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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lee & Associates Opens its First Office in New York City

The commercial brokerage firm takes a major step in its nationwide growth with the addition of a Manhattan office
NEW YORK — Nov. 1, 2011 — Lee & Associates announces yet another significant strategic move in both its Northeast and national expansion efforts as the commercial brokerage firm enters the New York market with the establishment of Lee & Associates NYC LLC. Located in the heart of Manhattan, Lee & Associates NYC becomes the firm’s 44th office in the U.S. and its second in the Northeast. 
The NYC office has been formed through a merger with Sierra Realty Corp., and follows a series of recent Lee office openings in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Kan. and Greenville, S.C. The opening of the New York office underscores Lee’s methodical and opportunistic strategy of nationwide expansion through 2011 and 2012. Lee & Associates has grown from 30 nationwide offices in 2007 to 44 today.
“The creation of Lee & Associates NYC couldn’t have come at a more perfect time,” said Edward J. Indvik, CEO of Lee & Associates. “As the largest regional economy in the U.S., New York City has unlimited potential. New York’s large and growing population and the magnitude of its economic activity translate into unequalled real estate activity. Not only does this move strengthen Lee & Associates’ national presence, it gives us a premier local office in one of the country’s most vital commercial real estate markets.” 
With a population of more than 8.3 million, an inventory of over 400 million square feet of office space and 105 million square feet of retail space, the Manhattan commercial real estate market is beginning to see its strongest numbers since before the recession. Both leasing volume and rental rates have been steadily increasing over the past year. Leasing activity has averaged more than 29 million square feet of space over each of the last five years. Rental rates in Manhattan also are on the upswing with asking rents in excess of $100 per square foot for top-quality Class A office space calls and prime retail space asking more than $1,500 per square foot.
Lee & Associates NYC LLC is headed by President and CEO James Wacht, EVP Peter Braus and COO Joel Herskowitz.
“New York City is ripe for the establishment of a new national real estate brokerage company, and partnering with Sierra Realty allows Lee & Associates to quickly realize its mission of growing on a national level,” Wacht said. “Lee & Associates’ impressive history and brokers-as-owners business model will bring a fresh dimension to the New York scene, as all current and future agents, owners and employees will benefit from stepping away from the traditional, business-as-usual broker model. In Sierra Realty, Lee & Associates will benefit from gaining a well-established office with nearly 60 years’ worth of experience in New York City with several diverse but synergistic lines of business. This includes the acquisition and ownership of investment properties, the management of residential and commercial rental properties, the furnishing of construction management services and the performance of brokerage services for landlords and tenants alike.”
Sierra Realty was founded in 1953, primarily as a property investment and management company. Wacht joined the company in 1989 and became its principal owner in 2000. Braus joined the company in 2001 after having worked as a retail leasing broker with New Spectrum Realty Services and Newmark Knight Frank. They then embarked on an ambitious plan to grow all facets of Sierra's business. Today, Sierra is a full-service real estate company, having grown into one of New York’s most well-respected commercial brokerage and property management firms, employing 14 retail brokers and salespeople and managing more than 50 commercial and residential properties. Sierra also owns, through affiliated companies, interests in a diverse portfolio of more than 20 office buildings and rental apartment buildings throughout New York. And in 2010, an affiliate company, Sierra Development Associates LLC, was formed to focus on construction management and development.
Lee Associates NYC has been created with Herskowitz stepping in as its chief operating officer. A well-known and respected industry veteran with more than 27 years of experience overseeing the brokerage business of several prominent New York brokerage companies, Herskowitz will work with Wacht and Braus to recruit new brokers and manage the brokerage side of the business.
"Affiliating with Lee & Associates to form Lee & Associates NYC LLC gives us the national platform and resources we need to significantly increase our commercial brokerage capabilities,” Wacht said. “We are actively recruiting experienced commercial brokers looking not just to earn leasing commissions but to actively participate as owners in the growth of our new business. Not only will brokers be offered the opportunity to participate as owners in the newly created office but they will also be given the opportunity to participate as investors in buildings that we acquire. We also anticipate significant referral activity from the other 43 Lee & Associates offices and are actively pursuing several of those leads."
Indvik expects Lee & Associates to benefit from gaining a diversified team steeped in tradition, office and retail expertise, with an undisputed track record.
“Wacht and his colleagues already are poised for growth in the New York market, and now as Lee & Associates NYC, the office will be able to feed off the resources our firm possesses as a completely broker-owned entity among the Lee & Associates network of offices.”