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Suburban owner emphasizes service.

Robert Martin Company, developers, owners and operators in Westchester and Fairfield Counties, liken its office complexes, high-tech facilities and executive parks, to running a hotel -- short stays and high service.

The firm's average tenant size is 10,000 square feet and lease terms range from three to 10 years. (They also offer one-year leases). Tenants enjoy the shorter lease terms and the company is confident with its variety of holdings that they can accommodate the tenants changing needs.

"We have not lost one tenant to a competing building if, in fact, we had the ability through available space to keep them," said Lee Neibert, executive vice president.

One of the company's major tenants in downtown White Plains, Harris Publishing, recently expanded its headquarters at 3 Barker Avenue, part of a major mixed-use urban renewal project of which Robert Martin was the designated developer, from 35,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet in one of the largest leases in Westchester.

Among the many services they offer for tenants are: space planning and build out, park newspapers, health clubs, day care centers, restaurants, banks, post offices, hotel rooms, and more.

And much like a hotel, Robert Martin's office buildings are a 24-hour, 365-day operation, said Brad W. Berger, executive vice president. An employee is always on-call. "Our buildings never sleep," he said. "As far as we're concerned this is a 24-hour business."

"We're in the real estate business," said Neibert, "but we're also in the service business."

Founded in 1957 by Robert F. Weinberg and Martin S. Berger, the company is considered one of Westchester County's most prolific and diversified development firms. The firm owns more than 7 million square feet -- in 100 buildings -- of office, industrial, high-tech, retail, residential and hotel space throughout the Westchester/Fairfield region. They are one of Westchester's leading residential builders, having developed more than 2,000 single and multi-family housing units over the past four decades, and were pioneers in office park development, mixed-use urban renewal projects and high-tech buildings in Westchester/Fairfield area. They have also expanded their portfolio to include properties in Central Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Florida through joint venture partnerships.

Their office properties include the Westchester Financial Center, a mixed-use building that includes 50 Main Street, a 315,000-square-foot office tower that was fully leased within one year of its 1985 unveiling and 1-11 Martine Avenue, a 26,000-square-foot, 15-story office academic building that opened in 1987 at more than 70 percent leased.

2777 Summer Street in Stamford, Connecticut, a Robert Martin, acquisition, is a 110,000-square-foot office complex which following a complete renovation is a Class A office building in downtown Stamford.

Their officer/high-tech business parks include Cross Westchester Executive Park in Elmsford, New York, the company's flagship park, which contains approximately 2 million square feet of space for corporate offices, R&D applications, light industrial uses, high-tech facilities, and sales outlets. Amenities include a Peoples Westchester Savings Bank branch, a Ramada Inn hotel, a U.S. post office annex, Execu-Lunch food service, and a child care center.

Stamford Executive Park in Stamford, Connecticut, is a 35-acre development which upon completion will total 400,000 square feet of corporate, high-tech facilities and related research application. Currently, the park contains 230,000 square feet of office and high-tech space in four buildings.

South Westchester Executive Park in Yonkers, New York, the 140-acre multi-use development, will ultimately contain approximately 2 million square feet of space for corporate offices, high-tech facilities and support services. On-site amenities include a Red Robin restaurant franchise, Peoples Westchester Savings Bank branch, Court Sports Health Club, Texaco service station and convenience store, Execu-Lunch dining facility, a post office annex and Federal Express drive through. Additional service stores and restaurant facilities will be constructed to join the approved 128-room hotel project.

Vertical Organization

One of Robert Martin's advantages, say Berger and Neibert, is that they are a totally vertical organization. They have 120 employees and in-house capabilities to handle, among other tasks: land acquisition, approvals processing, zoning, architecture, engineering, space planning, leasing, management, public relations, and they have their own construction company.

"We take it from one end of the assembly line to another," said Berger.

He adds that they are paying wholesale price rather than retail and they don't have to wait in line behind other clients.

"That makes us very flexible when an opportunity presents itself," said Neibert.

The company's office buildings boast 90 to 95 percent occupancy at all their buildings, Berger said, and such corporate tenants as IBM, Ceiba Geigy, and Philip Morris. At it's office properties, the firm consummates more than 200 commercial lease transactions a year.

"That makes this a very busy place," said Berger.

"We start working on a lease renewal the day the tenant signs the lease," said Neibert. "We don't wait till the last month to be nice to them."


The concentration on amenities is related to quality of life, Berger said, and satisfying the needs of their customers.

"We have selected the people as our target companies that are concerned with quality of life," he said.

Berger and Neibert said amenities cannot be an afterthought and their company created some of the zoning language for certain facilities that is commonly used today.

"If you haven't pre-planned through zoning and site planning, you're not going to get them," said Neibert.

The company has been a trailblazer for developer-initiated, on-site day care centers in Westchester. They currently have three Bright Horizons child care center, which they subsidize for tenants, at their office parks in Yonkers, Elmsford and Hawthorne.

Flex Buildings

Flex buildings -- high-tech, light assembly, distribution properties account for approximately 60 percent of the company's holdings. Robert Martin, Neibert and Berger say, has been attracting tenants from Long Island City, that are moving out of their older buildings into brand new, high-tech, one-and two-story buildings. The company has a monopoly on that in Westchester and Fairfield, they say.

Plans for the Future

Due to current market outlook, the company, according to Berger and Neibert, is going to be very selective about new ventures. They are currently sitting on 3 to 4 million square feet of zones land of all different kinds of uses, but will be putting their time and money into existing property.

"With few exceptions that is probably where the energies of the company lie until rental rates rise to justify new construction," said Neibert.

And, while they have contracted in other departments, they have kept all their leasing and management staff.

"We are not diminishing service in any way, shape or form. We will not compromise."
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Robert Martin Co.
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:company profile
Date:Oct 2, 1991
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