Avison Young(AY) is opening its first office in New York and has hired Arthur J. Mirante, II as principal and tri-state president.

Mirante comes to AY after a 20-year career as CEO of Cushman & Wakefield (C&W), during which the firm’s revenues increased from $100 million to $1 billion. Most recently, he served as president of global development for C&W, where he focused on working with the firm’s clients to expand existing relationships as well as develop new business opportunities.

Mirante also joins Avison Young’s executive operating committee and will be responsible for business development, growing revenue and building strategic industry relationships to establish AY’s position in the regional marketplace.

During Mirante’s tenure as CEO, Cushman & Wakefield expanded its reach from 60 U.S.-based offices to a total of 173, including 100 outside of the country. Mirante also significantly expanded the firm’s service-line offerings and participated in numerous landmark transactions, including the sales of the World Trade Center, 200 Park Avenue and 666 Fifth Avenue.

NREI spoke to Mirante about his goals for Avison Young and what challenges he sees for the firm and the industry.

An edited transcript of that interview follows.

NREI: It's interesting that Avison Young opened its U.S. offices first in other cities. Do you think there is an advantage to coming into the busy New York City market now, as opposed to earlier in AY's U.S. expansion?

Arthur J. Mirante: It’s an interesting question and I’m new to AY, so I can’t say whether this was a strategic design, but it really doesn’t matter. I don’t think it matters whether it is a recession or a boom time if you’re entering the market. You just have to be opportunistic. I’d like to think that AY just waited until they had what they thought was the best opportunity to enter and begin their business with the best team, and I’m happy to be part of that team.

NREI: How should AY deal with the unsteady economy?

Arthur J. Mirante: It’s a big mistake to try to measure earnings or revenues for a real estate services company on a quarterly or monthly basis. In the past year, vacancies are declining, employment growth is back, we’ve had very healthy employment numbers outpacing the rest of the nation. But we’ve also had the European debt crisis, and our own little debt crisis here in the U.S. There is a tremendous uncertainty now in the business market.

But you don’t react to that kind of cyclical downturn or that boom period. You continue to hire good people, you build relationships with your clients and you try to counsel your clients through the difficult mini cycles you are going through.

NREI: What experiences at Cushman & Wakefield do you think will serve you well as you move into this new role at Avison Young?

Arthur J. Mirante: I’ve had tremendous experiences in recruiting talent. Recruiting talent and mentoring the brokerage professionals and investment professionals has always been important to me. I always enjoyed helping other people succeed. Recruitment and mentoring are things that characterized my leadership and tenure at Cushman & Wakefield and it’s something that really will help me build in the tri-state area for AY.

NREI: What are your goals for areas outside the city?

Arthur J. Mirante: It won’t be my decision alone because of the culture of collaboration that goes through the organization, but if it were my decision I’d say that New Jersey is a very fertile, a very healthy market for real estate service companies. You have very seasoned professionals and lots of them. It’s one of the most active office markets in the country and one of the most active industrial and investment markets as well. New Jersey would be a top priority as would Connecticut and Westchester and Long Island.

NREI: What do you think the biggest challenge will be for the rest of 2012 for the commercial real estate market? How do you see AY facing that challenge?

Arthur J. Mirante: AY’s challenge is to get the right people, the people who can be productive right away so we can make our mark in the different marketplaces. We’re going to be looking to build a full-service firm that will include project management and asset management, property management and retail and investment brokerage.

All of those skills in a real estate service company are complementary—they all help you serve your clients. If you do a good job and advise them in their investment strategies, then you have an opportunity to lease the projects you help them buy.

For AY, the world is going to be watching now to see who our first hires are in New York. We’ll be judged on our financial success and that will come if we are successful in bringing the right people here.

From an industry perspective, there is tremendous uncertainty in the environment right now. We’re in an election year. Is Europe safe now? Europe’s financial safety has clearly impacted the financial services industry, which is of crucial importance to New York. What’s going to happen with rental rates? Last year everyone was predicting a dramatic spike, now some people are backing off that.

In that atmosphere of uncertainty, how do you advise your clients regarding the decision they have asked you to help them make? That is a big challenge for real estate service companies now. You have to have talented people who can advise their clients in a very cogent way. We’re not fortunetellers, but we certainly can advise our clients on how to deal with this environment, based on our intelligence in the market and what we see happening.

New Post, President at Transwestern

Transwestern has named Rob Bagguley chief innovation officer, a new post that will allow him to lead the company’s consulting and advisory services in the Middle East and North Africa. He will be responsible for developing new initiatives and technologies to serve business opportunities. He will also create new industry structures and business models, enabling Transwestern to enhance its current capabilities and expand its client base.

Most recently, from 2001 to 2011, Bagguley worked as president for Transwestern’s Midwest region. During that tenure, the Midwest region also launched offices in Minneapolis-St. Paul and St. Louis. Before joining Transwestern, Bagguley was senior managing director with Cushman & Wakefield and founder and president of Rubicon Property Services, a San Francisco-based property management and real estate consulting organization.

Taking over as president in the firm’s Midwest region will be Mike Watts, who comes to Transwestern from J.F. McKinney & Associates, where he was senior vice president. While at J.F. McKinney Watts directed a team leasing and marketing the 1.5 million-sq.-ft. Hyatt Center development, 303 East Wacker Drive, 10 South LaSalle and One North State. He also oversaw the repositioning of large projects for clients, including Bank of America, BP Amoco, Bank One, G.E. Investments and Lehman Brothers. Previously, he served with Jones Lang LaSalle as regional leasing director.

Christenson Advisors Names Partner

Jack Van Berkel has joined Christenson Advisors as partner and managing principal.

Based in the firm’s Newport Beach office, he will play a key role in building Christenson’s brand as a full-service real estate consulting company.

Van Berkel joins Christenson from Grubb & Ellis Company, where he was executive vice president, chief operating officer and president of real estate services since 2007. During that period, he oversaw the expansion of the firm’s real estate services capabilities, including the formation of Grubb & Ellis Landauer valuation advisory services.

Earlier, Van Berkel spent more than four years at CB Richard Ellis as senior vice president of human resources.

New VP at NorthMarq Capital

Geoffrey Nauth has been hired as a new vice president in the production team at NorthMarq Capital in Milwaukee.

Nauth has more than 30 years of real estate lending and investment experience in the commercial real estate finance industry. He will specialize in the placement of commercial and multifamily loans for NorthMarq’s correspondents, including life companies, GSE’s and other capital market sources in the Midwest.

Before joining NorthMarq, Nauth was principal and founder of a commercial real estate industry advisory group, Nauth Advisory Group LLC. Prior to that, he was with M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank for 10 years as vice president in their commercial real estate department.

Strategic Capital Partners Taps New Managing Director, Assistant VP

Keith Getter will be a new managing partner at Strategic Capital Partners LLC’s Chicago office, where he will lead the firm’s capital markets and finance areas and will head up the company’s capital raising efforts.

Most recently, Getter was president of Brookside Capital LLC, a real estate investment firm that focused on niche properties. Until 2008 he was a real estate investment banker for 16 years at Legg Mason, where he served as real estate group head. Getter also served as real estate group head and co-head of investment banking at Stifel Nicolaus, where he was a member of the broker/dealer board of directors and the firm’s commitment committee.

In his capacity as an investment banker, Getter was the lead banker on a range of public and private equity and debt transactions, totaling more than $25 billion in nearly 200 separate transactions. He has also worked on a range of mergers and acquisitions.

Joining Getter in SCP’s Chicago office is John Sweet as assistant vice president of acquisitions. Sweet was previously a senior analyst with LaSalle Investment Management, where he was involved with a series of private equity real estate funds. He was responsible for the investment, financing, portfolio management and disposition activities for more than $1.2 billion in institutional real estate assets.

Voit Adds Three Inland Empire VPs

Voit Real Estate Services has hired three new senior vice presidents for its Inland Empire-California office.

Tom Swieca, Tony Archer and Sandie Smith each have vast expertise in tenant representation and shopping center leasing and sales in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Swieca and Archer have been partners in the commercial real estate industry for more than 15 years and have represented landlords and tenants in retail centers throughout the Inland Empire, including retailers such as Home Depot, Stater Bros. and O’Reilly Auto Parts. Swieca and Archer also represent over 1 million sq. ft. of new retail development scheduled to break ground in 2013.

Swieca has more than 32 years of commercial real estate experience and has completed over $1 billion in sales and leasing transactions throughout his career. Prior to Voit, he served as a senior vice president in the retail group at Grubb & Ellis.

Changes for Lee & Associates in Several States

Lee & Associates has hired Richard Murdock in its San Diego-UTC office as principal. Previously a senior vice president with Grubb & Ellis, Murdock specializes in office, investment properties and industrial sales and leasing in the San Diego area. During his 25 years of experience, Murdock has handled more than 400 transactions, including office, industrial and retail investments.

Murdock is a former president of the CCIM’s San Diego chapter and currently is a member of SIOR, National Association of Realtors, California Association of Realtors and Commercial Realtors Association San Diego.

In Arizona, Lee & Associates has hired Kurt Saulnier as an associate broker. Since he began his commercial real estate career in 2000, Saulnier has worked with Abus Lock, Innovion, Datex Instruments, Infinity Trading and Solutions, McFarland Machine and Ceiba Technologies. Most recently, Saulnier was with Grubb & Ellis and prior to that, Daum Commercial, both in Phoenix.

Saulnier is a member of the NAIOP and the ULI Young Leaders Group.

In Florida, Lee & Associates has merged with Southern Commercial Real Estate Advisors LLC and the firm’s new Orlando office will be headed by Southern Commercial foundersWilliam “Bo” Bradford, Jr. and Tom McFadden.

Also added to the team are Moses Salcido, John Pottinger and Sher Tolan. The firm specializes in industrial development, but expects to expand to all disciplines adding retail, office, land and investment sales.

Bradford and McFadden launched Southern Commercial in 2007 with one client and 400,000 sq. ft. of assignments. By the time of the merger with Lee, Southern Commercial had grown to more than 9 million sq. ft. of assignments and represented an additional 2.1 million sq. ft. of planned industrial inventory. Since 2002, Bradford and McFadden have completed more than 650 commercial real estate transactions valued in excess of $492 million.

In Lee’s Manhattan office, Michael Berne and Richard Donohue have joined the firm to spearhead its seniors housing and healthcare brokerage. Both come to Lee from Jones Lang LaSalle, where both were managing directors and co-founders of the company’s national seniors housing group.

As director of both the hospital division of the New York Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Medicaid Fraud Unit, Berne has investigated, audited and examined hundreds of hospitals, nursing homes and adult homes.

As a consultant to the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, Donohue provided strategic advice to the board and capital committee on all real estate matters.

Cushman & Wakefield Promotes Executive VP

Cushman & Wakefield has promoted Curtis Foster to executive vice president.

Foster began his career at the East Rutherford, N.J.-based company 27 years ago, and has risen through the ranks as one of its consistently top-producing leasing brokers.

Foster specializes in tenant representation and national account management in North America as well as strategic agency management. His clients include AXA Financial, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, Bauer Publishing, GfK Healthcare, Li & Fung Group and Unilever. He has also represented TA Realty Associates, ING Clarion Partners, Stellar Capital Management and Kwartler Associates on property assignments.

He has completed transactions totaling more than 7 million sq. ft. on behalf of these organizations, with assignments ranging from typical office leases, including regional and headquarters locations, to a 2 million-sq.-ft., mixed-use build-to-suit facility with complex lease structures.

Howard Hughes Appoints Executive VP

The Howard Hughes Corporation has appointed Paul Layne as executive vice president for master planned communities, based in the firm’s Houston office.

Prior to joining Howard Hughes, Layne was executive vice president at Brookfield Properties Corp., overseeing a 9.7 million-sq.-ft. portfolio in the Houston CBD. He was responsible for all of the region’s activities, including leasing, operations, property management, legal, accounting, development and construction, as well as Brookfield’s global partnership task force.

Before his tenure at Brookfield, Layne was president of Cullen Center and executive vice president at Trizec Properties, which was acquired by Brookfield in 2006.

Hanley Names New VP

Hanley Investment Group Real Estate Advisors has appointed Jonathan Selznick as vice president, based in the firm’s Irvine, Calif. office.

Most recently, Selznick was a broker with Pacific Commercial Investments, also in Irvine, Calif., where he advised clients on the acquisition and disposition of retail investment properties.

Selznick brings to Hanley Investment Group more than 20 years of experience in senior sales management positions, most recently focusing in single tenant investment niche, selling numerous banks, fast-food restaurants and drugstores in the western U.S. Selznick is a licensed real estate broker and has a professional affiliation with ICSC.

Op2mize Names Two Principals

Paul Fishbein and Aaron Paris have become principals at Op2mize LLC in Chicago.

Fishbein was previously an executive partner with both Centrum Properties and Amerimar Enterprises. He played key roles with the redevelopment of the former 1.2 million-sq.-ft. Montgomery Wards complex at 600 W. Chicago, at Cityfront Plaza and 200 W. Adams, as well as other large projects in Indianapolis and Boston.

Paris joins the firm from the Reno-based DP Partners, where he was executive vice president and COO. There, he was responsible for the development, construction, marketing and leasing of 25 million sq. ft. of industrial buildings and the acquisition of 1,800 acres of land, most of which was sold to Prologis for $1.85 billion in 2007.

New Executive VP at Macerich

Macerich has named Robert Perlmutter as the company’s executive vice president-leasing.

Perlmutter will be based at the company’s Santa Monica, Calif. headquarters. Since 1998, Perlmutter has led Davis Street Land Co., which developed and owned a portfolio of high quality retail centers. The sale of the majority of the assets of Davis Street last fall opened the door for Perlmutter to join Macerich.

Prior to founding Davis Street, Perlmutter spent 15 years of his early career at the Heitman Co. and was in charge of the ownership, management and leasing of over 40 regional malls throughout the U.S.

Brixmor Adds Leasing Associates, Leasing Reps Nationwide

In an effort to increase the company’s portfolio occupancy, to strengthen retailer relationships and enhance revenue from ancillary programs, Brixmor Property Group has added 11 leasing associates and made other promotions at offices across the country.

Brixmor added: Cheri Dolan as vice president of leasing in the Southwest region, based in Houston; Garen White as leasing representative in the Central region, based in Chicago; Jeffrey Lautenbach as senior leasing representative in the Midwest region, based in Farmington, Mich.; Peter Flynn as senior leasing representative in the Northeast region, based in Boston; Brigette Johnson and Nichole Katulich, both as senior leasing representatives in the South region, based in Orlando; Garrett LeBlanc and Phillip Magnes, both as leasing representatives in the Southeast region based in Alpharetta, Ga.; Linda Berger and Tammy Hovhannesian, both as leasing representatives in the Mid-Atlantic region based in Conshohocken, Pa.

Adding to Brixmor’s established national accounts program, the firm appointed Christine Leising as vice president-national accounts and has added Robert (Bob) Dake as national account associate. Brixmor also appointed Erin Gleavy DeSalle as vice president ancillary income and Laura McLaughlin as manager ancillary income.

Senior VP Moves to Pope & Land

Senior Vice President Kerry Armstrong will be leaving Duke Realty on June 30 to join the firm’s joint venture partner Pope & Land Enterprises in Atlanta.

Armstrong has been with Duke for nearly 22 years. His new role will allow him to continue working on the 3630 Peachtree development, which has been his focus at Duke. Duke and Pope & Land are joint venture partners for the Peachtree project.

Armstrong began his career at A.R. Weeks and Associates in 1990. That firm later became Weeks Corporation and merged with Duke Realty. During those years, Armstrong helped lead Duke Realty's Atlanta office portfolio from about 460,000 sq. ft. in 1990 to more than 4.5 million sq. ft. through development and acquisition.

Mumford Opens New Office in Washington, D.C.

Mumford Company has opened an office in Washington, D.C., tapping Justin Pinkard, a tenured sales associate with the firm, to oversee the new office.

The new Washington, D.C. office joins the firm’s existing operations in Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas and Newport News, Va., where Mumford is headquartered. Pinkard has been with Mumford since 2005 when he joined the firm as an analyst/sales assistant. He was promoted to sales associate in 2006.

REBNY Honors Leonard Litwin as Lifetime Honorary Chairman

Leonard Litwin, a Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) member for more than three decades, has been named lifetime honorary chairman by the organization.

Litwin was elected to REBNY’s board of governors in 1985 and has served as secretary since 1991. REBNY honored him in 2009 with the Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award.

Litwin has been involved in residential development and management for more than 50 years and has remained one of the most active owner-builders of luxury high-rise buildings in Manhattan. One of his buildings, Liberty Plaza at 10 Liberty Street, was given special recognition by the New York State and Federal Registers of Historic Places.

Litwin also co-founded The Litwin Zucker Alzheimer’s Research Center at North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System and supports research for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome through his charity organization, The Litwin Foundation.

Loews CEO Honored by JCCA

Jonathan M. Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, was honored on April 24 in New York at the annual gala for the Jewish Child Care Association (JCCA), a benefit that raised $1 million for the nonprofit.

Tisch is also co-chairman of the board of Loews Corp. and a well-known philanthropist. The event was held at the Mandarin Hotel and was emceed by Daun Paris, JCCA’s trustee and Celebration of Hope’s benefit chair and president of Eastern Consolidated. Also in attendance was 2012 Super Bowl winner NY Football Giant Prince Amukamara. The event featured JCCA’s own Brooklyn Democracy Academy Choir and a former resident of one of the agency’s programs, who spoke of her experiences.

JCCA is a comprehensive child and family services agency that assists more than 16,000 children and families annually.

Three New Divisions at Coyote

Coyote Management LP, based in , announces the addition of three new strategic divisions to meet the needs of mall owners and developers.

The new divisions are a third-party management division, Coyote Creative and MER Interests Inc. The third-party management division will offer a hands-on approach to leasing, marketing, construction and development services.

Coyote Creative will offer event planning, media buying, public relations, branding, social media and Web management, leasing and specialty leasing materials, trade area and market share analysis and business plan development and implementation. It will be led by Kymberley Scalia, Coyote’s corporate director of marketing.

MER Interests Inc. will be a consulting group specializing in providing management, retail development, marketing and advisory services to the shopping center industry. It will be led by Coyote Chairman and CEO Michael Rulli.

Rulli, a former trustee of ICSC, formed Coyote Management L.P. in 1997. He began his career as a marketing director and eventually attained the position of senior executive officer of Marathon U.S. Realties, owned by Marathon Realty Ltd., a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Ltd.

Missner Group Selects New VP

The Missner Group has hired June McCrory to the Skokie, Ill. -based firm as vice president of property management.

McCrory will be responsible for overseeing the financial and operational needs of the firm’s commercial real estate portfolio which includes more than 2 million sq. ft. of property. She will focus on maintaining value in the properties by retaining tenants and utilizing preventative management techniques to lower operating expenses while developing long-term relationships with owners and investors.

Prior to joining The Missner Group, McCrory was a senior property manager for Duke Realty L.P., where she oversaw the management of a 4 million-sq.-ft. industrial portfolio.