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Service firm's strategy now in vogue.

During the whirlwind 80's, the principals of Abrams Benisch Riker, Inc. took the road less traveled and built a real estate services firm with a strong appeal for the conservative institutional-type owners and tenants. Today, as more and more real estate is acquired by banks, insurance companies and pension fund managers, the company's strategy is now in vogue.

"The gunslingers of the 80's ... culturally, we weren't totally in tune with that," said Partner Robert Billingsly. Now our time has come."

Founded in 1978 by four Cross & Brown brokers -- Robert H. Abrams, John H. Benisch, Stephen J. Riker, and Robert L. Billingsly, Abrams Benisch Riker, Inc. offers owner/tenant leasing representation, retail leasing and consulting, property management construction management and investment consulting.

The firm handles management and leasing assignments for 6 million square feet, virtually all in Midtown and 80 percent for institutional owners. Building agencies include: 730 Third Avenue and 750 Third Avenue --- Teachers Insurance, 405 Park Avenue -- in care of The Yarmouth Group, 300 Park Avenue -- Bank of New York as trustee. Other institutional clients include Aldrich, Eastman Waltch, Barring Institutional Real Estate Advisors, and John Hancock.

Forming relationships, strategic problem solving, and communicating to the client in the language they are used to, Riker said, are among the principles that have guided the firm.

"These institutions demand an incredible amount of information and accountability," according to Partner Jim Fredericks.

According to Managing Partner Stephen J. Riker, the firm provides real estate advisory services or one-stop shopping" for the real estate objectives of institutions and corporations.

"No longer can institutions afford to have on staff or go looking for these people," Billingsly said. "They're outsourcing."

Plans Realized

Tbe firm's leaders are also gratified that the vision they had for the firm's management structure is being realized.

It was our genuine belief that the people that came along and joined us would in a timely fashion be brought into the ownership and running of the firm," said Riker.

Since the late 1980's, the original partners have been selling stock to other executives in the company, and recently Benisch and Abrams divested themselves of most of their interest in the firm and relinquished their day-to-day management duties. They will remain on as limited partners.

In addition to Riker, Billingsly, and Frederick, the firm's current full equity partners include Mark P. Boisi, Paul J. Mas, James C. B. Millard III, and Thomas C. Waldron, Jr. P.E.

The partners report that their buildings are an average 94 percent occupied. This year they have already consummated more than 2 million square feet so far this year including 103,000 square feet for the law firm of Fish & Neave at 1251 Avenue of the Americas; 100,000 square feet at 250 Park Avenue; 135,000 square feet for Scudder Stevens & Clark at 345 Park Avenue.

They are currently pitching 8 million square feet of new buildings.

According to Riker the firm is "debt free" and they will be profitable this year. In 1991, they broke even instead of turning a profit -- the first time since 1978.

The firm will also be looking for opportunities from its affiliation with Colliers International Property Consultants, a global network of independently owned commercial brokerage firms in key U.S. and world markets. Abrams Benisch Riker is the owner/representative for New York City, Westchester and Fairfield Countries. Last year, the firm made the largest deal in the network moving the American Bureau of Shipping from New Jersey to occupy the 106th floor of 2 World Trade Center. And, the partners say, they will close the largest deal this year.

New Office

A major player in the Westchester and Fairfield office markets, the firm recently opened an office in Greenwich.

"In the last three or four years, we have made the major transactions in Westchester," said Riker.

Among those deals are Seagrams Research, IBM and MacMillan and others at 55 Railroad Avenue in Greenwich, and Tambrands at 777 Westchester Avenue.

They hold the exclusive leasing agencies for such properties as Taxter Park located at the crossroads of 287 and Saw Mill River Parkway, the Cristiana Building, situated at the foot of the Tappan Zee Bridge, and the balance of 55 Railroad Avenue in Greenwhich, and a Rockrose Property on I84.

In addition to having helped major tenants establish headquarters in these markets over the years, a number of the partners live in and/or are natives Westchester and Fairfield County.

"We have in our blood a knowledge of that area," said Billingsly.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:evaluation of Abrams Benisch Riker Inc.
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Nov 4, 1992
Words:753
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