Companies in New York began to hire again, shoppers returned to the malls and, in the real estate world, tenants dropped their names on dotted lines.
To be sure, 2010 saw improvements in nearly every corner of the economy, from the price of rice to employment, according to the Fed’s latest edition of its Beige Book, released late last week.
Add to last year’s breakthroughs the steady rise of Newmark Knight Frank broker Neal Golden, who tallied some of the city’s biggest deals and grabbed its most coveted awards.
Indeed, with his blockbuster 300,000-square-foot deal for the relocation of Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ corporate headquarters, Mr. Golden earned not only Newmark’s “Broker of the Year” laurels but the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties’ “2010 Office Transaction of the Year” award. And yet despite the honors, the Texas native has been hitting Gotham high notes since arriving here in 2007.
“From the time I decided to move here there has been a commitment to being involved in the New York community,” said Mr. Golden, 46, who was included in The Commercial Observer‘s “11 to Watch in ’11” list in late 2010. “And, along with my team, hopefully, we’re now considered a significant part of this community, and that 2010 was not an aberration.”
Since relocating to New York City from Atlanta, where he oversaw Newmark’s regional leasing division for five years, Mr. Golden has tallied three busy years of dealmaking. In 2007, the broker inked a 60,000-square-foot deal for Barneys New York, followed by deals each year after for Clear Channel and the big accounting firm Marcum & Kliegman, for which he took home SL Green’s 2009 “Deal of the Year” award. In 2010, Mr. Golden and his team of nine arranged 750,000 feet in transactions, he said late last week.
Last year, however, real estate experts were abuzz about his transaction for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The deal for 300,000 square feet began years earlier, but ended with the decision to move the hospitality stalwart from White Plains, N.Y., to Stamford, Conn.
Mr. Golden said that the transaction flowed very smoothly in part because officials at Starwood began their real estate search long before their lease was set to expire in 2012, allowing the agent to do his own thorough search for space. At one point in the process, the company considered headquarters space in most of the major East Coast markets and also in Atlanta and Orlando.
“We were really charged with looking at everything,” said Mr. Golden, who was first assigned to look at the hotel group’s entire U.S. office portfolio in 2006. “They wanted to take the time to really be introspective and allow themselves, without any issues associated with having to make a decision, to reflect on what their needs were going to be.”
Meanwhile, his transaction for Capital One last year had a similar impact on the real estate industry. Indeed, after cultivating a relationship over years with the national bank, Mr. Golden helped find space in New York so as to bring it closer to the Long Island-based North Fork Bank, which Capital One had recently acquired. Before then, however, the Virginia-based bank also considered office space in Texas as well as the D.C. region. All said, it eventually inked a 140,000-square-foot deal at 90 Park Avenue, Mr. Golden said.
“But what was intriguing about this transaction is that obviously that contemplated not only growth and expansion but also figuring out what rents would be when their lease expired in 2016,” Mr. Golden said. “Also we were trying to consolidate other leases they had in the New York metropolitan area that were expiring at various points in time. So it was a creative transaction for all of us here.”
MR. GOLDEN WAS was raised in Dallas, Texas, to a father with ties to the real estate industry. Although it wasn’t evident last week, the Lone Star State native said his Southern accent occasionally reveals itself.
Still, with time spent in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, and now New York, Mr. Golden said his roots are still Texan.
That said, his real estate journey took him outside Texas early in his career, first to Atlanta and to Washington, D.C., before a return trip to Georgia, where he took a position at Studley running its Southern region between 1996 and 2002. He began working for Newmark Knight Frank in 2002.
In 2007, however, Newmark’s head honchos Barry Gosin and Jimmy Kuhn recruited Mr. Golden to bring his real estate practice to New York, he said.
“When I made the decision to relocate to New York, fortunately, Barry and Jimmy believed I could make that transition,” said Mr. Golden, who in 2009 was promoted to vice chairman at Newmark Knight Frank. “I think a piece of what I was doing previously was ingrained, but the fact of the matter was I always wanted to be a part of the New York market.”
Outside of work, Mr. Golden immerses himself in a number of charitable organizations, including the National MS Society, which bestowed upon him an honor in 2007 for his ongoing efforts with the group.
But never mind the awards, from the industry or elsewhere. “It’s not those awards, to me, that matter,” said Mr. Golden, an Upper East Sider with three daughters. “But what it does say is that the people around me, who truly take their jobs seriously, are willing to put in the time and energy to develop plans and to really make our clients happy. And that’s really what our job has always been about.”