By C.J. Hughes
The real estate industry in New York is famous (or infamous) for its outsized personalities, who make headlines not only for their property deals, but also for their head-to-head battles, art collections and White House aspirations.
For every boldface frontman, however, there’s a behind-the-scenes wizard who is running day-to-day operations or shaping the direction of the company.
These top lieutenants often decide what buildings will look like, how they’ll be marketed and who will sell them. The consummate inside operators, they’re well-known power players to a small circle of insiders in their own real estate universe, but the rest of the industry rarely hears about them.
For instance, Larry Silverstein is, of course, the face associated with high-profile construction at Ground Zero. But behind-the-scenes, it’s Janno Lieber, the company president and Silverstein’s right-hand man, who is responsible for ensuring that the buildings actually get leased up and construction stays on schedule.
Similarly, the city’s tallest-ever condo-hotel One57, from Extell Development Company, is an obvious feather in the cap for Gary Barnett, the company’s president. But he might not have had as much success assembling its centrally located Midtown parcel without the expertise of acquisitions chief Dov Hertz.
Below, The Real Deal pulls back the curtain on these and other wingmen.
Jim Gricar, Halstead Property (general sales manager)
While some new-kid-on-the-block brokerages are trying to reinvent the wheel with unprecedentedly large commission splits, the old guard is sticking to a more tried-and-true formula, boosting their brick-and-mortar presence in a bid to win clients.
Halstead Property, which was founded in 1984, is one of those firms. The firm — which doubled the size of its headquarters last year, relocating to the 14th and 15th floors of 499 Park Avenue — is hanging its shingle on new offices in suburban and second-home markets in the Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Many of the expansion duties fall to Gricar, who last spring left his job as manager of the West Side office of Brown Harris Stevens (he also put in seven years with Corcoran) to fill a post created just for him. The new post makes Gricar the de facto No. 2 executive at the company, behind firm president Diane Ramirez.
“The owners felt that with the growth of the firm, another layer of management was required,” he explained.
Since coming on board, Gricar said he’s worked “hand in glove” with Ramirez. He has considerably boosted payrolls at 499 Park: In the last 10 months, the office’s size has swelled from 60 to 120 agents. And, he said, he’s planning to bring that number up to 150.
“The name of the game is recruiting and retention,” he noted.
Even though BHS and Halstead share the same corporate parent in Terra Holdings, the move to hire Gricar was somewhat surprising, as the two brands are distinct, and lateral moves are rare.
With Halstead’s growth in the past few years — it has 950 agents in 21 offices across three states, versus about 450 in 10 offices in one state in 2006 — “it was imperative to bring on a talented and seasoned executive who would work closely with me,” Ramirez said in an e-mail, adding that his
Thursday, March 01, 2012