Gleicher’s Pace: Michael Gleicher Talks Retail and His Tenure at Winick
Long before Michael Gleicher (sounds like “glacier”) was a real estate professional, he was a ballet dancer. (Giving, it would seem, his own spin to the adage moving at a Gleicher pace.) At length, Mr. Gleicher described his coming-of-age marked by the stress of being groomed to dance professionally.
“I was being yelled at every day by my Russian ballet teachers,” said Mr. Gleicher during an interview at the East Midtown office of Winick Realty Group, where he has worked since shortly after graduating from Duke University in 2008. “You couldn’t show pain. You couldn’t show any struggle.”
Mr. Gleicher, now 29, described this formative experience as critical to the development of his professionalism and work ethic. The demands of dance clearly paid off. Effective June 1, Mr. Gleicher began his new role as executive vice president and partner at Winick; he now joins Chief Executive Officer Jeff Winick, President Steven Baker, Chief Operating Officer Louis Eisinger and Executive Vice President Darrell Rubens in leading the company.
“Michael joined our company right out of college and from day one, I saw in him not only an intelligence and an innate understanding of the business but also the drive and determination to succeed,” Mr. Winick said via a spokeswoman.
Mr. Winick worked directly with Mr. Gleicher in one of the most celebrated retail deals of last year, securing the new NBA Store flagship at 545 Fifth Avenue on behalf of the Moinian Group. Mr. Winick also teamed up with his young protégé when leasing one of the first Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores in New York City at West 68th Street and Broadway (Mr. Gleicher declined to comment on both deals). Commercial Observer previously reported that Winick marketed the space, formerly a Food Emporium, for Madison Capital.
Ross Burack, a broker at Winick who was trained by Mr. Gleicher, described his peer as “one of the best at what he does.”
“There’s no one as focused as Michael,” said Mr. Burack. “He goes into his office, puts his head down and does the work.”
Though Mr. Gleicher emphasized that ballet shaped his personal growth, it was far from the only influence. He stressed that his family (including his sister, Jaime Gleicher, known for her leading role on MTV’s early aughts show Rich Girls, on which he had a cameo) played a crucial role. Mr. Gleicher’s father Leo was the founder of Innovation Luggage, and often took his young son to his office and to look at properties he built along New Jersey’s Route 4. (Leo Gleicher passed away in 2008.)
“I would sit in meetings with him,” Mr. Gleicher recalled. “I think that my dad’s work ethic of really building a retail chain and putting his heart and soul into business is something that really motivated me as a young adult.”
This early exposure to retail has helped Mr. Gleicher in his career. He has worked with luxury retailers from Europe, such as luxury French perfumery Annick Goutal, which need prime addresses on heavily trafficked corridors.
“You’ve got a lot of international retailers who are itching to be in New York,” he said. “That’s the beautiful thing that you see about [the city]. No matter where you go or travel to … New York City is on the forefront of every retailer’s mind. [They think] if I can make it in New York, I can make it anywhere in the world.”
Mr. Gleicher’s allegiance to the Big Apple is pronounced; his childhood spent in the city clearly left an indelible imprint. On his Instagram (where in his main photo, Mr. Gleicher is casually giving his followers the one-finger salute), he describes himself as “City Born” and “City Raised.” He grew up on the West Side and graduated from the Professional Children’s School on West 60th Street in 2004.
“My education living in the city was a piece of who I am as a person,” he said. “Being…an adolescent living in New York, it’s tough. It forms you.” Mr. Gleicher stressed that “you grow up a lot quicker, from riding the subway at a very young age to just life experiences in general. Everything comes at you at all once. There’s no way to shelter you from any of the elements.”
Few of Mr. Gleicher’s recent transactions are enormous by Manhattan standards; the largest one of late is the 32,400-square-foot Lowe’s Home Center set to open at 2008 Broadway on the Upper West Side. Yet Mr. Gleicher said he is unfazed by dimensions.
“It’s not about size,” Mr. Gleicher said. “It’s if your client is happy. It’s if your client respects you, if your client understands that you gave them everything that you could give them from the first time you’ve met to look at locations to … when the stores are open.”
And many of Mr. Gleicher’s clients are far less flashy than the luxury brands that line Madison Avenue. He has worked with Duane Reade on a handful of stores, including those at 4 West 4th Street, 711 Third Avenue and 245 First Avenue. He has also helped CVS and Wells Fargo with locations along Avenue of the Americas. And he helped bring Havaianas’ 333-square-foot storefront at 2 Times Square to life.
When asked how the Havaianas store was faring at the crossroads of the world, Mr. Gleicher said it was “doing great.”
“Times Square is a global presence,” he said. “You get [the] 52 million people a year who visit Times Square to visit your store and do very well.”
Near the Havaianas store in Times Square is Buffalo Wild Wings, located at 253 West 47th Street. Mr. Gleicher helped bring the chain, which has a presence in Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey, to Manhattan in the spring of 2014. It had previously struggled to break into the borough’s competitive market.
“Find[ing] that footprint that could really showcase the brand and the restaurant [was difficult],” said Mr. Gleicher of Buffalo Wild Wings, which had size constraints and limitations. However, Winick was able to find a developer who was building new construction on West 47th Street and was open to the sports bar taking a lease.
“It had the ability to really showcase the sports coverage and the stadium feel while giving them maximum amount of Times Square exposure,” said Mr. Gleicher.
These transactions will all but certainly not be Mr. Gleicher’s last; he is emphatic he will stay on the brokerage side of the business for the long haul.
“I love it here. This is my home,” said Mr. Gleicher, referring to Winick, which has 57 people between brokers and staff. “I call Winick my family.” This includes on Twitter, where he references his “Winick family” and hanging with them in the Golden State at a Los Angeles “work-fam @soulcycle ride.”
“We’ve got a phenomenal crop of young, hungry, talented brokers that are coming up the ranks that are just some of the best in the city,” Mr. Gleicher said.
And for Mr. Gleicher, certainly among Winick’s young, hungry and talented brokers, being a real estate professional is more than a job.
“It’s a lifestyle,” he said. “And it’s not for the faint of heart.”