When not on the road dashing the tournament hopes of lacrosse opponents, Mr. Gerla lives in Westport, Conn. He has two daughters and a son (who also played lacrosse). His son is a junior in the business school at Tulane. One daughter, 23, just graduated from Emory and is working as a paralegal and studying for the LSAT. His younger daughter is a senior in high school.
Then there are the two dogs, Vizlas, described in terms like “gorgeous” and “lean.”
“I grew up as a kid with a poodle and always just boring dogs—and these seemed so gorgeous and with so much energy,” he said, proudly. After admiring a friend’s Vizla, Mr. Gerla did some research into the breed. They’re Hungarian hunting dogs and were nearly eradicated on orders from Hitler.
Mr. Gerla has been at CBRE since it bought Insignia ESG in 2003 and became the country’s largest real estate services outfit. His recent deals include leases at 414 West 14th Street. Entertainment law firm Davis Shapiro Lewit & Hayes signed on for nearly 7,000 square feet there several weeks ago. Mr. Gerla represented the owners, the Carlyle Group and Capstone Equities. And along with colleague Adam Foster, Mr. Gerla was recently named the leasing agent for 111/115 Broadway.
He said he has seen a pickup in activity across all of the buildings he leases, and he met The Commercial Observer at 11 Madison because he had an afternoon meeting with building management. A subtenant there, Mr. Gerla declined to say who, is giving up two floors there in May of 2013 in a move that will add 250,000 square feet of space to the market.
The history of a building like 11 Madison, one of his favorites, is something that Mr. Gerla finds fascinating and useful.
“When you take on these iconic buildings, you learn the history,” he said. “I find that tenants and brokers are interested. It’s always something that they listen to and if you can just throw out a tidbit that maybe can relate to their business …”
Then the wheels start turning.
“Like 11 Madison was built by MetLife,” he offered. “If an insurance company was coming here this was the insurance building. This was MetLife’s headquarters. My point is that I enjoy that. I enjoy the history, I enjoy knowing, understanding the building, when it was built, how it was financed and I think that lends itself when you come to reposition buildings.”
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