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Power Broker

Power Broker

Jukay Hsu is Making Queens a More Tech-Savvy Place

Jukay Hsu wants to make Queens the next tech haven in New York City (Photo: Arman Dzidzovic/Commercial Observer).

Jukay Hsu couldn’t seem to remember the school he attended in Flushing.

He half-laughed, half-moaned that he’s 30 (in his 30s, as he puts it) and forgetting things. But a “senior” moment is forgivable for Mr. Hsu who has a lot on his plate as he tries training the next wave of tech employees and figuring out where their companies will be based. Read More

Power Broker

Scott Klau, NGKF’s Serious Broker

Scott Klau at 1400 Broadway (Photo: Kristy Leibowitz)

While some top brokers like to woo potential clients and retain existing ones with fancy meals, alcohol-infused nights out and exotic trips, Newmark Grubb Knubb Frank’s Scott Klau is the opposite. With his serious, even-keeled manner, Mr. Klau focuses on winning new business by exceeding expectations on current projects.

“He wins the clients on his performance and only on his performance,” not because he wines and dines people, said developer Michael Pilevsky, a co-president with Philips International. Mr. Klau has represented Philips in leasing deals at its buildings including 820 Second Avenue and 40 Rector Street. Read More

Power Broker

Sciame Construction’s Joseph Mizzi Builds Culture Venues of Beauty for NYC

Joseph Mizzi of Sciame Construction.

Culture Shed is a 200,000-square-foot exhibition space that will sit at the intersection of the High Line and Hudson Yards. Proponents say the space, designed by starchitect firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group, will redefine the role of the visual and performing arts in the city when it opens in 2018, much as the High Line has transformed the concept of city parks.

It’s perhaps no coincidence that the person tapped to carry out the architects’ vision is Joseph G. Mizzi, the president of Sciame Construction, who also worked on the High Line. Sciame handles construction, building and renovations for large-scale cultural, institutional and commercial projects. Since joining the firm in 1995, Mr. Mizzi has overseen some of the most high-profile, sophisticated construction projects for cultural institutions in the city, including the exterior restoration of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the expansion of the Morgan Library & Museum. As president of the firm, he now oversees the company’s day-to-day operations and all of its projects. Read More

Power Broker

Coveted Counsel: Real Estate Lawyer Meredith Kane Talks About Her Deals Reshaping the City

Meredith Kane PHOTO: Adam Jones/For Commercial Observer

In 1990, Times Square’s West 42nd Street was in bad shape. The real estate market was in the tank and the blighted corridor, running from Broadway to Eighth Avenue, boasted little activity aside from adult video stores, peep shows and the occasional dive bar.

As part of the 42nd Street Development Project, a city-state economic initiative designed to kick-start the area’s revitalization, a not-for-profit organization called the New 42nd Street was given the task of restoring the area’s abandoned theaters. Over time, tenants were found for each theater and leases were written, breathing new life into these architectural gems. Read More

Power Broker

Ismael Leyva is the Adapter

Ismael Levya by Arman Dzidzovic/Commercial Observer

It took several years for the Hell’s Kitchen apartment building called the Icon to realize its potential. As Ismael Leyva Architects was putting the finishing touches on the sliver of glass structure that juts 43 stories from an oddly shaped lot at 785 Eighth Avenue in 2008, the financial crisis stalled the West 48th Street project. The 122-unit building’s original developers would later file for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the structure’s distinctive shape and shaky finances became an object of scorn on real estate blogs.

These days, however, Toronto-based First Dominion Developments has repurposed the building as a high-end rental property. The brokers from Town Residential in charge of marketing it rave about the $80-per-square foot rent it commands. And Mr. Leyva (pronounced LAY-va) told Commercial Observer that the Icon is one of his favorite completed projects. Read More

Power Broker, REBNY 2015

Former Con Ed Honcho to Shine Light as REBNY’s Next President

John Banks

The Real Estate Board of New York’s next president got his start in city government just as the board’s current president assumed the role.

In 1986, the same year Steven Spinola started his nearly three decades as REBNY president, Mayor Ed Koch’s administration hired a recent graduate of Manhattan College named John H. Banks to the mayor’s Office of Operations. In the wake of the infamous Parking Violations Bureau scandal, Mr. Koch tapped Mr. Banks to join a team investigating the cause and scope of a bribery and extortion scheme that turned the city’s political world upside down that year. Read More

Power Broker

Ambassador Rechler of RXR Realty

RXR Realty's Seth Pinsky and Scott Rechler, from left. (Aaron Adler)

It’s not often that the top real estate honchos are willing, dare we say eager, to call a reporter from the mountains of North Africa to talk about one of their colleagues.

But when it came to talking about Scott Rechler, they called from far and wide over the holidays to heap praise on the chief executive officer and chairman of RXR Realty. Developer Joseph Sitt, the head of Thor Equities, for one, phoned Commercial Observer last week from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.  Read More

Power Broker

The McSam Hotel Group Founder is McLovin the Garment District

Sam Chang. (Aaron Adler)

It is obvious how much real estate professionals love limited-service hotel developer Sam Chang, the prolific developer who is behind numerous Hilton Gardens, Comfort Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses.

A number of people who have worked with the president and chief executive officer of Great Neck-based McSam Hotel Group said the same things: He’s decisive, he doesn’t get mired in minutia, he’s a handshake guy and he has the uncanny ability to retain details on more than a dozen deals in his head at the same time. Read More

Power Broker

Winick Broker Lights up Signs, Neighborhoods

Darrell Rubens

One won’t find the name of Darrell Rubens of Winick Realty in the deed for NYC REIT’s recent $170.3 million purchase of 570 Seventh Avenue near Times Square. But the retail broker’s work on site certainly merits mention. Acting on behalf of the previous owners—Carlyle Investment Management and Capstone Equities—Mr. Rubens worked with lighting designers at Sensory Interactive to implement a roughly $10 million LED system with 3,800 square feet of digital signage and 3,600 square feet of static signage. And the building changed hands on Nov. 5 for $87.3 million more than the landlords purchased it for last year, property records show.

The only catch for Mr. Rubens is that the new ownership hired a different brokerage to market the retail space. Read More

Power Broker

Siras Development’s Ashwin Verma’s High Line and Hudson Yards Visions

Ashwin Verma (Michael Nagle).

In 2007, long before West Chelsea became synonymous with chic and the High Line became an international sensation, Ashwin Verma of Siras Development planned to buy a plot of land for construction. The site, like many parcels of land near the West Side Highway, was then home to an auto body shop.

“There were a couple of guys in overalls, [and] when they heard that we wanted to buy this lot and build a hotel, they were pretty surprised,” recalled Mr. Verma. Read More

Power Broker

L&L’s Andrew Wiener Is Building With Legos

Andrew Weiner. (Adam Jones)

Andrew Wiener of L&L Holding Company has worked on high-profile Midtown South deals like Lego System’s new flagship at the former International Toy Center and Gawker Media’s 2015 planned relocation to 114 Fifth Avenue.

The director of leasing for the privately held owner, operator and property manager, Mr. Wiener partners with veteran David C. Berkey, and the duo, along with Samantha Fishbone, are tasked with leasing the firm’s 6.5-million-square-foot portfolio of Class A commercial office buildings primarily in Manhattan. Read More

Power Broker

SOM’s Mega-Project Manager Dishes on 1 WTC

T.J. Gottesdiener

Models, awards and pictures from projects all over the world adorn the walls and corridors of the Lower Manhattan offices of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, but the World Trade Center assemblage stands apart from all the rest. There are the gleaming pictures of Dubai’s 2,716-foot Burj Khalifa, a framed certificate recognizing Midtown’s Lever House for the 1980 American Institute of Architects’ 25-year award and the awe-inspiring design portfolio that includes seven of the world’s tallest 15 buildings and over 100 New York City structures. But they give way to a transparent scale model of the World Trade Center complex that’s all alone next to conference rooms and the executive offices where managing partner T.J. Gottesdiener oversees design, construction and planning at the firm’s New York City office. Read More

Power Broker

Daniel Libeskind Memorializes, Moves Forward

Daniel Libeskind. (Arman Dzidzovic)

World Trade Center master planner Daniel Libeskind’s office library contains nearly a dozen bookcases filled with books about philosophy, religious studies, history, travel, literature, art, architecture, design and other fields and genres. And when Commercial Observer visited Studio Daniel Libeskind three blocks south of the trade center site, he described the necessity in his work of the same four components Herman Melville wishes for in Moby Dick: time, strength, cash and patience.

He had invoked the same line a few days days earlier during a trade center construction update event at 4 World Trade Center timed for the week of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The four necessities have helped rebuild the site where 2,753 New Yorkers lost their lives and fulfill the vision that guided the nation-sized group of stakeholders to the site’s current status, he told a room full of local and international media outlets and several of the interested parties themselves. Read More

Power Broker

David Ehrenberg On Overseeing the Brooklyn Navy Yard

David Ehrenberg. (Lea Rubin Photography)

The first thing David Ehrenberg sees as he approaches his workplace, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is Building 77. In his rearview mirror, the last thing Mr. Ehrenberg sees as he departs each day is that 960,000-square-foot under-construction building.

“That creates a level of ownership,” said Mr. Ehrenberg last week as he gave Commercial Observer a tour of the 300-acre waterfront industrial campus that the city owns and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Corporation manages. That sense of ownership is one of the aspects of the job that piqued Mr. Ehrenberg’s interest when he was tapped for the president and chief executive officer positions at the non-profit organization by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the summer of 2013. He was then reappointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Read More