When The Commercial Observer first set out to survey New York City’s most venerable commercial real estate owners in our inaugural Owners Inquisition last year, the old guard at some of Manhattan’s largest public relations firms pushed back, presuming their clients might wilt in the face of questions about their personal role models, biggest fears and market forecasts.
One year later, however, our second annual Owners Magazine is better than ever, with even more real estate owners gamely discussing topics as serious as what the next mayor’s priorities should be and as silly as what actor they would choose to play them in the movie of their life (Hint: George Clooney in most cases).
From Jeff Blau of the Related Companies to Douglas Durst of the Durst Organization, owners submitted candid questionnaires detailing their hopes for the city and the real estate market itself while also sharing private thoughts on their greatest fears, which served as a litmus test for where our city is heading.
Indeed, when Laurie Golub, the chief operating officer of HFZ Capital Group, acknowledges that her greatest fear is that “the crime rate in New York City will increase, which will reduce property values,” she’s not only allowing us some insight into her perspective but preaching to the choir, since many of her peers answered similarly. Take note, Bill de Blasio and Joe Llota!
Speaking of the mayoral elections, owners had a message for Michael Bloomberg’s successor: lower property taxes or else. From David Greene of Murray Hill Properties to Jeff Gural of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, nearly everyone agreed that a top priority for the incoming mayor was reassessing property taxes, although others pointed to affordable housing and accountability as equally important.
“The next mayor should focus on creating more accountability within the D.O.B. and other New York City agencies,” answered Eddie Hidary of Hidrock Realty. “To streamline approvals, as developers, our projects are for the greater good of the city of New York.”
As much as possible, we view this, our second annual Owners Inquisition, as an opportunity to include the city’s diverse array of landlords, from real estate investment trusts like SL Green and Vornado, who together command in excess of 50 million square feet of property in Manhattan alone, to smaller, nimbler companies like Himmel + Meringoff Properties, United American Land and a host of other players whose well-known names dot the borough’s skyline. The only requirement, in fact, was that the submissions come from owners boasting property in one of the five boroughs.
Between July and September, we sent questionnaires to the media liaisons of nearly 100 of the largest Manhattan real estate owners, asking that they forward the questions to their company presidents, chief executives and chairmen. In some cases, we reached out to the principals themselves and to managing directors or anyone else with access to decision-makers. Still later, we publicized the project through advertisements in The Commercial Observer and other avenues.
As a result, the who’s who of commercial real estate owners that follows is a nice cross-section of strong personalities, young up-and-comers and brash industry veterans, all going above and beyond to share their insights with the community they lead.
Features of the Owners Magazine:
- Movin’ On Top
- A Tale of Two Candidates
- Norway Takes Manhattan
- The Giving Tree
- No Sleep Till Brooklyn
- On Top of the World, Icarus Lives (On the 75th Floor)
Questionnaires and Profiles: