More national brands launch NYC commercial shops, but breaking into the upper reaches of the sector can still be a pipe dream
(Illustration by Dean Rohrer)
UPDATED, March 19, 2:33 p.m.: Winning the assignment to lease up a trophy Midtown building is a brass ring for any brokerage. Not only can it generate millions of dollars in commissions, but it also serves as a towering billboard announcing a firm’s place in the upper echelons of the commercial world.
Last year, HNA Group was dangling one of those trophies: 245 Park Avenue, which it had recently purchased for $2.2 billion.
The commercial industry’s Big 3 — CBRE, Cushman Wakefield and JLL — were all invited to pitch the Chinese conglomerate. But another, more under-the-radar firm was also in the mix: Avison Young, the Canadian firm that’s been trying to muscle its way up New York’s brokerage food chain since launching in New York seven years ago.
“We were at the table pitching that,” said Mitti Liebersohn, president and managing director of Avison’s local office.
While HNA never selected a firm in 2017 (it is now once again looking to sell the tower under pressure from the Chinese government), for Avison, getting the invite was significant — a sign of the inroads it’s made here, even if it has yet to break into the top ranks of the brokerage world. And, perhaps more importantly, the firm is not alone in its quest to make a name for itself in New York.
In the years since the Great Recession, at least six brokerages with strong track records in other parts of the country — from Hodges Ward Elliott to 阿爱上海同城 Transwestern to Berkshire Hathaway — have launched in New York, with varying degrees of success.
But getting a piece of the pie here is easier said than done: Competition is fierce, and the landscape is dominated by a few major firms.
Eastern Consolidated’s James Famularo put it bluntly: “If you’re relevant somewhere else, i上海千花网交友 t doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be relevant here in Manhattan.”
“It takes years to establish a name here, and unless somebody has the bandwidth to actually spend a lot of money for a really long time, they’re not going to get market share,” he added.
Joe Harbert, president of Colliers International’s New York office, echoed that point. “There’s a limited amount of capital and a limited number of people who have it,” he said. “There’s probably only ever going to be five or six or seven teams of any substance, even in a market like New York.”
Foot in the door
Hodges Ward Elliott, which is based in Atlanta, took the plunge into the New York investment sales sector in 2015.
The company has long been a major player on the hotel brokerage scene both nationally and in New York. It 2015, for example, it brokered the $805 million mega-sale of the 899-room Lotte New York Palace at 455 Madison Avenue.
But the three-year-old New York operation is attempting to go beyond the hospitality niche.
Will Silverman, who left Savills Studley to launch the firm’s investment sales practice h[……]