Westchester developer acquires financial stake in commercial brokerage

By John Golden

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Two long-time forces in Westchester’s real estate industry, Robert Martin Co. and Friedland Realty Advisors , this month announced a new business relationship that makes Robert Martin a “significant” investor and owner in the Friedland commercial brokerage firm.

The two companies, well known to each other for more than four decades, will continue to operate separately, said Greg Berger, managing director and partner of Robert Martin Co., the real estate investment, development and management firm headquartered in Elmsford.

Robert F. Weinberg and the late Martin S. Berger in 1957 founded the Elmsford company, which grew from a builder of single-family homes into a diverse developer of rental apartment buildings and condominiums, business parks, office buildings, hotels and retail shopping centers. The company today is led by partners Weinberg, who continues to serve as president, Berger, and managing member Timothy S. Jones.

Robert Friedland, who founded his commercial brokerage in 1970, said the investment by Robert Martin Co. — which both parties described only as significant when asked whether Robert Martin had acquired a majority stake — “will help catapult our business to the next level. Robert Martin Company has a stellar reputation and a proven track record of success, making them the perfect ally as we move into Friedland Realty’s next chapter.”

A long-time business fixture on Central Avenue in Yonkers, Friedland Realty in the last two years has passed through two brief chapters in its 45-year history in Westchester and New York City, where it has been especially active in the Bronx.

In 2013, the company, then called NAI Friedland Realty Inc., announced a merger with Benson Commercial Realty Inc. and a transition in the president’s post at the Yonkers brokerage from Friedland to Scott H. Benson. Both the merger and Benson’s tenure were short-lived.

In 2014, Ayall Schanzer, a corporate growth and turnaround specialist, took over as president and CEO of the renamed Friedland Realty Advisors. Schanzer led the company’s decision to relocate its headquarters from Yonkers to Harrison last spring, where it leases an approximately 8,000-square-foot office at 440 Mamaroneck Ave.

In April, though, the brokerage announced that its founding chairman Friedland would return to head day-to-day operations as president and CEO. Schanzer’s departure after little more than one year at the firm was described as a mutual decision.

“That’s in the past,” Berger said of Friedland Realty’s recent history of broken business relationships and executive departures. “It’s in the rearview mirror.” With his company’s financial investment in the brokerage and resources, “I think it’s going to be positioned very well for the future.”

Berger stressed that Friedland Realty will continue to operate as an independent company with long experience and success in the real estate industry. Friedland operates industrial, commercial office and retail brokerage divisions.

“We’re a smart investor in a synergistic business, and by no means are they an extension of Robert Martin,” Berger said. “We don’t look at them as a Robert Martin affiliate; we look at our investment as an additive to Friedland Realty.”

Responding to the Business Journal by email while traveling internationally, Friedland said the investment by Berger and his partners enables his firm “to take advantage of Robert Martin Company’s analytical and development staff and experience to develop creative real estate solutions for our clients. We believe this added expertise provides a significant competitive advantage for Friedland Realty across all of our divisions. In addition, we will be able to continue to expand our footprint in Connecticut and New Jersey as a result of the investment.”

Friedland said he will remain as CEO of the firm, “but we do expect to make additions to the executive leadership team in the near future.” The company will continue to operate from its offices in Harrison and Manhattan, he said.

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About the author

John Golden
The Business Journal’s senior writer, John Golden directs news coverage of the county and Hudson Valley region as Westchester bureau chief. He was an award-winning upstate columnist and feature writer before joining the Business Journal in 2007. He is the author of “Northern Drift: Sketches on the New York Frontier,” a collection of his regional journalism.

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