Real Estate Weekly
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Newmark, CBRE brokers take top retail dealmaker awards

There will be light and food at the end of the COVID tunnel thanks to the inventiveness and hard work of some of the city’s top retail dealmakers.

Newmark’s Matt Leon has picked up the Real Estate Board of New York’s top Retail Deal of the Year award for bringing the wildly popular digital art museum Hall des Lumières to 49 Chambers Street.

And CBRE’s Eric Gelber, Jordan Kaplan, Gary Trock and Zach Parisi earned the Most Ingenious Retail Deal of the Year for the big fat Greek restaurant lease they arrange with Avra Estiatorio at 1271 Avenue of America.

“Last year was an incredibly challenging time for all New Yorkers and the fact that we had such a strong showing of Submitting Brokers participating in this year’s Retail Deal of the Year Awards contest underscores how our industry buckled down and persevered against all odds to keep the City’s economic engine running,” said REBNY President James Whelan.

“Going forward, we will utilize the lessons learned from the pandemic to drive discussions that will help rethink and re-imagine New York City’s retail industry, so this important sector of our economy can thrive once again.”


Recognized as the most meaningful transaction in its overall characteristics and importance to the New York City retail market, “Bringing Immersive Art to City Hall: The Revitalization of a Landmarked Icon at 49 Chambers Street”, transacted by Leon, was honored as The Most Impactful Retail Deal of the Year during REBNY’s 23rd Annual Retail Deal of the Year Awards at a virtual ceremony held August 5, where a portion of the proceeds benefitted Creative Art Works.

Leon arranged  to bring the interactive French art gallery Atelier Des Lumières (image top) to the Chetrit Group’s 49 Chambers Street.

Created by Culturespaces, the Atelier Des Lumières (Studio of Lights) has drawn over three million visitors since it first opened in Paris in 2018. A second space created in a former submarine base in Bordeaux in June 2020, has welcomed more than 300,000 visitors in its first three months.

The immersive art venue showcases work from artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Gustav Klimt and Claude Monet projected in such a way as to surround visitors and are accompanied by a soundtrack. The digital artwork wraps around all four walls and is projected onto the floor and the structures within the space.

At 49 Chambers Street, Atelier Des Lumières will fill 28,000 s/f with exhibitions designed to complement the venue’s interiors of marble, columns, bank tellers, stained glass windows and sculptures, according to a spokeswoman.  Woods Bagot is restoring the banking hall and converting it for use as a digital gallery.

It will be called the Hall des Lumières and is set to open in on the ground floor of the building in 2021/2022 under a “multi-year agreement” with the Chetrit Group.

“Two years in the making culminating during the height of the pandemic while navigating virtual Landmark hearings this deal showcases Endeavor and Culturespaces’ commitment to bringing the Arts to a wide and diverse NYC demographic,” said Leon.

“A complex transaction like this couldn’t have happened without close collaborative work from Andrew Margolin, my colleague at Newmark and the international teams at Endeavor and Culturespaces and the Chetrit ownership group.”

Demonstrating exceptional ingenuity and creativity, The Most Ingenious Retail Deal of the Year title was awarded to “OPA Avra Lands Mega Restaurant Deal at 1271 Avenue of the Americas”, which was transacted by CBRE’s Eric Gelber, Jordan Kaplan, Gary Trock and Zach Parisi.

The team represented the Rockefeller Group in the lease for 16,500 s/f at the repositioned 1271 Avenue of America. It was the second biggest retail lease signed in Manhattan last year, next only to Trader Joe’s 50,000 s/f deal at 415 East 59th Street.

Avra is promising to open in the fall and hopes are high its celebrity following that includes Leonardo DiCaprio and Katie Holmes will help reignite the Rockefeller Center as a magnet for tourists, office workers and locals alike.

The restaurant  – co-owned by Nick Tsoulos, Nick Pashalis, Marc Packer and TAO Group – had been in talks to take the space for several month and pulling the trigger on the deal during the pandemic was a “demonstration of its belief in the resiliency of New York and in the uniqueness of the space in 1271 Avenue of the Americas,” according to Gelber, executive vice president of CBRE’s Tri-State Retail Services Group.


Gelber added, “Avra was being pursued by many of our competitors for other locations in Manhattan, and we are thrilled that they recognized the benefits of 1271 Avenue of the Americas and elected to lease space in the building. “

Steven Soutendijk of Cushman & Wakefield and Fred Posniak of Empire State Realty Trust led the virtual retail event, which recognized top commercial real estate brokers who not only closed remarkable deals in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also worked tirelessly to support their clients and sustain New York City’s retail businesses.

The other deals bidding for the top titles included:

“730 Fifth Avenue Covid & Beyond: Chopard’s Loyalty and Legacy to the City of New York” – 730 Fifth Avenue. Submitting Broker: James S. Downey, Cushman & Wakefield;

“A Tall Order… Starbucks Goes Big at the Empire State Building” – 350 Fifth Avenue. Submitting Broker: David Firestein, SCG Retail/TSCG;

“Direct-to-Consumer Retail, Right On Time: Fabric Fulfills the Promise of 4220 13th Street in Long Island City” – 4220 13th Street, Long Island City. Submitting Brokers: Brandon L. Singer, Michael Cody, Retail By MONA;

“Hai Di Lao restaurants at the All-New Virgin Hotel” – 1225 Broadway. Submitting Broker: Hentz Menard, The Corcoran Group;

“Preserving A Restaurant Landmark In NYC When It Was Needed Most – The Leasing of Gotham Bar & Grill at 12 East 12th Street” 12 East 12th Street. Submitting Broker: Jeffrey D. Roseman, Newmark;

“Signaling Strength in the Darkest Days” – 560 Broadway. Submitting Brokers: Benjamin Birnbaum, Ariel Schuster, Newmark;

“The Fairest Brooklyn Fare at 75 West End Avenue” – 75 West End Ave. Submitting Broker: JP Sutro, Lee & Associates NYC LLC.

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