Press

January 14 , 2004

Retail Split Now Spawning New Real Estate Company

Retail Split Now Spawning New Real Estate Company

January 14th, 2004 - By Connie Gore Last updated: Jan 14, 2004 09:16AM DALLAS-The final settlement between a pair of retail Goliaths is being ironed out amid the launch of a new company built from the tenant reps' rank and file of Dallas-based Weitzman Group. Hebert D. Weitzman's loss will be Steven A. Lieberman's gain as the former Weitzman president stakes a retail claim on Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and Central Texas. Lieberman and Alan P. Shor, former president and COO of the Zale Corp., will co-chair the board of directors for the Retail Connection Inc., a coming together of many of the leading names in Dallas/Fort Worth. Lieberman, now sitting in the CEO's chair, says retail professionals from brokerage houses other than Weitzman will be joining the Retail Connection, but the relocations are being closely guarded as final notices are tendered. The launch starts with 12 professionals, including Weitzman's former executive vice president Steve Greenberg and ex-senior vice presidents Terry Syler and Dennis Leibovitz. The 200-employee Weitzman Group still has two executive vice presidents and seven senior vice presidents in the DFW region. Weitzman, a recognized survivor of the game, has rebuilt his ranks five times over as teams leave for greener pastures. He tells GlobeSt.com that he anticipated others would follow Lieberman, who left last August after 17 years of working side by side with Weitzman. "I helped Steve start in the business and I certainly wish him the best," Weitzman says, noting he's lost eight brokers to date, but plans as before to backfill ASAP from inside and outside Dallas/Fort Worth. "We grow it back pretty fast," he says of his past brushes with similar scenarios. Lieberman, noting the sensitivity of the pending final agreement, stresses "I had a great relationship with the Weitzman Group. It was a great experience and I look forward to any opportunities that we may have in the future." Last August, Lieberman promised to roll out a retail real estate company the likes of which would be new for the industry. Until now, the brokerage community has been kept in the dark about a plan put together by a broker with a rainmaker's reputation. The Retail Connection is hitting the market with a professional lineup that represents industry leaders like Bed Bath & Beyond, Sports Authority, the Gap, Office Max, Famous Footwear, JoAnn's, Houston's and Pei Wei Asian Diner. And, the structuring includes bricks-and-mortar listings, starting off with properties of Equity One and Rreef. The Lieberman-Shor plan calls for brokerage and investment services, including an in-house merchant banking operation and strategic alliances with several companies. The Retail Connection is funded by high net-worth individuals and institutions, Lieberman says. "We will concentrate on national chains, but we take pride in local and regional relationships that we have and will work with them as they grow their operations," Lieberman tells GlobeSt.com of the gaming out of a synergistic platform for tenants, owners, developers and investors that promises "to close the gap between the supply and demand of retail real estate." Shor, the new firm's president, said in a press release that "the synergies and scope of our service offerings provide the Retail Connection tremendous visibility into the retail marketplace. As a result, we will have the ability to help both mature retail chains and early-stage retail companies take their businesses to the next level of growth." The firm's headquarters lease, set to be signed next week, will kick off finish-out on an Uptown address due to be occupied April 1. In the meantime, the Retail Connection has its office in the Crescent. Office shopping also has started in Houston, Austin and San Antonio.