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Category ArchiveDouglas Elliman

Morton Williams Taking Old Talbots Space on UES

Supermarket chain Morton Williams has signed a 30-year lease at 1251 Third Avenue on the Upper East Side for its 17th grocery store.

The family-owned supermarket company, which has been around since the 1950s, will occupy 13,000 square feet amassing the entire ground floor and lower level of the building between East 72nd and East 73rd Streets, owners of the supermarket confirmed to Commercial Observer. The space was formerly home to sportswear store Talbots, which vacated the space two years ago. The asking rent in the transaction was just under $2 million per year.

“We have a number of stores on the Upper East Side already, so we understand consumer needs and we are able to cater to them effectively,” Avi Kaner, a co-owner of Morton Williams, told CO. “This Third Avenue corridor is one we have been looking at for a while, because of its residential density.”

Morton Williams’ newest location at 1251 Third Avenue will be just a few blocks over from an existing store at 1331 First Avenue between East 71st and East 72nd Streets.

The company doesn’t appear to be concerned about the two stores cannibalizing each other.

This Third Avenue “location is ideally situated to provide services to customers coming from the west—from Park Avenue and Madison Avenue—as well as the North,” Kaner said. “We already have a store on 72nd [Street] and First  [Avenue], which caters to customers from the east.”

Construction has begun on the new supermarket, which is expected to open in October. The New York Post was first to report news of the deal.

Perry Rothenberg of Creative Leasing Concepts represented Morton Williams. Douglas Elliman’s Faith Hope Consolo handled the deal for the landlord, 203 East 72nd Street Corp. Consolo did not immediately return a request for comment.

Traditional supermarkets had been getting squeezed by specialty stores and ecommerce, as CO previously reported, but Morton Williams seems to be unaffected and is steadily growing.

Morton Williams currently has 12 supermarket locations in Manhattan, two in the Bronx and one in Jersey City, N.J. It also signed a 29,400-square-foot lease for space at One West End Avenue on the Upper West Side last December, as CO previously reported, for its 16th store. Construction is about to begin on that location.

Source: commercial

Owners of ForGround Opening ‘High-End All-Day Café’ in Tribeca

The folks behind ForGround café in Midtown are opening a 1,234-square-foot ground-floor café at 112 Hudson Street in Tribeca, Commercial Observer has learned. An 832-square-foot basement space will be used for kitchen prep, storage and an office, according to Eastern Consolidated’s James Famularo who represented the landlord, Hudson Street Retail, with Eastern’s Clayton Traynham.

This will be “a first location from the same owner as ForGround, rather the a second ForGround location,” noted George Wlodarczyk of Douglas Elliman. Called Noted Tribeca, the new venue will be a “high-end all-day café and cocktail bar,” he said. Wlodarczyk along with Elliman’s Peter Gross represented the tenant in the deal.

ForGround is a café at 8 East 41st Street with ground coffee and a farm-to-table menu.

The asking rent in the 10-year deal was $150 per square foot, according to Famularo and the marketing materials for the property, which is between North Moore and Franklin Streets. The tenant will open in the next three or four months, Famularo said.

This is the second tenant the landlords’ brokers nailed down in the space within a six-month period.

“The space had sat empty since the new owners bought the retail condo from Robert De Niro five years ago, but within six months my team brought two tenants,” Famularo said in prepared remarks. He originally arranged a lease with Le Du’s Wines, but the wine shop’s relocation wasn’t approved by the New York State Liquor Authority last fall. The café deal was signed last Thursday.

Source: commercial

Retail Details: The Dollars & Scents of Giving a Store an Aroma

Back in the day, “fragrance branding” or “scent branding” started in casinos and hotels as a way to combat the smell of cigarettes and cigars that was more or less everywhere, according to Scenterprises’ Sue Phillips. But while smoking has certainly gotten less ubiquitous over the years, designing a scent for a hotel or a retail space has gone the opposite way.

In the swimwear department of big retailers like Bloomingdales, the smell of coconut gently envelopes the customers so they’ll already envision themselves on vacation, as Douglas Elliman’s Faith Hope Consolo told Commercial Observer. Basking in the comforting smells, customers linger, return and spend.

But we should let these two pros explain why giving a store its own unique aroma has become more in demand, and why it can keep shoppers in stores longer.

Source: commercial

Euro Retailers Sense Opportunity Here While US Brands Look to Old World for Salvation

Last week, while JLL retail pro Michael Hirschfeld was in London for business, he learned of three U.K. retailers collapsing.

Those were the U.K. arm of Toys “R” Us, which went into insolvency administration, Maplin Electronics, which failed to find a buyer to get it out of administration, and dining chain Prezzo, which is being restructured. In addition, the 600-fleet London fashion chain New Look is looking to make deals with landlords to close underperforming stores and reduce rents.

The news sounds eerily similar to headlines in the U.S. as bankruptcies, e-commerce and the popularity of discount department and specialty stores have impacted the retail business on both sides of the pond.

“I think the retail challenges are universal,” said Hirschfeld, a vice chairman of national retail tenant services at JLL who spends 80 percent of his time bringing retailers from Europe to the U.S. and vice versa.

This comes, however, with a big caveat.

It is often said that what happens in the U.S. market will then follow in Continental Europe and Great Britain. But JLL warned in a retail report comparing the U.S. and Europe at the end of 2017, “we shouldn’t assume markets automatically mirror each other.”

In Europe, and the U.K. in particular, retailers braced themselves for the change in shopping patterns due to e-commerce faster and earlier than did their U.S. counterparts, according to the JLL report.

And beyond the internet, there are clear differences between the two markets.

One of the big ones is the sheer amount of retail space available in the U.S., in large part due to an excessive number of shopping centers. In the U.S., there is 13,713 square feet of leasable shopping center space per 1,000 people, JLL determined at the end of last year. In the U.K., by contrast, there is 3,175 square feet per 1,000 people, and in Europe as a whole, there is 2,335 square feet.

And the European retailers smell the opportunity—many view the U.S. as if “it’s on sale,” Hirschfeld said. “You’re seeing rent levels that you could achieve in the financial crisis. It’s a very opportune time. The demand is super strong.”

Hirschfeld brokered deals to bring British clothing company Superdry to various cities in the U.S. and is working on a deal for British toy store Hamleys to come to New York City. Accessories brand Furla, which comes from Milan and already has a store in Manhattan, is expanding with a new lease in Aventura Mall in Miami, Fla. (one of the top malls in the country), and one in the Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas (another top U.S. mall) with likely another three or four more in major markets, he said of his client.

Susan Kurland, an executive vice president and a co-head of global retail services at Savills Studley, said that the difference between retail in Europe and the U.S. is the vacancies.

“The difference is their spaces are filled,” Kurland said. “You walk down our Madison Avenue, and almost every store on Madison Avenue is available.”

She is working with a high-end Chinese-owned Milan-based company, which is looking to enter the U.S.

“[The owner] feels the only places to expand are China and the U.S. as those are the two most important markets,” the broker said. “They’re in…the exclusive places in China. They’re on the important street in Milan. He feels that the U.S. is really important for his expansion.”

While there will be more store closures in Europe, JLL determined that the continent is “unlikely to experience the sheer volume of closures currently being forecast in the U.S.”

Another distinction between the U.S. and Europe is that most of Europe employs a high-street model rather than a shopping-center model. Furthermore, in shopping centers, the U.S. has relied on department store anchors (which have been one of the worst victims of e-commerce and commoditization), JLL noted. In Europe, on the other hand, shopping mall owners have been quick to switch gears with their anchor tenants, often turning to food-and-beverage concepts, and they are more diverse in their offerings.

Yet another important difference between European and U.S. leases is the rent structure. In the U.S., when a tenant signs a lease it knows what the rent is for the entire term. In the U.K., for example, you may sign a 10-year deal, but every couple of years you go through a fair-market rent review process, Hirschfeld said, so you don’t know your rent.

But one thing both places have in common is that consumers have so many options for how they want to shop.

“We’re seeing across the board a fragmentation of distribution,” said Betsy McCullar of Hilltop Alliance, who develops and executes marketing and strategy solutions for brands and businesses. “Western Europe is even more fragmented than the United States because, for example, the U.K. and Germany—and France, to some extent—have a big mature structure of department stores. But Italy and Spain are still dominated by one-off specialty stores.”

Among the European brands that are on the fast track in the U.S. are fast-fashion brands Swedish Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), Zara from Spain and the U.K.-based Reiss Ltd., The Wall Street Journal reported in May 2017. Amsterdam-based Scotch & Soda is also popping up in the U.S. with 28 free-standing retail stores, with a store at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, N.Y. opening on March 30. European discounters like German grocer Aldi, German competitor Lidl and Irish clothing company Primark are on a tear in the U.S., Bloomberg Gadfly pointed out last October. International cosmetics companies like Rituals from Amsterdam are taking New York City by storm. Plus there are food chains like Wagamama, an Asian food concept that actually hails from London, that has set up shop in New York City and Boston.

When entering the U.S., European retailers focus on major cities for entrée.

Since they’re used to high streets at home, European retailers want to rent on a U.S. high street. And they generally enter by way of one of the gateway markets of New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Las Vegas, Hirschfeld said. They often choose a U.S. location that is most similar to where they hail from, Hirschfeld said.

“Brands usually like to do either the East Coast or the West Coast initially, and I believe that most start on the East Coast first,” said Robin Abrams, a vice chairman of retail at Eastern Consolidated, with New York City being a priority due to its tourist population, ease of navigation, walkability and great public transportation. For U.K. retailers, New York is logical, Abrams said, “because it is more similar” than other places in the U.S.

Interestingly, CBRE’s most recent annual global retail report highlighted Philadelphia as a target city for international retailers in 2016. That year, Italian furniture company Natuzzi Italia and Superdry set up shop in Philadelphia, the fifth-largest city in the U.S. The market was appealing, the report said, because of its increased millennial population, income growth, new multihousing developments, burgeoning food and retail scene and reputation as a tourist destination.

But there’s no refuting that New York City often is the beau ideal market for European retailers looking to expand abroad.

21 Euro Retailers Sense Opportunity Here While US Brands Look to Old World for Salvation

“Retailers looking for a first or second opportunity look at New York,” said Mark Kostic, a vice president of retail leasing in the U.S. at Brookfield Property Partners. “Everyone’s next step is a global flagship in New York.”

Kostic worked on the deal to bring European suitmaker Suitsupply to Brookfield Place. The brand has fared well since the men’s store opened about a year ago, and the women’s store Suitstudio opened this past November, he said.

Jason Pruger, an executive managing director at Newark Knight Frank, said he will be helping Black Sheep Coffee expand from London into the U.S. come springtime. He anticipates that Black Sheep will enter the country by way of New York City.

“We are looking to expand in the U.S. because we have be inundated with customer requests, particularly in the last few months—mostly Americans living in the U.K. or who came across Black Sheep while visiting the U.K.,” said Gabriel Shohet, one of the co-founders of Black Sheep Coffee. “New York City has many Black Sheep fans but is one of four U.S. cities [including Chicago, Washington, D.C.. and Atlanta] we have shortlisted as a potential starting base for a U.S. market entry.”

Faith Hope Consolo, the chairman of Douglas Elliman’s retail leasing, marketing and sales division, said that New York City is “the shopping capital of the world, and the No. 1 leisure activity in this country is shopping. Yes, New York City is the center of the world. Companies are willing to risk everything to make it here. Just like the song goes, ‘If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.’ ”

Going the other way, U.S. retailers often start in London for their European expansion, where English is the native language. Indeed, companies from the U.S. marked the majority of new international retail entrants to London in 2016, according to CBRE’s global retail report. (Hirschfeld called London “probably the retail capital of the Europe in many ways.”)

But London is desirable for just about any retailer looking to make an entrance on a global stage. “Overseas brands continue to see London as the pathway to greater expansion” in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, or EMEA, the CBRE report said. London was the second most-targeted market globally for international retailers entering new markets in 2016 (behind Hong Kong) and 10 markets in EMEA made the list of 19 global cities with the greatest international retailer presence. And this was the year of the Brexit vote for the U.K. to leave the European Union, so presumably the vote did not rock anybody’s faith in London retail.

At the end of last year, New York-based high-end fitness brand Equinox opened its first standalone E by Equinox location—an even higher-end Equinox—in central London. “Opening our first standalone E by Equinox in one of the most esteemed neighborhoods in London was only fitting,” Gentry Long, the managing director of U.K. operations for Equinox, said in a press release in December 2017. “We’re thrilled to introduce an elevated take on the private members’ establishment with fitness at its core.”

Some in-demand cities for U.S. retailers going abroad are Germany’s Munich, Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfort for fashion brands and food and beverage brands, Hirschfeld said. And there’s Paris, France and Milan, Italy. He has not seen a lot of demand for a Spain brick-and-mortar location.

In the last coupe of years, Hirschfeld’s team has brought Detroit-founded Shinola watch, bicycle and leather company to London. And his team brought Seattle-based outerwear company Filson to London.

“What you must look at when you’re looking throughout Europe, or Asia or South America is products that are transferrable to other markets,” Virginia Pittarelli, a principal of Crown Retail Services whose clients have included Sephora and Godiva, told Commercial Observer late last year.“That’s really the key.”

Source: commercial

5 Reasons Why Outer-Borough Multifamily Properties Should Dominate Demand In 2018

The New York City investment sales market appears to be rebounding in the first quarter of 2018 in terms of volume and the number of transactions. Prime outer-borough locations will likely capture more demand from institutional and international investors in 2018 compared to previous years as an array of factors, both fundamental and technical, heighten their appeal.

During 2017, dollar volume in the multifamily market slowed considerably, falling 48% year-over-year, according to our company’s newly released report: “Multifamily Year In Review.” To view, click on: http://arielpa.com/report/report-MFYIR-2017

We believe the outer-boroughs will garner greater attention in 2018, driven by the following five key factors:

Strong Rent Fundamentals In Outer-Boroughs

Rent affordability and easy commutes to Manhattan have made neighborhoods in the outer-boroughs, such as Williamsburg, Long Island City, and the South Bronx, hotbeds for tenant migration and rental growth. To that end, the average monthly rent for an apartment in Manhattan was $4,158 as of December 2017, according to Douglas Elliman. That is substantially higher than the median rent in Brooklyn and Queens, where apartments fetched $3,001 and $2,831, respectively,

During 2017 rent concessions have been reported at 36.2% for Core Manhattan, while outer-borough neighborhoods, such as Flushing, experienced increases in rents, rising 2.9% in 2017. While we are not concerned about the long-term viability of Core Manhattan’s rents, investors are finding the short-term fundamentals challenging.

Scant Institutional Capital Opportunities 

Institutional investors’ appetite for Manhattan properties, has been voracious. For investors, Core Manhattan presents “gateway city” status, large-scale opportunities, and rental upside. However, rent concessions create uncertainty about rent growth, and increased competition from foreigners has left investors with fewer opportunities.

However, the outer-boroughs, specifically Brooklyn, present unique opportunities that were once exclusive to Core Manhattan. Invesco’s involvement with Kushner in DUMBO made plenty of headlines, but they are far from alone. Between 2016 and 2017, TIAA-CREF, World Wide Holdings and Bentall Kennedy (U.S.) LP have collectively invested more than $425 million in the borough.

Relative Price Per Foot Cost

The valuation metrics used for the multifamily asset class include: Capitalization Rate (Cap), Gross Rent Multiple (GRM), Price Per Unit (PPU) and Price Per Square Foot (PPSF). When comparing Cap and GRM for Core Manhattan versus outer-boroughs the difference is 27%, according to our “Multifamily Year In Review.” This means investors expect to receive a higher current yield in the outer-boroughs.

On a PPSF basis, the average difference is much wider. The average multifamily building in the outer-boroughs sells for $334 PSF, representing approximately 1/3 of the cost of the $945 PSF for the same assets in Core Manhattan. Lower price per square foot provides a big advantage when discussing replacement cost and suggests that this wide pricing gap could allow for significant room for growth in the outer-boroughs.

Uberization Of Outer-Boroughs & Local Economic Growth

Access to mass transportation has always been a factor when buying real estate, but two main factors have lowered this need. First, the ability to travel economically and second, that all of the boroughs have been experiencing local economic growth, with less reliance on Core Manhattan and commutes. Uber and Lyft, for example, have made inconveniently located areas, such as Industry City in Brooklyn and Cornell Tech in Queens, more desirable. Less reliance on subways and buses has also benefited Northern Manhattan, where Columbia University has attracted many new businesses.

Rezoning Poses Significant Upside

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has rabidly rezoned large swaths of New York City, with their sights squarely set on outer-borough regions. East Harlem, East New York, and Far Rockaway have recently been approved for rezoning, while Inwood, The Bronx’s Jerome Avenue and Gowanus are in the pipeline. In Inwood, for example, proposed rezoning is expected to spur the creation of 4,348 new apartments by the year 2032. The building of thousands of apartments should lure a large inflow of tenants, landlords and developers, posing significant upside for owning a multifamily asset in these areas.

In conclusion, based on the five points stated above – whether it be relative affordability or the massive influx of institutional capital – we believe outer-borough multifamily assets are positioned to perform extremely well versus Core Manhattan in 2018, and investors are already taking heed.

Source: commercial

Super Fi Emporium Opening Second East Harlem Supermarket

Super Fi Emporium is opening its second full-service supermarket in East Harlem, Commercial Observer has learned, after spending $10 million on a commercial unit yesterday.

The new market will span the entire 12,750 square feet of ground-floor retail space at HAP Investment’s new 2211 Third Avenue at the corner of East 121st Street. The market is participating in the city’s Food Retail Expansion to Support Health, or FRESH, program that provides savings to owners and increases the availability of affordable, healthy food options in areas of high need.

“We are thrilled to be the retail tenant at 2211 Third Avenue,” Anthony Reynoso, one of the owners of SuperFi Emporium, said in a statement. “2211 Third Avenue is a great addition to the area, and we look forward to being the go-to supermarket for the tenant community as well as the rest of the East Harlem neighborhood.”

Super Fi has a location 1635 Lexington Avenue between East 103rd and East 104th Streets which it reopened in June 2013, also via the FRESH program.

Douglas Elliman Faith Hope Consolo and Arthur Maglio represented both sides in the deal, and is working on another deal for Super Fi Emporium in Harlem. “They believe in Harlem,” Consolo said. “For East Harlem, this is a nice push. Harlem needs the same options in food that is all over the city.” The new market will open in spring 2018.

HAP hosted a ribbon cutting and opening ceremony for the completion of the 108-unit building, known as Hap Ten, on Nov. 7. It was designed by Fischer + Makooi Architects.

“With the addition of SuperFi Emporium, we are certain the building will be the most sought after rental destination in East Harlem,” Eran Polack, the chief executive officer of HAP Investments, said in a prepared statement.

Monthly residential rents at 2211 Third Avenue range from $2,100 for a studio to $3,750 for a two-bedroom, according to information provided by HAP. The building features doormen, elevator, fitness center, roof-deck, terraces, private storage, bike room, on-site parking and in-unit washers/dryers.

“This is a win-win for Harlem and it’s a win-win for [Super Fi],” Consolo said. “And it’s a wonderful amenity for the building.”

HAP Investments acquired 2211 Third Avenue, 214 East 121st Street and 216 East 121st Street from Tahl-Propp Equities in May 2014 for $13 million, according to property records.

Source: commercial

After Nabbing $238M Daiwa Construction Loan, HAP Touts Chelsea’s Attributes

Eran Polack is happy to be in Chelsea.

After sealing a $238 million construction loan for his new two-building residential complex at 213-227 West 28th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, the HAP Investments chief executive officer told CO that he’s bullish about the neighborhood’s prospects.

“We really like the area,” Polack said. “It’s close to the Fashion Institute [of Technology], Whole Foods and Midtown Tennis. The [short] distance to the Google offices, to Hudson Yards and to Madison Square Garden make it very exciting.”

That location has given Polack a rosy outlook for the buildings’ revenue.

“I am very, very confident in the rent,” Polack said. “I don’t think there are a lot of buildings [going up] in Manhattan between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.” He added that he expects strong demand from students at FIT and families whose children attend Avenues, a school at 259 10th Avenue that serves children from pre-K through 12th grade.

Daiwa House Texas, an American subsidiary of Daiwa House Group, the largest homebuilder in Japan, will provide the floating-rate, 30-month loan—the company’s first in New York, which will have an interest rate of Libor plus five percent.

The complex’s two buildings, which will be split among rental apartments and condominiums, will cover eight contiguous lots, the most sprawling such site developed in recent Manhattan history, according to HAP. The condo building will feature 88 apartments, and the rental building 112.

Plans for the site also include ground-floor and cellar-level retail space in the 20-story apartment towers. Residential perks include a full 17,000-square-foot floor for amenities, and an automated parking garage where, according to HAP, robots will automatically retrieve residents’ cars from nearly 50 parking spaces.

The architecture firm DXA studio has designed the complex, and construction—excavation for which is already underway—will be managed by Rinaldi.

Polack expects construction to finish by the end of 2019, and Douglas Elliman’s Fredrik Eklund—famous for his role on the television show Million Dollar Listing—will manage sales and marketing for the apartments.

Daiwa House Texas could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this autumn, Polack found himself in an embarrassing legal snit when as Israeli court found that he lied in 2010 about the value of the diamonds he lost in a Hong Kong robbery. He does not face criminal charges. Polack declined to comment on the matter through a spokeswoman, who said that “the civil case is still on appeal in Israel.”

Source: commercial

International Center of Photography Plans Essex Crossing Outpost

The International Center of Photography is moving to Essex Crossing on the Lower East Side.

The 43-year-old institution signed a contract to purchase two commercial condominium units—one retail unit and one community facility unit—in the base of the residential condo tower at 242 Broome Street, according to public records. Although the contract doesn’t specify the square footage of the space, the developers have pledged to set aside 15,000 square feet for a yet-to-be-named cultural facility. The Andy Warhol Museum was originally going to occupy that space, but it backed out of the project in 2015, as Observer reported at the time.

If the museum seals the deal, it will occupy a separate structure linked to the main condo building via a long, vertical flight of stairs, according to Curbed. It’s unclear whether they’ll occupy space in the main building as well.

International Center of Photography currently has an 11,000-square-foot museum in a retail space at 250 Bowery, across the street from the New Museum. It purchased the space for $23.5 million in 2015, CO reported. While the museum hasn’t announced a move to Essex Crossing, a 2015 article in Art News suggested that the nonprofit might sell the Bowery location and move to the Lower East Side megaproject. A construction manager also referred to ICP as a tenant during a public meeting in January 2016, but the development team quickly retracted the statement, neighborhood blog The Lo-Down reported. 

The 14-story 242 Broome Street will hold 55 condo units, 11 of which will be affordable. Bowling alley Splitsville Luxury Lanes is taking 17,000 square feet in the building, but tenants haven’t been announced for the remainder of the property’s 40,000 square feet of retail. The developers are Delancey Street Associates, a partnership between Taconic Investment Partners, L+M Development Partners, BFC Partners and Goldman Sachs.

Work on the building under construction at the corner of Ludlow Street is expected to finish in the first quarter of 2018, according to listings from Douglas Elliman, which is handling the residential sales. Units are currently up for grabs with asking prices ranging from $1.27 million for a one-bedroom to $6.25 million for a three-bedroom, three-bath unit. 

When it’s complete, Essex Crossing will include 1,000 apartments—half of which will be affordable—spread across nine sites, plus 400,000 square feet of office space and 450,000 square feet of retail.

International Center of Photography didn’t return a request for comment, and a spokesman for the developers declined to comment.

Source: commercial

Douglas Elliman’s Sonia Stock on Her Journey From Tennis Pro to Broker

Among the residential brokers who take a whack at commercial, there is a steep learning curve.

The businesses, everyone will tell you, are extremely different. Success in one rarely translates to success in another, and very few manage the transition.

But Sonia Stock, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman, is good at taking a whack at things—be it a tennis ball or a client from out of nowhere.

Like this one time…

In the summer of 2004, Stock (then focused solely on residential) had a dental appointment in Union, N.J. Coming from New York and being a runner, she figured she’d take the train from Penn Station to Rahway (the station closest to her appointment) and sprint the eight miles to her dentist.

But when the train arrived late, she knew running wouldn’t get her there in time. So the experienced world traveler hit the side of the road and stuck out her thumb and was picked up by a woman in a Mercedes.

“We got along very well,” Stock said, recalling what would turn out to be one of her most memorable sales. “She said, ‘Why the hell are you on the road thumbing it? I could have been anyone.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but I looked at you first. You were a woman. You’re smaller than me, so I figured I’d be O.K.’ ”

The two talked and laughed and got along so well that they stayed in touch. Shortly after, the woman told Stock that she and her husband were looking to move from Short Hills, N.J., to a three-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Stock would eventually make the sale, but this isn’t just a story of how a deal can emerge from the unlikeliest of scenarios: This is also a story of perseverance.

Over the next nine to 12 months, Stock (now 59) would show the woman and her husband 118 apartments. Throughout the search, the woman had one restriction: She did not want to live in Battery Park City. After 118 viewings, the options were dwindling.

So for the 119th showing, Stock ignored the restriction and took the woman to Battery Park City.

“One day, this beautiful apartment came up at the Ritz-Carlton, down there at 20 West Street,” Stock said. “And I said, ‘You really should see this. You’ve seen 118 apartments. I know you don’t want to be in Battery Park City, but afford me this chance because I don’t know where else to take you and I think this is a great one for you.’

“She walked in the apartment, she looked at me. It had a magnificent view of the water; a cruise ship was going by. It was a picture-perfect day. We walked to the elevator, and she said, ‘Where do I sign? We’re going to make an offer.’ She bought the apartment, and they still live there. That was my first big sale. And that sort of started me on the road, because I could say, well, ‘I sold this.’ ”

The woman and her husband bought the 2,638-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bathroom for $2.6 million in July 2005.

But, again, that was in the days when she was focused on residential. Stock has recently taken big steps toward the commercial side of New York real estate.

She has handled one commercial sale to date, the mixed-use 918 Putnam Avenue, on the border of the Crown Heights and Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhoods of Brooklyn, which sold for $1.9 million.

Mostly, she has specialized in Tribeca, including managing 44 Hudson Street, where she has leased space to the likes of James Gandolfini (an apartment) and the Coca-Cola Company (an office space) for the past eight years.

“It’s a mixed-use building, with commercial out front,” Stock said. “So I’ve been renting it out. Right now there’s a shirt company and a tile company there, and the rest is residential.”

She has also handled commercial rentals for 345 Greenwich for the past four to five years, and now that the building’s for sale, she’s managing that as well.

“I’m marketing the commercial space,” she said of the property (there are residential condos above), which went on the market toward the end of June. “Right now, it’s a restaurant of 2,100 square feet with basement and then a lingerie store next door with an art gallery at the back (2,000 square feet with about 800 square feet of basement space). The owner is selling the restaurant for $6.5 million, and the other side for $5.5 million.

Stock’s road to real estate began on a small island about 68 miles southeast of London called the Isle of Sheppey, where she grew up with her family, including her farmer-carpenter father who spent much of his time with his pigs.

“He used to ride them,” she said. “We always used to have races on the weekends, riding the pigs with my father. When he had to take them to market, he would give the pigs a name, so he knew every pig—he raised them from piglets. When he took them to market, he cried his eyes out. I cried my eyes out, too. You have to earn a living. That’s what he did.”

Stock began working at 11 with a paper route—she said she was 13 to get the job—and sold goods at a local market until she was 18, when she left her small island to see the world. She worked as an au pair in Germany and France, passed through Yugoslavia and other countries and ended up in Damascus.

“I remember going into Turkey, and there was a lake or something, and there was a bunch of ladies washing their clothes with regular soap,” she said. “I went down there to talk to them. It was kind of hard because I didn’t speak their language. And I remember thinking, ‘I’ve got this liquid soap in my backpack.’ So I gave it to one of the ladies, and they were hysterical. They thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. They’d never seen liquid soap before. The expression on their faces—it was huge to them. I thought, Well, this is just a simple thing, but to them it was incredible.”

While working at a hotel in Nice, she met people from Islamorada, Fla., who talked up the sunny vacation town. Liking what she heard, Stock saved her money and moved there in 1978.

She worked the graveyard shift at a hotel—Cheeca Lodge—for several years but later transferred to the property’s tennis pro shop to work as a tennis pro, despite having no history with tennis. Again, her resilience paid off.

“The pro shop was hiring, and [the woman there] said, ‘I’m not going to hire you. You have no experience,’ ” Stock said. “I said, ‘I’ll work for you for three months for free. If you don’t think I’m any good, you can fire me after two or three weeks. But after the three months, you start paying me.’ So she said, ‘Well, this sounds like a fair deal.’ ”

Stock poured her heart and her time into it and, she said, progressed at an impressive pace, playing tennis “morning, noon and night.” Within a few years, she was a licensed tennis pro with her own shop.

“I played all day, every day, until I had blisters on my hands, and I never gave up,” she said. “The first time I played in a game, the lady at the pro shop put me into a game that was a round robin. And one of the women, I’ll never forget this, came up to me at the end and said, ‘You have to be the worst tennis player I have ever played with.’ I was a gutsy English go-getter, and I said, ‘You know what? In six months, I’m going to beat you, and you’re not going to be able to get a game from me.’ She laughed as she walked off. Six months later I played her again, and I beat her 6-0, 6-1. That’s how my career started in tennis.”

Stock spent the better part of the next two decades getting even better, becoming a licensed pro and running various tennis clubs, including one she built called the Islamorada Tennis Club. One of her clients was baseball legend Ted Williams.

“I taught Ted. We played tennis on and off for about five or six years,” she said. “I played with Ted at 6 in the morning. He couldn’t move too much because he was in his 70s. But he didn’t have to—he’d spin every ball. If you didn’t run the ball down, then he would lob you. If you didn’t run for the lob, he would drop-shot you. He was a conniver. He could hit the ball anywhere on the court he wanted. But if you made him run, you won the point.”

Stock got her fill of exposure to celebrities and dignitaries in Islamorada. She played with George H.W. Bush when he was vice president—Stock and another local pro would play doubles (and never lost) against Bush and his Secret Service agent—and while she never got to play tennis with Paul Newman, she would see him jogging on local roads, recalling that he had “the skinniest legs of any man I ever saw.”

Lilo Hagbeck owned a motel near Stock’s club and took lessons from her. She said it was clear back then that Stock had the qualities needed to be a tenacious and successful real estate broker.

“There were people who built houses around her tennis club; they were so loyal to her way of being,” Hagbeck said. “She’s competitive—she goes after something until she gets it.”

(After Commercial Observer spoke to Hagbeck, she emailed to make one other point about Stock: “She also beat any male tennis player up and down the Florida Keys.”)

In 1996, Stock married a private detective who lived in Mendham, N.J. She sold her tennis club, sacrificing her sun-filled life for the Garden State, and joined his practice.

“I said goodbye to Islamorada and cried all the way up there,” she said, noting that the life of a private detective is far less action-filled than the way it’s portrayed in television and film.

“Most people think that being a private detective is riding around in a Ferrari with a Hawaiian T-shirt on, chasing people,” she said. “It actually doesn’t work that way. It’s not fun popping out of garbage containers, hiding behind them or driving a beat-up old car and having lots of disguises so the person you’re following doesn’t recognize you on a street.”

Stock got divorced six years later and, tired of the private detective business, needed yet another direction. While in Florida she had done some real estate brokering on the side, so she decided to get her New York license and began interviewing for brokerage jobs. To make herself extra memorable, she would bring homemade spinach pies to her interviews. The people she met with loved the pies—but wouldn’t hire her.

“Every time I did an interview, they said, ‘Look, we think you’re great, but you don’t have any experience,’ ” she said. “I said, ‘Yeah, but I can learn, and I can learn fast.’ Nobody would take me in.”

In 2004, she wound up working for a “very small rental company” called Domain Properties that only had a rental department. Stock wanted to be in sales and persuaded them to let her start a residential sales department—even without any experience.

“I didn’t even know how to make a flyer,” she said. “It was me leading me, not knowing what I was doing, but eventually finding a way to do something and going on from there.”

Stock stayed with Domain for over a year but yearned for greater opportunities. While selling an apartment in Hanover Square, she met Sharon O’Brien from Douglas Elliman.

“She said, ‘What are you doing with Domain Properties? You should be with my company,’ ” Stock said. “I said, ‘They don’t want me.’ She said, ‘I will get you in.’ ”

Elliman hired her, but audacious as ever, Stock imposed a condition for her hire.

“I really shouldn’t have had the right to say, ‘On one condition.’ I hadn’t gotten my foot in the door. But I figured if you don’t ask, you don’t get,” she said.

Stock wanted to work in the Soho/Tribeca area (she has lived in Tribeca for the past 12 years), and even though the manager who offered her the job worked out of Chelsea, she soon started in the Tribeca office.

“I’d always wanted to be around the Soho area, and I just thought Tribeca had a warehouse look that reminded me of London, with warehouses [that looked] somewhat derelict but somewhat posh,” she said. “There were pockets that were interesting and different. So I ended up going down there.”

She quickly saw the difference between working for an independent company and working for a behemoth like Elliman.

“Douglas Elliman can provide a lot more,” she said. “They provide a lot more services when it comes to training, which was highly important, especially for somebody like myself coming in and not knowing the bare essentials of flyers and computers and advertisement and so forth. And you can spin off of so many people here that have so much more experience than you, whereas in a smaller company, you can’t, because they’re learning, just like you. So to come to a bigger company and be able to say, ‘Hey, how do I do this?’ or, ‘How do I do that?’ is very important in real estate.”

Stock quickly learned how to best care for her clients. Brooks McEwen works for nonprofits, and her husband, Josh Brandt, is a writer for the FX hit The Americans. Due to his job, they have generally spent four months a year in Lon Angeles and eight in New York, making finding apartments here exceedingly difficult. They’ve rented four apartments from Stock, including an artist loft in Tribeca they’ve now lived in for two years, and McEwen said that Stock has been the perfect broker for handling their unusual requests.

“She’s persistent. I think she uses her private-eye skills to get people exactly what they want,” McEwen said. “She is a researcher. She will find exactly what you want in the right neighborhood, for the amount of time you need it for. It’s almost like she’s got this missing person she’s trying to find, but instead, she’s trying to please her clients using the same skills.”

While Stock has largely worked on the residential side to date, she’s excited about her current push toward commercial.

“I see the residential market being absolutely flooded with brokers,” she said. “I think commercial doesn’t have as many brokers, and I could be wrong about that. But they certainly don’t like to work on weekends, and I’ll work seven days a week. Someone called me the other day and said, ‘What’s the latest you can show, and I said midnight.’ That’s my attitude—I’ll work any time.”

Stock hopes the sale of 345 Greenwich will launch a stronger presence for her on the commercial end of the business. Those who’ve benefitted from her kindness and her tenacity have no doubt she’ll succeed.

“She’s like a dog with a bone,” McEwen said. “You give her a project, and she will not let up until she gets you what you need.”

Source: commercial

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