One of Myers’ brothers, Jake, worked in the technology industry and it was through his industry connections that Justin Myers found his office rental clients.
He has since risen to his current role: Executive Managing Director and Principal at Lee & Associates. His clients include Ceros, HelloFresh and JSM Music. He has also engaged in leasing laboratory space for biotechnology companies.
What is your secret recipe to attract customers?
I have the best local market expertise in Midtown South from all the advertising I’ve done for tech companies in the area. I was hired by HelloFresh three years ago to help them consolidate and expand 40 W. 25th St. where they had 22,000 square feet. Our knowledge of the area is uncanny. We knew what their neighbors were doing. We knew what was going on in the building and none of it was even on the market.
When I went to tryout for Major League Soccer, there were 20 goaltenders in tryout and I outperformed them all. Footwork and hustle are important. In real estate, you make unannounced calls, you solicit clients, you talk to the supervisor, you walk around the building, you walk the street, you meet people.
How has your football career made you successful in real estate?
As a goalkeeper, you just fall down and get up again. Turning that into real estate might get you 20 nos, but all you need is a yes to win. And the 20 no’s are good market intelligence to use going forward.
How did you celebrate your first big deal?
ClassPass had 1,500 square feet at 121 W. 27th St. and the business was growing so rapidly while my client wanted to sublet space on the 12th floor of this building. I saw ClassPass employees answering calls in the hallway because their office was too small. I took them to the 12th floor and then showed them properties available on that street that day and it turned into me opening them a new office at 275 Seventh Ave. within a year. was looking for 28,000 square feet.
I celebrated this deal by paying off my brokerage education. Then I went back to work to do more business. It’s amazing how much it costs to live in New York.
What’s a complicated deal you’ve been working on recently?
We represent a landlord at 116 W. Houston who leased four floors to Knotel. About a year ago we had to negotiate a termination for Knotel. It was difficult to speak to Knotel because they went bankrupt and had leased the building for 10 years.
After this termination, the landlord wanted us to release the space at market rents, which were much lower during the pandemic. We were able to lease all floors to technology companies with no-warranty Knotel furniture.
It took about six months to rent the 6-story building to four separate tenants.
What’s your Hail Mary to keep a customer from walking out the door?
Always have a backup plan. There’s 600 million square feet of space in New York, so you always have another option that your renter can maneuver to and that you can use. On the landlord side, it’s important to have another potential tenant if one isn’t working.
Have you noticed a change in the way tech companies think about office space?
Some businesses need a lot of help figuring out how many people to put in their space. A 10,000 square foot office might have meant 90 people a decade ago, but now it’s closer to 50 people.
As a broker, how do you still close the deal? The office still has tremendous value – it may be less, but it’s still important. And you need to have more common areas and meeting rooms so you may not need as little space as you think.
Some challenges we’ve had with clients are companies that moved into space in 2018 or 2019 before the pandemic and are considering subletting or consolidation. The sublease market has become so saturated that it is difficult to maintain the same value.
Customers are constantly rethinking their space requirements. A few tech clients who’ve taken space in the last year or so are now subletting because they haven’t hired as much as they expected.