“We’re reaching the point where we’re going to be outgrowing this place pretty soon,” John Krueger, regional manager of Marcus & Millichap’s Manhattan and Westchester operations, said recently at the commercial real estate investment services firm’s office at 50 Main St. in downtown White Plains.
A publicly traded, 45-year-old company that has grown from its California roots in the San Francisco Bay area to deploy about 1,600 real estate investment brokers and finance professionals from offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, Marcus & Millichap entered the Westchester market in 2012, building its fledgling business here around veteran commercial broker Joseph French Jr. The former national retail director for Sperry Van Ness, French brought his four-agent team with him to the expansion-minded firm.
Since opening his own retail brokerage firm there, French said he has had an office for 20 years at 50 Main St. — part of Mack-Cali Realty Corp.’s two-building Westchester Financial Center — where Marcus & Millichap leases an approximately 5,000-square-foot space. Krueger said the office has grown from French’s original team four years ago to include 12 agents. Two more agents will begin work there within a month, he said.
In addition, Steven B. Rock, senior director of Marcus & Millichap Capital Corp., provides financing services from the White Plains office. His clients have included developer Martin Ginsburg when financing several multifamily residential projects on the Hudson of his Ginsburg Development Cos.
Since the early 2000s, Marcus & Millichap operated a Connecticut office in New Haven. By establishing an office in White Plains, “We were trying to bridge the gap between Manhattan and New Haven,” said Krueger.
“We feel there’s a lot of real estate here and in the Bronx…There’s a ton of mixed-use multifamily in this market and there’s a ton of retail as well.” About 60 percent of Marcus & Millichap’s Westchester business is in retail deals, while about 40 percent involves sales of multifamily buildings, Krueger said.
In investment sales and services, “Our main focus has always been less of the institutional clients and more private party,” said Krueger. The firm advises “the moms-and-pops of the world, who own one, five, to 10 buildings.” Many of the firm’s sales deals are 1031 exchanges by owners who have sold buildings and are buying new properties to avoid high capital gains taxes, he said.
Among developers and investors, “There’s a lot of attraction to White Plains,” said Rock, a former senior executive at The Carlton Group Inc. and Citigroup. “Right now it’s going through another little growth phase.”
“White Plains is going to have a few more hotels coming up,” Rock added.
“Westchester is underserved as far as retail,” French observed. “It’s very difficult to develop here…Big boxes who want to come in here, they’re waiting for somebody to fail” to take over existing retail space.
“Demand for real estate in Westchester is greater than it’s ever been before,” said French. “That’s because money is cheap. Demand is high. There is not enough product for the demand.”