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Change at Garrick-Aug?

Garrick-Aug Associates Store Leasing Inc. could be close to undergoing another metamorphosis.

Larry Selevan, the ex-Wall Streeter and one-time retail broker who paid $3 million for the firm in 2004, has left amidst a flurry of rumors about a possible merger with Manhattan brokerage, Century 21 Kevin Brown.

While sources say Selevan was asked to leave the firm, he told REW this week it was a "mutual decision." Selevan, who has set up a new investment and consulting company in Manhattan, said, "I was always the interim CEO and chairman and it was my goal to leave the moment we were able to successfully merge the company with another company.

"I successfully turned around the image of Garrick-Aug and moved it forward to do that merger and left the company in a much stronger position than when I came on board.

"We found the merger candidate and they are going to take over management of [Garrick-Aug] and they don't need two CEOs.

"The major shareholder [United Traders Corporation] is well financed and they have been supplying capital to [Garrick-Aug] continuously. They plan to put in a lot of money once the company completes its merger."

When Selevan's United Traders Corporation--described at the time of the buy-over as an international investment and banking firm--bought Garrick-Aug, he was named chairman, with the company's founder, Charles Aug, remaining as principal.

Peter Botsaris, Garrick-Aug's then president, was named COO, while general counsel Lee Stand was promoted to secretary and CFO, Peter Nelson, to treasurer.

It is understood Botsaris, along with Charles Aug and his son James, were part of the UTC investment team. Although Botsaris told REW he was not an investor, the original press release issued at the time of the purchase stated that he was "part of the purchasing group."

At the time of the buy-over, Charles Aug told REW, "Larry is a very interesting character. He is going to grow my business into something more than it is and he has invited me to stay."

Although the firm's star leasing team of Faith Hope Consolo and Joe Aquino decided to end their 20-year relationship with Garrick-Aug and move to Prudential Douglas Elliman, the firm seemed to be rebounding, announcing plans to convert the retail-focused brokerage into a fully integrated investment banking firm that could provide retail services to a global market.

However, several sources said the firm was financially over-stretched and, several weeks ago, rumors began to circulate that it was in trouble following news that Peter Botsaris had left along with at least one other broker, reportedly fed up with unpaid commissions.

Botsaris--who has set up his own firm, Botsaris Realty Group--told REW there was nothing sinister behind his move. "It was time for me to move on to the next chapter of my career," he said.

Botsaris--who worked with Aug for over 20 years--said he had a "terrific run" with the company and had mixed emotions about leaving last November.

"I am very proud to have been part of the rise of what was once one of the most prolific real estate firms in the city.

"We were moving along nicely, but time doesn't stop and there came a point when Charles decided to retire.

When he decided to sell, I sold along with him, but I stayed on with the new owners to help through the transition period. Then it became time to go out and create my own individual legacy."

Botsaris said his new firm would continue to assist "old friends and new clients" with their real estate needs. "The firm is going to be based on what my career has been based on--being respected for my expertise in the marketplace and taking that knowledge and applying that with a good work ethic and hands-on approach in order to achieve the needs of my clients."

Since launching his firm 30 days ago, Botsaris said he was in the process of negotiating several independent transactions in addition to securing 100,000 s/f of exclusive assignments that he would begin marketing within the next few weeks.

Century 21 Kevin Brown did not return repeated calls for comment on this report.

No-one from Garrick-Aug was available for comment and REW was unable to locate corporate offices for UTC.

When asked for a contact number at UTC, Selevan referred us to Peter Nelson at Garrick-Aug, saying, "He deals with them closely." Mr Nelson had no comment.

Selevan, meanwhile, said he plans to get back into the investment field and is looking to acquire new assets throughout Manhattan. "I am exclusively representing a number of tenants and landlords on a consulting basis. I am looking to buy another real estate company--a much bigger company than Garrick-Aug."
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Author:Barr, Linda
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Feb 8, 2006
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