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NEW YORK CITY-It’s anything but business as usual for CB Richard Ellis as the heretofore all-but-invisible player in New York real estate is suddenly coveting the spotlight. CBRE execs yesterday held a Times Square press conference to reveal some major new hires, a pledge to communicate more freely and a $120-million budget shift to fund Tri-State area initiatives.

While the notoriously press-shy firm’s new open-door policy has yet to stand the test of time, lack of firepower won’t be a public relations problem for the foreseeable future. The Los Angeles-based brokerage house used yesterday’s event to showcase some high-powered personnel additions including Mary Ann Tighe, former vice chairman at Insignia/ESG, who will serve as CBRE’s newly appointed president and CEO of the New York Tri-State region.

Cherrie Nanninga, former deputy chief financial officer and director of real estate for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was also on hand as CBRE’s new chief operating officer of the firm’s Tri-State operations. Nanninga said she will begin her stint at the firm not in a traditional brokerage role, but rather as “a facilitator, working behind the scenes making sure everything goes smoothly.”

Unable to attend the event, held at the New 42nd Street Studios in Times Square, was Patrick Murphy, another I/ESG vet and the newly hired executive managing director and partner of New Jersey operations for CBRE.

To facilitate more new hires as well as initiating technological advances and other capital expenditures in the New York area, CBRE will redirect roughly $120 million from its current operating budget to the Tri-State push, executives at the press conference said.

Insignia chairman and CEO Stephen Siegel says he supports his former brokers’ decisions, but downplays their big-picture significance, both at Insignia and at CBRE. “We wish them well but we have an enormous talent pool, which is evidenced by CBRE trying to make a name for themselves [with former Insignia brokers],” he tells GlobeSt.com. “They’ve not been able to make an impact as a significant New York market player. That’s not something that happens through the efforts of an individual.”

Tighe, who said she began discussions with CBRE in mid-March, noted that bringing Nanninga on board exemplifies CBRE’s newly minted “We Are the World” approach to the industry. Though she cited recruiting new talent as the firm’s top priority going forward, Tighe insisted that she is “not looking for the usual suspects.” Tapping people from the public sector, such as Nanninga, she said, reflects CBRE’s desire to develop new niche products and services.

Siegel noted that while Tighe’s departure “came as no surprise to us,” Murphy’s defection caught Insignia off guard, but “We will have an announcement soon for Patrick’s successor.

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