Transwestern Debuts in NYC Market

It's been a long time coming. After years of eying New York for expansion, Transwestern has made its entry into the city with the creation of its Northeast region, and the company has put two industry veterans, Patrick Robinson and Lindsay Ornstein, in place to spearhead the endeavor.

February 8, 2011
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

It’s been a long time coming. After years and years of eying New York for expansion, Transwestern has made its entry into the city with the creation of its Northeast region, and the company has put two industry veterans, Patrick Robinson and Lindsay Ornstein, in place to spearhead the endeavor.

Transwestern has long had a strong presence on the West Coast and in the South, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions, so its move into the Northeast closes a gap that the commercial real estate firm was eager to fill as part of its domestic strategy. Clients in Transwestern’s new territory will benefit from the firm’s property management, agency leasing, tenant advisory, investment services and investment management expertise, with longtime commercial real estate player Robinson leading the way as president.

Transwestern was looking for a proven leader to execute the expansion of the company’s culture and operating model to institutional and tenant clients in the upper East Coast area, and Robinson has a history full of successes in the initiation and advancement of such ventures. He brings to the table an expertise that he has cultivated through various positions over the last three decades. Robinson was an equity partner with commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle and later founded The Staubach Co.’s New York regional office, acting as managing principal at the firm for nearly 10 years. He then became a founding member of Centric Real Estate Advisors, where he served as managing principal until joining Transwestern’s team.

But Robinson made the move from Centric to Transwestern with more than just his knowledge; he brought a partner with him. Lindsay Ornstein, also a principal & founding member of Centric, has stepped into the position of principal at Transwestern’s New York City office. Ornstein and Robinson go back about 10 years. They worked together at Staubach, where Ornstein held the position of director of marketing and later made her mark on the consulting and brokerage group.

“It’s a serendipitous fit,” Ornstein told CPE. “Transwestern always wanted to be in New York and they found Pat and me, and the paths just aligned. Aside from the fact that we come with a really strong client list, we have a great dynamic between us and it will serve us well with a balance of creating and fostering the right internal culture and the right client services.”

It’s not just the team and its pursuits that are right; the timing is right, too. “There’s definitely been a notable shift in the last six to eight weeks,” she noted. “The premium assets have experienced pricing increases and there’s been a lot of leasing activity. It happens to be a segment of the market that we’re really in tuned with. With the market poised for positive momentum, it’s nice to have a strong platform beneath us. It’s a great launching pad to ride this positive trend.”

Indeed, the New York real estate market is going through changes that, perhaps, the industry did not necessarily expect would transpire at this point. “I think assets are overvalued,” Ornstein said. “They are trading based on idealistic underwriting. It’s a function of limited supply and all of that capital that’s been waiting to be deployed.” So much for those bargain basement deals that so many investors had been eagerly awaiting. “Because it never happened, these funds have to invest, and few properties are coming online as the market loosens up, so they go for relative premiums–in my opinion.”

While the opportunities are not overflowing at the moment, Transwestern is eager to get in the game in New York. “We would love to get in there and buy assets. We’ll be actively looking to acquire properties but it has to pencil out with conservative underwriting.”

And there’s more good news as Transwestern’s Northeast region gets off the ground. “We’re actively recruiting and hiring,” Ornstein added.