Triple Threat

That’s a nice way to put it. But is there any way to modulate the optimism-the pessimism swing back and forth?

Mr. Gottlieb: It’s like Google stock. Should it be valued at $85, should it be valued at $700 a share, or should it be valued at its current level? No one tells the investors in Google or any public company that they’re paying too much or too little for stock. It’s truly self-regulated. And if a seller of a property hires CBRE, they’re looking for CBRE to basically get the best value for them. As product is marketed throughout the community, there’s typically competition. There’s little competition today, but in that frothy market, there was an awful lot of competition to buy assets. And some people were motivated by their fees.

Mr. Laginestra: What the three of us do is, we are brokers, but what we do is offer consultative advice, and what we do is steer our clients, who work very hard in their own businesses, through the markets and through the ups and downs and try to create value-added benefits for them to act at certain times versus other times. It’s what we do. So, it’s really tough to just draw a flat line and say that’s the way the market should be, through some type of regulation.

 

You’ve been together 25 years?

Mr. Laginestra: At a minimum.

 

Do you still like each other?

Mr. Laginestra: No, not really.

Mr. Siegel: Yes! We love each other. We are family.

Mr. Laginestra: We love each other.

Mr. Gottlieb: But, still, it’s Steve’s birthday on Sunday and we’re not buying him an expensive gift.

Mr. Siegel: It had better be huge. I might be ending our relationship.

 

How old are you?

Mr. Siegel: 32.

 

Ah.

Mr. Siegel: Would you tell me how old you are?

 

Yeah.

Mr. Siegel: Well, you can because you’re still in your 20s.

 

How do you know?

Mr. Gottlieb: We checked you out before we met you.

 

My age isn’t online.

Mr. Siegel: Yes, it is.

Mr. Laginestra: We care about each other on and off the court, and we care about each other, not only professionally, but we care about each other as friends and as family. And we care about each other’s families.

 

Do you see each other outside of work?

Mr. Laginestra: More than I’d like. Yes, absolutely.

Mr. Siegel: We don’t constantly socialize, but we see each other.

Mr. Laginestra: We have other friends.

Mr. Siegel: But also, geographically, one is in Westchester, one is in New Jersey, one is in the city.

Mr. Laginestra: But we see each other off the court.

Mr. Siegel: We go to dinner and lunches, and we don’t talk business necessarily all the lunch, just a portion of it.

Mr. Laginestra: We communicate regularly, even when we don’t see each other. We email each other. We speak to each other. There’s always something happening, both professionally and personally, that keeps us engaged with one another.

 

How has the business changed over the past quarter-century?

Mr. Siegel: Much, much, much, much, much more professional. Clients expect more.

 

Is that a good thing?

Mr. Siegel: It’s a wonderful thing because it cuts the wheat from the chaff. The cream rises to the top, to use a bunch of ridiculous clichés. I go back longer than the boys here, but always, always, the most singular, highest focus I had in the businesses I was involved in or I had input as a manager, was to bring the level of professionalism way up, so we would not just hire that broker, who would go out and show five spaces and each one you show he says that’s the best till the tenant agrees with you. We understand the balance sheets; we analyze every aspect of the tenant; we plan strategy with them alongside their CFO, or whatever level we happen to be involved with. This is not just, ‘Let me show you some space.’ Yes, it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing, because we go into a client, and they look at you as value-added.

Mr. Laginestra: And we get involved in every aspect of the process. It’s not just about space, as Steve was just saying. It’s the financial implications. It’s how they utilize their space. It reinvigorates and changes their culture from time to time by making certain moves. It identifies them in different ways.

 

What would you say is the healthiest part of the brokerage industry right now?

Mr. Siegel: leasing. There are some sales. I can’t say there are none any longer; 825 Eighth was sold; 452 Fifth is about to be sold; 70 Pine; 72 Wall downtown. The condo interest of the St. Regis just went into contract last week or the week before. So there is sales activity bubbling up, but by far, the healthiest part of the industry is leasing.

 

What do you think of the mayor’s race?

Mr. Siegel: I don’t think there is a race.

 

There is a race!

Mr. Gottlieb: I think it’s fair to say that we’re all very supportive of the Bloomberg administration.

Mr. Siegel: I would agree.

Mr. Laginestra: I would agree 100 percent.

Mr. Siegel: I just think he’s done a good job for the city, I think he has no partisan interests that affect his decisions. Doesn’t mean every decision he makes is right. But he’s not influenced by all that political B.S. that exists, for the most part. I respect the people he surrounds himself with, the deputy mayors, etc. I think the status quo is good.

Mr. Gottlieb: We live and work in a clean and safe city.

 

How would you describe the leasing market?

Mr. Gottlieb: If you called up people at other firms, I think they would tell you that they had the busiest August of their careers, people that have been in the business for 15 or more years. Across the board they’ll tell you that they’ve been busier in the last month than they have been for that same period of time in a very long period time. Even during the best parts of the bull market. …Don’t forget, busy in August means deals closing in September, October, November. So we think, absent any sort of pick-up in the financial markets, that leasing velocity will continue at a steady state, in excess of a million feet a month.

drubinstein@observer.com

Triple Threat