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

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