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Taking retail leasing to new heights.

When you can't find David Green, Brad Mendelson or Richard Seligman at their offices at the Edward S. Gordon Company or touring space with their clients, you might want to go shopping. There's a good chance you'll run into these retail power-brokers in the aisles of the hottest new stores in town.

"The key to being a smart, effective retail real estate broker is to understand the distinct business needs of the retailers you're serving, not just the real estate end of the equation," says Seligman, senior managing director of ESG's Retail Group. "We've actually put our people behind the counters of our clients' stores to attain first-hand experience about their businesses and their customers."

Understanding the business objectives and marketing strategies of such prestigious clients as Bulgari, Fratelli Rossetti, New World Coffee, Sony, Fila, the Six Flags division of Time-Warner Inc., and many others in just one way the ESG Retail Group tries to keep one step ahead of the competition. With backgrounds in retailing, law, merchandising, and, of course, real estate, the ESG Retail Group is composed of professionals with diverse skills.

For instance, prior to joining ESG in 1989, Seligman served as manager of leasing for The Taubman Companies, a nationally-known shopping mail developer. He also spent more than ten years as a merchandising executive with Federated Department Stores, and five years in a senior retailing capacity with Carter Hawley-Hale. Green, who joined ESG in 1991, began his real estate career as an attorney and earned industry recognition for his work for developer Sheldon Solow. Brad Mendelson, one of the industry's "elder statesmen," has been with the Edward S. Gordon Company for more than 20 years.

"Everything before the development of this department was a step along the road towards the optimal retail real estate services company," says Mendelson, who first made a name for himself in 1970 as co-founder of the company now called Garrick-Aug & Associates.

ESG offers a true team approach, employing an ingenious combination of senior level brokers, who are partners, and salaried salespeople. "ESG's Retail Group is the standard against which all other firms are judged. Our younger brokers have the same apprenticeship obligation that you would find in law or architecture. We have the obligation to teach them and provide them a full range of professional opportunities," says Seligman.

In addition to Green, Mendelson and Seligman, partners in the ESG Retail Group include managing director Victor Menkin, a seasoned broker who spent many years with Olympia & York, and associate director Andrew Goldberg.

At ESG, every transaction receives complete focus and dedication. "What we've done is take senior level people, skilled in diverse disciplines, and combined their abilities with the strong minds and legwork of salaried young professionals who are eager to prove themselves and make their mark in this business." Mendelson adds.

The result: ESG - long known as the premier office leasing broker in Manhattan - has extended its leadership position into the world of retail leasing, locally and nationally, representing both retailers and property owners.

Around the U.S., the ESG Retail Group has been at the center of major national expansions by Bulgari, Fila, Fratelli Rossetti, Origins and Dreyfus Financial Services, as well as the opening of a premier showcase store for Sony in Chicago. In Manhattan, ESG has made headlines for its recent work securing Calvin Klein's 20,000 square-foot flagship store on Madison Avenue; and Warner Brothers' new store at the World Trade Center.

ESG's Retail Group has also tackled many of the most high profile and successful retail agency assignments in the city. Most notably, the Retail Group represented Equitable Real Estate in leasing 33,000 square feet of space at 645 Madison Avenue to Ann Taylor for its new multi-level flagship store. The complicated transaction involved negotiating buy-outs of existing tenants in order to assemble a contiguous block of space suited to the high-profile needs of Ann Taylor.

"Multi-level retailing works because the cost of space per square foot is averaged down when compared to leasing just ground floor space," says Seligman. "ESG has developed a strong reputation for creating greater value for properties by structuring multi-level transactions that work for both the owner and the retailer."

In another agency assignment, ESG represented Millennium Partners in the sale of a retail condominium at Madison Avenue and 70th Street to Prada, the Italian retailer, which was represented by New Spectrum Realty Services Inc.

Seligman and Mendelson are most proud that the retailers they put into a space most often stay there, and flourish, for the long term. "We have a strong understanding of both the retailing and the real estate, which helps us create the best solution for our customers' needs," Mendelson says.

As examples, Seligman points to a number of recent transactions ESG structured for new tenants at The Mall at The World Trade Center, including Coach Leather, Crabtree & Evelyn, Warner Brothers Studio Stores and The Limited and its divisions.

"There were a number of skeptics who questioned whether upscale retailers could succeed at the World Trade Center," Seligman remembers. "But we were confident that the exceptionally high traffic through the concourse would include customers for the likes of Coach and others. So far, the sales results have been outstanding."

Outstanding is one word that ESG's President Stephen Siegel uses to describe his retail team's success. "We've assembled a truly outstanding group of professionals to serve our retailer customers," Siegel says. "Their skills are supplemented and supported by the wealth of talent we've assembled throughout the Gordon organization. In the end, our ability to serve both the owners and retailers if unparalleled."

Mendelson and Seligman agree. "We've got every base covered, from market knowledge to negotiating skills, and from the support of a large organization to our strong commitment to our clients," Seligman explains.

"Working together," Mendelson says, "ESG's Retail Group is able to not only stay on top of leasing trends, but help set them as well."
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Title Annotation:Edward S. Gordon Company Inc.'s Retail Group
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jul 19, 1995
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