NYC Real Estate Broker Harmon Jumps From Eastdil to Cushman

  • Harmon, Adam Spies each named chairman of capital markets
  • Deals had included Stuyvesant Town, Helmsley real estate sales

Doug Harmon, the real estate broker behind some of New York’s most high-profile commercial-property deals, left Eastdil Secured LLC after more than two decades to join TPG’s Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

Harmon, 54, and partner Adam Spies will each assume the role of chairman, capital markets, while Kevin Donner will join as executive managing director, Cushman & Wakefield said in a statement Thursday. Harmon and Eastdil, owned by Wells Fargo & Co., didn’t return calls seeking comment. He had been with the company for 23 years.

Cushman & Wakefield has been expanding after its $2 billion acquisition last year by a TPG-led group. The company was combined with TPG’s DTZ unit, creating the third-largest real estate brokerage and sparking speculation of an eventual initial public offering. The firm is led by Brett White, a former chief executive officer of CBRE Group Inc., the world’s biggest commercial-property services firm.

“The brokerage landscape is definitely changing,” said Kevin Shannon, president of West Coast capital markets for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, a unit of BGC Partners Inc. “Cushman needed to make a splash, which they did with this capital-markets team in New York.”

Helmsley Sales

Harmon made his name selling the real estate empire of Leona Helmsley, the widow of investor Harry Helmsley, starting in 1997. He has advised on property deals such as Google Inc.’s $1.8 billion purchase of 111 Eighth Ave. in 2010 and last year’s $5.3 billion sale of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village apartment complex to a group led by Blackstone Group LP.

Harmon, Spies and Donner have worked on more than 500 major transactions with a combined value of $200 billion, Cushman & Wakefield said. The Helmsley assets included One Penn Plaza and the Starrett-Lehigh Building in New York, and the Parkmerced apartment complex in San Francisco.

“Leona took a chance on me and it brought me into a whole new world,” Harmon, a graduate of Brown University with a master’s degree in business administration from the University of California at Los Angeles, said in a 2013 profile of him and Spies in Crain’s New York Business.

Eastdil completed $22.7 billion in New York investment sales last year, a city record that dwarfs the $8.8 billion by No. 2 CBRE and $3.4 billion by Cushman & Wakefield, according to the Real Deal trade publication. The firm calls itself the largest U.S. real estate investment bank, as it advises investors and arranges financings as well as brokering property sales. Eastdil’s parent, Wells Fargo, is embroiled in a scandal over the opening of unauthorized customer accounts.

Record interest in property investment and financing has led to defections among real estate rainmakers to smaller firms trying to build up business. Newmark’s Shannon joined the company at the end of last year after leading western-region office sales for CBRE. Cushman in 2015 lost Boston-based broker Robert Griffin to Newmark, which named him U.S. head of capital markets and head of the New England area.

“The value of brokerage capital is high right now,” Shannon said.

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