The brisk beat of new opportunities has always guided Corey Abdo.
While he studied economics at Hofstra University, Abdo played in a band, focusing on music and planning to become a full-time musician after graduating.
He would work at the Peppermint Lounge, a popular music club, and spend hours in the studio. However, Abdo would transition to a job producing 30-second commercial jingles, giving him more stability, compared to the fickle lifestyle of a touring musician. But after a few years, he was burned out, numbed by the repetition of repeatedly writing what was essentially the same song.
In 1982, Abdo visited Fire Island for a summer vacation, and met some friends in the real estate industry. They suggested he give it a try, and Abdo put on the first suit he can remember wearing, and met with Barry Gosin and William Cohen.
Shortly thereafter, he would join what was then Newmark & Company, now Newmark Knight Frank. Although he was almost 30, while most of his colleagues were in their early 20s, Abdo would earn the moniker “Canvassing Corey” for his relentless pursuit of clients. He would work through the Yellow Pages, placing hundreds of phone calls, in addition to walking the streets in search of properties. His recalls that his first deal was for a public relations company for around 3,000 s/f in a building formerly occupied by a Hamburger Harry’s restaurant.
“I loved it immediately, because you’re out,” said Abdo, contrasting it with a quiet desk job.
Abdo also didn’t have to give up music. He would join colleagues James Kuhn, who played keyboard, and bassist Billy Mendelson in the formation of Square Feet, a band of brokers that covered classic rock songs and played regularly at local venues.
During his 17 years at Newmark, Abdo worked with Gosin to broker law firm Chadbourne & Parke LLP’s 225,000 s/f lease at Rockefeller Center. And the company grew to be one of the largest brokerages in the world, partnering with European brokerage Knight Frank.
In 2002, Abdo left Newmark to join Winoker Realty – and was further pained by having to leave the band Square Feet.
But Abdo considers Winoker, where he is an executive vice president and principal, an ideal fit. With its full service platform, Abdo can but an intimacy that is sometimes lacking at larger firms. Although he appreciates the delicacy of enormous leases that can take years to negotiate, Abdo prefers the quicker gratification of leases of around 5,000 to 25,000 s/f that are finalized in a few months, which is Winoker’s niche.
The senior management is involved in virtually every deal, and Winoker encourages collaboration.
“I work with everyone here, we encourage people to mix and match,” said Abdo. “It’s like a 45-person family.”
“I loved the energy and the constant motion. There’s never a dull moment,” he added.
He is currently active in the Garment District, where Winoker is dominant. Sid Winoker, the company’s founder, was active in the neighborhood some 30 years ago, and his son, David, is now the president.
Abdo represents the Brause family’s three office properties at 320 Fifth Avenue, 141 West 36th Street and 330 East 59th Street.
“It’s a very vibrant market,” he said. “You walk outside the street, and there’s energy.”
He is seeing the local leasing market recover, with both direct and subleases being signed. Some tenants have seen the recession as an opportunity to expand, while others have tried to minimize costs and extend leases. Abdo said that concessions are beginning to shrink as rents begin to trend upwards.
Abdo continues to work with longtime tenants in the garment district, such as public relations and accounting firms and fashion companies, who have remained even as the manufacturing base moved to the far west side or the outer boroughs.
“They’re survivors,” he said.
Winoker and Abdo have continued to expand, beginning a retail arm to complement its office leasing, and even looking at the outer boroughs for work.
But Abdo hasn’t lost sight of his roots: he recently brokered a lease for a concert promotion company that had been in SL Green’s 1515 Broadway in Times Square for years. It wanted to move to a different part of the city, and Abdo arranged a 15,000 s/f lese in lower Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron District.