content director
John Salustri (left), moderated
the session with Mirante.<@SM>The event attracted
nearly 200 CRE professionals
to the Newark Club.

NEWARK–“It was a privilege to help drive its success, but after 40 years, enough already.” So joked Arthur Mirante II on his four decades with Cushman & Wakefield. I had the opportunity to interview Arthur during our Inside the Real Estate Mind presentation at Tuesday morning’s RealShare New Jersey Opportunities Breakfast here, an event that drew nearly 200 local-area professionals. This was also Mirante’s first public appearance since leaving his alma mater to become principal and tri-state president of Avison Young.

“C&W is an institution with 13,000 people,” he told me. On the other hand, “Avison Young is highly entrepreneurial, building its business step-by-step and client-by-client.”

Mirante certainly isn’t the only upper-echelon executive to jump ship for better opportunities in the past few weeks, and he leads a list that includes such names as Tom D’arcy and Brett White. When I asked him about the trend, he named two prime drivers: the tough economy and lumbering corporate cultures.

“We went from a terrible recession to one of the weakest recoveries ever,” he said. And simply put, when broker numbers go flat, “they start looking for different platforms.”

But the companies themselves could also be getting in the way, Mirante said. “You’ve heard of ‘too big to fail.’ Well, this is more ‘too big to manage,’ especially among public companies that can get so distracted by quarterly earnings and capital events that they lose touch with the human element.”

The tough economic times are in large part a political phenomenon, he implied, and Mirante dropped most of the blame for the current sluggishness squarely in the Beltway.

“We were all fired up in 2011,” he told the audience, “and then the debt ceiling discussions took place.” He termed the behavior of Congress—both sides of the aisle–and the Obama Administration embarrassing and the prime cause of the resultant uncertainty. “Brokers can handle slow times and good times, but uncertainty is a killer.”

Despite the uncertainty, he dubbed New York City the hottest real estate market in the world with an unmatched vacancy rate under 5%. While he hedged a bit on the timeframe, Mirante predicted that New Jersey would benefit from the ripple effect of this hot market—even before the bedroom communities of Westchester and Connecticut.

“New Jersey is poised for recovery,” he concluded. “What it needs—what we all need—is employment.”