Business Journal showcases L.A. professionals who are sold on retail property development.

RETAIL BROKER

Jay Luchs, 39

Executive Vice President

CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., Century City

If you’ve ever driven down Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, then you’re familiar with Jay Luchs’ work.

The executive vice president of CB Richard Ellis Group’s Century City office has brokered the deals for dozens of luxury retailers on those chic streets. Today he is easily one of the busiest and most prominent retail brokers on the Westside, closing 20 deals in an average quarter.

“It’s wonderful to be involved with changing areas, to bring a lot of brands to one street or area and be part of the changing of that area,” said Luchs, who estimated he has done 20-plus deals on Robertson and 25 to 30 on Rodeo.

Among his other noteworthy achievements: He was the broker who leased the Malibu Lumber Yard development in 2009, using his relationships with New York stores, such as Crumbs and Café Habana, to bring them to the beachside city.

It all started with a lucky break at the corner of Rodeo Drive and Little Santa Monica Boulevard in 2003 – and lots of hard work.

Luchs had been working in investment sales for brokerage Insignia/ESG for two years when he saw that the storefront at 468 N. Rodeo was listed after the Tommy Hilfiger store closed. He lobbied for the listing and filled it with Brooks Brothers only months later.

“That deal changed my career,” he said.

Since then he has added to his track record by juggling clients, taking regular flights to New York and spending lots of sleepless nights.

Luchs has been so successful that he’s been approached by reality TV producers to star in his own show about his West L.A. real estate dealings. Though he’s declined those opportunities out of concern for his reputation and privacy, he can been seen on an episode of a Tori Spelling reality show, “Inn Love,” as the broker showing her retail space.

It’s all pretty different from what he envisioned as a teenager growing up in Potomac, Md. Luchs saw himself working in the entertainment industry. In fact, he was accepted into the competitive NBC page program in New York before graduating from the University of Virginia. A short trip to California during his senior year of college changed it all, though.

“I didn’t want to leave,” he said.

So Luchs declined his NBC slot and stayed in Los Angeles, where he picked up a few entertainment-business jobs at UPN and AOL. He ultimately decided show biz industry wasn’t for him.

“I wanted to get into a career where your wisdom is like wine: It gets better with time,” he said.

He fell back on what had been the family business of real estate. His great-grandfather started a brokerage in the early 1900s that was continued by his grandfather and father until it was sold in the early ’90s. He carries around a newspaper clipping in his wallet of his grandfather speaking about real estate. Luchs says the information is still relevant today.

“It essentially focuses on a real estate broker being enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and when you have that you have an advantage over others,” he said. “The fact that it’s written in 1924 and could be read in 2011 and you wouldn’t know the difference, I found that amazing.”

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