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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Diane Mandel, Senior Managing Director at The Lansco Corporation

Diane Mandel is a Senior Managing Director at commercial real estate advisory firm, The Lansco Corporation, and has over 20 years experience leasing retail space in New York City. 

While she has a strong background in tenant representation, Ms. Mandel’s introduction into real estate was residential sales.  After she accepted an offer 25 years ago to help an acquaintance start a real estate company, Ms. Mandel put in many long hours of hard work to learn the residential market.  Her dedication paid off when she sold 30 coop apartments during her first year in business and realized how passionate she was about real estate.  

After mastering residential real estate, Ms. Mandel tackled commercial real estate to give herself a new challenge.  Now a seasoned broker in luxury retail corridors across Manhattan, such as Madison Avenue and SoHo, Ms. Mandel has been instrumental in increasing the U.S. presence of worldwide fashion brands.  She recently secured ground floor retail space at a prime SoHo cooperative, which will serve as the first U.S. boutique for French accessories designer, Jérôme Dreyfuss.  

In addition, Ms. Mandel has represented international brands such as Yves Delorme, Taschen, Braccialini, Isabel Marant, Marlies-Dekkers, and E. Braun & Co. Some of her notable deals in 2009 include securing U.S. flagship locations on Madison Avenue for Swiss watchmaker F.P. Journe and accessories and clothing designer Devi Kroell.  

According to Ms. Mandel, the secret to her success is her imagination.  Before and during every new project, she pictures herself as a partner in her client’s business in order to brainstorm the best move for them.  She is creative in finding opportunities that are not yet on the market and has been successful at securing some deals even before there was any competition for the space.  Because she understands the importance of honesty and open dialogue, Ms. Mandel offers her clients options that many other brokers may not show them and continues to provide every possible alternative until her clients are satisfied – even if it means walking away from a deal that is almost done by presenting a brand new option at the eleventh hour.  

Ms. Mandel enjoys representing luxury brands but has found time to indulge in her hobbies, which include antiquing (particularly for mid-century modern pieces), biking, visiting new Manhattan restaurants and going to the movies.  Because of her love for Italy and a client roster heavy with European brands, she began taking Italian lessons a few years ago, and is now able to chiacchierare, or chat, with some of her Italian clients.  

Diane has a B.S. in accounting from Brooklyn College, completed her CPA exams, and coursework for an MBA in Finance from Baruch College. She is a member of REBNY.  We are pleased to present her as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Diane Mandel for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: How did your career in real estate begin?
Diane Mandel: 25 years ago, I took a gamble and accepted an offer to help an acquaintance start a real estate company.  He thought I would be very good at it and, as it turns out, he was right.  I sold 30 co-op apartments during my first year in business.  It was a lot of fun and didn’t feel like work at all.  New York was a very hot market then and I loved it.  

How are you successful in such a tough economic time?
I have plenty of patience and persistence.  I’m also happy to go wherever I am needed.  Actually, it’s a really great time for deal making because there are many more prime retail locations and opportunities available than a year ago.  I enjoy working in this market because it challenges me to think creatively.  

What is it about real estate that you love so much and why?
I love meeting all of the interesting people who are selling great products and making deals happen for them.  I enjoy creating opportunities, filling needs and just making things happen from out of nowhere for all kinds of brands. I also have a good sense for which retailers are ready to open up a store in New York – sometimes I think I almost know before they do!

What is the most creative real estate solution you have come up with for a client?
I have on many occasions been able to create opportunities that were not on the market by approaching tenants and landlords about vacating their locations and offering alternatives to them.  I also make sure I’m well read on the ins and outs of the real estate industry.  For example, I placed the linen company, E. Braun & Co. at 484 Park Avenue earlier this year.  I read in the newspaper that the previous tenant would soon be leaving the space and I called up the landlord – very few brokers knew about the space because it was not advertised yet.  We had been looking for space for E. Braun & Co. for several months and I knew this would be the perfect space for them.  I’m a very good detective.  

What are your five most favorite properties in Manhattan and why do you like them?
Manhattan has such great properties that I just had to list six:
  1. Chelsea Market: I think the interior design is very artistic and unexpected.  It’s a fun atmosphere and I like the underground, cavernous feel to it.
  2. The Plaza: The restoration is gorgeously done, especially the ceiling.  I cannot wait till the Palm Court re-opens.
  3. Hearst Tower: The diagrid frame tower is spectacular and I find its juxtaposition to the original landmarked base very interesting and very New York.
  4. Lever House: I love the quintessential 50’s skyscraper that is still so modern looking today.
  5. Jean Nouvel’s new condominium at 11th Avenue and 19th Street. Those angles are thrilling!
  6. Grand Central Station: It’s gorgeous and I particularly love the restored Zodiac ceiling

What stores are you enjoying the most on Madison during this "Made in Italy" theme time?
La Perla, Cesare Paciotti, and Roberto Cavalli – if you put them all together, it will make for one fabulous outfit!

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
My father always said that there were no tricks to being successful and it’s about working hard. He came to this country from Hungary with nothing and made a more than respectable living supporting my mom and three kids.  He’s an admirable man. 

What are you proudest of and why?
My most recent deal with F.P. Journe, a very talented brilliant watchmaker, is the proudest moment in my career.  We had our eye on 721 Madison Avenue for years, which was formerly occupied by Graff Diamonds, and couldn’t wait for it to become available.  It was tricky getting the space for F.P. Journe because there was heavy competition with several international mega-brands, but we won.  They recently opened the store as their U.S. flagship.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I’d really like to do a deal on Fifth Avenue between 53rd and 58th Street.  It’s one of the most high-profile retail corridors that luxury and world-famous retailers strive for and I’d love to be involved in placing a brand there.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
Fifth Avenue is great but my favorite place to be is shopping along Madison Avenue.  

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
This is a very tough question.  I can’t say as there are many but I certainly adore the unusual bags at Braccialini and Devi Kroell, and the amazingly fine linens at E. Braun & Co., to name a few.

What is your favorite drink?
Pina Colada, with a slice of pineapple – it reminds me of being at the beach!

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
I love sushi, so Sushi of Gari on the Upper East Side would have to be my favorite restaurant.  
Masatoshi Sugio, or “Gari,” is the sushi chef there and his sushi is simply the best!  He has amazing combinations that I haven’t tasted anywhere else.  And there’s also the added bonus of the restaurant being right in my neighborhood. 

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Running races in Central Park early in the morning with New York Road Runners, topped off with a delicious breakfast with the runners at Tavern on the Green.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
I get such a thrill from running in Central Park and watching the seasons change.  Manhattan is unlike any other place in the world and Central Park is spectacular – beautiful scenery in the midst of all the skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of the city.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
I loved the Gates, designed by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, which was up in Central Park.  It was an unusual thing to see and the park took on a completely different atmosphere because of it.  What I enjoyed the most was watching people’s reactions to it.  The public exhibit really gave people something to talk about and that’s what made it so much fun.  

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Overrated: There is nothing overrated here.  New York is great!
Underrated: Summertime in New York City. The city is empty and you practically have the streets to yourself.  There’s still a lot going on here and I am able to enjoy all of it since it’s not so crowded.  

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and
what do you like about it?
I enjoy reading Fashion Alert because I can get the latest on what’s going on in the fashion world and add some more items to my growing “wish list.”  Also, I love the photos of your family on the sidebar!

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I have an adorable nephew, Max.  He’s 11 and a Triple A Hockey Goalie.  Also, I love everything Italian!  

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
I can be reached at 646-442-6905 or email me at dmandel[at]

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