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RECon confab may be off the charts, but Harris Bulow takes it all in stride

logoLAS VEGAS, NV: There are some 36,000 people in Vegas this week for the ICSC RECon event, but that doesnʼt faze Harris Bulow.

A new senior director at Eastern Consolidated, Bulow was once a concert promoter and booked Destiny’s Child to perform at his school back when the girl group was first getting its name out there.

He recently met former lead signer Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z eating at a restaurant on the Upper East Side that he had brokered a deal for.

“I said, ‘I threw one of your first concerts’,” said Bulow. “Beyonce just kind of went ‘Oh, okay.’”

When REW caught up with him on Monday manning the Eastern Consolidated booth at the annual retail extravaganze, Bulow was chatting with Cushman & Wakefield’s Paul Massey about his future mayoral run.

“I look forward to seeing all my friends in Vegas,” said Bulow, who has been tasked with bolstering Eastern Consildatedʼs retail leasing division.

The Manhattan native studied at Rockefeller College at SUNY Albany, and was a research intern for the State Assembly during his time there.

After graduating, he started working for Goldman Sachs in the charitable services group, then moved to Securities Asia where he was an assistant trader.

It was around this time that his father’s friend, a broker in California, told Bulow he was “too entrepreneurial” to be just another guy in an office. The friend suggested real estate brokerage. He got his start in retail leasing in 2004 at Murray Hill Properties, where he received valuable training from seasoned veterans.

Harris Bulow at RECon 2016
Harris Bulow at RECon 2016

Before joining Eastern, Bulow was a managing director in the retail services group at Lee & Associates, and before that, worked in retail leasing at Signature Partners.

He’s been coming to the ICSC RECon conference for the last few years.

“Half the business is how good you are, and the other half of the business is how good your relationships are,” he said. “I look forward to seeing all my friends. I usually treat this show as an opportunity to specifically market my exclusive listings and my exclusive tenants.”

He’s reluctant to talk about the current exclusives that he’s marketing, but said he closed on $350 million in gross aggregate through his last several deals.

Several of those were for restaurants, most recently Maiella (pictured top), an Italian restaurant in Long Island City that sits directly under the just-landmarked Pepsi-Cola sign. He also closed deals for three restaurants on Madison Avenue s.

Despite some mixed reports on the state of the retail market, Bulow thinks things are generally pretty healthy.

A busy retail corridor he’s noticed is Madison Avenue in the mid-70’s to mid-80’s, which has experienced several new clothing stores opening shop, including Italian clothier Pinko, active-wear retailer Sweaty Betty, and French clothing line, Iro.

“There’s a lot of interesting activity, even if there are vacancies,” he said of the uptown stretch.

Even the upcoming presidential election is having an effect on the market, Bulow said. “I’ve had a few clients say to me that they’re not opening bigger store formats in New York because of the election,”

His clients have included Citi Bank, who he exclusively represented, Isaia, an Italian men’s clothing retailer. He’s also done several deals with high profile landlords including the Durst Organization, Friedland Properties, and Toll Brothers. “Typically, every new contact I make here is directly related to potential business,” he said of the Vegas conference. “A lot of times these are people I’ve spoken with but I’ve never met.”

For Bulow, RECon is more about moving deals along than closing them.

“I come here and advance 10 deals,” he said. “Some deals get done, but a lot get advanced.”

The gathering is an opportunity to “get the juices flowing” and brainstorm about the right kind of tenant and the right kind of landlord.
“It’s a chance to figure out what might be right to bring to my exclusive spaces, and who might be the right landlord to work with,” said Bulow. “This is a good place to think of bigger concepts that could go in.”

As the new kid at Eastern Consolidated, Bulow is focusing on promoting some of his exclusives among the RECon crowd.

“There’s just an incredible energy here and a lot of figuring out how to maximize this unique platform,” he said. “When I run into New York landlords at ICSC, I do end up in quite a few conversations with people I’ve brought tenants to in the past, or considered me for an assignment and it’s led me a lot closer to getting assignments for them, or just a chance to promote my retail leasing services to them. Those are generally pretty warm leads.”

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