May 8, 2006
Making the Move
By David Toth
For Jonathan Gordon and Jessica Munzel, the move from New York city to Bronxville has improved their zip factor.
The husband-and-wife owners of Admiral Real Estate Services Corp. used to spend an entire day getting out of and back into the city to check in with clients and properties in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties.
In their new location on Pondfield Road above Slave to the Grind in the heart of the Bronxville business district, “we can zip in and out” without a problem, Gordon said. The couple moved the business from Madison Avenue and 55th Street in March and also left their Manhattan residence to set up a home in Irvington.
They are also witnessing similar business moves among the properties they oversee. A bond trader wanted to be closer to his home in northern Westchester, so Gordon helped him find an office with 400 square feet on Main Street in Mount Kisco.
Admiral offers a range of services to both owners and users, from acquisitions and dispositions to leasing, property management, construction coordination and advisory services.
The move for Gordon and Munzel was the classic no-brainer. “Most of our properties are up here…We seemed to be getting much more business up this way and it was partially we had a lot of clients that there were in Westchester,” Gordon said. “This is a better way of living for us.”
In Bronxville, Admiral is the exclusive leasing and management agent for 60 stores, about half of the downtown. Along Pondfield Road from House of Botticelli to Blue Tulip, “there are only three retail buildings that we don’t lease,” Gordon said.
The building in which they have offices has been part of the Gordon family for years.
“My dad bought this building and it became a family asset.” Gordon’s father has asked him to spend a year in the building management business learning all aspects and then decide what he wanted to do with his life.
“I ended up loving the business,” so much so that he ended up earning a master’s degree in real estate investment and development from New York University, where he met Jessica, who was taking the same course and also received a master’s.
Both have continued with their education with Gordon adding another diploma from NYU’s construction project management program and a certificate as a commercial investment manager to his resume. Munzel also returned to NYU and earned a diploma in credit analysis.
“With the number of diplomas we have (it allows us) to get our foot in the door” of prospective clients, Munzel said.
She was an account officer and risk manager at Hypo Real Estate Capital Corp. for eight years in New York City and previously had been vice president of underwriting at RFG Financial Inc.
Gordon was managing director of Mosbacher Properties Group L.L.C. before forming Admiral. He said Mosbacher permitted him to form Admiral while he was still working with them. In 2003, he left them to commit himself fully to Admiral.
Munzel said their backgrounds are complementary. “We have different strengths; you have a need for a deal maker and a person crunching the numbers.”
Gordon said he’s the mouth and she’s the brains. “Her empirical mind can put a financial plan in black and white.”
Admiral is “for the people who have two or three small properties but not enough to justify having their own real estate office.”
“We view it as though we’re money managers,” Gordon said.
“We have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize (the clients’) financial objectives.”
Admiral manages about 75 properties in New York City, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess. The firm, which has six on staff, also handles the facilities management for Houlihan Lawrence.
“It’s a different end of our business, which is if they own the property then we just take care of their facilities. If they rent it, for example, if there’s a roof leak, we look in the lease to see whose responsibility it is. And if it’s the landlord’s responsibility, we have them fix it or show them why they have to fix it under the lease. If it’s Houlihan’s, then we take care of it.”
With the addition of more work in Westchester, Admiral added another property manager.
“We seem to have developed a niche in these affluent downtown CBDs, capital business districts.”
The vacancy rate is low in Bronxville, Gordon said. A few feet away from their front door, the firm has 3,000 square feet available. “It could’ve been rented 15 times over,” Gordon said, “but we’re holding out for an anchor tenant to bring others to town.”
“We view Bronxville as a sort of a mini mall; we try to make a retail synergy between the different retailers. So we’re looking to bring in something new and dynamic,” Gordon said.
A chain of clothing stores “has been dying for us to rent to them, and we just keep turning them down because we don’t want to duplicate, because it’s boring.”