Populous – The Deal from My Perspective

Populous – The Deal from My Perspective

A new initiative of mine is to write a quick recap of every deal I complete. This satisfies two things – 1) it requires me to remember the intricacies of a deal that sometimes are overlooked and 2) will ultimately serve as a “deal diary” in years to come, allowing me the opportunity and pleasure of reflection. I can’t wait to look back at certain projects I worked on 10 years from now and am hopeful that many of these tenants will still be clients and people, friends.

Working with Populous marked my second time helping a company establish its first New York office. Jonathan Mallie, Principal | Director New York at Populous, had a relationship with CBRE’s Tri-State CEO, Mary Ann Tighe, from his tenure at SHoP Architects. Mary Ann identified Michael Movshovich as a partner for this client, who then brought me in to further support and round off our team.

We first met Jonathan on a tour of SL Green’s 215 Park Avenue South. Jonathan and Populous’ Senior Principal | Managing Director Americas, Earl Santee, had seen space at the Starett Lehigh building before our involvement and actually were given a proposal by RXR. Jonathan loved Starett and was drawn to the iconic nature of the building. Thus, all Buildings we (CBRE) showed Jonathan were compared to Starett – as Jonathan knew Starett could have been a great home for Populous – and only 475 Fifth Avenue made the short list following that first tour.

We then toured downtown buildings. What was interesting about our work with Populous is that they were not geographically restricted. Many tenants have strict boundaries of where they want to be, but Jonathan was willing to look anywhere in Manhattan for the right space. After two tours, the three buildings that made the short list were 475 Fifth Avenue (3-year prebuilt,) Starett Lehigh (18 month built space,) and 90 Broad Street downtown (5-year prebuilt.) As you can see, all of these buildings and overall deals were quite different.

We proceeded to negotiate at 475 Fifth Avenue. We submitted our initial proposal to JLL, however before we received a response Newmark had taken over the agency on behalf of TIAA-CREF. To Newmark’s credit, specifically Erik Harris, there was minimal lag time as a result of this transition and Erik and his team did an excellent job making Populous comfortable at the building. At CBRE, we knew that this specific unit we were negotiating on had been on the market for a long time, only having been used as swing space for a tenant in the building as they built out their space. Understanding this knowledge and TIAA CREF’s desire to lease the space put us in a position to negotiate a favorable deal for Populous – a great company that, as Mary Ann notes in the Commercial Observer, “has already contributed to New York via their design for the new Yankee Stadium.” The biggest issue in the lease negotiation was that Populous wanted to be in the space as soon as humanly possible, however there was a certain amount of work that needed to be done to make the space ready for its occupancy. In response to this, TIAA-CREF agreed to do plans for the work on spec so that when the lease was signed, construction could begin right away.

We are scheduled to go see Jonathan at his new office in June and can’t wait to check it out. Congrats to everyone on a great deal and for Populous on its first New York office.

Also seen in the Wall Street Journal.