Since joining the Handler Real Estate Organization as a principal alongside company scion Scott Handler in 2009, Scott Galin has expanded the firm’s stature as a principal owner of 561 Seventh Avenue, 263 West 38th Street and 315 West 39th Street into that of a full-service real estate boutique. Besides spearheading a third-party leasing platform that has netted nearly a dozen nonprofits, retailers and financial services tenants, Mr. Galin, 52, has also exploited his acumen as the former chief executive of a $500 million women’s clothing company to tighten up day-to-day office operations and expand the company’s reach. After the jump, Mr. Galin speaks to The Commercial Observer about his predictions for 2012, his history with the Handler family and what changes to expect at the firm.
The Commercial Observer: Considering that the New Year has arrived, let’s start with your predictions for 2012. What’s your forecast for commercial leasing this year?
Mr. Galin: In terms of office space I think ’12 is going to be a good year in the city, at least in what we trade in—B space, middle-sized spaces, 5,000 to 15,000 square feet. I think there’s a dearth of this stuff, and you know what hasn’t been built in the last X amount of years. I’m sure there’s still a lot of large A spaces left in New York, but there’s not a lot of mid-size B and B-plus spaces, so that will continue to be good.
In other words, as the supply of Class A space diminishes demand for Class B will grow?
We’re seeing tenants who were heretofore in Class A spaces—and I don’t mean Lever House A; I mean East Side office buildings—that have gravitated towards the area that we trade in because the area has dramatically changed. And I think that’s going to continue. Look, the economy in New York—it’s a very anomalous place. I mean, people come here to visit with us, or me personally, and they spend the week in New York, and it’s hard to find the word “recession” here. In the restaurants and in the theaters, it’s 24/7. From a macro standpoint, the economy is obviously getting better. I think it’s getting better slow, but I think ’12 is going to be nice in New York.
You joined Handler Real Estate as one of its principals in March 2009. Now, nearly three years later, is the honeymoon over for you or is the excitement still alive?
No, no, no—not at all. I don’t know what metaphor to use, but I have had a close personal and business relationship with this group going back almost 35 years. My previous life was spent in what was a small family business that we turned into a relatively large business. And I made my acquaintance with the Handler group in, I guess, the late ’70s, when I was a kid and my partner here, Scott Handler, was a kid. And my family’s business at the time was a small chain of retail stores called G&G. At the time, we had 30 stores or so, but we had offices in one of their buildings, at 229 West 36th Street. So I became friendly with Scott, my partner now, and I knew his dad, Jerry—may he rest in peace—and my dad—may he rest in peace—knew Jerry’s dad. So we went from there to another of their buildings—a Newmark building that they had an ownership interest in at 520 Eighth Avenue—and took bigger space. We went from a few thousand feet to 20,000 feet, turned that into 30,000, and I think it ended up at 40,000 feet of offices. And later they did a big deal for us down at the Starrett-Lehigh Building, and I don’t want to tell you what we paid because it sounds jocular, but it was something in the $5 neighborhood. So, long story short, there’s been a very long-standing relationship and, as such, the honeymoon thing doesn’t really exist for me because I came here as sort of a pseudo-cousin, if you may.