REBNY Awards Retail Dealmakers for the Revival of FAO Schwarz at Rockefeller Center and Peloton’s Ride into Manhattan West

Cushman & Wakefield’s Kenji Ota and Neil Seth win the Most Significant Retail Deal of the Year Award

JLL’s Patrick Smith, Matthew Ogle, Corey Zolcinski, and Bob Gibson; Newmark Knight Frank’s Benjamin Birnbaum, take home the Most Ingenious Retail Deal of the Year Award

REBNY's 2017 Retail Deal of the Year Award Winners
(L-R): Bob Gibson and Patrick A. Smith, JLL; Benjamin Birnbaum and Ben Shapiro, Newmark Knight Frank; Matthew Ogle, JLL; Bill Rudin, REBNY Chairman; John H. Banks, REBNY President; Corey Zolcinski, JLL; Neil Seth and Kenji Ota, Cushman & Wakefield; Steven Soutendijk, Cushman & Wakefield, Co-Chair of REBNY’s Retail Committee. Photo credit: Jill Lotenberg @jillphotography @fotoho


A beloved, time-honored brand at an iconic New York address and a new, rapidly growing fitness concept at Hudson Yards starred at the Real Estate Board of New York’s (REBNY) 20th Annual Retail Deal of the Year Awards Cocktail Party at Club 101 last night.

Recognized as the most meaningful transaction in its overall characteristics and importance to the New York City retail market,  “A Toy Story 2.0 – How FAO Schwarz was relaunched to the Big Apple at Rockefeller Center” at Tishman Speyer’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza, transacted by Kenji Ota, Executive Director, and Neil Seth, Director, of Cushman & Wakefield, was honored as The Most Significant Retail Deal of the Year.

Kenji Ota also won the 2016 Most Significant Retail Deal of the Year Award through last year’s competition.

Demonstrating exceptional ingenuity and creativity, The Most Ingenious Retail Deal of the Year title was awarded to: “Peloton @ Manhattan West: Retail’s Next Ride…” at 5 Manhattan West.

JLL’s Patrick A. Smith, Vice Chairman; Matthew Ogle, Executive Vice President; Corey Zolcinski, Executive Vice President; and Bob Gibson, Vice Chairman (along with Erin Grace, Managing Director), represented Brookfield Properties in the transaction. Newmark Knight Frank’s Benjamin Birnbaum, Executive Managing Director (along with Ben Shapiro, Senior Managing Director), represented Peloton.

This is Patrick Smith’s fourth time winning a REBNY Retail Deal of the Year Award. It is also the second win for Matthew Ogle and Corey Zolcinski.

“At this time in New York, as the retail market is in a state of transformation, the work by this year’s Retail Deal of the Year Award winners demonstrate the critical importance of brick-and-mortar space to the life and growth of businesses old and new,” said REBNY President John H. Banks. “The retail brokers’ achievements are a model for other retailers and brokers as they navigate opportunities in the evolving retail sector.”

“We congratulate the award winners on their great success for our industry and New York City,” said REBNY Retail Committee Co-Chair Steven Soutendijk, Executive Managing Director, Retail Services at Cushman & Wakefield. “The 18 retail transactions that competed this year are among the industry’s best, demonstrating REBNY brokers’ commitment to service, professionalism, and their clients’ visions.”

Sponsors of the 20th Annual Retail Deal of the Year Cocktail Party were: Empire State Realty Trust, Manhattan Skyline Management, Eastern Consolidated, Jack Resnick & Sons, Newmark Knight Frank, the New York Times, Ripco Real Estate Corp., Rose Associates, HJ Kalikow & Co., SL Green Realty Corp., Cushman & Wakefield, and JLL.


The Most Significant Retail Deal of the Year

In this deal brokered by Cushman & Wakefield’s Kenji Ota and Neil Seth, FAO Schwarz signed a 24,000-square-foot lease for its new flagship at Tishman Speyer’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza, reviving one of New York City’s most beloved flagship stores that had shuttered on Fifth Avenue in 2015. This fall, the oldest toy store retailer in the United States will open its flagship on three levels next to the iconic Rockefeller Christmas Tree—the perfect location for this timeless brand.

The inception of the deal followed the announcement that the FAO Schwarz brand had been acquired from Toys“R”Us by ThreeSixtyGroup, and evolved into negotiations around the delivery of the space, the store’s economic model, display and broadcasting rights at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and conditions for future FAO Schwarz specialty, shop-in-shop stores in New York City.

The brokers’ submission explained of the deal: “At a time when everyone was subscribing to the demise of retail, the news of one of New York’s most beloved brands coming back to New York City at Rockfeller Center made even the most skeptical “real estate retail experts” believe that New York City retail was turning the corner for the better. If there was ever such a thing as an ideal marriage of a store and location, this might have been it!”

The Most Ingenious Retail Deal of the Year

Through the combined efforts of the JLL and Newmark Knight Frank teams, the innovative fitness and digital media brand Peloton made a unique, forward-looking commitment to Brookfield Properties’ 5 Manhattan West, part of the major mixed-use, city-within-a-city Manhattan West project in the new and emerging Far West Side/Hudson Yards submarkets.

With the goal of expanding Peloton’s fitness experience by establishing a “Super Studio” to house all of its product components, the criteria included highly unique physical requirements, strict economic parameters, and appropriate zoning to utilize an outdoor public cultural establishment to accommodate its annual Home Rider Invasion (HRI) events. Meanwhile, one of JLL and Brookfield’s main priorities was to secure brands that would enhance the project’s public plaza and embrace the retail market’s recent push towards omni-channel concepts and technology. To complete the deal, the teams worked together to overcome many hurdles including partially encumbered space, potential train tunnel and flood gate interference, and relocating critical systems within the building’s infrastructure.

Instead of locating to a densly populated office or residential neighborhood, Peloton made a significant commitment within a master development that is still in construction—leasing 32,000-square feet at 5 Manhattan West. The lease included more than 26,000 square feet of retail, fitness, media production, and community event space; 5,690 square feet of contiguous office space throughout three levels in the property’s base; and exclusive rights to use Manhattan West’s public plaza for HRI events.

> View the full list of submitted transactions for REBNY’s Retail Deal of the Year Awards competition.