Rough and Tumbl: The Broker Behind Silicon Alley’s Next Big Real Estate Deal

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Matthew Bergey is a vice president at CBRE who has developed a specialty handling deals with tenants in creative industries and the technology sector. He represents several high-profile tenants in the city, including Tumblr, and is also the agent for a number of office properties, including the high-end boutique buildings 414 West 14th Street and 450 West 14th Street in the booming meatpacking district. He joins The Commercial Observer for this week’s Sit-Down, where he talks about how his love of contemporary art helps him secure tech clients.

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Bergey pic 400x300 Rough and Tumbl: The Broker Behind Silicon Alleys Next Big Real Estate Deal
Matthew Bergey on the High Line (photo credit: Hannah Mattix)

The Commercial Observer: How long have you been at CBRE?

Matt Bergey: I have been there, oh god, now you’re making me feel old, 12 years.

That isn’t such a long time—you shouldn’t feel old. Is that because you work with tech tenants and many of people who work in these companies are so young?

Some of them are. People at the top of these firms, they’ll be in their 20s. And a lot of the underlings at these firms want to follow in their footsteps and rise through the ranks while they’re still young too.

There has been a huge buzz about tech tenants in recent months, especially at a time when other tenants have been quiet. Is this the most active sector in leasing right now?

I think tech companies, social media-slash-entertainment people are all very hot in the Midtown South marketplace. Midtown South is hot right now. I went to a meeting the other day at 200 Park [CBRE’s New York headquarters] and the people who rep institutional tenants in Midtown and Downtown and 20,000 square feet and above are saying it’s slow right now. But in Midtown South there’s only a few large blocks of space and there’s a lot of people bidding on them.

What space do you handle in that area?

In the Meatpacking district, I represent 414 West 14th Street, which was built by Carlyle [Group], and 450 West 14th Street, which was developed by Winthrop [Realty Trust].

What are the rents like in those buildings?

We’re starting in the $60s at 414 West 14th Street.

And 450 West 14th Street?

Can’t comment. [Market sources put rents there in the $90s per square foot.]

Those are newly developed buildings?

Yes.

Is there more new commercial construction planned for meatpacking?

Yes. Taconic is building a new office property on 13th Street and Washington that is about 60,000 square feet. The Romanoff family has a 150,000-square-foot building. Bill Gottlieb, another owner in the neighborhood, has a project too.

Can these tech tenants afford to pay out the rents that are necessary to justify new construction?

You’re right. A lot of these tech tenants don’t really want to pay more than the high $40s or $50s. But on the other hand, the big thing for them is to attract young talent and they need to be in cool hip areas that have a creative feel and vibe to do that. So it’s a trade off.