City’s Most Active Landlords Talk Shop in Third Owners Magazine

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If one thing was evident in culling through the responses from dozens of New York City’s most active real estate owners it was that the majority of landlords are not yet convinced that technology like space apps and listing sites will replace brokers even for smaller deals.

As Robert Lapidus of L&L Holding Company said, “Technology will continue to impact our industry. These sites will aid tenants and landlords, but will not replace brokers in New York City.”

In the third annual Owners Magazine, a record number of owners responded to the questionnaires we sent out over the last several months. Heavy hitters like Douglas Durst of the Durst Organization and Jeff Blau of Related Companies answered wide-ranging questions about their real estate predictions for next year, the area of the city they think is most in need of infrastructure improvements, which fellow owner they admire most and their favorite local restaurant.

Presented by AT&T

While many of the city’s more prominent commercial real estate owners said it was too soon to tell how Mayor Bill de Blasio is faring as the city’s chief executive officer, others were a little blunter.

“His rhetoric is divisive and it has many people who love New York and who are responsible for the creation of lots of jobs worried,” said Savanna’s Nicholas Bienstock. Ziel Feldman of HFZ Capital Group noted: “Thus far, there has been talk, but nothing that has modified the development climate.”

When it comes to overseas real estate markets with the greatest potential, a number of the city’s most venerable commercial real estate owners are particularly drawn to London “because it has similar characteristics to Manhattan,” as David Levinson of L&L Holding Company said.

Outside of the boardroom, where these owners are negotiating some of the city’s biggest deals, many real estate executives said they bond with fellow owners on the golf course. And many of them revere Larry Silverstein of Silverstein Properties.

—Lauren Elkies Schram, deputy editor

WRITTEN BY
Damian Ghigliotty
Billy Gray
Tobias Salinger
Danielle Schlanger
Lauren Elkies Schram
Guelda Voien

PROFILE ILLUSTRATIONS BY
John Jay Cabuay

Earle S. Altman

Chairman, ABS Partners Real Estate

Presented by AT&T
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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Onward and upward for 2015 and beyond! New York City is the financial and artistic capital of the world and will be ever growing in the years ahead.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Every neighborhood in all five boroughs of New York City that can be up-zoned for quality real estate development.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? None. All five boroughs present future development opportunity if zoned to encourage free enterprise [and] risk-appropriate reward to commercial and residential developers.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? Not in my opinion. So long as free enterprise prevails and the city engages and embraces businesses that attract young, smart and honest professionals.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Yes, yes, yes, so long as free enterprise prevails. Demand will be driven by residents and businesses seeking value-oriented rents.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Both cities could and likely will experience a surge in development so long as zoning is free-enterprise oriented, compensating developers for the risk they take. Demand in these areas will likely be driven by young, smart, creative individuals looking for value-proposition alternatives to the maturing or trendy markets.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? 50-50 at best.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? New York City’s mass transit system is an incredible asset and advantage over other cities and countries and should be a priority for infrastructure improvements.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Wherever free enterprise prevails.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Lusardi’s.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Larry A. Silverstein, Burt Resnick, the Rose Family (Elihu and Dan) and the Fisher Family (Arnold, Kenny and Steven).

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? At golf, beach, and tennis clubs. I belong to Beach Point Club in Mamaroneck, NY.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Not really, as a good, honest broker will win out in the end for tenants and owners alike.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. I honestly do not know.

Albert Behler

President and CEO, Paramount Group

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Albert Behler, the president and CEO of Paramount Group since 1991, will lead the company into a new era when it completes an initial public offering experts say might turn it into the largest offering ever by a real estate investment trust.

The company filed a request for an IPO with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in late August, just weeks before news broke that the firm completed a $395 million purchase of 50 Beale Street in San Francisco. Mr. Behler’s company adds that building to an existing portfolio of 12 office properties in New York City, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, with 10.4 million rentable square feet that 253 tenants have leased at a 90 percent overall rate, according to the company’s SEC filing. Mr. Behler’s tenure coincides with a broad repositioning of the business founded in 1978 by German clothing magnate and professor Werner Otto.

“Our portfolio reflects our strategy, which has been consistent for nearly 20 years, of concentrating on select submarkets within leading gateway cities in the U.S. that have high barriers to entry, are supply-constrained, exhibit strong economic characteristics and have a deep pool of prospective tenants in various industries with a strong demand for high-quality office space,” says an introduction to the SEC documents.

While the company’s filings don’t indicate a price range for potential shares or the overall number of them that could be for sale should the SEC approve the IPO, sources close to the company told Bloomberg it’s planning to net $2.5 billion in the offering. Other unnamed sources estimated the offering could fetch up to $2.7 billion in a report by The Wall Street Journal. Either sum would eclipse a record $1.6 billion offering by Douglas Emmett in 2006, according to the Journal.

The company boasts office tenants like Allianz, Bank of America, Barclays, Showtime Networks and Deloitte & Touche and retail tenants such as the Gershwin Theatre at its 1633 Broadway property, which houses the firm’s headquarters and comprises, along with 1325 Avenue of the Americas, the Paramount Plaza. The San Francisco purchase marks the company’s second property in the City by the Bay.

“This building, which is located in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the heart of San Francisco undergoing immense redevelopment, is the type of iconic asset where we believe we can utilize our operational expertise to attract and retain a premium tenant base,” Mr. Behler told Bloomberg in a statement.Tobias Salinger

Charles Bendit

Co-CEO, Taconic Investment Partners

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? We feel confident about the market in the coming year. The economy continues to recover, and demand for space in New York City remains high while supply remains constrained.  Residential land prices are very high. It will be interesting to see how that plays out as every condominium developer seems to be targeting $3,000 per square foot as a sellout.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? The Lower East Side has unbelievable potential, and we are thrilled to be a part of that neighborhood through our Essex Crossing project.  Midtown West, where we are building a 450,000-square-foot rental building, is another neighborhood with great potential.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? In my opinion, “overdeveloped” is not a term that is relevant in New York City.  Even in the most densely built areas, old buildings are being torn down and replaced with larger, taller buildings.  Engineering advances have made the 1,000-plus-foot skyscraper seemingly common these days.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble?  We were asked a few years ago whether people should expect a double dip, and we were cautiously optimistic as the national economy was still very early in its recovery. We are confident about the market and its underlying fundamentals but remain careful and selective in the deals we do, as we always have.  Investors had way too much confidence in the market going into the subprime crisis and recession, which doesn’t seem to be the case today.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? I think Queens has the greatest potential to see a boom along the lines of Brooklyn. I think the Bronx has potential, but is less densely served by public transportation than Brooklyn or Queens, which hinders demand growth.  Staten Island does not benefit from subway access, which puts it at a disadvantage relative to the other boroughs.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Jersey City in particular is having its “moment,” as they say, with developers investing in the area and building high-end rental buildings. It’s attracting a young, upwardly mobile demographic to the area and demand is high.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? That’s obviously a ways away from being resolved, but watching the process will be interesting, especially now that hearings to approve SL Green’s new project are already underway. I’m looking forward to seeing it play out.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Red Hook would take off if it had better subway access. Greenpoint will most likely need infrastructure improvements as it gets built up since it is only served by the G train.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? I was recently in Spain, and the economy there is starting to recover from its trough.  There are distressed real estate opportunities available, and buying at what may be the bottom could be very lucrative.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? The Musket Room in Nolita.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Related, a partner of ours.  They have great vision and execution.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? The golf course, but only when I play well.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Apps and listing sites have certainly become an industry staple. We have seen first-hand how they help secure tenants and buyers.  I do expect they will continue to make our industry more transparent and efficient.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. De Blasio has only been in office for nine months, so it is a little early to tell how his policies will affect the real estate industry.  He has done a great job keeping the city safe, which helps our industry immensely.  We support the mayor’s effort to increase affordable housing, which is essential to maintaining the diversity that is essential to the cultural fabric of New York City.  He has assembled a great team to help him execute his plan.

Nicholas Bienstock

Managing Partner, Savanna

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? My prediction is that the “Londonization” of New York will continue and will accelerate. There are a small handful of cities around the globe (London, Hong Kong) that have been and will increasingly be the beneficiaries of huge offshore investment capital. We are fortunate to be near the top of this short list.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? People forget that this city was fully built 100 years ago. So we are living in a city dominated by old and aging infrastructure. The average age of an office building in Manhattan is 70 years old. That is twice as old as our peer cities around the world. Tremendous opportunities exist to redevelop well-located, older properties installing new infrastructure that meets today’s tenants’ needs. 

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? I don’t think so. New York used to be a one-trick town. It was all about finance. That is absolutely not the case today. New York is now where the most exciting, fastest growing technology and new media companies need to be. Those are the growth industries of tomorrow and the employment base they require wants to be in New York. In addition to TAMI tenants, we are signing leases across our portfolio with tenants in healthcare, tourism, advertising, engineering, architecture, professional services, education, small financial services and nonprofit—all the other legs of an increasingly diverse economy. Meanwhile, the large financial service firms have stabilized after the financial crisis. If they start to grow again, that will only add to the growth engine.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? We love Long Island City and think it is in the early stages of a boom. It has reached an inflection point with a critical mass of residential and office, which now drives restaurants, retail and other desirable uses. Vernon Boulevard feels a lot like what Bedford Avenue felt like 10 years ago, but with more strollers and fewer hipsters.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? When Manhattan sneezes, Jersey City and White Plains catch a cold. We are focusing on New York City.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Given the politics, I would not bet. But I hope it happens. The gravity of Manhattan is shifting west and without the rezoning. That will continue and Midtown East will be less and less competitive.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Everyone will be grateful when the Second Avenue subway is done.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? There is probably an argument that Europe is where the U.S. was three or four years ago. The banks in Europe are way behind their U.S. counterparts and subsidiaries in re-pricing and selling their problem assets. If they actually do that over the next few years, it will create opportunity for distress players and will lead to a recovery of the markets. But if they don’t, then they risk a “Japan-like” drift of many years without progress.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Casa Lever outside over the summer is great.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Our business is full of terrific people. We have been lucky to be partners with folks like Jeff Feil, Larry Gluck, David Werner and many others.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? I run into friends in the business at Sushiann all the time.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? One of the things I like most about the real estate business is that it is physical and personal. There is no substitute for a tenant entering a building, experiencing the lobby, going up the elevator and walking through their potential space. No matter how good a video you post online, you still need that physical experience. 

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. I don’t see damage yet. He has appointed good people. But his rhetoric is divisive and it has many people who love New York and who are responsible for the creation of lots of jobs worried.

Jeff Blau

CEO, Related Companies

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What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? 57th Street.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? There will always be demand for housing in New York, as it has proven to be a place people really want to live and work.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Queens is showing signs of great potential, as are certain parts of the Bronx, especially as it relates to retail.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? The rezoning will happen. It all comes down to what form it takes. It is important for the long-term success of the city, and [the] city and private sector seemed focused on continuing to move the process forward.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? London, since North Dakota doesn’t count.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? The industry is very philanthropic and we see a lot of our peers at board meetings and events. We are all looking for ways to make the city an even better place for all.

Tommy Craig

Senior Managing Director, Hines

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? There remains abundant productive capacity in the economy, and more solid economic growth is likely. The speed of the economic recovery (slow and steady) over the last few years will be inversely related to its length (more extended than the last cycle) and that seems to be evident in the positive job growth throughout much of 2014. There will be no single prevailing truth for real estate as an asset class, but instead we can expect different outcomes in different asset classes and local markets.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? New York has had a perpetual shortage of housing for at least 30 years, since so much of the housing stock was abandoned in the late 1960s and 1970s. And, certainly this generation of buildings is making it clear that New York and many other cities will continue to find significant untapped potential in creating a more vertical city.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? Our land-use approach needs to be rebalanced so that there is more opportunity to repurpose and reutilize the “overdeveloped” and “underutilized” supply of buildings whose useful life has come to an end.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? The weight of history strongly favors New York as never before. The emergence of a global economy based on human capital favors a city whose very DNA has made it the escalator of opportunity for human talent and entrepreneurial capital for 350 years.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Multiplicity is a good starting point when considering New York City, and various parts of Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx are satisfying different segments of the population in a way that is necessary to accommodate the scale and diversity of our residents. Having said that, and from the vantage point  of having been young a long time ago, I certainly do not mean to suggest any other place will achieve Brooklyn’s “hipster” status … particularly if they aim to do so.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Jersey City’s proximity and relationship to the waterfront is well-positioned to benefit from lower Manhattan’s extraordinary recovery of vitality.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? SL Green’s proposed building at One Vanderbilt is a terrific project to lead the way for a successful Midtown East rezoning version 2.0.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Regrettably, we have failed to build on the extraordinary legacy of the infrastructure created in 19th century New York. Much remains to be done. On a positive note, there is the expansion of the subway system underway with the extension of the No. 7 line and the Second Avenue system. However, the airports, in particular, fail by comparison to other better airports around the world.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? There is secular stagnation throughout many parts of the first world but it is hard not to sense the optimism and aspiration for a better life throughout Asia: Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and large parts of China.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Pisticci. Because it is my oldest daughter’s favorite.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Those who we get a chance to work with, such as Marc Holliday, Aby Rosen, Frank McCourt and Dan Neidich; those who bounce back; and those who have continued to build and give to New York City across the generations.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? No better place than on a high hill, skiing with other developers, a very natural group for leaning forward.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals?  Next question please.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. It is premature at this stage to say anything, but Mayor de Blasio’s support for Midtown East is an excellent first step. I would expect he fully appreciates that to achieve his housing goals, as something more than a political tool, he will have to leverage off the expertise and capital of the real estate community in some way that begins to close the gap in housing. Carl Weisbrod’s leadership experience in both the public and private sectors offers a real opportunity to move from political theory to successful execution, but in New York City you will never please everyone, so we are going to see a trade-off of greater density in exchange for more affordable housing with expected opposition from local neighborhood groups.

Neil Dolgin

Co-President, Kalmon Dolgin Affiliates

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Overall, the market will be flat. We will see reductions in sale and rental prices due to the fact that prices have increased so quickly to a high point, and the affordability of these assets is eventually going to become an issue. Investors cannot afford the high price points and still retain a profit.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? There is still room for advancement in eastern New York, Jamaica, parts of Brownsville and Bay Ridge, where the demand for more residential and other development types remain high. There are also ancillary demands for medical facilities, retail and schools. Secondary locations that have not participated in the recent gentrification of Brooklyn and Queens are seeing an influx of people, as the price per buildable square foot (residentially and commercially) is substantially less than some of the areas where the REITS and funds have purchased over the past five years.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? I don’t think any particular area throughout the city is completely overdeveloped at the moment. On the north side of Williamsburg and in Long Island City, for example, they are experiencing high demand and are still developing. There are not many properties left to build on, but developers are finding them.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? Yes! The current land prices are attracting the REITS, funds and money managers who pool their money together to buy property at these high prices in order to have a piece of the apple. However, they’re seeing minimal returns right now, so the bubble does exist. Even though we are in a different economy and have experienced low interest rates for a few years, it appears that the market conditions warrant a decrease, which demonstrates that we are in a bubble for the New York metropolitan area.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? I believe that Queens is currently experiencing its boom. Woodside, Astoria and Long Island City have already achieved, or are on their way to achieving, the status that Brooklyn has. It’s not all of Brooklyn or Queens that is expecting a boom—it’s the areas that have excellent transportation options that connect with other parts of the city. Areas that have less desirable transportation options are not seeing the same benefits as parts of Queens and Brooklyn. The Bronx has gone through an upside in certain parts, particularly around the courthouse, Arthur Avenue and the Grand Concourse, though the apartments being built are not yet attracting the same demographics as in Williamsburg and parts of Greenpoint and Long Island City. As for Staten Island, people may be looking at it as an area to be developed, but it’s more of a bedroom community than a hopping city environment.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? White Plains has experienced a nice office rejuvenation. There has been lots of advancement there recently. There is very little industrial space remaining in White Plains and Jersey City.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Parts of the South Bronx are still in need of infrastructure improvements. Perhaps the secondary locations in Queens and Brooklyn as well. The outer areas further away from the city are experiencing difficulty with the quality of their streets. Greenpoint, Long Island City and North Williamsburg roads and subways have been repaired and upgraded, and the area’s bridges are going through repairs and improvements to accommodate the large number of people who use these options.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Maybe China. Its large population is coming into the 21st century and there are lots of real estate options there, as well as numerous other countries overseas.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? All the restaurants on Williamsburg’s north side. I love the ability to experience all kinds of different cuisines in a relatively concentrated area.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Kal Dolgin!

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? I don’t think it will become the standard. Negotiation is a large part of all deals, and while some individuals tend to believe that they can save money by forgoing a broker, an owner or tenant will hire a broker for the purpose of being a buffer for the actual negotiation, for factors people don’t take into consideration. The transaction is quicker, and brokers are able to bring better terms and conditions up front with both parties.

Douglas Durst

Chairman, The Durst Organization

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Steady but slow growth in commercial rents. The lack of supply of housing will continue to put significant pressure on residential rents.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Astoria.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? Condos.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? The commercial market is nowhere near where it was prior to 2008. The high-end condo market has to top out sometime. Just how many billionaires are there?

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Yes, eventually. Brooklyn is better served by public transportation than Queens and has higher quality housing stock than the Bronx so it has a head start. Western Queens will soon be nipping at Brooklyn’s heels.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? We don’t speculate in foreign markets.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? High. The church and the state both want it.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Our waterfront is severely underutilized and with improvement it can be a recreational resource enjoyed by all New Yorkers.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Queens.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Aureole.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Larry Silverstein.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Newark Airport.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Not if the brokers have anything to say about it.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Helping. He wants and needs to build.

Ziel Feldman

Founding Principal, HFZ Capital Group

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? The current inventory will be absorbed, including new inventory scheduled to be opened in 2015. I think pricing is at or near peak.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? The outer boroughs excluding Brooklyn.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? There is potential for over-build in the Financial District, Brooklyn and Hudson Yards.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? No, but pricing has gotten ahead of reality.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Potentially over time, provided affordability is the driver.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Yes, because of their proximity to New York as an “urban-suburban” area, they should.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Probably good odds that the rezoning will be approved, as it will stimulate significant expansion and revitalization of the area.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? The airports.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? London. It was built horizontally and has the greatest potential for more affordable housing development if rezoning for greater height and density is ever permitted.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Milos. The best whole fish in the city.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? The new, young class of graduates—breaking their teeth and going out into the world looking to develop and buy property on their own.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? The golf course.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Possibly, although I would suggest that it is the smaller tenants that need strong brokers even more.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Thus far, there has been talk, but nothing that has modified the development climate. He has selected a team of very smart people to focus on the opportunities that exist in the city.

Winston Fisher

Partner, Fisher Brothers

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? As the market stands today, I see New York continuing to do well. While I don’t foresee a catalyst for explosive growth in 2015, I see little in the way of imminent risk that would create market turmoil. I remain very optimistic about the rental market in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? There are ample opportunities for affordable and middle-income development. The waterfront in the Bronx is a perfect example.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? That’s not a word I use.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? Barring a sudden spike in interest rates, I don’t see a bubble. The dynamics for New York City real estate development are strong. A minor correction, while possible, would not be catastrophic by any means.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Many neighborhoods in these boroughs are thriving and growing already. At the same time, there’s no doubt that these areas will benefit from smart, forward-looking government policies, and ideally, the creation of public-private partnerships.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? I recently met the mayor of Jersey City and was very impressed. He is a dynamic leader who is working hard to encourage and manage new development. I wouldn’t bet against him.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? I really couldn’t say. As it was proposed before, it didn’t make sense.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? The poor condition of our airports is stifling economic growth. We are truly at capacity. It is also clear that our electrical and water systems are in desperate need of upgrades as well.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Right now, my favorite places to eat are the Four Seasons, Sushi Yasuda and at home with my family.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? It would take too long to list the owners I admire individually. I can say that the people on the list all share a few key attributes—they are incredibly hardworking, demonstrate great grit and are unfailingly ethical in all their dealings.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? If someone wants to join me for a triathlon, I would be more than happy to bond with them.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals?  Real estate is a tangible asset that tenants want to feel and see, so I don’t see anyone renting 5,000 square feet without seeing the space. That said, technology has been a disruptive force in every industry, and it’s impossible to predict how it will change the way we all live and work over the long term.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. It’s still very early in the new administration. We are eagerly awaiting his proposed policy changes so that we can assess their potential impact on the market and how we operate our business.

Ira Z. Fishman

CEO, EVO Real Estate Group

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Continued strength in the leasing market and stabilized prices in the sales market.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? I believe that most of the untapped potential will be in the new construction in the Hudson Yards and other scattered sites throughout the city.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? The Grand Central and Plaza Districts are fully developed.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble?  I do not see a bubble, but I believe there will most likely be an adjustment in the next few years as a result of normal economic forces.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? I think Queens is already feeling it in Long Island City.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Not strong. With a new administration, it will take a few years.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Downtown.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Toledo.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? David Levinson.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? At REBNY functions.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? I have seen the younger brokers at EVO using these sites and having success with them.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. I have not felt any effect of Mayor de Blasio’s policies at this time. However, I do believe it is early in his term and the jury is still out.

Dennis Friedrich

CEO, Brookfield Office Properties

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015?

Significant lease-up of the office development projects within the World Trade Center redevelopment and the Hudson Yards submarket. Of course, including Brookfield’s Manhattan west project. The mid- to large-size office tenant base has become increasingly active after a number of years on the sidelines. I believe that activity will kick into a higher gear as we enter 2015, which bodes well for the attractive new office product.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? The Far West Side of Manhattan. Although major projects are advancing across various property types, there is still untapped potential. There is increased competition for sites but also greater opportunity as the district matures.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? I would say that no area of New York is overdeveloped. There is a need for additional residential and office stock given the growth prospects for the New York economy. New York could be considered underdeveloped as a real estate market relative to its global counterparts.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble?  Potentially from a capital markets standpoint. Pricing achieved on recent sales of existing assets that carry challenges, whether locational or related to physical obsolescence, has been astounding. Although I’m bullish on New York property valuations long- term, a correction is probably in order for lesser quality assets in a higher interest rate environment.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? It is within the realm of possibility for parts of Queens or the Bronx. I don’t feel that Staten Island has the potential, particularly given location and lesser mass-transit connectivity to Manhattan.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Similar dynamics are already taking hold in Jersey City. White Plains is not as strongly positioned to capture the spillover effort from Manhattan.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? A comprehensive Midtown East rezoning plan in 2015 is unlikely.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Improvements to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and continued progress at the Penn Station transit hub are important.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Of the developed markets, we see further potential in London. We like the projected office supply-and-demand dynamic for the next few years. We have been successful riding the office-leasing rebound since making a significant investment several years ago. We are launching two new office developments totaling 950,000 square feet in the city of London; one 100 percent pre-leased to Schroders, and the other with a 70 percent lease commitment from Amazon. Of the emerging markets, Brazil presents strong potential. Brazil is in a technical recession. Institutional capital is fleeing the economy, which breeds opportunity. We have a long history in that market.

Scott Galin

Principal & CEO, Handler Real Estate Organization

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? I see continued enthusiasm in the market based on “macro developments” in New York, such as the continued renaissance of lower Manhattan, the progress in the Hudson Yards District, an incredible supply of capital and the emergence of the tech sector, which is proving more dominant than I think anyone could have envisioned. In addition, the retail sector has exploded, and we’re seeing this in various iterations, including the luxury corridors—major retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom taking huge space on the West Side, and smaller retailers taking side street space.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? There are untapped pockets throughout the boroughs. I’m curious to see how this plays out.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? New York has reached a healthy equilibrium, where new development overall seems to have reached a level that matches the demand for space.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? New York is a healthy real estate market because of several factors, including the growth of new industries (such as tech), Far West Side and lower Manhattan development, and a continued low interest rate environment.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? I don’t know if they will reach the same level as Brooklyn, but all of these boroughs will continue to see healthy gains. Manhattan is one of the most competitive real estate markets worldwide with more interested parties than opportunities, so that organically drives investment, development and leasing to the other boroughs.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? I’m bullish on Yonkers because it’s on the Hudson River with significant development there. Long Island City is also a tremendous market because of its proximity and density.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? I don’t have a good read on it.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? The Second Avenue subway line will be a major boon to the East Side, and the 7 line extension is a core component for making the Far West Side a reality. There is also incredible need for additional tunnels linking New Jersey and New York. The congestion and delays are a problem.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? I’m not expert enough to opine.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Wasabi Sushi & Bento at 561 Seventh Avenue.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Being a property owner is a difficult business. I admire any owner who takes on the responsibility and handles themselves well in doing so.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Sporting events.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Not the standard, but they are additional tools. Brokers will continue to be an important part of the process, particularly in their ability to identify opportunities and add value. Apps can be useful, but they are inherently limited as to what they can provide.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Too soon to tell.

Laurie Golub

General Counsel & COO, HFZ Capital Group

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Buildings will be built, apartments will be sold, the market will continue to go up in price and the rental market will flatten.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? The outer boroughs that have greater land availability.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? Wall Street.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? No, because there is still significant foreign investment in the New York market that helps to maintain its stability, and on a relative basis, New York is still inexpensive compared to other international cities.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? I don’t think so.  The lack of mass public transportation, which makes Brooklyn so ripe for density, makes development less likely in the other boroughs.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? They’ve seen significant expansion over the past 10 years and will continue to see more.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? The odds are favorable that it will be approved. It will trigger the rebirth of Midtown East and restore it to [an] appropriate place of prominence.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Because of the traffic levels, the city’s highways and bridges have suffered the most and are in need of improvement.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? London:  English speaking, international city with a thriving business community and great cultural institutions.  If vertical development is ever permitted, there is tremendous untapped capacity.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Nobu 57. Always great food; always a great scene.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Silverstein Properties. Larry continues to grow and push the company to the next level through very challenging times again and again.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Lunch or dinner—an hour of concentrated alone time without distraction.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? It will probably create more direct-to-tenant interest because of the availability of information for smaller tenants who would not ordinarily have access to the same amount of information without broker involvement.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. So far, so good.  His appointments have all been thoughtful, strategic and are encouraging to the industry.

Jonathan Gray

Global Head of Real Estate, Blackstone

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The head of real estate for
Blackstone Group,
Jonathan Gray is
thought to be in line to take over for the mega-firm’s Chief Executive Officer Stephen Schwarzman, or President and Chief Operating Officer Hamilton “Tony” James, despite his tender age: 43.

Under his tenure, the share of Blackstone’s profits to come from real estate has soared to an estimated 60 percent of the firm’s revenue. And Mr. Gray—who has a reputation as a straight shooter, generous philanthropist and a “numbers guy”—is also a whiz kid. He made managing director by 30 and is thought to now be worth over $1 billion when Blackstone stock, bonuses and his salary are all considered (Bloomberg News first broke news of his suspected billionaire status, in 2013).

Mr. Gray made his name in a deal where Blackstone edged out Vornado to buy the Equity Office Properties portfolio all in cash in 2007. While observers wondered whether Blackstone was in over its head at the time, the private equity giant flipped many of the properties right away, and eventually exited the deal at a tremendous profit, reports show.

Mr. Gray’s timing was proven stellar again when he launched a mezzanine lending platform in 2008, just as the market crashed and many borrowers had to tap mezz to fulfill capital needs. Blackstone’s real estate arm more recently pioneered the securitization of single-family rentals, when it sold bonds backed by rents on homes it had bought up at a serious discount during the recession. Blackstone has also bought distressed real estate in Europe, though this ploy has proven somewhat fraught.

Last month, reports surfaced that militant anarchists in Spain had made a point of squatting in homes owned by Blackstone to protest the fact that Spanish debt was nationalized and then sold off to the highest bidder—Blackstone. As of this printing, a moratorium on evictions in Spain was expected to be extended to May 2015, leaving Blackstone unable to collect rent on the occupied homes on which it owns the debt, The Wall Street Journal reported.—Guelda Voien

Francis Greenburger

Founder & CEO, Time Equities

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? I believe the markets will continue to operate under the current momentum, but it’s consistently subject to a robust economy. However, there may be upcoming changes that affect overall enthusiasm in the real estate market. Specifically to New York, there are real estate tax policies in place that continue to take larger and larger shares of net revenue. In addition, a potential shift in Congress leadership may result in rent regulation transitioning from a state to a local issue, which could disturb the market.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? New York City is continuously “re-discovering” many neighborhoods that were previously not seen as desirable. There are several neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn and Queens that provide livable and safe environments with a close proximity to Manhattan. Long Island City has finally achieved the vision many saw 20 years ago, while other areas such as Ridgewood, Queens and Bushwick, Brooklyn, are witnessing an influx of younger individuals now. These neighborhoods have a suitable environment with enough retail to anchor them and offer that certain desirability.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? I believe that Midtown East is overdeveloped and any future development plans to increase the area’s density may negatively effect its overall quality for those who live and work in the neighborhood.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? There are two arguments that could be made concerning a potential New York real estate bubble. First, clearly prices in the city are at a significantly high point. However, in comparison to cities across the globe like Paris and London, New York prices continue to stay at a competitive standard. Second, as the world is witnessing current instability, the confidence of the market may waver due to feelings of insecurity. An economy infused with a sense of safety and comfort directly correlates with strong domestic demand. 

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Queens has the ability to attract the younger, “hip” populations that are looking to reside in areas that have yet to witness a full “boom” such as Williamsburg. Most notably, I foresee Ridgewood, Astoria and Long Island City as critical factors contributing to Queens’ residential and commercial emergence. The Bronx exhibits potential, but it is slower to rediscover itself, and I would venture to say that it really isn’t there yet. Staten Island seems to be a beloved borough by its residents, and as the neighborhood boasts a name to its own, I don’t expect the area to witness a similar evolution to Brooklyn and Queens.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Time Equities has been in Jersey City for many years and it has witnessed many Williamsburg transients looking to set their sights on an alternative community that offers similar proximity to Manhattan, with that desired edge.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? As Midtown West is developing, the neighborhood is in need of more infrastructure to increase overall accessibility for those who are looking to reside and/or work in the area. At its current state, Midtown West operates like an island, and it will not be able to sustain this model with the increase of recent development.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Currently, Time Equities Inc. is exploring the opportunity to invest in Spain, as the cycle there has been deep and hard. The country has been slow to confront the reality of bank valuations with regard to their loan portfolio. Their REOs are overvalued and their property should be in [the] hands of owners and developers, rather than the bank’s portfolio.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Gotham Bar and Grill.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Charles Benenson was my former mentor.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. I believe that Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to the quality of life in New York—like his initiatives geared toward children’s education—is a positive for the real estate community. However, I do not yet fully understand his fiscal agenda and how he will find the financial backing to support initiatives. I believe that a strong real estate market is a critical factor in strengthening and building a prosperous city. I hope that he understands how the support of our industry would directly support his long-term goals as well.

David Greene

President – Brokerage,
MHP Real Estate Services

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? More of the same. Very busy! New York is seen around the world as a place for stability and prosperity.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? The Far East Side of Manhattan with the eventual access to the Second Avenue subway line. This will make properties and activities east of Third Avenue easier to get to and prices will go up. The subway will run from Harlem all the way through Midtown, Gramercy Park, East Village, Lower East Side, Chinatown and lower Manhattan. A boon for all once completed and up and running.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? No comment.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble?  No. Everyone wants to be here! Tech (thanks Google and Cornell Campus on Roosevelt Island), students, folks from foreign lands, people escaping conflict, people who want stability and opportunity. Billions of people hope to reach America. Everyone dreams of being in New York City.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? With all of the recent activity in Queens and the Bronx, both boroughs are heading toward the boom Brooklyn has been experiencing.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? No comment.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? 25-1. What is the rush? Paris was not built in a year. There are committees and politicians and thousands of interested parties who will all weigh in on this important area of Manhattan. We need to think widely. Everyone must benefit from the eventual transformation, especially the pedestrian experience, infrastructure, etc. I am not taking anything away from great developers with vision, but they cannot be the only ones to benefit.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Penn Station and the Hudson Yards. You cannot move 20 million new people through the Hudson Yards on one train line with limited stops. February can be a pretty cold month to be walking 15 minutes to your train. Adding another stop or two would be a big benefit for workers, residents and visitors. The pedestrian experience ultimately determines whether people want to be in a particular place or not.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? No comment.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Snack EOS, Greek/Mediterranean on the corner of 39th and Ninth Avenue.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Larry Silverstein.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? At the annual REBNY ball in January.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Not a chance. They are helpful, but technology by itself does not a deal make. You must have the human element involved. Every tenant needs a buffer between him/herself and a landlord. Tenants need an effective broker who will successfully lobby for them and be sure to protect their best interests. Every transaction is different. It’s what keeps so many people interested in our business.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Mayor de Blasio is trying to balance his earlier statements with real estate reality, and he now understands just how important real estate is for our great city. According to NYC.gov, of the $42.4 billion dollars in taxes projected for 2013, $20.8 billion was related to real estate—fully 49 percent of all taxes coming into the city coffers. Without a strong real estate market, New York City would be a very different city.

Jeffrey Gural

Chairman, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Downtown and Brooklyn will remain hot and Midtown will be where the bargains are.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Any waterfront areas that have not seen development are likely to be rezoned into residential development.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? None come to mind.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? There is always going to be another bubble. When is the hard part.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? I do not think the Bronx or Staten Island will, but Long Island City and the waterfront in Queens can boom as Brooklyn becomes too expensive.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Jersey City has great potential as long as it is near the Path Stations. White Plains is basically flat with little or no real increase in demand.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Probably small as the focus will be on affordable housing, which is probably a good thing.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Almost every area has aging, underground utilities that can cause problems, as we saw with the gas explosion. I am not sure how we can prevent these old pipes from eventually breaking, but it is a problem.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Not my area of expertise.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? My son opened a great place for lunch in Tribeca called Arcade Bakery. Great stuff.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Douglas Durst and Burt Resnick.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Nonprofit boards.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? I don’t think they will have an impact in the short term mostly because the small tenants will look to short-term leases in the office suite/space sharing market. I’m sure brokers are canvassing more smaller growth-focused companies hoping to find a big deal down the road. Hence, these companies won’t have to look for representation because representation will find them first.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. I think the jury is still out, but I support most of his ideas. Hopefully his affordable housing plans will work.

Leslie Wohlman
Himmel


Partner, Himmel + Meringoff Properties

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Real estate will continue to be a “hot” asset class.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? In the boroughs. In addition, the Upper East Side, and Midtown are ripe for redevelopment.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? High-end residential condos—in the event the international demand subsides.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? Yes, the market feels bubble-like with record-low cap rates and record-high prices. This is, in part, being fueled by aggressive government monetary policies, as well as by foreign capital seeking a safe haven in New York City real estate.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Yes.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? I grew up in White Plains and graduated from White Plains High School. It has been a long time since I’ve been “in the know.”

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Hopefully, but more likely in 24 months.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Bridges.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Despite reports of bubble fears in China, economists forecast the markets will remain strong in Asia.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? I Trulli near my office and Boulud Sud near my apartment.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Stephen Meringoff.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Real estate events: ULI, REBNY, charity dinners. It’s a social whirlwind.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Yes.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Mayor de Blasio should be more business-friendly and should take some ideas from the Texas politicians who have successfully attracted many new businesses.

Marc Holliday

Chief Executive Officer, SL Green Realty

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As chief executive of the city’s largest
landlord, Marc Holliday has unsurprisingly planted SL Green at the forefront of the Midtown East rezoning melodrama with the firm’s planned 1,395-square-foot tower at 1 Vanderbilt Street across from Grand Central Terminal.

Reaching that height—double the size allowed under current limits—hinges on a rezoning planned by Mayor Bill de Blasio and on SL Green pouring $210 million into renovations and infrastructure improvements at the already mobbed Grand Central. It’s also led to inevitable controversy that recently culminated in Grand Central owner and investor Andrew S. Penson’s likely quixotic $400 million bid to take the Midtown block off SL Green’s hands and (with his company, Argent Ventures) assume responsibility for the property that would dwarf the nearby Chrysler Building.

An SL Green spokesperson denounced Mr. Penson’s offer as a “publicity stunt.” But even if heated arguments over local air rights—and SL Green, in essence, not having to pay for them—do lead to a threatened $1 billion lawsuit, Mr. Holliday can take solace in SL Green’s other recent accomplishments.

Just last month, the REIT picked up 319,000 square feet of office space over 13 floors in Extell [Development Company’s] ballyhooed International Gem Tower for $275 million. In April, it announced 17 recent deals totaling 86,000 square feet at 420 Lexington Avenue (a.k.a. the Graybar Building), bolstering its Grand Central District prominence even as the 1 Vanderbilt Street controversy heated up. Streaks like that should help SL Green meet its aggressive goal of leasing out 500,000 square feet per quarter this year.

And then there was last December’s 2.6-million-square-foot Citigroup relocation from Boston Properties’ 399 Park Avenue to 388-390 Greenwich Street, where SL Green subsequently acquired for $783 million Ivanhoe Cambridge’s stake in the finance giant’s headquarters.

Mr. Holliday described the Citigroup deal as SL Green’s “crowning achievement” of the fourth quarter of 2013 and has so far made good on his word to play offense in its wake this year. The 1 Vanderbilt dust-up will require tenacity, but SL Green has confidently stated that existing buildings on the site will be demolished in second-quarter 2016 and that tenants will move in by January 2020.—Billy Gray

Morris Jerome

Principal, JEMB Realty

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Significant growth in the Class B office buildings in the Financial District .

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? Midtown.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? No.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? No.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? No.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Likely.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Bowery.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Cipriani.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Larry Silverstein.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Lunch.

Steven Kaufman

President, Kaufman Organization

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? The commercial office market in Manhattan will continue strong and low interest rates will further encourage business expansion.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Although we have historically been a Manhattan company, Queens is an area that the Kaufman Organization has been looking toward. The firm has been recently looking at redeveloping commercial real estate properties in areas like Long Island City and Astoria.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? Given its history, there’s always room for development in New York City.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? I hope not!

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Sections of Queens, like Long Island City and Astoria, appear to be heading in that direction.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? The Kaufman Organization’s focus is on New York City, so I can’t really speak to that.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? I believe that the odds are pretty good and I’m in favor of it.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Esca.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Marty Meyer of Colliers.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? There’s always going to be a place for brokers. However, listing sites and apps can be helpful to facilitate smaller deals.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. So far, so good. His push to build affordable housing could benefit the real estate industry.

Jared Kushner

CEO, Kushner Companies

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Is Kushner Companies making a push into up-and-coming neighborhoods because they’re cool? Or are neighborhoods like Dumbo and the East Village cool because Kushner Companies is making a push? As chief executive officer of Kushner Companies for the last seven years, Jared Kushner has been leading the company’s diversification, including inroads into several promising neighborhoods.

In a watershed deal for Dumbo, online retailer Etsy signed a 200,000-square-foot lease in May to be the anchor tenant at a 1.2-million-square-foot office complex that Kushner and RFR Realty are developing in conjunction with LIVWRK.

A couple of months prior, Kushner and Extell Development made a sizable profit on an Upper West Side building. They had purchased a 220,000-square-foot building at 80 West End Avenue in the summer of 2013 for $83 million and in March of this year sold it for $195 million.

Kushner Companies is also developing five single-family townhouses in Brooklyn Heights, formerly residences for Brooklyn Law School. Two of the homes were put on the market last month for $11 million and $13 million. And last month, Kushner Companies and KABR Group secured $140 million for the second tower of Trump Plaza, Trump Bay Street, a 447-unit rental apartment building that broke ground in Jersey City in May.

Since Mr. Kushner became CEO, the private investment firm has closed more than $10 billion in real estate transactions. Kushner Companies has a portfolio of more than 20,000 multifamily apartments and over 11 million square feet of office, industrial and retail space across the country. It also owns close to 100 buildings in New York City.

In his first year with the company, Mr. Kushner (also chairman of Observer Media, the parent company of Commercial Observer) oversaw the firm’s $1.8 billion purchase of the iconic 1.55-million-square-foot office tower, 666 Fifth Avenue, then achieving a record for the largest single asset transaction in the country.

Mr. Kushner has also been an early adapter on the technology front, investing in, advising and sitting on the boards of start-ups including Urban Compass, Honest Buildings and 42 Floors. Mr. Kushner worked with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration on WiredNYC, renamed WiredScore. It is a “LEED for broadband” certification that evaluates the broadband connectivity and infrastructure of office buildings.—Lauren Elkies Schram

Robert Lapidus

President & COO, L&L Holding Company

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Continued growth. Increased foreign capital into New York City. Midtown makes relative comeback.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? A rezoning plan that would induce owners to redevelop would be the most impactful in Midtown.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? None.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? No. Although the market is always cyclical, New York is in a relatively strong position globally, and there is no sign of reduction in foreign capital coming to New York .

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Parts of these areas will experience similar booms over time, especially those near transportation or on the water.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Jersey City will benefit from improving fundamentals in downtown New York City. White Plains, not so much.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Hopefully good.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Citywide.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? In the short-term, parts of Europe that were hit hardest by [the] latest downturn, such as Spain and parts of Eastern Europe. In the long-term, 24/7 global gateway cities like London and Hong Kong.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Milos and Eleven Madison Park.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Jonathan Gray.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? The Hamptons during the summer when you have more time to bond on a personal level.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Technology will continue to impact our industry. These sites will aid tenants and landlords, but will not replace brokers in New York City.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Too early to tell.

David Levinson

Chairman & CEO, L&L Holding Company

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Increasing valuations and rents.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Throughout the city, reimagining existing buildings into sustainable 21st century buildings is the greatest untapped potential.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? I don’t believe any area is overdeveloped.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? It’s not reaching another bubble at this time. The demand for New York City real estate continues to increase because it is a safe haven for investment with a high degree of liquidity. However, like all markets, there are cycles.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Each of the boroughs is very different, and they each will experience their own unique growth patterns. Brooklyn has its own special dynamics that drive its current growth.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? There is an urbanization trend moving back into cities. Jersey City is more likely to experience growth than White Plains.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Midtown East rezoning is necessary, but I think it will take longer than a year.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Infrastructure improvements are needed citywide.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? London–because it has similar characteristics to Manhattan.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Milos.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Steve Ross.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? At the beach or at a Yankees game.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals?  I have no idea, however, technology is changing everything we do in unexpected ways.

Anthony E. Malkin

Chairman, President & CEO, Empire State Realty Trust

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Absent surprises, continued steady strength in leasing as tenants gravitate to new installations, reflecting new business processes and practices in technologically advanced and well-located buildings. Greater tenant awareness of energy efficiency and sustainability, as contributors to cost control and employee attraction and retention. Continued attraction of capital to New York City as it and London remain the world leaders in quality of life, transparency, rule of law, open markets, culture and creative minds. What could be a surprise? By definition a surprise is something which is not expected!

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? The breadth of New York City submarket attractiveness to investors is truly staggering. In prior cycles, prices came near today’s peaks, but the breadth of the submarkets in which peak pricing was achieved was narrow. Today is very different, and that is driven by a perception from decades of driving down crime, and not just development, but redevelopment of New York City’s entire neighborhoods. That trend continues, so long as the de Blasio administration keeps streets safe, including beating back disturbing new developments from squeegee men, to rabid cartoon characters and tour ticket hawkers who assault our visitors, workers and citizens.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? Pricing is as high or higher as it has ever been across a much more broad range of submarkets. That being said, an awful lot of that is the “Londonization” of New York City; New York City has become an international destination favorite for capital, workers and visitors.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Hard to see Staten Island with the same prospect for a boom, but certainly Queens and the Bronx are already resurgent.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? There is an interesting phenomenon: the delay of young professionals to marry or partner. There has literally been a decade shift back. As these young professionals go through this decade, partner or marry, and have children, they will be confronted by the same needs, and one should expect they will move to [the] suburbs and offices will follow.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? High.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Raoul’s.

Stephen Meringoff

Partner, Himmel + Meringoff Properties

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Level commercial rents in general, with some areas like Times Square retail seeing record rent attainment. Residential will continue to rise due to generally constrained supply.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Queens.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? Midtown West.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? Not a bubble in rents, but recent sales prices have outrun the fundamentals.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? “Ever” is a long time. Queens will likely benefit greatly from the Randall’s Island Technion/Cornell NYC Tech development.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? In general, I am not a believer in the suburban office.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? High.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Asia.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? The East Pole.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Gary Barnett.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Closing dinners.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? We continue to rely on leasing brokers for all of our leases. They are indispensable.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Neutral. Some beneficial decisions, some not. We are still waiting to see his real estate tax policy.

Martin Meyer

Vice Chairman, Colliers International

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Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? [The market is] very active and pricing [is] going up [in] all areas of the city.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? Not really anywhere.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Yes, but it will take time.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Not as active. Totally based on government credits.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? I don’t think this is going to happen next year.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Soho.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Europe.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Hatsuhana.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? [Larry] Silverstein.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Lunches.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Maybe on small space.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Hurting.

Joseph Moinian

Founder & CEO, The Moinian Group

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? The low-interest environment, coupled with better foreign policy and increased activity of foreign investment from overseas, will contribute to continued development, leasing, lending and investment activity throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Activity will extend across all real estate asset types, including land.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Our early investment in less-developed areas like lower Manhattan and the Far West Side are finally coming to fruition. We are excited about the successes of our projects downtown, including 180 Maiden Lane, as well as The Residences at the W New York Downtown. And our properties along 11th Avenue, including Atelier, 605 West 42nd Street, 3 Hudson Boulevard and our 1.8 million-square-foot tower in the middle of the Hudson Yards district are at the forefront of the movement along the Far West Side.  The new Hudson Park and Boulevard, and the new 7 line subway extension, will play key roles in introducing what will ultimately be one of the greatest master development projects in the world.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped” Upper East Side.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? New York City is still very much in growth mode, thanks to good discipline in financing, be it lending or borrowing, as well as foreign investment, the expanding technology sector, numerous start-up and media firms, and a global desire to live, work and visit here. Although real estate and the cost of living is high, New York City is still well priced on a global basis. The symbiotic relationship between these forces, as well as a generally improving U.S. economy, will help avoid another bubble. However, it is always possible that outside forces beyond our control will cause market disruption and lead to a down market.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? My focus is on Manhattan, particularly emerging areas, such as downtown and the Far West Side.

What about the areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Those areas are lovely and an important part of the New York metro area, but from an economic and real estate point of view, the county is divided into two sections—New York City and everywhere else. Manhattan in particular attracts the various different foreign banks and sovereignties.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Not likely, with exception to some specialized, isolated and beneficial projects.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? I am particularly drawn to Hong Kong, London and Tel Aviv.

What’s your favorite restaurant? Cipriani on 59th Street.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? When it comes to historical achievement and role models, I most admire my close friend, Larry Silverstein.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Over a great meal.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Our business community is constantly evolving at the hands of technology. These applications will drastically simplify the process, allow for the collection of big data and aid developers to properly target initiatives with precision.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. As with all mayors, Mayor de Blasio has a particular vision for New York City. He is a strong proponent of affordable housing and understands that the real estate industry will build this new product. The entire real estate industry is looking forward to the release of his program to help accomplish this goal. The mayor is also working with the real estate market at large to remain business-friendly. I am encouraged with his progress thus far.

Jason Muss

Principal, Muss Development

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Land will continue to rise in price as condo sales continue, albeit at a slightly slower pace. Retail rents will continue to strengthen as new retail concepts are introduced—especially in the upscale food market under 5,000 square feet. Office rents will continue to strengthen and fewer landlord concessions will be offered as tenants try to lock in space for the long term, recognizing that the supply-demand balance won’t change very much any time soon.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Downtown Brooklyn/ Fort Greene, east of Flatbush Avenue. East Harlem—especially along Park Avenue and Third Avenue between 106th and 125th Streets for residential construction. Many of those blocks are ripe for an increase in FAR, and will make for a good trade for owners/developers to produce affordable housing in exchange for higher density. Central Brooklyn, from Prospect Heights all the way to Sheepshead Bay, where access to jobs in north Brooklyn and Manhattan is strong and new waves of people keep moving in.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”?

There is no such thing as overdevelopment in New York. If crowds bother you, this is not a good place to live.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? It would certainly be prudent to assume we are entering a period where values might deflate a bit. But the term “bubble” is highly charged and I would not use it. Worldwide interest rates are really what has driven this run-up in values and that is out of our control. Stick to the $25-50 black jack table and keep your ATM card at home, but enjoy the game you are playing.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? It is already happening in St. George, Staten Island and many areas of Queens, notably Astoria and Long Island City. Queens is a megacity by itself and would be considered one of the hottest cities in the country if it were independent. Occupancy in Queens is extremely high, at historic levels, and development will continue. Whatever is built there will just be a very small addition percentage-wise to what exists.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? No opinion! We stick to New York City.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? I have not been following this closely, but it seems like a very good idea.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? All bridges and tunnels and the subway infrastructure. Without continuing to reinvest in these things, any specific neighborhood infrastructure improvements will be irrelevant. We need to keep tourists coming, which is crucial to so many parts of our local economy.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? [Joel] Picket, [David] Walentas and [Tishman] Speyer—all for different reasons, but all three epitomize New York City real estate.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? I find AIPAC Policy Conference and AIPAC real estate events to be a great opportunity to talk to many different owners. Also the annual ICSC convention in Las Vegas, as well as the annual REBNY dinner and various REBNY sponsored events.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? No to the first question. More than there are now? Perhaps. Commercial real estate really needs the personal touch.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why.  I think we should, as an industry, continue to make our concerns known to politicians on all levels of government. As long as the mayor continues to keep the city safe, clean and welcoming to our tenants, most of whom are small corporations or locally owned retailers, and hotel guests feel safe coming we will be fine. In the long term, we have to make sure we can afford all of the pension obligations the city has moving forward.

Paul Pariser

Co-CEO, Taconic Investment Partners

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? In Manhattan, land prices are at an all-time high and space is very tight.  Developers are forced to be more creative with their projects in order to achieve the rents or prices they need to make their project economically feasible. Tall towers, high design and incredible amenities seem to be standard these days. I think we will see some spectacular buildings being built in the coming years. It will also be interesting to see how the strong foreign demand for New York real estate investments drives the market next year.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? We love the Lower East Side, although land is very constrained there, which limits development. Parts of Brooklyn, like Gowanus and Bushwick, have great potential.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? The 57th Street corridor is a great example of increasing density by building taller buildings. I don’t think it is “overdeveloped,” but I think it is the best example of how New York developers build vertical when they can no longer build horizontal.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? Overall, we are optimistic about the market right now. The economy continues to improve and New York City is where everyone wants to be.  However, we can’t forget that the real estate market is cyclical in nature, and we will eventually see a down cycle. We are very selective in the investments we make and very strategic in targeting areas of the city we believe will attract buyers and tenants in difficult years.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? The Long Island City waterfront has changed dramatically over the past decade, and I expect we will see significant development in other neighborhoods in Queens that have great subway access. I don’t think we will see a boom in the Bronx or Staten Island in the near term.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Jersey City and Hoboken are doing very well, as they are more affordable alternatives to Manhattan and Brooklyn, but also offer great access to Manhattan.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? I don’t think anyone expects the rezoning to be fully approved in the next year, although I think it will advance toward approval. I’m looking forward to seeing how de Blasio’s plan for rezoning the Grand Central corridor plays out, it is such an important part of the city.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? It would be great if we could improve Penn Station and our airports. They collectively serve as the gateway to New York City (along with Grand Central Terminal, which is beautiful) and don’t represent who we are as a city.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Any of the truly global cities, such as London, Hong Kong and, of course, New York, have great potential as the world’s population and demand for connectivity increases. Continued globalization will benefit the magnet cities tremendously.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? I miss Pastis and really hope they return to the Meatpacking District.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Related, a partner of ours at the Caledonia in Chelsea and Tishman Speyer come to mind.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Hiking in the mountains in Colorado.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? Yes, technology will continue to change the way we do business and the way we market our properties.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. We are thrilled to be working with the city on a number of projects including 525 West 52nd Street, an 80/20 building, and Essex Crossing on the Lower East Side, which is 50 percent affordable. Mr. De Blasio has a great vision for the city, and has the right team to help him execute it in a way that benefits the city, the public and developers.

Michael Phillips

President, Jamestown

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? We will see continued movement into Midtown South, as well as a focused interest in the boroughs and Midtown.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? I think any area in the outer boroughs with good access to transit has great potential for development.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? The Williamsburg waterfront.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? I would say pricing is full, but the fundamentals of New York City endure.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Certainly we’re seeing a growth in Long Island City that is gaining momentum to Brooklyn with increased residential and office developments.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Jersey City continues to grow because of its close proximity to downtown and provides easy access for those working in the city.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? Definitely the outer borough waterfront areas hit by Sandy are in need of long-term infrastructure improvements.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? I’m greatly inspired by the markets in Bogota and Lima.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Rotisserie Georgette.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? I’ve met a lot of my fellow owners around important charitable organizations and events in New York.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? I think we will see a lot of growth in this area, and technology will play an exponentially more important role in the real estate space.

Jason Pizer

President, Trinity Real Estate

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? We live in unsettled times, but I’m confident in the city and Hudson Square will continue to thrive.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? There is no undiscovered neighborhood. But given the city’s dynamics, New York is re-discoverable. There will always be spots with untapped potential. You simply have to find them, come early to the game and take the risks that your instincts and timing are right.

What area in New York is overdeveloped? New York’s strength is density. The engine is mass transit. Maintain and improve the infrastructure, a crucial and costly imperative, and no area is overdeveloped.

Is the New York area reaching another bubble? The pressures of an over-heated market are a fact of life in a highly-competitive and restive, global economy. Is New York in imminent danger? No.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Check out Astoria/Long Island City, St. George [and the] South Bronx.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City, White Plains? I am a big fan of White Plains. Easy access to Metro North as well as Bronx River Parkway, 287 and 684. Walkable and good mix of retail and commercial space.

What are the odds of a reconfigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Unlikely, but highly likely in 2016. It would be surprising if the accommodation between funding infrastructure improvements and allowing greater density is struck and approved in 2015. Additional bellwether projects could still advance. Hedging the bet: if anyone can pull it off, Carl [Weisbrod, director of the city’s Department of City Planning] would be the one.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvement? The city, all cities, underspend. We need a federal infrastructure bank—a mechanism like the interstate Highway Trust Fund to catch up.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Pepolino.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? There are so many New Yorkers that I admire, not limited to the real estate industry.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? A ski mountain. A restaurant. Rarely an event. Never a boardroom. The best place? Where friends and colleagues are.

What space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? I’m not familiar with these. I’ve enjoyed real estate because you can touch it, and I still think that is the only way to judge property.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? He’s articulated his agenda and wants the private sector to do more to carry out public policy in return for rezoning. In essence, that’s a targeted pro development posture because if you make the burden too great, nothing will get built.  He has an experienced professional team in place with the capacity to negotiate with the industry and get the balance right.

Eran Polack

CEO, HAP Investments

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? I think the market will continue to remain strong.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Harlem and Washington Heights.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? 57th Street and West Chelsea will be.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? Not for another five to seven years.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Queens maybe. But, nothing compares to Brooklyn’s diverse culture.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? I am very bullish on Jersey City. We are developing a 42-story, mixed-use tower in Journal Square.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown east rezoning being approved in the next year? I don’t know.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? I don’t know.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Africa.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Gramercy Tavern.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Michael Stern of JDS.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? I like going to sports events.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. I don’t think we can tell yet. Let’s see if his proposed policies take effect.

Scott Rechler

Chairman & CEO, RXR Realty

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RXR Realty Chairman and Chief
Executive
Officer Scott Rechler relinquished another impressive title this spring when John Degnan succeeded him as chair of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. But Mr. Rechler remains as vice chairman and spoke to Commercial Observer about his ongoing commitment to root out corruption at the embattled agency.

“As acting chairman,” he said, “the best thing was starting to change the culture where we made the Port’s board more transparent and made the dialogue of the commissioners more robust publicly. There was a period where the board would go into the backroom and rubber stamp deals behind closed doors. I made it a point to hold the debate in public and encouraged constructive discourse between the commissioners.”

On that note, Mr. Rechler described as “healthy” the heated public dialogue over the Port Authority’s (some say excessively) generous financing of Mr. Silverstein’s 80-story tower at 3 World Trade Center. In June, the bi-state agency declined Silverstein’s request for a $1.2 billion subsidy—Mr. Rechler had supported it—but voted to approve a $159 million reserve fund going toward the project.

Elsewhere in lower Manhattan, RXR in May closed on a $330 million acquisition of 61 Broadway, marking the firm’s first foray into the Financial District. Mr. Rechler said that the building would target tenants from the TAMI sector as they continue to flock south toward the area.

More recently, RXR last month announced plans to bring 200,000 to 300,000 square feet of office space to Pier 57 on the Hudson River near Chelsea Piers. It entered the reportedly $350 million project in a joint venture with Youngwoo & Associates.

A bigger gamble commenced in August when RXR’s 99-year lease on 75 Rockefeller began. Critics wonder whether a complete renovation of that 630,000-sqaure-foot tower will be enough to charge rents of $80 per square foot that would justify that deal’s $420 million price tag. Yet RXR’s ability to attract tenants on the upswing like Spotify—in January the music streaming site expanded to 123,000 square feet in RXR’s 620 Avenue of the Americas—auger well for future leasing campaigns.Billy Gray

Burton P. Resnick

Chairman & CEO, Jack Resnick & Sons

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Very bullish as long as interest rates remain low.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? All five boroughs.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? None.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? We don’t think so as long as [the] economy stays healthy.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Not for a while.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Jersey City—yes. White Plains is over-built and over-priced.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Hopefully [it will], but [I’m] doubtful.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? The entire city: roads and bridges and airports are awful. Underground is a calamity waiting to happen.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? China, India.

wwWhat’s your favorite local restaurant? Sette Mezzo.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? The Rudins and the Roses and Fishers and Silverstein.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? The Real Estate Board of New York.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Too early to decide.

Steven Roth

Chairman and CEO, Vornado

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Vornado Realty Trust’s chairman and chief executive Steven Roth has spent this year restructuring the public REIT’s portfolio, separating its core office and retail properties, while selectively mapping out luxury condominium and hotel projects.

Vornado in April announced that it would spin off 81 U.S. shopping centers into a separate publicly traded REIT known as SpinCo. The move serves as a way to “de-conglomerate two very different businesses,” Mr. Roth, 72, told shareholders at the time.

Vornado began shedding some of its non-New York retail assets last year with the sale of more than a dozen properties, including the $34 million sale of The Shops on Lake Avenue in Pasadena, Calif. At the same time, Mr. Roth’s company partnered with Crown Acquisitions this July in the $700 million acquisition of retail condominium space at the St. Regis New York hotel located at 2 East 55th Street. The recently purchased space totals 24,700 square feet in addition to air rights at the St. Regis and a neighboring townhouse.

On the New York residential front, the commercial real estate behemoth received a $600 million loan from Bank of China in the beginning of the year to help finance its long-delayed luxury condominium at 220 Central Park South. The REIT also has plans for a “seven-star hotel” at the site of the now-closed Rizzoli Bookstore at 31 West 57th Street, as The Wall Street Journal reported last month.

Meanwhile, Vornado has kept a noticeable focus on its high-end office towers in New York and Washington, D.C., including One Penn Plaza; 888 Seventh Avenue, the company’s executive headquarters; and the Universal Buildings in D.C., which Vorando refinanced with a $185 million loan in August.

Mr. Roth, who joined Vornado in 1980 when its only asset was the now-defunct Two Guys discount retail chain, has since grown the company’s real estate holdings to more than 100 million square feet.—Damian Ghigliotty

Bill Rudin

Vice Chairman & CEO, Rudin Management

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Bill Rudin helms one of New York
City’s most storied—and successful—real estate families. As other outlets have pointed out, not only is the Rudin family, which began acquiring buildings in 1905, one of the largest owners of real estate in Gotham, it has held that post for perhaps the longest amount of time. In fact, in recent years the Rudins have almost entirely stopped developing properties, instead simply maintaining their vast portfolio, which is estimated to include around 14 million square feet of space. Among the buildings owned by the Rudin family are office buildings 345 Park Avenue, 3 Times Square and 80 Pine Street.

Descended from Louis Rudinsky, a Polish immigrant who bought a Fifth Avenue property more than 100 years ago, current Rudin family members staff most top posts in the extremely successful development company. The secret to their continued dominance? They get along. This trait has allowed them to avoid costly intrafamilial feuds. 

“With our fathers, whoever screamed the loudest ended up winning an argument,” Rudin Management President Eric Rudin told The Wall Street Journal earlier this year. “But we are able to talk things out.”

The one development project the firm has undertaken in recent years proved daunting, at least from a public relations perspective. Greenwich Lane, a residential condominium and townhome development, which rose in the space previously occupied by St. Vincent’s Hospital, has received staggering interest—prices top $3,500 a square foot—even as it has come to emblematize, for some, the increasingly exclusionary tenor of housing being built in New York City (often at the expense of other development).

While many protested the closing of the hospital, Mr. Rudin did grant many concessions to the city in exchange for the right to build on the plot. The firm will build a school, donate to local arts organizations and also voluntarily scaled down the project.—Guelda Voien

Gregg Schenker

President, Co-Managing Partner, ABS Partners Real Estate

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? Emerging markets will continue to improve, particularly those with access to mass transit such as east Williamsburg, Bushwick and areas seeing new development—especially the west side of Manhattan with Hudson Yards.  Midtown South will start to see a leveling off of value based upon investor expectations and enormous past year-over-year growth. Interest rates will be watched closely by investors, as the potential to affect value is material at this time, given the significant cap rate compression seen over the past few years.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? There is significant potential along the waterfronts facing Manhattan in Brooklyn and Queens. Long Island City, Greenpoint and Astoria will experience new development, in addition to East Williamsburg and Bushwick. The entire west side of Manhattan, from 23rd Street all the way up to Dyckman Street, is prime for growth.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? I am not aware of any at this time.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? No. New York is one of the most important cities in the world, it continues to remain safe, and among other things, serves as a placeholder for capital. That trend will continue, and values are expected to remain stable.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Queens has significant potential as its diverse neighborhoods continue to evolve, along with the influx of young, well-educated professionals who are taking up residence. There is a significant rezoning effort underway in Queens, which includes neighborhoods like Astoria. The density created as a result of the rezoning will dramatically and positively change these neighborhoods. Staten Island has geographic constraints and limited access to mass transit. A subway to Staten Island would change the dynamic dramatically. 

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? They are two very different markets. Jersey City is an excellent location for reasonably priced housing for young professionals—in some cases with two incomes—and/or families. On the commercial side, there remains opportunity for office development as a result of more reasonable land values, when compared to Manhattan. White Plains at the moment represents excellent value in both commercial and residential space, and we are beginning to see the repurposing of properties in that market. I believe the Westchester office market will begin to recover in 2015 as supply diminishes and demand starts to increase. 

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? The rezoning is trapped in a political quagmire and is unlikely to be resolved next year. I have great hope for eventual approval, as the rezoning is fundamentally sound and important for the future of New York City. Once approved, the rezoning will spur development and create modern, technologically-advanced office buildings that are sorely needed in the area.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? London. It is the best alternative outside of New York for a stable economic and political environment. It is adjacent to Europe at large and is a relatively short flight to a number of major population and economic centers. Moreover, the currency is not directly tied to the complications presented by the Euro.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Gramercy Tavern and ABC Kitchen.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? The Rudin family. Their decades-long commitment to improving the quality of life and business in New York is incredible.  A remarkable effort and wonderful family.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. I support our mayor. I believe the administration could benefit from hiring additional sophisticated, experienced business people from the private sector to serve in the public sector and to seek out highly regarded intellects with policy-making experience to help create and shape public policy. Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others that have been tried.”

Sam Schneider

Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Imperium Capital

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? I believe real estate cap rates and fundamentals will hold relatively steady in the coming year.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Brooklyn is still an untapped market. I do not believe it has reached its full potential in terms of market growth.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? There is so much demand it is hard to say anywhere in New York City is overdeveloped. The eastern part of the Upper East Side may come closest to being an overdeveloped or oversupplied neighborhood.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? So many properties are being purchased with large amounts of equity. The debt is not becoming overly aggressive in terms of LTV [or loan-to-value]. I do not see a bubble happening anytime soon.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? They have a chance to see a fair amount of growth, but I do not think they will experience the boom that Brooklyn has experienced. Brooklyn has become an international brand.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? I believe they do have a chance to see growth, but not at the same rate as Brooklyn.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? I don’t think any of us know when or if that will take place.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? North of Hudson Yards on the West Side, as development continues in that area.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? We don’t invest overseas and can’t comment.
What’s your favorite local restaurant? ZZ’s Clam Bar in Greenwich Village.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Stephen Ross of Related.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Dinner and drinks at a local New York restaurant.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? I believe so much of what we do in real estate is based on relationships, and face-to-face time will remain important.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Mayor de Blasio has done a good job since beginning his term. I believe he truly wants to see positive change for the city in all forms.

Larry Silverstein

Chairman, Silverstein Properties

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Known best for his work on 7, 3 and
4 World Trade Center, Larry Silverstein’s company, Silverstein Properties, actually has ongoing projects across the globe in China, Israel and, of course, in New York.

Born in Brooklyn, Mr. Silverstein attended the public high school then known as Music & Art and studied music. He began buying commercial properties in the 1970s, nabbing 44 Wall Street, and by 1986 had completed 7 World Trade Center.

Silverstein Properties has since steadily acquired and developed many facets of the New York City skyline. By 1989, the firm owned 10 million square feet of space, according to reports.

His portfolio still includes a variety of commercial and residential space, such as office buildings 1177 Avenue of the Americas and 120 Broadway and the luxury residential tower River Place. While his commercial projects—and their attendant controversies—have gobbled up much of the coverage about Mr. Silverstein and his projects, he also developed the hulking residential buildings Silver Towers, a 1.2-million-square-foot Far West Side behemoth, in 2010.

While questions about his insurance on 7 World Trade Center clouded his dealings for a few years following the 9/11 tragedy, the talk did not slow Mr. Silverstein down.

In recent years the firm has broken ground on a hotel/residential project at 30 Park Place, which should become lower Manhattan’s largest residential tower, and bought up some of the last undeveloped space in Manhattan, at 1 West End Avenue, for $160 million (actually, a steal!) last year.

But last year also brought fresh controversy, when Silverstein Properties was again all over the news after the 30 Park Place project received a 421a tax abatement despite not providing affordable housing.

Nevertheless, his firm has forged ahead this year. Silverstein Properties is progressing with the residential project on which it is partnering with Mercedes Benz on Manhattan’s burgeoning Far West Side. And recently the company won a bid to build a massive bullet train project in Shenzhen, China—one of the world’s fastest growing cities.—Guelda Voien

Rob Speyer

President and Co-CEO, Tishman Speyer

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This month marks the reopening of
the historic Rainbow Room restaurant and event space atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Tishman Speyer operates Rockefeller Center and oversaw the landmarked space’s renovations. Tishman Speyer also controls another New York institution, the Chrysler Building, a gold LEED-certified building.

Since 2008, Rob Speyer has served as the president and, with his father Jerry, co-chief executive officer of Tishman Speyer. The younger Speyer joined the firm in 1995 following a brief period as a journalist and has helped catapult the firm into the city’s largest family-run landlord.

Tishman Speyer took a major hit during the real estate bust when it lost Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to creditors. But the firm appears to be going strong.

The firm achieved a coup earlier this year when it bought three Far West Side properties—507 West 34th Street, 510-28 West 35th Street and 435 10th Avenue—for $438 million. Tishman Speyer is planning to erect a $3.2 billion, 2.85-million-square-foot office tower at the Hudson Yards development. In partnership with H&R Real Estate Investment Trust, Tishman Speyer is building a residential rental building with 1,600 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space in Long Island City. And in August, the firm paid nearly $59 million to a partnership between WeWork and real estate investor AEW Capital Management for a long-term leasehold at 175 Varick Street.

As a global development and operating company, Tishman Speyer has projects all over the world including The Springs, which will be the firm’s signature project in China.

As of late last year, the firm had acquired, developed and/or managed a portfolio of approximately 129 million square feet with a total value of about $66.2 billion since its founding in 1978.

Mr. Speyer, a Columbia University graduate, is also the chairman of the 13,000-member Real Estate Board of New York, a position for which he was tapped in January 2013. Mr. Speyer, who turns 45 this month, was the youngest chairman in the association’s century-long history. He is heading up a committee to find a replacement for longtime REBNY President Steven Spinola, who is stepping down at the end of 2015.—Lauren Elkies Schram

Donald J. Trump

Chairman & President, Trump Organization

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What is your real estate prediction for 2015? New York is doing well and will continue to do well. The city is expanding and in a healthy way—it has been slow but sure, and that will accelerate in 2015. The Trump Organization has seen growth and our properties are thriving, doing better than ever.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? Everywhere. The market is strong in all the boroughs, but Manhattan will always be the center of it all. The potential here never seems to subside.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? No area is overdeveloped, in my opinion. Just when we think there’s no more room, someone finds more room to build a building that enhances the neighborhood or the cityscape. This city has a potential that will not disappoint.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? That is certainly possible; it’s always out there!

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? That could happen but it might take longer. The boom has been wonderful for Brooklyn and New York as a whole. Let’s hope it happens. Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, right by the Whitestone Bridge on the water, is helping the Bronx big time—a real winner!

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? I would be surprised if they didn’t thrive—they are doing very well.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? It probably will happen, but if it happens within the year I’d be surprised. Rezoning isn’t a fast game in New York City.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? I think the whole city could use improvements. The airports are in tough shape—very tired. Visitors coming in for the first time must be appalled.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? Dubai is a hot market and so is India, likewise China. Europe is great. I visited recently and while I know there are other viable markets, I’m the most familiar with these.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? Jean Georges at Trump International Hotel & Tower on Central Park West.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? Arthur Zeckendorf of Zeckendorf Realty has done a great job with condos. His buildings are thoughtfully done. Steve Roth, Steve Ross, Gary Barnett, Lenny Litwin, Larry Silverstein—and so many others have done such a fantastic job.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? The golf course is the best venue for that. I’ve done some of my best deals on the golf course. It’s relaxing, enjoyable, and you can learn a lot about people while playing golf with them. Great friendships can be made.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? It seems that is happening already, so I would think it would continue to flourish.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. Mayor de Blasio is working very hard and will, in my opinion, do a great job. He loves the city and does not want to do anything that will jeopardize its long-term success or appeal.

[Note: Mr. Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the owner of Observer Media.]

Ivanka Trump

Executive Vice President
of Development & Acquisitions, Trump Organization

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Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? It’s amazing to see the transformation that has occurred in New York over the past decade.  Neighborhoods that were once considered abandoned or off-limits have been revitalized by newcomers looking to live, work and play in New York, bringing with them new restaurants, shops and boutiques. 

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? I’m not convinced any particular area is overdeveloped because there’s still such high demand to be in New York. There may be lags in demand in certain pockets but over time we will see all areas of the city continue to strengthen.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble? I don’t believe we are approaching another bubble.  The inherent value of being in New York increases every day and therefor there is a lot of untapped value still left in the market.  There is certainly a lot of global demand to invest in New York City but in most cases, moderate leverage is being used.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? We’re bullish about the entire city.  My grandfather, Fred Trump, began his career developing real estate in Queens and the outer boroughs. In the next five years I think Queens will see the most growth as Long Island City and Astoria both become more popular destinations.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? We have experienced great success with developments in Stamford, White Plains and one of our premier golf courses, Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, which is located in New Jersey. The city is amazing, but the space these more suburban edge communities can provide is unparalleled.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? I think politicians understand what it takes to make our city competitive globally and accommodating to modern business. We need to modernize Midtown, or other global cities will surpass New York as the premier international center of commerce. This is a real issue for the continued success of New York, and the city’s leaders need to recognize the critical importance of it.   

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? I don’t think it’s a geographic area—every corner of this city is constantly changing and being revitalized.  It’s the city’s connective tissue—the transportation network—that is in need of a huge infrastructure investment.  Our bridges, subways, and roads are ancient, and rapidly deteriorating.  Millions of people use the subways to commute to and from work every day.  Without it, commerce will suffer.

Which overseas real estate market do you think has the greatest potential? We are incredibly focused on global gateway cities and have projects in markets ranging from Mumbai and Pune to Manila. We also have super luxury hotels and residences under construction in Vancouver, Rio and Dubai and recently purchased properties in Ireland (Doonbeg) and Scotland (Trump Turnberry).

What’s your favorite local restaurant? I love Antica Pesa in Brooklyn, Koi at Trump Soho and Jean Georges at Trump International .

Which fellow owner do you admire most? All bias aside, Jared and everyone at Kushner Companies are doing some truly incredible deals. They are great innovators and are pursuing opportunities that partner real estate and technology in a way that is very unique. 

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners?  I love to play golf. It’s a great way to spend four hours with someone and really understand their thought process and who they are as a person.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals? I think that is definitely a trend that will continue to grow with smaller properties, but nothing can replace the knowledge and security that come with working with a well-connected, intelligent agent. There is always something to be said for personalized service and brokers are no exception. However, a lot of brokerages don’t want to spend time on the smaller spaces and the leasing process is very burdensome for smaller tenants so I do think we will see a shift in the next few years in how smaller office space is leased.

[Note: Ms. Trump is the wife of Jared Kushner, the owner of Observer Media.]

James Wacht

President, Lee & Associates, Sierra Real Estate

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What’s your real estate prediction for 2015? A strong office-leasing market throughout the city and not just Midtown South. A continuing influx of foreign money seeking safety in New York, which will continue to drive the investment sales market and luxury condominium sales. Local investors will begin to pull back as cap rates continue to get compressed. My boldest prediction: $1,500 per buildable square foot for prime residential development sites in Manhattan.

Where in New York is there still untapped potential for real estate development? If by New York you mean “Manhattan” then Harlem and upper Manhattan. Also, the Upper East Side, east of Lexington Avenue. If you’re including the outer boroughs, then many areas of the Bronx and some of the less discovered neighborhoods of Brooklyn, so long as they have good transportation access.

What area in New York is “overdeveloped”? If you mean by “overdevelopment” too high of a concentration of buildings, then no area of New York is currently overdeveloped. I’m a big believer in the benefits of density.

Is the New York market reaching another bubble?  The condominium sales market makes me nervous. Land prices for choice and even secondary residential parcels in both Manhattan and Brooklyn are hitting the stratosphere. The high amount of current development activity creates the potential of a glut of supply hitting the market over the next two years. And, if interest rates begin to creep up and if foreigners stop buying in New York, the luxury condominium sales market could burst.

The multifamily market has become very pricey with buyers willing to purchase properties at sub-4 percent rates. Again, an uptick in interest rates could profoundly affect this market. In addition, with the prospect of material changes being made to the rent laws next year to benefit tenants, the buyers of these properties must have very deep pockets and a long-term view for these deals to make any sense.

Will Queens, Staten Island or the Bronx ever experience the sort of boom Brooklyn has recently enjoyed? Certain neighborhoods in Queens have the potential of experiencing significant growth. Long Island City is a pretty good example of a Queens neighborhood that is seeing significant growth. The Bronx also has significant potential for growth, but probably not at the level seen in Brooklyn. Can’t really comment on Staten Island.

What about areas just outside the city like Jersey City or White Plains? Definitely not. They don’t have the same “hipster” vibe.

What are the odds of a refigured Midtown East rezoning being approved in the next year? Very likely it will be approved within the next two years. I think everyone involved understands the need for this to happen. It’s a function of working out some of the more collateral issues, such as infrastructure improvements, and the cost to developers will have to pay for the additional zoning bonuses.

Which area of the city is most in need of infrastructure improvements? All of it.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? My kitchen. I love to cook.

Which fellow owner do you admire most? There are way too many for me to name. If I had to choose a criteria by which to judge, it would be based upon boldness of vision, benefits to the city and ability to execute.

Outside of the boardroom, what’s the best place to bond with fellow owners? Rumor has it, the golf course.

Will space apps and listing sites become the standard for smaller deals and create more direct-to-tenant deals?  Yes, but I fear for any tenant attempting to navigate the New York City real estate landscape without professional advice. It’s just way too complicated. Something as simple as determining the square footage of space being rented is incredibly complicated in New York. Just imagine what the rest of the issues are like! This partly explains the phenomenon of the space sharing arrangements that have been cropping up. It’s easy, and space can be found and occupied within one day.

Is Mayor de Blasio helping or hurting the New York real estate industry at this point in his tenure? Please explain why. At this point in his tenure he’s having very little measurable effect on our industry primarily because we are in a very strong market right now. Once economic growth begins to slow, then his impact on our business will really begin to be felt.

Mort Zuckerman

Executive Chairman, Boston Properties

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Although he named Owen Thomas as his successor to Boston Properties’ chief executive office, executive chairman Mort Zuckerman remains all but synonymous with the company. And the “bluest of blue chip REITs” has sustained its recent strategy of prioritizing investment in new developments over existing properties in its four core markets of Boston, New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

Boston Properties closed out 2013 with a nearly 100,000-square-foot lease signed by George Soros’ Soros Fund Management at the landlord’s 250 West 55th Street. The billionaire’s investment firm will pay rents in excess of $100, a benchmark figure in this part of town. In May, the expanding Al Jazeera news channel inked for 86,000 square feet—lower than earlier reports that it was eyeing a 200,000-square-foot space—on the property’s second floor.

Over at the GM Building, which Boston Properties retains a 60 percent stake in, Baron Funds in March expanded by 25,000 square feet and will pay rents just below $200 per square foot at the marquee tower.

And just last month, Boston Properties sold its 45 percent stake in 601 Lexington Avenue to Norges Bank Investment Management as that arm of Norway’s central bank continues to become a New York real estate player. That deal moved the company toward its goal of shedding $1 billion in assets this year, an amount in line with last year’s dispositions.

Outside of real estate, Mr. Zuckerman, who owns the New York Daily News and U.S. News & World Report, continued to condemn President Obama. He said on The McLaughlin Group this summer that Mr. Obama had “lost the confidence of the business community” for underutilizing infrastructure investment as a means of stimulating the economy.Billy Gray