Brokerage Firm Predicts Continued Growth Despite Changing Face of Retail

Real Estate In-Depth | November 2017

RM Friedland recently brokered two lease transactions at the 358,619-square-foot Waterfront at Port Chester.

HARRISON—In recent months, industry experts and media outlets have claimed the same thing: retail is dead. Brick and mortar has seemingly been replaced by omni-channel shopping, with many industry cornerstones and “Mom and Pop” shops shuttering doors across the country. While many in the industry have started to pull away from the retail sector, commercial real estate brokerage firm RM Friedland, says it is doubling down and expanding its retail team with the belief that retail is not dead, it is simply evolving.

“So much has been said about the state of retail across the country. We personally have found that retail is not dead, it is just reinventing itself. We have seen an influx of experiential retail tenants coming into the county and moving into spaces that had previously sat vacant for years,” said Sarah Jones-Maturo, president of RM Friedland. “While online shopping is not going away, consumers will still travel to a brick and mortar location if they feel it is worth it and it is not something they can do at a computer.”

She added, “For example, there is still demand for experiences such as going out to eat, dance classes and other forms of exercise. These types of tenants could usher in the future of Westchester’s downtowns and revitalize the demand for retail space.”

She reported that in the last two months RM Friedland, which currently represents more than 35 retail properties primarily in Westchester and the Bronx, has participated in three such retail transactions. The team of Beth White, David Scotto and Robin Herko handled two transactions at The Waterfront at Port Chester, a property for which RM Friedland is the exclusive leasing broker. In August, the company represented both sides in a transaction that brought Greenwich Ballet Academy, Inc., to the property. In September, a high performance squash academy leased an 8,670-square-foot space. Both of these units had previously been vacant for over a year. The Waterfront at Port Chester is a 358,619-square-foot shopping, dining and entertainment hot spot located along the Byram River Waterfront in Downtown Port Chester.

In August, the team of Scotto, Herko and Katelin Van Voorhis represented both sides in a transaction that allowed Fancy Feet Enterprises, Inc., a Bronx-based dance studio, to open its first Westchester location in a former bank branch office at 567 Gramatan Ave., in Mount Vernon’s Fleetwood section. Joanna Simone, vice president of leasing and property management operations for Simone Development Companies, which owns 567 Gramatan Ave., said, “We have seen a flurry of activity from non-traditional retail tenants at many of our retail projects around the county.”

“If recent months are any indication, we feel optimistic about the future of retail in Westchester County,” said RM Friedland’s Jones-Maturo. “This continues to be a strong area of our business, and we look forward to working with tenants and owners alike to bring new opportunities to county residents and visitors.”