It’s CBRE by a Mile in ’08 Leases; Cushman, Newmark Runners-Up

Nerves are frayed. Skin is tissue-paper thin. Expectations for dealmaking in the year to come have been appropriately moderated. But we must have hierarchy! Even in recessions.

To the list! According to Crain’s and CoStar’s “Top Manhattan Office Leasing Deals” of 2008, released Feb. 16, CB Richard Ellis retained its firm grasp on the No. 1 spot, representing either the tenant or the landlord (and in some synergetic cases, both) in 24 of the top 50 office leasing deals. Put another way, CBRE was involved in the leasing of more than 6 million square feet in Manhattan, including a renewal by Viacom for over 1 million at SL Green’s 1515 Broadway, last year’s biggest leasing deal.

“As I look down the list of the top leasing deals in Manhattan, many of these firms I’m looking at have been clients of ours over a long period of time,” said Matt Van Buren, CBRE’s senior managing director in Manhattan. “That’s one of the things you do see for sure with us and with other strong real estate firms, your ability to do business with clients because you’ve done a good job for clients before repeatedly.”

Which brokerage occupies the No. 2 spot in the pecking order remains a little unclear. On the one hand, CBRE’s arch-nemesis, Cushman & Wakefield, took part in 16 of the top 50 deals, compared to Newmark Knight Frank’s 11. But Cushman’s deals amounted to 2,723,114 square feet, 47,944 square feet less than Newmark’s 2,771,058.

Cushman regional COO Joe Harbert said, from outside of an Arizona video arcade, “We’re really happy to have had 16. … This is a difficult year in the real estate market.”

Jimmy Kuhn, Newmark’s president, also declined to publicly lord it over his competition (he was probably channeling his competitive energies to his son, who on Monday was fencing in the Junior Olympics, also, oddly enough, in Arizona). Instead, by email from the Grand Canyon state, Mr. Kuhn credited the firm’s long-standing practice of nurturing talent in-house. “[W]e have guys that came up 15 and 20 years ago, and are now in their early 40s and are starting to dominate,” Mr. Kuhn wrote.

Other boldface names on the list included Jones Lang LaSalle, involved in eight of the 50 deals; FirstService Williams, involved in five; and Studley, involved in two

drubinstein @observer.com

It’s CBRE by a Mile in ’08 Leases; Cushman, Newmark Runners-Up