anging,” said David Green, who joined Colliers International from Cushman Wakefield in November. “You need to be able to rise the challenge. It’s not just a simple, ‘I have space and I need to rent it.’”
Adaptation is the key to survival
Swerdloff and Famularo, for example, have found that zeroing in on the latest food trends pays off. In November, they found a 700-square-foot space in Soho that suited a German couple s coffee shop/design store concept. Earlier this year, they did a deal for Black Tap, a bar and restaurant that’s become Instagram-famous for its elaborate “crazy shakes,” finding them space at 177 Ludlow Street. They may not be large-scale deals, but they are the types that are still turning over in high volumes. Restaurants are still the most active tenants in Manhattan, accounting for almost 30 percent of all deals during the second quarter of the year, according to CBRE.
”People can’t stay home and shop on Amazon or online for everything… the sky is not falling, I assure you,” said Famularo. “People live in New York City to experience different things and to go different places. And we help people find those places.”
Brokers said it can be thrilling to look for retail concepts that will be able to last in today’s market. “It’s actually an exciting time to be part of this,” said Jason Greenstone, a broker at Cushman who started in the business six years ago. “There are creative and very smart people who are taking on those challenges.” He said he tells his younger peers not to expect any results for the first two or three years in the job.
The early years are grueling, brokers said, but they often pay off. Michael Paster, who joined RKF in 2013 as a canvasser, said after working “his butt off” to prove himself for the first year, he started working on the successful Pret-A-Manger account, and began to see his hard work pay dividends. Along with fast casual dining, Paster sees opportunity in forming relationships with successful e-tailers because, as was the case with Warby Parker, Bonobos and Amazon, many are thinking about building a brick-and-mortar presence. “You look up companies like M. Gemi and Bonobos, and their competitors and you reach out to them,” he said. “A lot of the time e-retailers are scared to get into brick-and-mortar…. they don’t want to dive in. It’s about building trust.”
Not everyone has a rosy outlook. “I have a brother who wants to go into commercial real estate,” said one young commercial broker, who requested anonymity. “He had a retail leasing position lined up and I told him, ‘you don’t want to do it.’”
Some said that, at a time like this, it would be hard to be a broker at a firm that isn’t well established. “When owners get concerned about the market they turn to people they can count on,” said Brad Mendelson, of Colliers. And Abrams, who jumped from Lansco to Eastern Consolidated earlier this year, agreed that “the middle-sized firms are being squeezed a little, and it’s a little more difficult to compete.”
But others believe uncertainty can actually give brokers better access to landlords. Owners with empty or soon-to-be-vacant space will start ringing around. “Landlords are more aggressive, speaking to outside brokers and not just depending on their exclusive broker,” said Elad Dror, the co-founder of commercial brokerage PD Properties. He said that some landlords are bringing down their rents (something REBNY noted in its retail report in May), which gives newer brokers the chance to do deals if they are working with the right person.
A shifting market is a great classroom, both grizzled veterans and rookie brokers said.
“I kind of feel this way: If the market is bad and I’m really working hard now, if it gets better…. the results will pay off,” said Gino Pattugalan, who started working at Okada Company in late April and says he makes 50 cold calls a day.
RKF s Schuster agreed that now is the perfect time to really make a name for yourself. “In a great market if you are 23, there are 100 other people doing well,” he said. “In a tricky market, while others are sleeping at the wheel or at the beach work.”
Tags: big box retail, Brokers, Commercial Real Estate, Retail Real Estate
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