More firms compete for top NYC commercial spot

In the midst of several Cushman & Wakefield defections to commercial brokerages setting up shop here in New York, the market is beginning to look more competitive, Crain’s reported. The trend is a product of firms pursuing deals in New York City, where the real estate market remains far more active than it is in much of the rest of the country.

First, there’s Arthur Mirante, former CEO of Cushman & Wakefield, who is now heading the New York office of Avison Young. He serves as Avison’s tristate president and aims to make Avison one of the top five brokerages in Manhattan in the coming years by luring talent and enhancing marketing and research. Joseph Harbert, Cushman’s former COO who is now the president of Colliers International, has similar goals to compete with Cushman for a place among the top commercial brokerages. Now, BGC Partners is also in the game, hoping to change the industry by integrating Wall Street finance.

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However, many in the industry remain skeptical. “Hiring one or two people doesn’t create a platform,” said James Underhill, CEO of the Americas at Cushman. “These firms are going to have huge challenges in trying to establish themselves.”

Despite the defections, Cushman added 1,900 jobs worldwide in 2011 and has no debt, according to Crain’s. But as The Real Deal previously reported, Cushman posted a loss in the first quarter of this year. [Crain’s]