Power Broker

Power Broker

Doing Well by Doing Good


Heidi Burkhart, president of Dane Professional Consulting Group, asks her staff to handwrite and mail three “thank you” letters each week.

The old-school approach is the key to the trust she earns from her clients in the affordable housing sector, allowing her to skip over heavy paperwork that needlessly complicates deals and focus instead on Read More

Power Broker

The Trophy Agent: RFR’s Steve Morrows

Credit: Fernando Pereira Gomes

Ten months ago, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, one of the world’s oldest private equity firms, was looking to expand its space at the Seagram Building. Having spent a number of years occupying the entire 18th floor of the iconic building and a portion of the floor above, the firm was on the prowl to take the entire 19th floor.

With four additional tenants sharing space on the floor, complicated negotiations were imminent. Steve Morrows, executive vice president and director of leasing at owner RFR Realty, began devising a solution with his leasing team. The answer involved two lease terminations and two relocations within the building—all at the same time. Read More

Power Broker

SL Green’s Ed Piccinich on His Renewed Lease on Life

Credit: Fernando Pereira Gomes

Ed Piccinich was 90 feet away from the bomb that rocked the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993.

“Everyone who perished that day worked down the hall from me,” he said in a phone interview. “That day gave me my second lease on life.”

At the time, Mr. Piccinich, now 51 and the executive vice president of property management and construction at SL Green, worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. During the last four of his 10 years there, he managed the  nearly 15-million-square-foot WTC site. Read More

Power Broker

Jack Terzi of JTRE on Growing, Organically

Photo by Amanda Cohen

Shortly after launching his eponymously named real estate business, Jack Terzi was approached by Apogee, a thrift store chain that operated 18 branches in Minnesota and Maryland, about opening in New York and New Jersey, which, compared with the chain’s traditional markets, were a “totally different animal.”

To facilitate the process, JTRE conducted traffic reports and demographic studies to identify the right markets to pinpoint across the region.

“We explained to them, go to Fulton Street in Brooklyn and pay the big rent,” said Mr. Terzi, chief executive officer of Jack Terzi Real Estate. “Pay over $1 million in rent, because you’re going to make three times as much as you did outside [New York].” 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

Power Broker

Engineering Success: David Cooper on the Future of the WSP Group

David Cooper

When the U.S. branch of London-based engineering consultancy WSP Group was charged by Forest City Ratner Companies and the New York Times with the task of designing the core and shell, as well as the interior, of the Grey Lady’s new headquarters on Eighth Avenue, the team faced a coterie of challenges presented by the advanced technologies required to meet the developers’ sustainability and efficiency demands.

The WSP team, led by president David Cooper, was ready for the task. Read More

Power Broker

The Rabbi of Realty: Lipa Lieberman of Eastern Consolidated on Balancing Religion with Real Estate

Lipa Lieberman (Photo: Darcy Rogers)

Growing up in the Hasidic community of Midwood, Brooklyn, Lipa Lieberman noticed early on that his most successful neighbors owned real estate.

“Real estate was always in the back of my mind,” said Mr. Lieberman, 33, a senior director at Eastern Consolidated. But before he entered the industry, Mr. Lieberman earned a bachelor’s degree in Jewish studies at Rabbinical College of America and attended the Central Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch, where he was ordained as a rabbi.

“You’re ordained because you study Jewish law in college and then take the rabbinical equivalent of the bar exam,” Mr. Lieberman said. “You don’t necessarily do it to practice in a synagogue.” Although he never led a congregation, Mr. Lieberman’s religious background—he’s a member of the Chabad sect and spent time abroad at a Chabad center in Venice, Italy—did inform his secular career choice. Read More

Power Broker

Retail Comes to Murray Hill Properties

Barrett Friedman, Mael Mitterrand, Christine Emery, Yair Staav

David Greene had retail brokerage on his mind, and he didn’t want a lone wolf.

Mr. Greene, the president of brokerage services at Murray Hill Properties, was assembling a retail team at the firm, which had gone without one for nearly four years.

He was drawn to Christine Emery and Yair Staav, who had formed a partnership at The Lansco Corporation in 1999 and proceeded to build the New York presences of tenants including Uniqlo, Hermès and La Maison du Chocolat. A long courtship followed and has now culminated in Emery-Staav Retail at MHP. Read More

Power Broker

The Grocer’s Daughter: Winick Realty’s Lori Shabtai on Manhattan’s Evolving Retail Landscape

Lori Shabtai (Credit: Sophie Mathewson)

What a difference five years makes. When Winick Realty Group Executive Vice President Lori Shabtai marketed a 13,000-square-foot retail space at 459 Broadway in 2008, she hinged part of the sell on the cachet of the intersection of Broadway and Grand Street.

“I called it the heart of Soho,” Ms. Shabtai, 52, said during an interview in her well-appointed (and well-heated) office. “I remember a broker calling me and saying, ‘That’s more like the colon of Soho.’”

That any doubts persisted so recently about the viability of that block attests to the dizzyingly fast rate of change in New York real estate. The interaction also attests to Ms. Shabtai’s prescience and her quick mastery of the steep learning curve in commercial real estate, a field she entered just eight years ago. Read More

Power Broker

Each One Teach One: Massey Knakal Broker James Nelson


James Nelson recently ushered a dozen Colgate University undergraduate students on a tour through The Abingdon, a West Village nursing home-turned-luxury condo where some units, which sold out this month, ran for more than $10 million.

With the help of his team, Mr. Nelson, a partner at Massey Knakal, sold the property at 607 Hudson Street for just over $33 million to Flank Architects in 2011 on behalf of nonprofit group VillageCare, which previously ran a nursing home there.

Much like the undergrads, the investment sales heavyweight traveled The Abingdon’s hallways with looks of awe, as Jon Kully, a principal at Flank, led the group into its sprawling condos. The building bore no resemblance to the nursing home Mr. Nelson had first stepped foot into in 2007. “They had 200 beds packed in there, and it wasn’t up to code, and it was in desperate need of renovation,” he said. “This was a complete transformation. It really was amazing what they did, and to know that I had a small part in making that happen was great.” Read More

Power Broker

On Top of the World: SL Green’s Steve Durels on Last Year’s Viacom Deal and the Projects Reshaping Manhattan


When Viacom pulled the trigger on its 1.6-million-square-foot renewal and expansion at 1515 Broadway last year, SL Green Realty served up a stinging rebuke to swirling rumors that the media giant would relocate.

But company executives with the city’s largest landlord were well aware that the firm’s most coveted tenant had toyed with the idea Read More

Power Broker

Heart & Soul: TerraCRG’s Geoff Bailey on Williamsburg’s Next Act

Geoff Bailey, photographed by Will O'Hare

To enter the Pacific Street office of the commercial brokerage firm TerraCRG, visitors must buzz reception and walk a few yards through a parking garage before hanging a right.

There’s Sena, an African hair-braiding salon, next door, and beyond that is a row of brownstones that, with minimal touchups, could be airlifted to Park Slope and go unnoticed.

But TerraCRG also sits practically in the shadow of the Barclays Center, and the eye travels to that rusty bird’s nest as you wait for the welcoming buzz.

This location at the traffic, geographic, demographic, architectural and developmental crossroads of Brooklyn suits TerraCRG, a firm launched by Ofer Cohen in 2008 that keeps a strict focus on the ascendant borough’s commercial real estate market.

Vice President of Retail Services Geoff Bailey joined TerraCRG in June of 2010, with previous experience in Brooklyn from five years in sales at Massey Knakal, where he had worked with Mr. Cohen. Mr. Bailey specialized in southeast Brooklyn back then, but thought there was untapped real estate potential throughout the borough. Read More