The Real Estate Board of New York handed out its annual retail deal of the year awards last night at Club 101 on Park Avenue. Fresh off its retail adventure at ICSC in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, The Commercial Observer was present to capture the cocktails, the awards ceremony and of course the night’s random chit chat.
6:05 – Cocktail hour has just begun and apparently no one thinks it fashionable to be late. Club 101 is packed. Eileen Spinola makes her way through the crowd at the front. “This is a great event,” she says. “It shows recognition to the retail brokers, an area of the business that for years I think was overlooked. They appreciate it, it’s a tough business.”
6:07 – Faith Hope Consolo, Prudential Douglas Elliman’s chief of retail walks in with brokerage partner Joe Acquino. Ms. Consolo is one of the retail executives up for consideration for the night’s awards. “I have never won,” the veteran retail broker tells an amazed CO. So I just keep coming back.”
6:08 – CBRE’s Amira Yunis arrives. Ms. Yunis is not up for an award but The CO tells her she’ll be a shoe-in for next year. After all, Ms. Yunis just joined CBRE, one of the city’s top brokerage firms. “You’re sweet!” she says.
6:10 – Sherri White, Vornado’s head retail leasing executive, is chatting with Cory Zelnik a retail broker who operates his own brokerage company. “My son’s school was having a picnic tonight and I had no idea how I was going to make it and then it rained and got cancelled so here I am,” she said.
6:20 – Andrew Goldberg, a retail executive at CBRE, strides in. Mr. Goldberg is not up for an award but seems energized. “The market is busy right now,” he says.
6:21 – Greg Kraut, chief executive of Avison Young’s New York branch, is mingling in the crowd with Jason Meister, a budding investment sales star who Mr. Kraut recently hired away from Grubb & Ellis. Though it has picked up several office leasing and sales brokers in recent weeks, Avison Young conspicously hasn’t yet made any retail hires. “Well let’s just say tonight is a good opportunity to meet some potential candidates,” the always-charming Mr. Kraut says with a wink.
6:30 – Chase Wells, a retail executive at Northwest Atlantic and chair of REBNY’s retail committee, surveys the thick crowd. “Retail has become more prominent and you have more people submitting deals for consideration,” he says, referring to the deep list of submissions this year. “We spent three hours choosing the winners, the most time we’ve ever spent.”
6:35 – Gene Spiegelman, a highly decorated retail executive at Cushman & Wakefield who has won the REBNY deal of the year award twice in the past muses on his chances for a third. His submission is an impressive one: Century 21’s 61,000 square foot lease at 1972 Broadway, which is one of the contest’s larger transactions. “The first time I won I had a feeling I’d get it,” Mr. Spiegelman said, referring to the Crate & Barrel deal he did in the early 2000s on Broadway just north of Houston Street. So does he have that same feeling tonight? “No,” Mr. Spiegelman responds.
6:40 – Chris Owles, a principal at the retail brokerage Sinvin Real Estate, chats with friends. “I’m not up for an award tonight but I thought I’d come out,” he says. “I never get out of the office this early so it’s a nice break.”
6:44 – Chase Wells takes the mic to start the awards ceremony. “It seems to me the crowd at this thing increases by 15 percent each year, kind of like the increases we put into a lease,” Mr. Wells begins.
6:46 – Brad Mendelson, a retail executive at Cushman & Wakefield and a candidate for an award, stands next to Suzy Reingold, a brokerage manager at C&W. “I thought we should have won last year,” Mr. Mendelson whispers to The CO as Mr. Wells speaks, referring to the blockbuster deal he submitted then, his masterful lease of a three-floor block of space at 666 Fifth Avenue to Uniqlo. “So I have no idea what my chances are.”
6:49 – Mr. Wells announces Key Food’s lease at 55 Fulton Street is the winner of the “Retail Deal Which Most Significantly Benefits the Manhattan Retail Market.” Scott Bloom, who operates his own brokerage Bloom Real Estate Group, is the broker.
6:51 – Mr. Wells announces that Mr. Mendelson and his brokerage partner Alan Schmerzler, both of C&W, are winners of “The Most Creative Deal in Manhattan” award for the transaction they arranged to lease the Times Square Theatre to a company called Broadway 4D. “This was a deal that kept dying then restarting for 10-years,” Mr. Wells said. Mr. Mendelson grabs the large framed award with a smile and declines Mr. Wells’ suggestion that he give a quick speech at the microphone. “I’ve had too much to drink,” Mr. Mendelson says.
6:55 – Mr. Mendelson is getting photos taken with the award. The CO approaches and asks if the victory makes amends for last year’s snub. “No,” Mr. Mendelson says. “I should have won both.”
7:00 – An excited Scott Bloom shakes Mr. Wells’ hand with a big smile. “This was a first for me,” Mr. Bloom tells The CO. “This is my first time submitting a deal, my first win, my first time meeting Chase Wells.” He’s not kidding, he asks Mr. Wells if he has a card. “No, I don’t,” Mr. Wells responds.
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