Lee & Associates NYC Establishes New Investment Sales Division

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At at time when investment sales firms are finding their footing, the seven-year-old leasing-heavy Lee & Associates NYC has joined the investment sales fray with a new nine-person division, Commercial Observer has learned.

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“We have done investment sales all along but basically our leasing brokers were doing sales when the opportunity was there,” Joel Herskowitz, the COO of Lee NYC, told CO. “One of our leasing brokers introduced me to this group. They were looking to leave. We saw the opportunity and we took it. We decided to go into this full swing.”

That group was comprised of Vickram Jambu, Chris VarjanGeorge SteffaniBen Sutton and Jonathan Braun from Venture Capital Properties. The first two are managing directors in the new investment sales division and the last three are directors. In addition, The Popkin Group’s Paul Popkin, a retail specialist, joined as a senior managing director, along with his associate, Shmuel Goldman. Popkin had worked with the Venture Capital brokers on deals in the past. And Lee NYC brought on two analysts, Ian Gartell and Christine Ladny, from Eastern Consolidated for the group.

Lee NYC’s investment sales division, which launched last Monday, will cover all asset classes and deals ranging from $20 million to $200 million across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Next up for the firm, which provides office, retail, industrial and investment commercial real estate services on behalf of owners, landlords and tenants, is establishing a capital markets group, Herskowitz said.

Herskowitz described the overall real estate market as a six out of 10, and said that makes for a good time to launch a new division.

“Markets are cyclical,” he said. “The time to position yourself is exactly the type of market we have right now.”

On the move, Varjan said in prepared remarks that “the ability to offer a greater spectrum of services to our clients will enable both our team and the company to continue to expand our presence in the market.”

Popkin noted: “The firm has shown steady growth while adapting to a changing retail leasing landscape. It was very important to me to join a firm with a solid reputation as well as an eye to the future.” Jambu wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The three new managing directors have done deals of all sizes.

Jambu, Varjan and another Venture Capital colleague represented Athena Vrettos in its July 18 purchase of a retail package at 13 First Avenue at the corner of First Street, and 90 Franklin Street at Church Street from Premier Equities for $20.3 million. And Popkin represented the seller, CM Rock Corp., and an unnamed buyer in the $11 million sale of 424 Broadway, a 4,200-square-foot retail condominium, in April.

Of particular note, Jambu and a colleague represented Ermenegildo Zegna and Taconic Investment Partners in their 2016 purchase of 61 West 23rd Street for $65 million and Princeton International Property, Dune Real Estate Partners and Empire Capital Holdings in their $170 million acquisition of 111 East 59th Street in 2015. One of Popkin’s notable transactions was representing Aurora Capital Associates’ interest in the $146.9 million purchase of 529 Broadway in 2012.

No one from Venture Capital responded to a request for comment.