Printer Friendly

Getting aggressive in Westchester.

Getting aggressive in Westchester

Today's challenging business environment demands aggressive change. That's why Schulman Realty Group, for the first time in its 25-year history, has enlisted an exclusive agent to lease 3 million square feet of Westchester office space in 24 buildings.

Schulman chose Manhattan-based Edward S. Gordon Company, Inc. to market the properties, which represent 10 percent of the total Westchester office inventory and the largest exclusive leasing assignment in the history of the county. As a result, the brokerage has set up a Westchester branch primarily to serve the suburban properties in the White Plains/Harrison area. Schulman, the largest owner of exclusively office space in Westchester, had previously handled marketing through its own leasing division.

"The real estate market has changed tremendously," said Schulman President and CEO H. Guy Leibler. "These markets are not orderly and the system by and large does not work easily."

According to Leibler, 37, who joined the company in 1978, they chose ESG for its national and international presence. ESG recently formed an alliance with Mitsui, and their Corporate Realty Group, Inc., a division located in Houston, serves the real estate needs of corporations nation-wide.

"They do a good job in understanding a real estate brokerage/real estate consulting company," he said.

The ESG's appointment caused a bit of a shake-up with the brokerage community in Westchester. In reality, Leibler said, this only changes his role, since he was previously the owner rep, and not the role of the brokerage community.

"These are tough times," Leibler said. "We're all looking to do better."

The Schulman portfolio is currently 84 percent occupied. They are still trying to recover from 475,000 square feet left vacant by three corporate giants that consolidated or moved to their own built-to-suit facilities elsewhere in the county. Until late 1987, Pepsico occupied 250,000 square feet or 8 percent of the Schulman portfolio. IBM vacated 150,000 square feet and NYNEX left 75,000 square feet. As a result, Leibler said, a good chunk of the leasing done between 1978 and 82 was vacated during 1986 to 1988. Leibler, says, however, the company is comforted by the fact that these companies did not leave to go another owner in Westchester.

Schulman Realty Company was founded in 1967 by Lowell Schulman, now chairman of the board, who purchased 280 acres on both sides of the Cross Westchester Expressway (I-287). Its first buildings were One and Two Corporate Drive and six more buildings were added later to make the company's first office park. Today Schulman's 26 office buildings surround the crossroads of Westchester County - I-287 and I-684. Its more than 300 corporate tenants include IBM. Joseph E. Seagram's Inc. - in one whole building and half of another, Chemical Bank, General Motors, Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Greater New York, 7-11's Trans-america Leasing Inc. - in one whole building, and Nestle Foods Corporation.

While Schulman is being conservative in terms of new construction, they are taking a pro-active stance with its existing portfolio. They are undertaking a four-year $25 million of capital improvement program consisting of a variety of building upgrades. They will be doing a full renovation of the former IBM building at 1 Corporate Drive, and transform the single-user building make into a multi-tenanted facility. Next fall, they will begin reshaping 4 Corporate Drive. Companies today. Schulman said, are employing fewer but higher-caliber employees, and therefore, they need less and better quality space.

"We have been studying how best to provide services businesses will need this decade," he said.

Bright Spots

for Westchester

Some recent leasing activity in Westchester, Leibler said, may make 1992 the year for recovery where the vacancy rate is 20.3 percent - 5 million square feet of the 25 million-square-foot inventory. Handy and Harmon Conran's Habitat, Central National Gottesman, Gabelli Asset Management and KFC National Management and Tambrands, which now occupies two-thirds, 76,000 square feet, of Schulman's 777 Westchester Avenue, have all relocated to the county. Three of the four were New York City companies and one Long Island.

"This county has not been bad in bringing in business," Leibler said. "Our absorption is lousy."

Leibler and Schulman Realty Group have taken an active role in the health and growth of Westchester County. In November of 1989, at Schulman's boardroom table, Leibler and a number of other Westchester business and government leaders hammered out the details for the Westchester Business Partnership.

"Some of us thought Westchester was in need of doing what Dallas was doing or Orlando was doing," said Leibler, who heads the partnership.

The group was formed as a public and private venture to promote Westchester as a balanced community - both business friendly and a great place to live. "Business is becoming much more sensitive to where their employees are living," Leibler said.

With a $250,000 annual budget, the partnership has launched an advertising campaign, with print and radio ads, and has supported such developments as the new terminal building at the Westchester Airport and the new retail fashion mall in Downtown White Plains. They recently held a luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria for companies considering a move. More than 100 companies attended.

While New York City officials have asked surrounding communities to pledge against luring companies out of the Big Apple, Leibler maintains this has never been the intention of the partnership. The partnership believes, he said, that New York City is the "crown jewel" and its health is vital to all surrounding areas.

"We spent a lot of time to craft words and copy to make sure they are not a direct hit," Leibler said. "They're not going to believe our rhetoric and hype. They're going to do it on sound market fact.

"I haven't asked them to leave New York but, if they're leaving, come to us," he said.

The partnership, Leibler said, has succeeded in convincing businesses in Westchester that it is their responsibility to publicize the benefits of the County.

"Westchester, in the 70's and 80's, was like a Honda dealership," he said. "People walked in and said |I'll take it.'"

Focus on Tenant Services

Schulman will continue to manage and operate its own portfolio. The firm prides itself on the services it offers the more than 8,000 tenant employees.

The Schulman Shuttle eases commuting for hundreds that work in Schulman buildings. The shuttle buses meet tenant employees at the TransCenter in Downtown White Plains and there is a dedicated bus that comes over the Tappan Zee Bridge. Tenants can also use the shuttle to do lunch-time errands. Recently added services include a mobile bank branch, next-day dry cleaning, a mobile food vendor, emergency car service and the "Schulman Executive Express."

The Executive Express is designed to meet resident corporations' business needs. Currently a pilot program at 925 Westchester Avenue in White Plains, the car service will go anywhere within a four-mile radius. Destinations include: the Rye and White Plains train stations, the Westchester County Courthouse, the Westchester County Center and major area hotels and conference centers.

"Parking in Downtown White Plains can be challenging," Leibler said. "Why not be able to call get a ride and get a ride back."

This will also help employers comply with upcoming federal environmental standards that require employers to institute car pools to reduce auto emissions.

Schulman's newest buildings were completed in 1986 on Mamaroneck Avenue in Harrison. As to when Schulman will be expanding its Westchester empire, Leibler said not any time in the near future.

"Let demand get unsatisfied for a while," he said. "Get rates to come up to make the risk ratio make sense."

PHOTO : 2975 Westchester Avenue Purchase, New York

PHOTO : 500 Mamaroneck Avenue Harrison, New York

PHOTO : 2700 Weschester Avenue Purchase, New York
COPYRIGHT 1992 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Schulman Realty Group
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jan 8, 1992
Previous Article:More owners go to court with property tax disputes.
Next Article:'Astute' Russians lease 75,000 sf at World Trade.

Related Articles
Lender takes control of Schulman buildings.
ESG gets exclusive in Westchester, opens branch.
Lender takes title to six Schulman properties.
Real estate executives bullish on Westchester.
Lashins plans new office building in Armonk, NY.
Office park mogul puts development/investment expertise to work.
Cunningham & Schneider Realty.
Rakow handles Ampacet White Plains lease renewal.
Mack-Cali Realty Corp. hands out broker awards. (Transcripts).

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters