper Manhattan that concentrated on the two markets,” Simone said. “Someone who is actually in the marketplace and can go see a landlord and their building within a five- or 10-minute timeframe is valuable.”

Simone announced a $2.3 million (or $28 per buildable square foot) development deal for 88 residential units at 2264 Morris Avenue in the Fordham section of the Bronx with the opening of his firm. He said he may be close to a development deal on 161st Street off Eagle Avenue in the Melrose section of the Bronx, that has an asking price of $925,000.

Simone foresees Yellow Brick, based at 4419 Third Avenue Near 181st Street, eventually expanding into Brooklyn and Queens as it hires brokers to specialize in the area, but that’s still some time off. This year, Simone plans to add two-to-three more agents to a roster that currently includes just himself and two support staff members.

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While other Bronx brokers reached for comment couldn’t think of another major commercial or investment outfit actually based in the borough, there was some disagreement as to how much of a competitive advantage an office in that location actually offers.

“Physical location is one of many factors that may play into a firm’s success or lack of success, but there are so many other factors,” said Kenneth Krasnow, a managing director at Massey Knakal.

Paul Massey, CEO of the firm, directed inquiries to Krasnow, who wished Simone well but also noted that the firm “has had a tremendous amount of success in the Bronx, and expects to continue that, and we haven’t felt the need to establish an office up there.”

But Lazer Sternhell, a Bronx broker with Manhattan-based Cignature Realty Associates, said he thought “it was a good idea.”

And according to rival brokers, launching a real estate firm that specializes in the Bronx at this particular time, was an even better one.

Sternhell with Cignature Realty said the market has picked up considerably as of late and that he expects it to continue to 2011. Marco Lala, a vice president at Marcus & Millichap who specializes in the Bronx market, also said he’s seen some renewed life in the borough.

“Now might be an opportune time,” he said. “You don’t necessarily want to enter at the top or bottom of the market, but… right now it appears to be at an uptick.”