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The Sit-Down

The Sit-Down

Faith Hope Consolo on Fashion, Politics and Fourth Careers

Faith Hope Consolo

It’s difficult to wrap one’s head around this, but Faith Hope Consolo—Douglas Elliman Retail Group chairman and self-proclaimed monarch of New York City retail—didn’t always work in real estate, and she isn’t originally from New York. The native of (Commercial Observer was shocked to learn) Cleveland started a modeling agency in college and then worked in interior design in Los Angeles before she started her real estate career, she said. Ms. Consolo leads a team of 25 in New York City and 50 others in 37 countries worldwide, and she invited CO to her Madison Avenue office for a wide-ranging discussion in her usual forthcoming way. She declined, with a not-so-subtle look, to move on our request for her age (although it is already out there for those curious enough to search) but she did mention she’s a widow to her third husband and doesn’t have any children. Read More

The Sit-Down

Savanna’s Chris Schlank on Making Class B Buildings a Thing of Beauty

Savanna founder and managing partner Chris Schlank. (Adam Jones/for Commercial Observer)

In a city where Class A properties consistently make headlines, Chris Schlank, a founder and managing partner of Savanna, has an eye for less-conspicuous Class B buildings. Throughout his career, Mr. Schlank has led the acquisition and redevelopment of more than 65 real estate assets totaling more than 19 million square feet, primarily within the five boroughs.

Just last week, Mr. Schlank’s firm, in conjunction with the Feil Organization, sold the 378,547-square-foot 21 Penn Plaza on southeast corner of West 31st Street and Ninth Avenue to TIAA-CREF. Mr. Schlank sat down with Commercial Observer to talk about this sale, his favorite job and the future of office buildings in Midtown East in a city that seems to be shifting westward. Read More

The Sit-Down

John Catsimatidis Talks Real Estate Deals and Monorails

John Catsimatidis

John Catsimatidis has a soft side. The businessman says he still misses Cottonball, the departed family cat for whom he built a cemetery at his East Quogue home. He wistfully reminisces about taking his (now grown) children “pumpkin hunting” and says he is collaborating with Rep. Carolyn Maloney to transport two giant pandas from China for New York City schoolchildren to enjoy.

But Mr. Catsimatidis, 66, is also a shrewd executive and the brains behind his multibillion-dollar business, the Red Apple Group, which has holdings in real estate, energy and grocery stores. Read More

The Sit-Down

Gregg Schenker: Midtown South’s Straight Shooter

Gregg Schenker

Fresh off of putting the finishing touches on the purchase of a retail property in Astoria, Queens, ABS Real Estate Partners President Gregg Schenker invited Commercial Observer in to his office overlooking Union Square. In a space decorated with family pictures and closing sale and financing binders, the 48-year-old married father of two explained the vision behind the 335-employee company and its 6-million-square-foot portfolio primarily in Midtown South. Mr. Schenker, a Manhattan native and New York University alum, also dished on new deals like the Queens acquisition he and an ABS team had just completed. The buy didn’t represent the company’s first in the boroughs, nor the last, he hinted. But before hitting the outer boroughs, CO asked the former Helmsley Spear broker how he and the other company execs knew to invest in Midtown South and why technology, advertising, media and information, or TAMI, tenants like the neighborhood so much. Read More

The Sit-Down

Laura Pomerantz–the Retail Maven

Laura Pomerantz. (Aaron Adler)

Last month, Laura Pomerantz, the principal and founding partner of Laura Pomerantz Real Estate, celebrated the one-year anniversary of her firm’s lease at 757 Third Avenue with champagne and cupcakes. She and her team of four brokers and eight employees moved into the space between 47th and 48th Streets five months after Ms. Pomerantz established her own firm. Also in September Ms. Pomerantz co-represented Hudson’s Bay Company in its 500,000-square-foot leases for a Saks Fifth Avenue at Brookfield Place, a Saks Off Fifth at 1 Liberty Plaza as well as office space in Lower Manhattan.

Over the last decade, Ms. Pomerantz says that she has closed over 8 million square feet in deals for clients including Bloomberg L.P., Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Giorgio Armani and Stuart Weitzman. Read More

The Sit-Down

Adelaide Polsinelli—a Commercial Real Estate Maverick

Adelaide Polsinelli on the roof of her listing at 116-119 South Street. (Lea Rubin Photography)

In an industry dominated by men, Adelaide Polsinelli has held her own since entering the profession 29 years ago on the residential side at Century 21 Real Estate. Ms. Polsinelli, a senior director at Eastern Consolidated since March 2012, is juggling a dozen exclusive listings, the bulk of which are in East Harlem. She is co-listing two mixed-use buildings in the South Street Seaport, one of which is home to the Paris Café, for $25.8 million. Ms. Polsinelli talked with Commercial Observer over lunch at the café about the Seaport, her favorite deal and the advantage of working at Eastern Consolidated. Read More

The Sit-Down

Robert Weisz Diversifies with a Big City Purchase

Robert P. Weisz

Robert P. Weisz has long been a recognized name in commercial real estate circles north of New York City. With over three million square feet of office, retail and warehouse space, his company RPW Group is one of the largest commercial real estate developers in Westchester and Fairfield Counties. Recently, Mr. Weisz made headlines by deviating from the suburbs and delving into New York City real estate for the first time. Last week, Mortgage Observer reported that Mr. Weisz had closed on his acquisition of a 162,000-square-foot office building at 240 West 35th Street for $80.2 million.

Commercial Observer spoke with Mr. Weisz about his decision to invest heavily in suburban markets, why he has opted to diversify his portfolio by moving into Manhattan and what the future holds for the suburban office park. Read More

The Sit-Down

Rising Broker, Rising Markets: Derek Bestreich of Marcus & Millichap

Derek Bestreich

The success of Derek Bestreich’s eight-member investment sales team at Marcus & Millichap’s Brooklyn office embodies that of the borough’s next emerging markets. The group overseen by the married 32-year-old Park Slope resident closes sales in neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush that represent the next wave of booming Brooklyn real estate. The University of Texas graduate with Queens roots began his career in New York City shortly after college as a cellular lease buyer for an asset-backed securities company, where he was cold-calling potential sellers and “hoofing it miles a day,” he said.

He started at Marcus & Millichap in 2009. The winner of the firm’s national achievement award for 2014, Mr. Bestreich also won his office’s rookie of the year and mentor of the year awards. Commercial Observer visited the firm’s Downtown Brooklyn office to talk with the broker who closed 90 investment properties in rising Brooklyn markets for a total of $185 million in transactions from 2009 to the summer of 2014, according to the company. Read More

The Sit-Down

ClearRock Properties Flips Buildings for Billions

ClearRock Properties

With a direct staff footprint of only five people working in space the company subleases from a law firm in Midtown, ClearRock Properties packs an outsized punch in office markets where big time partners afford the firm a much larger indirect staff. The boutique firm that Doug Winshall, a 53-year-old married father of two, and Steve Grant, a 49-year-old father of two, started five years ago boasts a portfolio of 15 buildings in the northeast, including an assemblage of properties in the South End of Stamford, Conn.’s transit-oriented Harbor Point development and a planned mixed-use residence at 331 N Street NE near Union Market in an upcoming neighborhood of Washington, D.C. But Commercial Observer quizzed the self-described “media-shy” executives on their impressive recent deals in the Manhattan office market and their business approach.   Read More

The Sit-Down

Extell Excels

Gary Barnett

Gary Barnett is the founder and head of Extell Development Company, a firm he started in 1989. As one of the city’s leading—and most divisive—contemporary developers, he has created amenity-laden condominiums like One57, the Orion and the Aldyn, hotels like the Hyatt Times Square and W Times Square and office towers like the International Gem Tower. Mr. Barnett started in the diamond trading business in Belgium and cut his teeth in the real estate industry buying shopping malls and office buildings in the Midwest. Extell’s current portfolio exceeds 20 million square feet. Commercial Observer recently sat down with Mr. Barnett in his conference room to talk about his aggressive development stance, his favorite project and the “poor door” controversy. Read More

The Sit-Down

Talking Towers, Cities and Teamwork With Josh Kuriloff of Cushman & Wakefield

Josh Kuriloff

Cushman & Wakefield Executive Vice Chairman Josh Kuriloff’s office at the company’s Midtown headquarters features several models of Chicago’s Willis Tower; pictures of the 28-year veteran C&W broker with Bill Clinton, George Pataki, Colin Powell and Magic Johnson; and a desk covered in piles of research reports and client files. Mr. Kuriloff, a 55-year-old married father of two, invited Commercial Observer to visit last week for a frank discussion of his work representing clients like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Verizon and his thoroughly researched thoughts on the city’s future. Read More

The Sit-Down

Triangle Equities Triangulates the Boroughs

Lester Petracca.

Lester Petracca is a tactician when it comes to traversing the public approval process and building value-added developments Whitestone-based Triangle Equities is known for its acumen and know-how when it comes to working with government agencies and securing the necessary public approvals to complete public-private development projects in the outer boroughs. With Lester Petracca, 58, at the helm since its inception in 1986, Triangle Equities has focused on developing projects that have catalyzed area-wide economic development and rejuvenation. Commercial Observer talked with Mr. Petracca last week, just hours before he was headed to Bermuda to relax and fish. Read More