Inside the fight for Manhattan’s most valuable new development exclusives
TRD takes a look at which firms scored the biggest projects and why
Condominium construction hit record highs in Manhattan over the past year, with hundreds of new high-end homes rising across the borough. With luxury condo inventory at an all-time high, developers need top broker talent to help sell all these pricey residences, and brokerages are fighting more fiercely than ever to go home with the spoils.
So, which new development marketing firms are talking the best game and scoring the biggest projects?
To answer that question, The Real Deal took a look at all Manhattan condominium offering plans approved by the New York Attorney General from January 2015 through the end of February 2016, weeding out all projects with sellouts of less than $25 million. We then matched those projects with the firms that have been tapped to market them. (Those projects for which the sales team has not yet been announced were omitted.)
Read on for a closer look at which firms scored which projects and why.
1. The Corcoran Group — $11.37B
The Corcoran Group, long at the top of the new development marketing heap through its Corcoran Sunshine arm, still reigns supreme when it comes to scoring new business, despite increased competition from rivals Douglas Elliman and Compass. The company, both directly and indirectly under the Corcoran Sunshine umbrella, has exclusives on $11.37 billion worth of new development inventory as approved by the AG since January 2015, TRD‘s data show. Its biggest projects include Vornado Realty Trust’s 220 Central Park South, arguably the hottest new development in town with a projected total sellout of $3.1 billion, and 53W53, the Jean Nouvel-designed MoMA tower, with a projected sellout of $2.1 billion. Corcoran Sunshine president Kelly Kennedy Mack’s marketing strategy has been to use dedicated in-house sales teams rather than relying on big name resale brokers à la Elliman.
Key clients: JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, the Related Cos., Hines, Vornado
Top projects: 220 Central Park South, 53W53, 111 West 57th Street, One West End Avenue, 70 Vestry, 520 West 28th Street
2. Douglas Elliman — $6.24B
On Corcoran Sunshine’s tail is Elliman, with $6.24 billion in inventory signed since January 2015. The company, whose new development arm is headed by Related alumnus Susan de França, has been on a dedicated mission to bulk up its new development presence since de França joined the firm in 2012. Key to Elliman’s success has been chair Howard Lorber’s willingness to invest in projects the firm is marketing through his real estate investment firm Vector Group, a publicly-traded company best known for its association with tobacco giant the Liggett Group. That undoubtedly played a role in helping win Elliman one of its biggest assignments, 111 Murray Street, a Tribeca condo with a $1.05 billion total sellout that Lorber is developing with Witkoff and Fisher Brothers. But the firm’s biggest project is the $1.9 billion sellout of 550 Madison Avenue, the condos coming to the former Sony Building, on behalf of the Chetrit Group.
Key clients: Witkoff, the Chetrit Group
3. Compass — $1.53B
Aggressive upstart Compass has quickly made a name for itself in the new development marketing arena, thanks in part to its relationship with RFR Holding chief Aby Rosen. The firm, which has exclusives on $1.53 billion worth of the new development inventory surveyed by TRD, also recently tapped new development expert Louise Sunshine as a consultant. Rosen has awarded Compass its largest new development project, his Foster + Partners-designed tower rising behind the Seagram Building at 100 East 53rd Street, which accounts for $867.85 million of Compass’ current pipeline. The firm’s other exclusives include the conversion of the United Charities office building at 287 Park Avenue South, which has a total projected sellout of $300.22 million.
Key clients: RFR Holding
4. Stribling — $1.4B
White-glove firm Stribling, headed by Elizabeth Stribling, has been quietly upping its stake of Manhattan’s new development pipeline, with a total $1.4 billion in exclusives. Its share of the market is thanks in large part to its longstanding relationship with the Naftali Group, which tapped the firm as the exclusive agent for its projects at 275 West 10th Street and 221 West 77th Street. Those buildings account for $377.55 million and $202.28 million in total sell out, respectively. Alexa Lambert, a top agent at the firm, has worked with Naftali for over a decade. The firm is also marketing 45 Park Place, the Lower Manhattan condominium with a projected sellout of $391.9 million, on behalf of developer Sharif El-Gamal.
Key clients: Naftali Group
Top projects: 360 Central Park West, 221 West 77th Street, 275 West 10th Street
5. Town Residential– $798.25M
The majority of Town Residential’s stake in the new development market comprises projects developed by its co-owner, Joseph Sitt of Thor Equities. Town, headed by Andrew Heiberger, is marketing a condo conversion at 212 Fifth Avenue, which has a projected sellout of $431.76 million and is developed by a partnership of Thor, Madison Equities and Building and Land Technology, according to the offering plan. Its Other Projects Include 52 Wooster Street, a boutique building developed by Continental Ventures, which has a total projected sellout of $36.45 million, and Circa, a 38-unit building by Artimus Construction at 285 West 110thStreet, which has a total sellout of $141.34 million. Former Brown Harris Stevens managing director Shlomi Reuveni joined Town as managing director of new development in 2014.
Key clients: Thor Equities
Top projects: 212 Fifth Avenue, 285 West 110th Street, 300 West 122nd Street
6. Keller Williams NYC — $455.45M
It’s not traditionally seen as a major player in the new development sphere but the New York arm of Keller Williams actually scored $455.45 million in exclusives in the last 14 months, according to TRD’s count. Its stake in the market is largely due to its exclusive agreement to market 172 Madison Avenue, developer Yitzchak Tessler’s 31-story Midtown condo tower, which has a total projected sellout of $303.6 million. The firm certainly has an in with that developer. Keller Williams broker Efraim Tessler is Yitzchak’s son.
Key Clients: Tessler Developments
Top projects: 172 Madison Avenue
7. Brown Harris Stevens — $330.98M
Brown Harris’ new development marketing arm has locked in $330.98 million worth of exclusives since January of 2015. A large chunk of that can be attributed to its deal to market the AKA Sutton Place condos at 330 East 56th Street, which has a projected sellout of $166.58 million. It’s also marketing $125.06 million worth of residences at 101 West 78th Street, a conversion by GTIS Partners. But it hasn’t all been rosy for the firm. BHS lost a high-profile assignment to head sales at 118 East 59th Street, a 40-unit Midtown tower by Chinese firm Euro Properties, which has a projected sellout of $263.85 million. (Another firm has not yet been tapped to lead sales there.)
Key clients: GTIS, Korman Communities
Top projects: 330 East 56th Street, 101 West 78th Street
8. Marketing Directors — $259.48M
The Marketing Directors, led by Jacqueline Urgo and Adrienne Albert, has largely been focused on New Jersey in recent months, where it’s marketing the state’s tallest residential tower. But it did manage to rack up one high-profile Manhattan development in the form of 12 East 88th Street. The project, developed by Simon Baron Development, has a projected sellout of $259.48 million.
Key clients: Simon Baron
Top projects: 12 East 88th Street
9. CORE — $164.12M
Boutique firm CORE, long a powerful player in new development having marketed projects such as Walker Tower, has secured two assignments since last January of the AG-approved projects, including the Flynn, a 30-unit building by Izhaki Group Investments in Chelsea, and Prince, a seven-unit condo conversion by Time Equities in Nolita. Those projects have total combined sellout of $164.12 million. The lull in new activity follows a 2014 deal to sell a stake in CORE to Related, one of the city’s biggest developers.
Key clients: Izhaki Group Investments, Time Equities
Top projects: The Flynn, Prince
10. Halstead — $144.83M
Halstead’s new development marketing business, which has more recently scored several Brooklyn sales projects, has scored $144.83 million in new Manhattan exclusives since the beginning of last year, $63.31 million of which can be attributed to the 30-unit Sorting House condominium in Hell’s Kitchen, which it’s marketing on behalf of Cadence Property Group. Halstead executives noted that the firm has several new buildings on the cusp of getting approved, including The Haswell condominium at 707 West End Avenue.
Key Clients: Cadence Property Group, Megalith Capital Management
Top projects: Sorting House, Aurum at 2231 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
11. Nest Seekers International — $138.64M
Nest Seekers International has nabbed several new development projects over the past year, thanks entirely to its star agent, Ryan Serhant. The “Million Dollar Listing New York” star inked exclusives to market several boutique developments, including Magnum Real Estate Group’s 100 Avenue A, which has a total sellout of $59.19 million, and Tribeca’s 56 Walker Street, which has a total sellout of $42.6 million. The latter was formerly marketed by Fredrik Eklund of Douglas Elliman.
Key clients: Magnum Real Estate Group
Top projects: 100 Avenue A, 56 Walker
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, The Real Deal incorrectly identified the president of the Marketing Directors. She is Jacqueline Urgo.