The Lobby

CompStak Eyes Expansion, Hires Phillips from NGKF [Updated]


With a goal to expand into 12 additional markets this year, real estate startup CompStak has hired Andrew Phillips, formerly of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, as director of enterprise sales.

Mr. Phillips, who served as managing director with NGKF Capital Markets, has been tasked with expanding CompStak’s presence within the commercial real estate finance and investment communities. Read More

Power Broker

The Negotiator: Colliers International’s Howard Grufferman

Howard Grufferman_Fernando Pereira Gomes_2

In the late 1990s, international law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges was eyeing a reconfiguration of its office space at the General Motors Building. With a significant portion of the lease remaining, the building’s then-landlord, Corporate Property Investors, was not compelled to negotiate a new deal.

With the landlord’s unwillingness to negotiate in mind, Howard Grufferman—then with Studley, now vice chairman at Colliers International—took his client to the market. Weil Gotshal, which at the time did not have a primary reception floor, was looking for something different, and the firm looked “everywhere,” according to Mr. Grufferman. Read More

Legal Beat

Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn Approves Grubb & Ellis’ Liquidation Plan


United States Bankruptcy Court Judge Martin Glenn yesterday approved the Chapter 11 liquidation plan of Grubb & Ellis almost a year after BGC Partners closed on its acquisition of the firm’s assets. Law360 reports that the approval was given during a “quick, uncontested” confirmation hearing.

Judge Glenn presided over more protracted and contentious proceedings early last year in which attorneys representing a team of G&E brokers sought to make the sale of the bankrupt company contingent on the brokers’ ability to collect millions of dollars worth of commissions owed. He rejected the claim, likening the commissions to receivables owed to G&E that BGC had the right to acquire and dole out as it wished. Read More

The Lobby

Avison Young Continues Hiring Spree With Addition of John Ryan III


Industry veteran John Ryan III is the latest hire in Canadian real estate firm Avison Young’s mission to expand its footprint across New York City and the United States.

As Principal of the firm’s New York City office, Mr. Ryan will harness his 23 years of experience in tenant and landlord representation, providing brokerage services for key clients.

“I am thrilled by the opportunity to join Avison Young,” Mr. Ryan said, in a prepared statement.  “The positive trajectory of Avison Young’s growth nationally, as well as in the New York City market, where the firm has established a high-quality reputation in a relatively short period of time, has been very exciting to watch.” Read More

The Sit-Down

BGC Partners Chief Executive Officer Howard Lutnick on the Making of NGKF


In one of the biggest real estate stories to break this year, the commercial real estate company Grubb & Ellis filed for bankruptcy in February, listing $150 million in assets and $167 million in debts. The company agreed to sell nearly all of those debts to BGC Partners, the financial brokerage firm headed by Howard Lutnick that entered the real estate fray in 2011 with its acquisition of Newmark Knight Frank.

The melding of Grubb & Ellis’s broad array of corporate clients and financial services with Newmark’s strength in the New York market would create a formidable national powerhouse. But the merger was held up for longer than expected in U.S. Bankruptcy Court as Grubb & Ellis brokers fought against terms that they alleged used commissions owed as incentives to remain with the unified company.

BGC cleared these hurdles and closed on the acquisition in April, leading to the creation of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. The Commercial Observer spoke to Mr. Lutnick—the chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald before BGC broke away from it—about NGKF’s big first year, his love for and tussles with brokers, and his company’s future designs on commercial real estate. Read More

The Lobby

Avison Young Hires Newmark’s Michael Leff

Avison Young's newest principal, Michael A. Leff.

Canada-based real estate firm, Avison Young, continues its poaching expedition, announcing today that Michael A. Leff has been named principal and will operate, effective immediately, from the company’s New York office. Mr. Leff, formerly a senior managing director with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, will shoulder a number of responsibilities, including site selection, lease negotiation, strategic Read More

Power Broker

Brooklyn Buzz: From Spike Lee to Etsy, C&W’s Glenn Markman Has BK Down

Glenn Markman.

Glenn Markman first began to pay attention to Brooklyn long before there was a Barclays Center to crystallize the borough’s rise.

Like so many success stories in real estate, buying in early was key.

Having done deals in Brooklyn for 20 years, Mr. Markman by now is known as an expert in office leasing in the borough, though he is also prolific in Manhattan. From his résumé, there’s no mistaking his prominence as a Brooklyn dealmaker.

In 2008, he represented Spike Lee in finding a Dumbo office for the film director’s advertising company, Spike DDB.

Earlier this year, when the Brooklyn Nets decided to relocate the team’s executive offices from New Jersey to be closer to the new Barclays arena, Mr. Markman, who is a leasing executive at Cushman & Wakefield, led a C&W team that brought the Nets into 35,000 square feet at 15 MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn. Read More

The Lobby

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Appoints 5 to Landauer’s Executive Board

Robert Van Ancken

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank has appointed industry veterans Gerald Sanders and Lynda Gallagher, among others, to the executive board of Landauer Valuation & Advisory, a firm that the brokerage house picked up in its merger with Grubb & EllisThe Commercial Observer has learned.

Greg KendallDavid Wood, and Milton Chacon will be joining Robert Von Ancken on Landauer’s Valuation and Advisory executive board. Read More

Power Broker

Phoenix Rising: Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s Jeff Rosenblatt, Post Kent Swig

Jeff Rosenblatt.

It didn’t take long for Jeff Rosenblatt to sense something awry in the house of Kent Swig.

It was 2009 and Mr. Swig, at the time a large landlord in the city, had purchased the real estate services company Helmsley-Spear a year earlier. In the months after his big acquisition of the legendary brokerage firm, Mr. Swig had offered Mr. Rosenblatt a senior position managing its leasing operations. Read More

The Lobby

Howard Grufferman To Go To Colliers

Howard Grufferman (Photo Credit Reuters)

Howard Grufferman, a leasing executive formerly with Grubb & Ellis, is rumored to be in the final stages of talks to join Colliers International’s New York office several sources say.

Mr. Grufferman was regarded as one of Grubb & Ellis’s top New York brokers before the company entered bankruptcy earlier this year and was acquired by BGC Partners, which merged the firm with the real estate services company it purchased last year, Newmark Knight Frank, now known as Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. Read More

Power Broker

A Metric Mind: With Data Analysis the Norm, Winick Realty Looks to Kenneth Hochhauser for the “Secret Sauce”

Kenneth Hochhauser.

Years before Chipotle Mexican Grill became a calorie-packed part of Midtown’s daily diet, the burrito maker was mapping a path into the New York City marketplace.

In 2002, after launching in Washington D.C. and other suburban markets, Chipotle turned to Kenneth Hochhauser and Jeffrey Roseman, who subsequently turned to internal data accumulated by the former Newmark Knight Frank to determine an ideal location for Chipotle’s flagship store in New York City.

“They understood their business model, in that the bulk of their business came during lunch, so we focused on where the heaviest lunch concentration would have been,” recalled Mr. Hochhauser.

Now an executive vice president with the Winick Realty Group, Mr. Hochhauser, 45, recalled his days at Newmark Knight Frank pairing data with Chipotle’s own statistical analysis to determine where best to expand the brand. And considering his knowledge of Geographic Information Systems—a complicated theory used to better understand patterns and trends—Mr. Hochhauser found what he was looking for. Read More

Sales Beat

Former Williams Club Back On The Market Weeks After Being Sold

Williams Club

Only a few weeks after the former Williams Club was sold to investor Shlomo Bakhash, the 30,000-square-foot property is back on the market for sale.

Mr. Bakhash bought the building, located at 24 East 39th Street, for a little over $9 million in June and announced plans to convert it into an extended stay hotel that would cater to business travelers and executives seeking housing in the city for more than just a few nights. Read More

Uh Oh!

Sixth Avenue to Run Red with Vacancies

There will be blood II

Leasing has been off pace in the first half of the year and the slowdown hasn’t played out at the city’s fringes.

Sixth Avenue, one of the Midtown’s central corridors that is often referred to as Corporate Row because of the large, regal office buildings there and the avenue’s roster of Fortune 500 companies, appears poised to become flush with vacancies. Read More

Power Broker

The New Math: Michael Lehrman on his plan to introduce derivatives into New York City’s otherwise staid rental market.

Michael Lehrman.

Michael Lehrman thinks the commercial real estate services business is completely staid, calcified, old-fashioned.

He doesn’t use those words specifically. He’s a little more eloquent. He’s a Wall Street man now, and to him it’s practically laughable when major real estate services firms claim to be cutting edge when the heart of their analytical capacity is still rooted in the decades-old practice of collecting troves of market data and organizing them into endless charts in order to divine tomorrow’s market conditions. Read More

Power Broker

The Head Hunter: Avison Young’s Greg Kraut on the Art of the Big Poach

Greg Kraut.

At CBRE Greg Kraut always seemed to be cut from a different cloth.

The real estate services firm is the biggest in the world, and in Manhattan its brokers handle many of the city’s largest commercial leases—deals that are often hundreds of thousands of square feet in size. In his mid-30s at the time, Mr. Kraut wasn’t focused on becoming a master of the city’s dealmaking universe. He liked to work alone, and he dedicated his time to smaller and mid-size deals—anywhere from 5,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet or more—and churned out transactions with notable consistency.

His track record earned him a different kind of reputation. From the list of deals he amassed at CBRE, it was easy to tell he had an undeniable knack for connecting with start-up companies and smaller tenants who had blossoming space requirements.

At a firm widely considered the city’s epicenter of brokerage, Mr. Kraut had carved out a quiet niche for himself. By building a stable of clients and sticking with them over the long term as they expanded, Mr. Kraut seemed to have firmly embraced a patient approach to the business that, with a lot of luck and hard work, could have, one day, placed him near CBRE’s top executives.

As it turns out, however, Mr. Kraut isn’t patient at all. Read More