The Landlord Rep
Jotham Sederstrom Feb. 15, 2010, 3:10 p.m.
By his own estimation, Peter Turchin has shuffled little more than a modest 40 feet since joining CB Richard Ellis as a new broker some 16 years ago.
But by inching across the hall from the firm’s 30-member consulting group on the 18th floor of the MetLife Building to its far more exclusive agency group, Mr. Turchin has taken a giant leap into what he and his colleagues describe as a landlord-focused enclave unique among the city’s constantly shifting commercial realty landscape.
Indeed, while other brokers-and the occasional landlord-centered team at rival real estate firms-merely dip their toes in the water, Mr. Turchin and eight of his agency group colleagues routinely handle an estimated 50 percent of the city’s third-party transactions. Depending on whom you ask, it’s the only group plumbing such depths in the landlord representation game.
“A lot of people, when they do agencies, they whip out their agency book and say, ‘O.K., do a flier, do an ad and do this and do that,’ said Mr. Turchin, 41, who was named an executive vice president at CBRE in 2007. “We don’t do that. We don’t whip out the playbook and say here’s our process. We spend a lot more time looking at the space and the asset and trying to figure out a different way to market the space. That’s why we’re different.”
Since 2003, Mr. Turchin has leased more than 1 million square feet annually on behalf of landlords as varied as Boston Properties, Forest City Ratner, SL Green and Investcorp, for which the broker recently inked four tenant deals totaling 30,313 square feet at 280 Park Avenue. Those transactions, all finalized within the past six months, are with Viking Global, financial services firm PCCP, hedge fund XL and PEFCO, Mr. Turchin said.
Among the eight properties he is currently responsible for is the 23-story building at 101 Avenue of the Americas, near where Hudson Square and Tribeca connect. Built for, and fully occupied by, 32BJ, the city’s largest labor union, the 430,000-square-foot building is now being re-envisioned as a multi-tenant commercial property. It’s no small feat. Mr. Turchin and his colleagues are meeting with architects to discuss lobby reconfigurations and other ambitious repositioning ideas in an eventual bid to grab the hearts and minds of prospective new tenants.
“For me, that’s an interesting project, because if I say 101 Avenue of the Americas, nobody knows it,” said Mr. Turchin of the 19-year-old, glass-facade building. “If I showed you a picture, you’d say, ‘I know that building,’ but nobody really thinks about it. So for me, it’s a great opportunity because we’re going to tell the story of that building.”
Repositioning, Mr. Turchin said, is a large part of his strategy as a member of the agency group, which was originally spearheaded by Mitch Rudin-now president and chief executive of CBRE’s tristate region-in the early ’90s after the firm identified a gap that needed to be filled in landlord-side representation.
“To take a building and market it-just to do the standard-a lot of people can do that, and then it’s just a question of who has better information,” said Mr. Turchin of the agency group’s strong suit. “But the right thing that occurs in a building is when you reposition it correctly. If you get it positioned correctly, the rest of the leasing work gets much easier.”
DESPITE MR. TURCHIN’S formidable real estate lineage-he’s the youngest son of retired ESG vice chairman Martin Turchin, an industry legend known for having an expertise in everything from building systems to financial structuring-the senior Turchin’s Great Neck-raised spawn began his career as the manager of a T-shirt factory in Worcester, Mass., where he was attending law school at Clark University.
“It drives me nuts because I can’t buy a T-shirt anywhere without instantly noticing if it’s off by a little bit or somebody messed up on the silk screening,” laughed Mr. Turchin, who cops to a sizable T-shirt collection.
His fashion career, however, veered wildly but briefly into a legal profession that began at the law firm Robinson Silverman. It ended there, too, after he decided to enter his father’s world of real estate only several months after being hired. “I figured it out quickly,” Mr. Turchin said of his career realignment.
His brief legal run wasn’t a complete bust, however. It was while working at the firm that he met future wife Judy, who was also a young lawyer there. They have two boys-Grant, 6, and Clark, 3-and are approaching their 10-year anniversary, Mr. Turchin said.
Now living on the Upper East Side, Mr. Turchin said that his professional life has occasionally tangled with that of his wife, who, unlike her husband, remains fully entrenched in the legal industry, where she serves as general counsel of Lehman Private Equity.
That harmless entanglement was never more evident than in early 2009, when Mr. Turchin was tapped to lease a 400,000-square-feet block of 399 Park Avenue that had just been vacated by Lehman Brothers following the investment behemoth’s well-documented collapse.
“Believe it or not, not only did my wife work at Lehman, but I was actually touring space that my wife was in, post-bankruptcy,” Mr. Turchin recalled, laughing. “So I was doing space tours, and I was actually touring the space with potential tenants, and my wife was in the space. So, like, I’d walk by, say hello or make a joke. … Yeah.”
Awkward moments aside, Mr. Turchin successfully leased space to three midsize financial services tenants and one real estate competitor-Moelis, CV Star, Avenue Capital and brokerage Studley-over the course of just four months between June and October of last year.
“Our campaign was focused much more on smaller, single-floor tenants,” Mr. Turchin said of the whirlwind leasing bonanza. “We were actually able to build a lot of momentum. You’ll find that buildings either have momentum or they don’t have momentum. This one did, and, obviously, that’s what we look for in all of the buildings we represent.”
Spoken like a true landlord rep.