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Shopping Center Business | RKF Has More To Offer

05.01.04

NEW YORK, NY – Robert K. Futterman & Associates expands its services to better serve clients and support national growth.

To support its growing client base, New York-based Robert K. Futterman & Associates, one of the nation’s leading independent real estate firms, specializing in retail leasing and investment sales, is expanding its services.

“Our national tenant representation business is growing, and the more and more tenants that come to us looking for help in Manhattan are also asking us to assist them in their searches for space around the country,” says Futterman.

RKF is now helping companies like Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corp., Dooney & Bourke, Smith & Hawken and Club Monaco, to name just a few, expand around the country by investing greater company resources on locators as well as market research.

The company is expanding around three divisions: RKF Retail Brokerage Services, RKF Retail Property Advisors and RKF Strategic Retailer Services. RKF Retail Brokerage Services encompasses the firm’s traditional core retail brokerage services, including tenant representation, landlord representation and investment sales. Futterman, as CEO, will head the unit’s brokerage activity in Manhattan, and David Rosenberg and Barry Fishbach, executive vice presidents, will oversee activity in the outer boroughs and suburban markets in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

A second division, RKF Retail Property Advisors was created to expand nationally on the company’s expertise in retail leasing and consulting services.

“It’s sort if how we’re best known in New York City,” notes Futterman. “We’re going to take that mentality out into other projects around the country, and basically help developers lease lifestyle centers and better, higher-end mixed-use shopping centers from the ground up.”

Mitchell N. Friedel, who recently joined RKF as executive vice president, will head RKF Retail Property Advisors. He spearheaded similar work most recently with The Related Companies, L.P. and earlier in his career with Corporate Property Investors. Friedel has more than 15 years of experience in serving the retail leasing and advisory needs of building owners and landlords involved in large retail development projects throughout the United States.

Rounding out the new company structure is RKF Strategic Retailer Services, which will augment the firm’s skills in serving the real estate needs of retailers nationwide. Robert Cohen, executive vice president, will head the division. The group will assist retailers in developing and executing a strategic plan, whether that includes expanding regionally or nationally or delving into new markets. The Strategic Retailer Services capabilities will also include market analysis, site selection, managing and maintaining portfolios for lease renewals, advising retailers on strategies for underperforming stores, or evaluating markets demographically to determine how and where they fit into expansion plans.

RKF plans to have the new company structure in place by the end of May and is hoping to keep the relationships it has and expand upon them.

“The most important thing about leasing space is getting a quick read from tenants as to whether or not they would be interested in a certain marketplace or a certain location,” Futterman says. “Tenants who have trust and confidence in you as their broker are also going to have trust and confidence in you when it comes to recommending certain shopping centers. So wearing two hats like we’ve done so successfully in Manhattan transcends to other parts of the country.”

RKF’s core business in Manhattan is 50 percent landlord representation and 50 percent tenant representation. On the landlord side, RKF has worked with many of the most prominent names in real estate, including The Related Companies, Fisher Brothers, Vornado Realty Trust, Millennium Partners and Forest City Ratner Companies. The company pioneered and continues to play an important role in several of New York’s most recognized retail neighborhoods, including the creation of the lower Sixth Avenue “big box” corridor, the establishment of SoHo as an international retailing destination and the revitalization of Times Square.

The company’s focus continues to be urban retail, shopping centers and malls and office and apartment buildings with a retail component. The lifestyle center is a relatively new market for RKF.

“Representing a landlord that’s developing a lifestyle center is new for us, and that’s why Mitch Fridel is going to be heading up that effort,” says Futterman. “But for the most part, we don’t plan on competing in the downtowns and other major cities – in those other cities we’ll strictly be doing tenant representation.”

Some of the most recognized brands on RKF’s tenant roster include Adidas, American Eagle Outfitters, Bally Total Fitness, Barnes & Noble, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Gap, Kinko’s, Nautica, Polo Ralph Lauren, Prada, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Virgin Megastores and Zales Jewelers. Clients that RKF represents on a national basis include CH Carolina Herrera, Elefanten, Izod, PureBeauty Inc., Solstice Stores and John Varvatos.

The firm also assists companies in the disposition of their real estate assets, including leased and free-owned properties. RKF currently represents Richemont/Shanghai Tang and World Wrestling Entertainment in dispositions and, in the past, has represented CVS, Loews Cineplex, Rite Aid, Woolworth’s, Club Monaco, McCrory, United Artists and Federated Department Stores in the five boroughs of New York and New Jersey.
In addition to transactional services, RKF advises national and international retailers in formulating strategic expansion plans, both regionally and nationally, which includes transaction due diligence, real estate valuations and market research/analysis. RKF also assists investors identifying and evaluating acquisition opportunities.

As a property advisor, RKF is currently working with the Investment Group (comprised of RKF Realty, Inc. and Sutton East Associates) on Desert Passage, a 475,000-square-foot retail/entertainment complex on the Las Vegas Strip. RKF served as the exclusive retail consultant to the Investment Group during the due diligence and acquisition process and continues to serve as co-leasing agent (with Urban Retail Properties). RKF is now assisting in the repositioning of the project and will oversee all marketing and leasing with Urban Retail Properties.

Another notable project is Heartland Town Square, a $4 billion mixed-use project on the former site of the Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center in Islip (Long Island), New York. The project, which encompasses 460 acres, is slated to contain 9,000 apartments, 1 million square feet of retail and restaurants, 3 million square feet of office space and a 100,000-square-foot aquarium. The tenant mix will consist of specialty retailers as well as a few larger anchor tenants.

RKF also served as retail leasing consultant on Manhattan’s premier mixed use project, Time Warner Center, which features an array of office, retail, residential, hotel, restaurant and cultural uses. RKF was a consultant for the Palladium Company, a division of the project developer, The Related Companies, L.P., and represented numerous tenants in securing space at the project, including L’Occitance en Provence, Clio Blue USA, Sisley – United Colors of Benetton, Equinox and Bose Corp.

Another trend recognized by RKF is the younger, hipper, more urban type apparel. The firm has worked with companies like Sketchers and Wet Seal, and exclusively represents Forever 21, which just opened a location on State Street in Chicago and is opening three New York City locations in Brooklyn and in Manhattan on 14th Street and on 34th Street across from Macy’s.

Since the company’s inception, RKF has completed 800 transactions valued in excess of $3 billion, and each successive year, the firm has increased its activity. Futterman says that references and good experiences are what differentiates RKF in the marketplace.

“On the tenant side, our success rate is very high, and there’s probably not a better tenant broker in the country than Robert Cohen, who heads up our national tenant representation program,” he says. “And we have a little bit of that New York attitude, which might give us a little more of an aggressive nature that sort of focuses on getting deals done.”

RKF’s ultimate vision is to maintain its perch at the top and, eventually expand beyond it.

“If you think about it, most national companies focus on more than just retail; they’re also involved in commercial leasing and perhaps industrial or office leasing and property sales,” he adds. “We’re really the only full-service retail leasing company in the United States and we want to keep it that way.”

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