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Deals & Dealmakers

WHO’S NEWS: The latest commercial promotions and appointments

Mitti Liebersohn, Avison Young Principal and President of the firm’s New York City office, announced the strategic hiring of highly regarded office leasing specialist Rick Marek.

Effective immediately, Marek becomes a Principal of Avison Young and will continue to advise tenants involved primarily in legal and financial services. Marek brings more than four decades of New York City commercial real estate experience to Avison Young, most recently as a co-founder and president of The Vortex Group since 2002.

During his career, Marek has assisted numerous law firms such as Akerman LLP as well as many financial tenants, including Lazard Freres & Co. LLC, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Coller Capital and Key Square Capital Management LLC (which came out of the Soros Fund), with their office- space situations.

Marek has been active with the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) since starting his real estate career at Julien J. Studley Inc. at age 21, one week after receiving a Master of Business Administration degree from Syracuse University. He was chair of REBNY’s Plaza committee for 22 years, participated for two terms on the group’s commercial board of directors and, since 2015, the REBNY board of governors. In 2004, he received the Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award at the annual REBNY dinner for initiating a fundraising effort among all REBNY members on September 11, 2001 to support the needy children of the porters at the World Trade Center and workers at Windows on the World restaurant who had lost their lives on that day.

Marek is active in other areas of the community as well. He co-founded the DirectEffect research program at Rockefeller University in 1992 and is a member of the university’s council. He has also been a trustee of Educational Alliance, a member agency of the United Jewish Appeal (UJA), for more than 20 years.

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Veronika Khen has joined AKAM Sales & Brokerage as a licensed real estate sales person. Previously at Nest Seekers, Khen joins Akam’s new brokerage headquarters, which recently opened at 260 Madison Avenue. Khen has a diverse real estate background that includes selling co-ops, condos, new developments and conversions as well as single and multifamily housesShe holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Samarkand State University and is fluent in Russian. Before becoming a real estate broker, she worked for “BMG” Pharmaceutical Company as a Senior Sales Manager. Khen consistently donates to City Harvest charitable organization that helps to close the hunger gap in New York.

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RHYS, a Stamford, CT-based commercial real estate company has appointed Thomas Gardner, as Director of Research and Financial Analysis where he is responsible for overseeing the underwriting and research for the firm. His job is to have a deep understanding of all facets of the commercial real estate markets that RHYS operates in to leverage information for the firm’s clients and their future success.

Gardner is a native of Indianapolis, IN, who previously interned at Pedcor Companies in Carmel, Indiana where he completed due diligence and assisted underwriting of multifamily developments. He previously worked at Kite Realty Group in leasing/finance where he was involved in all areas of leasing process and at Simon Property Group in the marketing department to help redevelop the platform for in-mall marketing used by the national sales team. Gardner has a bachelor of science degree in finance from Elon University in Elon, North Carolina where he is the founder and former President of Elon Real Estate Club and a member of NAIOP, a commercial real estate development organization.

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The Urban Land Institute New York (ULI NY) has named Steven Kohn, Vice Chairman & President of Cushman & Wakefield Equity, Debt & Structured Finance as its new Chairman, effective July 1, 2018. Brian Collins, Head of Development at Fisher Brothers, will serve in a newly created role as Vice Chairman. Mr. Kohn has replaced former Chairman, CEO of Silverstein Properties, Marty Burger, who held the position since 2016. Kohn is a Trustee and Governor of ULI and former Chair of the Urban Development and Mixed-Use Council (Red Flight). Kohn is also a member of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE), for which he serves on the Board of Directors, and previously served on its Executive Committee. He is a member of the Wharton Real Estate Center Advisory Board and the Pension Real Estate Association (PREA).

Mr. Kohn is president of the Board of Directors of The Catalog for Giving, a charitable organization that funds youth programs throughout New York City. Mr. Kohn also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Bucknell University. A 30-year real estate professional, Mr. Collins has extensive development experience of all types of real estate. Prior to joining Fisher Brothers, Collins was hired by Fortress Investment Group as President of Intrawest, one of the largest resort owner/operators and real estate development companies in North America.

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Real estate attorney Lee Samuelson has joined Holland & Knight as a partner in the firm’s New York office. Mr. Samuelson advises clients in complex real estate transactions, including the structuring and negotiating of joint venture agreements. Previously, he was a partner at Hogan Lovells in New York.Mr. Samuelson represents public and private clients, both domestic and international, in a broad range of real estate sectors, including trophy properties, shopping centers, regional malls, hotels, office buildings, multifamily developments, senior living facilities, industrial properties and mixed-use developments. His clients invest in, develop, own, occupy and finance real estate directly or through joint ventures. He is also knowledgeable about a wide variety of commercial leases and architecture, construction and property management agreements. Before becoming a lawyer, he spent many years working in the real estate industry. Mr. Samuelson received a J.D. degree from Cornell Law School, an M.S. degree from New York University and a B.A. degree from Emory University.

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CBRE Group, Inc. has hired Don Leeke as President, Client Solutions, for the firm’s Global Workplace Solutions (GWS) business, which provides facilities management, project management, advisory and transaction and consulting services to occupiers of commercial real estate.

Based in Minneapolis, Mr. Leeke is an accomplished and versatile executive with more than two decades of experience. He led sales activities for Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and, most recently, IBM as Vice President of North America Analytics Sales.
In his new role, Mr. Leeke oversees the firm’s global outsourcing sales and solutioning organization, management consulting, technology-led analytics, industry sector specialties and CBRE Institute.

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Julie Fox has joined R.J. Brune1li & Co., LLC in the newly-created position of Manager Of New Tenant Representation.
Fox brings over 13 years of retail real estate experience in property management, brokerage, landlord leasing, tenant representation, and land disposition to the Old Bridge-based retail real estate brokerage. She will primarily focus on the development and servicing of tenant representation accounts, but will also handle leasing and sales on behalf of property owners.

She comes to R.J. Brunelli from Shopcore Properties, Philadelphia, where she directed the leasing of The Shops at Skyview, a mixed-use urban retail project in Flushing, N.Y. Prior to that, Fox was a senior leasing representative for Brixmor Property Group in Conshohocken, Penn., handling a portfolio of more than 2.2 million square feet of shopping centers throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Previously, Fox served as a portfolio leasing representative for Lakewood, N.J.-based Paramount Realty Services, where she was part of a team responsible for more than five million square feet of shopping center space in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and eastern Pennsylvania.

From 2008 to 2013, she was a sales associate at FAMECO Real Estate, Plymouth Meeting, Penn. In that role, Fox negotiated in excess of 1.1 million square feet of retail lease and sale transactions and represented such prominent tenants as Darden Restaurant Group, CVS, AT&T Wireless, Kilwins Chocolate, and Kids First Swim in their expansion throughout the Greater Philadelphia and western Pennsylvania markets.

She began her career in 2005 as an assistant general manager for PREIT Services, LLC in Willow Grove, Penn., where her responsibilities included daily operational matters and tenant construction supervision for a 1.25 million-square-foot mall, two strip centers and a power center totaling an additional 534,000 square feet.
Fox earned M.B.A. and Master of Finance degrees from Drexel University and a B.A. from The University of Delaware. She was named to “Real Estate’s 12 to Watch” by Chain Store Age magazine in 2018, currently serves as the ICSC PA/NJ/DE Next Generation Chair and co-founded The Pipeline, a women’s networking group comprised of professionals in retail real estate.

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