RFR-Backed Brokerage Retail By MONA Launches With Giant Mona Lisa Image
Two former Cushman & Wakefield (CWK) brokers are hoping to shake up the retail landscape and brighten up the New York City streetscape at the same time.
Brandon Singer and Michael Cody launched their new retail brokerage, Retail by MONA, with a two-story image of the Mona Lisa plastered onto the facade of 425 Fifth Avenue. In an equally large speech bubble, the famed figure requests from passersby to “text me,” along with a phone number to do just that.
MONA stands for “making of a new age,” and the combination of the name and Mona Lisa imagery, which dates back to the Renaissance, are a signal. “We believe that retail is entering a renaissance period,” said Singer. “The ways of old are not working.”
Singer hopes the cheeky imagery helps the new brokerage facilitate “a collection of spaces that the average person can interact with in a creative and cool way,” he said.
MONA has the backing of Michael Fuchs and Aby Rosen’s RFR Holding, and MONA will market all of RFR’s retail spaces, including the one on Fifth Avenue where the Mona Lisa now awaits text messages, among other clients.
MONA will provide both tenant and landlord representation, and already includes a roster of clients, such as Showfields, B8ta and Dean & Deluca on the tenant side.
Singer and Cody previously worked together on Cushman & Wakefield’s retail team. Singer, who began his career at the old RKF, was an executive director at Cushman until he left to pursue his own business. The pandemic merely cemented his conviction that retail needed an overhaul. “It’s terrible what’s happening,” he said. “Aside from the virus, you walk the streets, there’s no one on the streets. Everything’s closed up.”
Because of the current economy, Singer expects to see a flight to quality and some measure of a return to basics, while people still remember the toilet paper shortages of March. “The city is going to need a lot of help,” he said.
MONA plans to hire up to 10 additional employees over the coming months.
Update: This story has been updated to reflect that Retail by Mona does not currently represent Nike or Restoration Hardware. Singer and Cody have previously worked with both tenants.