Wharton Property Advisors
Founder: Ruth Colp-Haber
Date established: 1992
Number of employees then: 1
Number of employees now: 6
When Ruth Colp-Haber established Wharton Property Advisors in 1992, she was a company of one. Now, 23 years later, the team has grown to six, yet Ms. Colp-Haber continues to oversee every transaction, something presidents of larger firms are generally unable to do.
Wharton specializes in high-end, pre-built spaces, mostly in Manhattan. Ms. Colp-Haber has always believed that pre-built, turnkey spaces provide the best value in the market: All of the work has already been done. “The money that would go into construction on the space can instead be given to the tenant in rent concessions,” she said.
Creativity, she said, is an element in her firm’s success. It’s a skill necessary for, say, marketing so-called difficult spaces: unusual layouts; short remaining leases. For example, she said, “I often take big spaces and set up incubators with several small tenants. The goal is to bring in subtenant revenue by hook or by crook.”
Recently Wharton represented The Argentum Group, a private equity firm, in renegotiating their lease for 6,000 square feet at 60 Madison Avenue. The asking rent was $78 per square foot. Last month Wharton closed a deal for a 3,000-square-foot turnkey space in The Empire State Building (350 Fifth Avenue) for Coalition, a financial firm based in the U.K. Asking rent was $62 per square foot. “Small becomes big. You do a good job and you get more work,” she said.
That said, small does not have to become too big to succeed.—S.P.