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Forget the pool parties; Brendan Gotch dives into dealmaking

REConThumbnailBy Holly Dutton
at REcon in Las Vegas

The annual ICSC gathering  at the Las Vegas Convention Center had started — but not where you’d think.

BRENDAN GOTCH
BRENDAN GOTCH

“It’s funny, its just not here,ˮ Massey Knakal’s Brendan Gotch told Real Estate Weekly at his company’s booth on Sunday. “Everybody is at the pool scene, as always, and it’s packed, it’s been non-stop there. The pool is busier than it is here.ˮ

As most people expected, Monday proved to be the busiest day of the conference, with thousands filing into the Convention Center bright and early, armed with coffee and their best pitches.

Gotch, Massey Kankal’s director of retail leasing for East Village, Greenwich Village, and Noho, had back-to-back meetings booked for Monday, ready to pitch hard for a retail spaces he called “the big three.ˮ

One is a 26,000 s/f space at 139 Fulton Street, across the street from the soon-to-open Fulton Transit Center, a “perfect big box opportunity,ˮ while he also just took on a full retail townhouse at 5 Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District, previously the site of restaurant 5 Ninth.

“That is a great one for big iconic Meatpacking brands,ˮ he said. Gotch is also leasing 716 Broadway, where the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore used to be.

“I probably won’t sign any leases while I’m here, but you can definitely go from zero to 60 percent at this kind of an event,ˮ he said. “I don’t think anything gets officially done here, but everything gets unofficially done.ˮ

A native of Darien, CT, Gotch aspired as a kid to be in business like his mother, who worked for IBM. “I used to say I’d be chairman of the board of IBM,ˮ he said.

He started his 11-year career at MK after applying for an internship while he was still an undergrad at NYU studying economics. His interest in real estate came from his parents owning buildings in Rhode Island.

Dylan Murphy, Brendan Gotch, Jill Lovatt, Michael Azarian and Todd Korren of Massey Knakal in Las Vegas.
Dylan Murphy, Brendan Gotch, Jill Lovatt, Michael Azarian and Todd Korren of Massey Knakal in Las Vegas.

“I thought, they’re literally a mom and pop real estate organization so I’m curious what it’s really like for professionals,ˮ he said.

He went full-time with the company following graduation, and started working with MK partner James Nelson in investment sales.

In 2010, in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse and feeling stir-crazy from so many years in Manhattan, Gotch decided to leave everything behind and move to Spain to be a bartender.

“A family friend in England told me it was a crazy idea and that I’d get kicked out and it would only end badly,ˮ he said. “So I thought if I went to school it wouldn’t be a bad idea and I could stay on a student visa.ˮ

Gotch enrolled in the leading French business school, and enjoyed what he called “a great, great experience.ˮ

He moved back to New York after graduating in 2012. “The rest is history,ˮ he said. Gotch returned to MK shortly after the firm started its retail division, and switched from investment sales to retail.

“I will never forget my first deal,ˮ he said. It was a tiny store at 175 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. “It was the first time I got to call the shots and run the whole deal myself. It was a thrilling experience.ˮ

Another memorable deal was last summer, when Gotch was able to arrange a lease for The Grey Dog restaurant, which had closed its location at 33 Carmine Street in Greenwich Village in 2011 after a dispute with the landlord.

When an Italian restaurant closed after 27 years just down the block at 49 Carmine Street, Gotch was able to arrange a lease for the beloved restaurant.

“It was one of those affordable, delicious places everyone loved and people were sad to see them go,ˮ he said. “I felt like I did a good turn by the neighborhood bringing them back.ˮ

His most exciting deal so far is the aforementioned 139 Fulton Street. “It’s going to be an amazing opportunity for whatever retailer goes there,ˮ said Gotch. “There are a bunch of retailers poking around.ˮ

One of his favorite clients to work with is Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association, a non-profit that owns buildings on East 4th Street, between Bowery Street and Second Avenue, which provides subsidized housing for low-income New Yorkers.

“I think it’s a great way to give back,ˮ said Gotch. “I enjoy sort of being able to take part in the charity side of the business through my work.ˮ

Gotch moved to Williamsburg a year ago after ten years living in the Village. In his free time, he enjoys sailing and playing the piano and violin.

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