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Deals & Dealmakers

WHO’S NEWS: Commercial hires and promotions

RKF announced that three new brokerage professionals have joined the firm in its New York office.

Neal Ohm joins RKF as Managing Director. In this role, he will divide his time between New York City and Toronto and focus on landlord and tenant representation.

His retail tenant clients include Barry’s Bootcamp, where he spearheaded the fitness chain’s rollout in Manhattan; New York Kids Club,; and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, for which he secured their Times Square flagship store – the highest grossing store in the chain.

Ohm also represents an impressive list of landlord clients, including RFR Realty, Buckingham Properties, Paramount Group and EL JO Company.

Prior to joining RKF, he operated his own eponymous real estate firm specializing in retail leasing and investment sales, where he personally negotiated more than $200 million in lease transactions.

Prior to that, he served as the Director, Retail Division at CS Commercial Group. He has also held senior positions in fashion sales, public relations and merchandising at Prada and Tuleh.

Ohm graduated from the University of Minnesota where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and also minored in Spanish.

Raj Whadwa joins the firm as Senior Director. He has more than 17 years of real estate experience, specializing in landlord and tenant representation, and the Long Island market.

His exclusive client roster includes Verizon, which he assisted in securing 25 store locations throughout New York; 2Cute, with whom he has secured over 50 locations; MetroPCS, Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, Checkers, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Gong Cha, Rolling Cow, and Phone Fix NYC.

Notably, he brings nearly two decades of experience working directly with the world’s largest mall operators, including Westfield, Simon, Macerich and GGP.

Prior to joining RKF, Raj was the Head of Real Estate for an apparel company in Long Island and conducted business throughout the tri-state area. He graduated from DAV University in India.

Avi Cotter joins the New York office as a Senior Associate and brings more than 15 years of experience in national retail tenant expansion.

In his new role, he will continue to focus primarily on tenant representation in the New York Metropolitan area and throughout the U.S.; his current clients include Peloton Cycle and The Children’s Place.

Prior to joining the firm, he served as the Director of New Market Expansion for Blink Fitness and has also had senior positions with Theory/Helmut Lang, Calypso St. Barth, The Children’s Place, Ann Taylor and L’Occitane en Provence.
Cotter graduated from UCLA and Washington College of Law at American University.


Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP announced that Aaron Beim has joined the firm’s New York office as a partner.
Beim, formerly with Haynes and Boone, will continue to focus on his real estate practice.

Beim represents institutional real estate investors in debt and equity transactions with a focus on bridge and subordinate lending.

He has advised banks, hedge funds, private equity funds and asset managers in the origination, workout, restructuring, sale and purchase of structured financings.

He also has significant experience in acquisitions, sales, joint ventures, and warehouse lending.

Beim practiced with Haynes and Boone since 2010, and before that, he practiced with Paul Hastings from 2006 to 2010.
He received his J.D. in 2006 from the New York University School of Law, where he was a member of the Environmental Law Journal.

He earned his M.A. from Northwestern University in 2003, and his B.A. from Amherst College, magna cum laude, in 2000.


Polsinelli announced that Frank Spano joined as a shareholder in its New York office.

Spano brings extensive domestic and international consumer class action and arbitration experience to the firm’s Commercial Litigation group.

He has been lead attorney for high-profile class action and multi-district litigation matters in various industries. Recently, he served as co-lead counsel on a Chinese drywall litigation that involved thousands of multi-district litigations in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Prior to joining Polsinelli, Spano was a partner in the law firm Hogan Lovells.
He earned his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law and his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University.


AXA IM – Real Assets announced the further expansion of its North American team with the appointments of Rob Neiffer as Director of Asset Management, Shawn Duggal as Vice President of Acquisitions, Victoria Rozman as U.S. Director of Accounting, and Jimmy Lagreca as Senior Analyst to the Asset Management team.

Rob Neiffer joins AXA from Amazon Worldwide, where he held the role of Northeast Regional Asset Manager, responsible for the management of all Amazon properties/facilities in the northeast U.S. and Canada.

Prior to that, he spent over 10 years at Invesco Real Estate based in New York.

Shawn Duggal joins having spent the past two and a half years as Assistant Vice President of Direct Real Estate Investments at the Partners Group in San Francisco. He reports to Aaron Kutner, U.S. Director of Acquisitions.

Victoria Rozman joins AXA IM following over five years at JP Morgan Chase in New York where she held the role of Vice President of Alternative Investments and Private Equity.

Jimmy Lagreca joins afrom JP Morgan Chase Global Real Assets, and will be reporting to Soo Rhim, Vice President of Asset Management.


Time Equities Inc. (TEI) announced the appointment of Jessica Doran as the firm’s Communications Manager.
Overseeing the brand’s communications and marketing strategy on behalf of their domestic and international portfolio, Doran will oversee both internal and external initiatives to elevate the brand’s presence.

Prior to joining TEI, Jessica worked as a marketing co-ordinator with full-service real estate firm Thor Equities, responsible for the creation of marketing collateral and overseeing the brand’s corporate webpages.

Additional responsibilities included maintaining portfolio updates across all platforms and social media management.


Savills has strengthened its UK Worldwide Occupier Services (WOS) team with the arrival of director John Harte, who has moved from the firm’s tenant rep team in New York.

Based at Savills Margaret Street headquarters in London, Harte will continue to service US corporate tenants from the UK, while also using his 15 years experience to drive cross-border linkage between Savills occupier teams across Asia, Europe and the Americas.

With a consulting background and master’s degree in Real Estate Development and Investment from NYU, coupled with experience in equity underwriting, high-end residential and an internship on the Budgetary Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels, Harte brings a unique skill to the role.

Since joining Savills Studley in 2010, he has focused on strategic planning, analysis and client relations advising on over one million square feet of deals in New York.

Notably, in 2015 he represented law firm Eltman, Eltman & Cooper in a complex early restructure and relocation that resulted in securing an award of $5.6 million in municipal incentives for the tenant.

JPMorgan Chase announced that the Real Estate Banking group (REB) hired Kenya Williams, James Whelan and David Kern as a Senior Client Executives to provide real estate developers, investors and operating companies with the financial resources, specialized expertise and insights to navigate market cycles.


Kenya Williams is based in Los Angeles and has 12 years of experience and joins the firm from PNC’s REB group.
She received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Real Estate Finance from the University of Southern California.

She is one of the founding members of The Regal Group, a networking group for women in real estate and is also a member of the Urban Land Institute, the USC Lusk Board, and the International Council of Shopping Centers.
James Whelan is based in New York City and has 17 years of experience and joins the firm from Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s REB group.

He received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the College of the Holy Cross and his Masters of Science in Real Estate with a focus in Finance and Investment from the Schack Real Estate Institute at New York University.

He serves as a Board Member on the Young Mortgage Bankers Association (YMBA).

David Kern is based in Tampa and has 28 years of experience and joins the firm from Regions Bank’s REB group.
He received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Florida and he serves as an Advisory Board Member and Mentor of the UF Bergstrom Real Estate Center.


The law firm of Rosenberg & Estis, P.C. announced the promotion of five attorneys.

Jason R. Davidson, Eric S. Orenstein, and Deborah E. Riegel have been named equity members of the firm, while Steve R. Goldberg and Adam R. Sanders will become members of the firm.

Jason R. Davidson joined Rosenberg & Estis in 2003 and became a member in the firm’s Litigation Department in 2008.
He received his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany and earned his J.D. from the American University, Washington College of Law, where he was a participant in the International Human Rights Law Clinic and the international studies program at the University of Chile School of Law.

Eric S. Orenstein joined Rosenberg & Estis in 2005 and became a member in the firm’s Transactional Department in 2012.
Orenstein received his bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University and earned his J.D. from Hofstra University School of Law.

Deborah E. Riegel joined Rosenberg & Estis in 1994 and became a member in the firm’s Litigation Department in 2000.
Riegel received her bachelor’s degree from Queens College of the City University of New York and earned her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, where she currently serves as a member of the faculty.

Riegel also serves on the Brooklyn Law School Alumni Board as well as the New York Board of Jewish National Fund. Ms. Riegel is licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey.

Steven R. Goldberg joined Rosenberg & Estis in 2012 as an associate with the firm’s Transactional Department.
Goldberg received his bachelor’s degree from University of Pennsylvania and earned his J.D. from University of Wisconsin School of Law, cum laude.

Sanders joined Rosenberg & Estis, P.C. in 2016 as of counsel with the firm’s Transactional Department.
Sanders received his bachelor’s degree from University of Pennsylvania and earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.


JLL has hired Susanne Smithers as a senior project manager. She will oversee project management services throughout the state of New York.

Smithers has more than 17 years of experience in project management, with a focus on sustainability. She is highly skilled at developing and executing strategic business plans to penetrate target markets, optimize product and service exposure, and achieve goals.

Prior to joining JLL, Smithers served as director of sustainability for ERS Consulting LLC. She also worked as vice president at ERS Energy Inc., where she oversaw business development initiatives in the United States, China and Canada, and as director of project management/contract administration for ERS Energy.

Earlier, Smithers was manager of planning and development at Telergy Ltd. and right-of-way/development assistant manager for New City, N.Y.

She earned a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from SUNY Cortland and a MBA in sustainable business from Marylhurst University.

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