“Although the market in Dumbo has increased, and probably a lot of the artists would be priced out of the neighborhood, we sort of have a general practice,” said Ms. Pardo. “Every now and then we bring it up again and talk about it and see if we should continue, and so far we have been able to continue to do that.”
Despite the offbeat leasing strategies, Ms. Pardo has signed 141 new leases for Two Trees since joining the company. While a majority of the leases are in Dumbo, where as many as 373 commercial tenants currently dwell in an estimated 3 million square feet of building space, others are for nearby buildings in downtown Brooklyn, where the company has sought to expand in recent years.
Earlier in 2009, Ms. Pardo successfully leased the remaining commercial space at 194 Atlantic Avenue, 125 Court Street and 138 Court Street, and is now setting her sights on keeping existing tenants. As many as 130 leases expired this year, and more are coming up, but Ms. Pardo insisted that she has managed to re-sign 77 percent of those tenants.
The furniture store Wonk and Hecho en Dumbo, a taco stand that subleased space in the Dumbo General Store, are among the 23 percent of tenants who are leaving, said Ms. Pardo.
BORN IN HAITI, MS. Pardo arrived in New York in 1996 by way of Miami to attend classes at Hofstra University, where she met her future husband, Ralph Pardo. A communications major, Ms. Pardo described her real estate career as a happy accident, one she fell into while temping at Helmsley-Spear, which led to a job as assistant to the general manager of the Fisk Building on West 57th Street. When Cushman & Wakefield took over management of the building in 2002, she strategically positioned herself for a lease administrator gig at the firm.
“When Cushman & Wakefield took over, I reached out to them and I told them sort of, ‘This is what I want to do; I want to grow with the company,’” Ms. Pardo said. “I sort of laid down the groundwork, I guess, and they were happy with it, and I went from there.”
When Ms. Pardo interviewed for the Two Trees job in 2003, Mr. Walentas escorted her on an informal jaunt through Dumbo, asking her more about herself than her credentials. Crossing Main Street, Front Street and Washington Street, the pair surveyed the retail offerings, and Mr. Walentas asked her a simple question: What types of storefronts would she seek to bring to Dumbo if she were hired?
Her answer, a hair salon, clicked with Mr. Walentas. Ms. Pardo was hired soon after, and in a fairy tale ending, the young director of leasing was able to snag the Salon de Quartier last year.
“We talked about a hair salon during the interview,” recalled Ms. Pardo of the tour. “I’d been pushing for one forever—and we finally got it last year, which is great. I guess they liked that.”