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New firm boasts seasoned talent.

New firm boasts seasoned talent

After 39 years with management and leasing giant Cross & Brown, Robert Waldron is heading his own full-service real estate boutique. At Waldron Associates, Ltd., he has assembled a small, highly experienced group of individuals that have met the real estate needs of more than 300 major corporations.

"At this moment of time, we're able to give a lot of attention to a lot of the different problems," said Waldron, former vice chairman of the board and chief operating officer of Cross & Brown.

In addition to management and leasing services and financing, the firm is also involved with lenders and property owners in tri-party arrangements, workouts, and receiverships.

"In today's business you have to have varied experience," he said.

Joining Waldron are two other senior Cross & Brown'ers. David McDowelll, vice president, was in charge of Cross & Brown's New Jersey office which included a staff of 40. John Mancini, director of management, was previously the head of Cross & Brown's building management department. He was also national operations coordinator with Teacher's Insurance and Annuity Association.

The executive team also includes Waldron's two sons - Robert, whose background at Twin Cities Federal includes mortgage financing as well as co-op and condominium conversion and property management; and Eric Waldron, managing director of Leasing, whose experience at Chemical Bank and Cross & Brown Company spans over 10 years in leasing, investment brokerage, ownership and development.

"We bring all the experience and talents to bear and we get paid pretty well," he said. "We're giving more service. We expect more."

According to Waldron, his firm attracts a more "competent" leasing broker. The brokers are salaried and when an assignment is brought in everyone works on it.

"The compensation structure is similar to an investment banking firm," he said.

After nine months the firm's management portfolio includes nine buildings and they are expecting to add others shortly. The firm is concentrating on secondary buildings like their assignment at the Diamond Exchange Building on 47th Street. The 100,000-square-foot building is 90 percent rented with short-term leases.

"We are targeting secondary buildings," he said. "It's a good place for us to use our talents," Waldron said. "They require more expertise. They are more difficult to run."

While these buildings are more problematic, Waldron said, they make up the heart of the city's property inventory and their tenants keep the city going.

The firm has also been employing its services in addressing the problems of today's troubled market. When an owner defaults on a property, Waldron said, it is often advantageous to leave the owner in place as long as he is not doing any harm and hire an outside firm to do the management and leasing firm. The lender avoids the pitfalls of foreclosure and bankruptcy until the owner recovers or the market is healthy for sale.

"Putting an asset management firm in place can often bring in desired results as long as the economy will give you a break in the next five years," he said.

Waldron boasts that the firm is combining seasoned professionals with new technology. "Instead of updating management systems, we were able to start fresh and bring in a state-of-the art technology right from day one," he said.

Company Man

In addition to his personal activities as a property owner and developer, Waldron has been among New York's most prolific brokers, responsible for over $3.5 billion in sales and leasing transactions of all types. He has represented some of the country's largest and most prestigious corporations including Xerox, General Electric, AMF, Benjamin Moore, Volkswagen, Sunshine Biscuit, and Foremost McKesson.

He joined Cross & Brown in 1954 as an appraiser. Four years later he joined the industrial department as a broker serving national accounts specializing in plant relocation, financing, and sale/leasebacks. During this period, he negotiated transactions in the New York metro area totalling approximately 9 million square feet of space including the sale of the Sunshine Biscuit Building and the Tulip Cup Properties and he moved the Daily News to Long Island City. Waldron went on to head the department and become a partner, thus assuming a vital role in the major real estate firm which represented more than 300 properties as managing and leasing agent as well as being active in corporate leasing, commercial property sales, and financing.

During the 1970's, Waldron led Cross & Brown's activities as sales agent for International Modular Housing, in which he was a major partner and developed thousands of homes in Saudi Arabia.

In 1984, Cross & Brown was sold to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Waldron remained with the firm as an executive vice president and director of the Investment & Financial Services Department. During 1988, Metropolitan Life appointed Waldron vice chairman of the board and chief operating officer in charge of all Cross & Brown operations including the management and leasing of its parent's $5 billion New York real estate portfolio.

Waldron started his own firm after more than eight months of negotiations with Met Life to purchase Cross & Brown failed to result in a deal.

Waldron prides himself in having revamped the management/leasing teams for the portfolio of parent company Met Life. He placed the brokers on salary plus bonuses but no commission overrides. This, he said, put management on a profit basis and reduced the cost to the owner directly.

Brokerage Biz Today

The firm is busy today arranging a number of lease renewals. The renewal lease, Waldron said, is the focus of the brokerage business today because there are few new deals coming into the city today and very little of the expansion activity that dominated the 80's. Waldron Associates recently renegotiated rent for a tenant with a well-known New York owner. The tenant was paying $55 per square foot for 14,000 square feet. The firm arranged for the tenant to pay $31 per square foot with a 10-year extension.

Owners have tough decisions to make today in order to maintain their tenants. "It involves a multitude of skills to convince everybody that this must be done," Waldron said.

The firm is also working with owners to help them renegotiate their financing. If "you restructure leases, you have to restructure the financing," he said.

Waldron believes many brokerages will have to re-evaluate the way they pay their brokers get paid. "Large brokerage firms, if they have'nt already experienced problems with overhead, they will. They're going to have to change compensation for brokers.

"It's a tough business - a lot of brokers chasing too few deals," Waldron said. "The marginal brokers will look for business somewhere else."
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Title Annotation:Waldron Associates Ltd.
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Feb 5, 1992
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