Commercial Real Estate & Advisory

Retail Leasing Broker – Downtown Dynamo

January 11, 2003

Christopher OwlesChristopher Owles’ life long passion for design and architecture has served him well since he entered the commercial real estate arena. Not only does Owles have a keen eye for the aesthetic values that make a space special, but he also possesses a carefully honed insight with tenants in creative fields such as design, media, advertising, art and music production.

As managing director of Sinvin Realty Corp., Owles 31, is one of the most active commerical real estate brokers in downtown Manhattan, having repped some of the city’s biggest names in the arts, apparel, and home furnishings fields. In the Meatpacking District alone, Owles has negotiated in excess of 100,000 square feet of lease transactions in over a year-more than any other broker in that neighborhood.
Owles specializes in working with creative tenants who are looking for something different. For example, when the cosmetic company Bonne Bell was looking for its first location in New York City, the firm tapped Owles to head its search. Owles placed the 75-year-old company in a stunning, 3,400 square foot soho penthouse at 155 Spring Street. The Bonne Bell space offers panoramic views of the city, an internal floating staircase that leads to a private roof-deck, skylights and dark hardwood floors. Other tenants in the building include Shiseido and Alessi.

Further west, Owles helped to reposition one of the largest buildings in the Meatpacking District: the six-story, 72,000 square foot turn-of-the-century loft building at 29 Ninth Avenue. As part of the redevelopment team, Owles helped transform the warehouse into Grade A office space, then helped bring Swiss furniture designer, Vitra, to the newly developed building. The company signed a lease for a total of 12,100 square feet including a 1,800 square foot retail storefront on the ground level, and a 10,300 square foot showroom space on the second floor. In a second transaction in the building, Owles lured the exclusive, members-only club and hotel known as Soho House New York to take approximately 45,000 square feet of space on floors three through six, in addition to the roof.

Down the street at 415 West 13th Street, where Sinvin was named the building’s exclusive leasing agent, Owles helped bring acclaimed stylist beauty salon Bumble and Bumble, a subidiary of Estee Lauder, to the redeveloped and expanded 85,000 square foot, eight-story loft structure. The salon signed a 15-year lease for a total of 44,500 square feet of premier office space.

According to Crain’s New York Business, both the Soho House New York and Bumble and Bumble deals were among the largest transactions in Manhattan in the first half of 2002. Owles has completed similar high-profile deals with several other international brands he represents, including USM: British lingerie company, Agent Provocateur; Bonne Bell Cosmetics; Agnes B and Blue Man Group.
Owles’ professional roots lie downtown, as well. He started his career as co-owner of Tribeca’s Gallery Annext on Hudson street in New York City, which exhibited primarily the work of self-taught artists, women, and minority artists. A friendship with the artist featured in the gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Alex Locadia, and a subsequent partnership with gifted Italian architect and designer Guisi Mastro, led to Owles’ next entrepreneurial endeaver, Afuture Company. This interior-and-product-design firm focused on the creation of contemporary interpretations for business and industry.

Afuture immersed itself in diverse design and educational projects: restaurant and club design in New York and Miami, product and furniture design for entertainment industry clients in New York and Las Vegas, and lectures for metropolitan area museums and schools.
Owles’ experiences selecting sites for restaurant clients introduced him to the world of commercial real estate. In serving retail and commercial tenants and landlords, he has discovered a way to marry his love of design and architecture with his affinity for business-a combination well suited for finding inspirational environments at reasonable prices for creative clients.