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.
“We spoke about this for 16 months,” Mr. Greene said. “I had never waited this long or had longer ongoing talks with people about deals at or positions within MHP. There was a mutual respect and they had a collaborative view. I mean, look at how they finish each other’s sentences.”
The mutual respect and affectionate banter between Ms. Emery and Mr. Staav was forged in part by their divergent backgrounds. She is a born and bred New Yorker who was raised on the Upper West Side and began her retail career in the mid-1970s with a marketplace near what was then the Fulton Fish Market. He was raised in Tel Aviv and came to New York as a representative of his family’s diamond business around the time Ms. Emery opened the market.
“When you’re of a place, you tend to have kind of fixed ideas about things, about neighborhoods, the geography of the city,” Ms. Emery said. “Yair, on the other hand, even though he’s lived here for 40 years, this is not where he grew up. So he has a completely different perception of the town.”
Mr. Staav’s earliest perceptions of New York coalesced around Soho, which he has since transformed from a scrappy artists’ frontier to a luxury retail juggernaut; he and Ms. Emery focus a good deal of their work with landlords and tenants there.
“I got an understanding of the retail business as a manufacturer,” Mr. Staav said. “On the other hand, I love cities and streets. In my spare time, I would walk the Soho streets and look at stores. That’s very European and Mediterranean, to go window-shopping after dinner.”