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WHO’S NEWS: CBRE announces Benji Baer has joins company as chief marketing officer

CBRE has announced that Benji Baer has joined the company as chief marketing officer. Baer joins CBRE from J.P. Morgan, where she served as managing director, global head of investments and product marketing, asset and wealth management.

Based in New York, Baer will be responsible for enhancing CBRE’s marketing capabilities and providing strategic direction for its marketing teams globally. Prior to J.P. Morgan, Baer held a series of marketing leadership roles at Legg Mason, Citigroup, and AllianceBernstein. She received a B.A. in economics from Tufts University.


CBRE has announced that David Hollander, a 25-year veteran of the firm, and Neil King, with nearly 12 years at the company, have been promoted to vice chairmen. Both have been consistently recognized as top producers within CBRE.

Hollander has developed long-standing relationships with a variety of blue-chip clientele over the course of his career, including Fortune 500 corporations, media, advertising, public sector, finance and law firms within Manhattan. During his tenure, he has consistently been among the firm’s Coldbert Coldwell Circle, which is awarded to the company’s top 3 percent of producers nationally. His roster of clients includes Google, Avenue Capital, The Hunt Companies, Dentsu/McGarry Bowen, Visa, Charles Schwab, Nippon Life, BounceX, Charter Communications, Mack Cali and CUNY.

King specializes in representing corporate tenants and is one of the top landlord repositioning and leasing experts in the country. He currently represents more than 15 million square feet of premier office assets and has completed more than 11 million square feet of leasing transactions across New York City, representing both landlords and tenants. King has been in CBRE’s top 10 percent of producers nationally multiple times during his career, breaking into the Coldbert Coldwell Circle in 2016 and 2018.

King’s active client roster includes investors Hines, Normandy Real Estate Partners, Rockpoint Group, Oxford and Nuveen, as well as occupiers Antares Capital, Compass, Bionic and Melvin Capital.


Heitman LLC (“Heitman”), a global real estate investment management firm, has appointed Chasity Boyce as the firm’s head of Inclusion & Diversity (I&D), where she will be responsible for setting the firm’s global I&D strategies and initiatives.

In the newly-created role, Boyce will report to Darrah Bixler, Heitman’s chief people officer.

Prior to joining Heitman, Boyce was a diversity and inclusion manager for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. In that role, she was responsible for developing, implementing, and monitoring diversity and inclusion initiatives focused on attorney retention and development, recruitment, internal pipeline, and social responsibility.

Prior to her work at Skadden, she served asassociate general counsel to Illinois governor, Bruce Rauner, where she advised the governor and senior Illinois state leadership on public safety, child welfare, and educational agencies’ legal issues and oversaw the governor’s clemency process. She also practiced law as an associate attorney with O’Hagan LLC and SmithAmundsen LLC.


Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P. (HFF) has announced that it has expanded its debt and equity placement team with the addition of Jillian Mariutti as a director within its New York office.

Mariutti has more than 12 years of commercial real estate experience and joins HFF from Mission Capital Advisors, where she was a director on the debt and equity financing team. Prior to Mission Capital, she worked at JCRA Financial LLC as the head of real estate North America and was responsible for providing foreign exchange and interest rate risk management services to real estate clients.

Mariutti began her career at Wells Fargo where she was a vice president on the interest rate derivatives desk servicing Public REITS, multifamily, gaming and hospitality finance clients.

Through the course of her career, Mariutti has received numerous industry recognitions, including being named one of the Top Ten Women to Watch in Real Estate in 2018 by Sokal Media; one of Real Estate Weekly’s Leading Ladies in 2018; one of New York’s Power Women 2018 by Bisnow and as a 2014 Rising Star by the Women’s Bond Club of New York.


Helmsley Spear, LLC, America’s oldest continuously operating real estate firm, is pleased to announce the appointment of Jovana Simic as vice president of Healthcare Real Estate Services. Kent M. Swig, president of Helmsley Spear, made the announcement.

Simic is a real estate executive with over 30 years comprehensive experience relating to the marketing of residential and commercial properties. Her experience and background is a unique blend of market analysis, product development, sales and leasing, construction management, and cooperative/condominium conversions.

Simic most recently served as executive director of healthcare real estate at Brown Harris Stevens Commercial services, LLC, for over 17 years. Prior to that time, she had various managerial and brokerage roles with some of New York City’s most renowned real estate firms and has also worked with a number of prominent owners and developers.


Greystone, a commercial real estate lending, investment, and advisory company, announced that Matt Miller has joined as a managing director on its Seniors Housing finance team. Based in Dallas, TX, Miller brings deep banking industry experience and client relationships in the Seniors Housing space serving independent living, Alzheimer’s care and assisted living communities.

Prior to joining Greystone, Miller was an executive vice president with Texas Capital Bank (TCB), where he spent the last eight years working with national and regional real estate owners and developers. While at TCB, Miller was instrumental in formalizing and growing the bank’s Seniors Housing lending initiative and contributing to an increase in the bank’s assets from $10 billion to over $25 billion.

Previously, Miller was a vice president at BBVA Compass and an assistant vice president at Guaranty Bank. Miller attended the Southern Methodist University – Cox School of Business.


Cresa, a commercial real estate firm, has announced that Nicholas Markel has been named vice president. Markel will be based in the New York City office. Prior to joining Cresa, he served as vice president at Deutsche Bank’s corporate services real estate department, reporting to the global head of real estate. Before that, he worked at Cushman & Wakefield, where he was promoted three times within five years, achieving the title of director.

Among Markel’s deals have included the relocation of the headquarters of Rockefeller Financial into a 65,000 square-foot space at 630 Fifth Avenue; the relocation of UGG Australia (Deckers) to a 15,000 square-foot office and showroom space at 1325 Avenue of the Americas; the $140,000,000 sale of One Broadway; and the sale of a 40,000 square-foot commercial condominium at 633 Third Avenue on behalf of Mount Sinai Health Systems.


Owen D. Thomas, chief executive officer of Boston Properties, developer and owner of office properties, has been elected as the new global chairman of the Urban Land Institute (ULI). ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization with more than 44,000 members dedicated to leadership in responsible land use and creating thriving, sustainable communities worldwide. Thomas, a longtime ULI member, ULI governing trustee and ULI Foundation governor, will serve a two-year term that ends June 30, 2021.

As ULI’s global chairman, Thomas will guide the Institute’s work, with an overarching goal of positioning ULI as the leading global real estate organization that attracts and retains top industry leaders; the leading authority on real estate and the “go-to” place for industry information and expertise; and the provider of solutions to the most complex real estate and urban development problems faced by cities around the world.

Thomas succeeds Thomas W. Toomey, whose term as global chairman ended June 30. During Thomas’s term as global chairman, he will work with Toomey, ULI Global CEO W. Edward Walter, ULI’s global board of directors, and other Institute leaders to further expand ULI’s reach at the global, regional and local levels.


Family First Funding LLC Private Client Group has announced that Sarah Alvarez has joined the team led by her mother, executive vice president, Melissa Cohn.

In her new role as mortgage loan associate, Alvarez will draw upon her knowledge of the real estate industry and global client network to work alongside her mother.

Prior to joining Family First Funding LLC, Alvarez served as director of referrals at real estate brokerage Stribling & Associates (recently bought by Compass) where she worked for nearly a decade. She was responsible for creating and maintaining an extensive international referral network which represented over $100 million in annual sales and generated $2 million in gross commission income last year. In addition, she earned two national referral awards from Leading Real Estate Companies of The World, including the coveted Pinnacle Award, recognizing Stribling as one of the top referral departments in the Country.

Cohn and Alvarez hope to raise more awareness and funds for Cohn’s non-profit A Home of Her Own, which works with organizations to provide aid to women in need to get them on the path to financial independence.


King & Spalding has added real estate lawyers Scott Levine and Christine O’Connell as partners in the Corporate, Finance & Investments (CFI) Practice Group in New York.

Both partners focus on commercial real estate finance and development, representing clients across all types of real estate transactions, including major investment banks, private equity funds, hedge funds and other institutional lenders.

Levine represents a variety of lenders in mortgage and mezzanine originations, workouts and restructurings. He also advises on the acquisition, financing, holding and disposition of real estate assets, including lodging and hospitality properties, retail, office buildings, mixed-use projects and undeveloped land.

O’Connell works with major investment banks, private equity funds, and other financial institutions in the origination, acquisition, disposition, and restructuring of various real estate assets. Her practice covers the structuring and negotiating of commercial agreements and complex loan transactions.

The pair join from Arnold & Porter, where they were both partners.

The recruitment of Levine and O’Connell follows the addition of real estate partners Erik Andersen, Elizabeth Gable and Jared Zaben and counsel Nathan Pagett, Julian Buchbinder, Brett Nizzo, and David Hart in June 2018, and counsel Varuna Bhattacharyya in October 2018. All eight lawyers had joined King & Spalding from Riemer & Braunstein.


Todd Korren, principal at Avison Young New York, was recently reelected as chair of the Real Estate Board of NY (REBNY) Building Agents Rental Committee (BARC). Korren will serve a two-year term beginning August 1, 2019 overseeing this prestigious committee, comprised of some of the top commercial property rental leasing agents in Manhattan.

Korren, who joined Avison Young in 2018, is one of the most recognized leasing agents in New York City, having represented numerous tenants and landlords throughout his more than three-decade career.

During his career, Korren has negotiated nearly 1,500 leases representing over 7.5 million square feet as well as more than 45 acquisitions and dispositions valued in excess of $2.4 billion. Koren also has extensive asset management and construction management experience, having supervised more than 400 interior-construction projects and new developments.

Prior to joining Avison Young, he served as principal and director of leasing of EVO Real Estate Group. Earlier in his career, he served as executive managing director at Massey Knakal, as well as a principal and director of leasing at Savanna Real Estate Fund.


Priscilla Almodovar has been named CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, following a unanimous vote by its board of trustees. Enterprise is a national social enterprise, creating opportunity for low and moderate-income families through affordable housing in diverse, thriving communities.  

Almodovar is a former Enterprise trustee and will oversee the entire Enterprise family of companies, which consists of 1,200 employees and 11 market offices across the country.

Under her leadership, Enterprise will strengthen its long-standing commitment to healthy communities by focusing on ground-breaking programs, like Health Begins with Home, supporting racial equity initiatives, and producing industry-leading impact investment tools and programs tailored to communities across the country.

She joins Enterprise from JPMorgan Chase, where, as a managing director, she led two national real estate businesses for their commercial bank, one in commercial real estate and the other in community development. She was instrumental in JPMorgan Chase’s award-winning commitment to support Detroit’s economic recovery. 

Prior to her time at JPMorgan Chase, Almodovar was CEO and president of New York state’s housing finance and mortgage agencies, where she is credited with transforming the agencies and leading them during the Great Recession. 


NAI Mertz, a commercial real estate firm, recently announced Amy Golden has joined the Bucks County, Pa. team as the brokerage assistant. Golden brings over 20 years of professional experience to this new role in which she will provide administrative support to a team of brokers.

In her role as brokerage assistant, Golden will is managing business opportunities and client requirements, as well as providing office management services.

Prior to joining NAI Mertz, Amy held positions in administrative roles of increasing responsibility at companies like United Capital Financial Advisors, REACH Short Sale Advocates, Keller Williams Real Estate, Bucks Realty, and RightSideUp Center.

She is a Member of the National Association of Professional Women, and a founding member of the Keller Williams Short Sale Inner Circle.


SB One Bank has announced the appointment of Anthony F. DeSenzo as executive vice president and head of commercial lending, responsible for overseeing the bank’s commercial lending department, supporting the growth of the bank’s loan portfolio and cultivating key business relationships within the bank’s markets.

DeSenzo brings with him over 28 years of experience in diversified lending and credit underwriting. He came to SB One Bank from ConnectOne Bank where he served as a team leader of commercial real estate in the New Jersey market. Prior to ConnectOne Bank, DeSenzo was with Capital One Bank, where he served as managing director and relationship manager of commercial real estate. DeSenzo has also held senior positions at KeyBank, Bank of New York and First Union.

DeSenzo speaks periodically as a panelist at various NJ CRE events including, but not limited to, Mortgage Bankers Association and the NJ Apartment Association where he discusses commercial real estate and commercial lending trends as they relate to the current market. He is currently a board member of NJ Real Estate Lenders Association.


Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has announced today that Jelena Kovačević, Ph.D., the first woman to lead the NYU Tandon School of Engineering since its founding in 1854, has been unanimously elected co-chair of its board of directors.

Dean Kovačević will serve alongside Co-Chair Ofer Cohen, TerraCRG founder and CEO, and will lead a committed group of leaders in the corporate, real estate, academic, and cultural sectors in their work to maintain Downtown Brooklyn’s position as one of the world’s most dynamic, diverse and innovative locations.

Dean Kovačević received the Dipl. Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University. From 1991 to 2002, she was with Bell Labs. She was a co-founder and Technical VP of xWaveforms, based in New York City. She was also an adjunct professor at Columbia University. In 2003, she joined Carnegie Mellon University, where she was the Hamerschlag University Professor, the head of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a professor of Biomedical Engineering.


John Raggio has joined Eyzenberg & Company as a managing director. He originates, structures and places debt, equity and ground lease capital for commercial real estate transactions across the U.S.

Throughout his career as a lender and advisor, Raggio has arranged fixed, floating, bridge and construction mortgages, and lines of credit, for all commercial property types. He has advised in the acquisition, financing and disposition of over $9 billion in real estate assets.

Prior to joining the firm, Raggio served as the Director of Private Equity and Director of Real Estate Finance for Boill Holding USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shanghai-based Boill Holding Group. Earlier, Raggio was a senior consultant for Spring11, a real estate advisory company involved in the structuring, valuation and due diligence for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lenders, as well as B-Piece buyers. He also was a founding partner of Tremont Realty Capital, where he oversaw a lending platform for bridge loans and mezzanine financing, and held senior roles at a number of real estate companies, including GE Real Estate and UBS/PaineWebber.

Raggio holds an MBA in finance from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University, and a BBA from Baruch College.

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