SHORTLY AFTER I TOOK OVER AT Commercial Observer last fall, I got the first email on this subject: “When are you taking submissions for the Power 100?”
There have been many, many emails in the six months since asking the exact same thing.
Brokers, developers and some of the richest and most influential landlords in the city (strike that—in the world) have been fascinated with Commercial Observer’s yearly ranking of the top dogs of the business. The small army of publicists employed by these power brokers tirelessly fought for higher ground for their jefe. When emails went unanswered (sometimes for as long as an hour) phone calls were made. Voicemails were left. The words “I don’t mean to be a pest…” (or variations thereof) were employed on numerous occasions.
“You can’t include so-and-so without also including his managing principal,” one publicist declared.
Other publicists seethed over the fact that their boss should have to share space with their other boss.
We will admit list making is more art than science. Some of our decisions will strike the men and women profiled here—and, more importantly, our readers—as arbitrary, but we were determined to be thoughtful and deliberate. All of Commercial Observer’s writers, editors and contributors weighed in and gave their reasons why certain names should rise and others should sink.
Students of the Power 100 will note that the vast majority of the changes to the list involve one mega-name switching places with another. There is a core of 70 or 80 people in the real estate business whose names will always be on any list that makes an attempt at being comprehensive. Some of the machers who slipped a notch or two will no doubt feel slighted. But, honestly, that’s not where the real excitement of a list like this lies. The great pleasure is seeing who jumped up in a big way, and why.
Larry Silverstein was 41st last year. This year, he’s No. 3. Part of the reason is because of the unbelievable explosion of Downtown Manhattan, which Mr. Silverstein has helped create.
Alicia Glen charged her way into the top 20… and why not? True, Gov. Andrew Cuomo arguably has much more control over the fate of the state than she—but we think Ms. Glen is the politician real estate professionals would be wisest to keep an eye on.
Likewise, the No. 22 spot—a spot high enough any respectable real estate billionaire should be comfy with—we gave to Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey, two newbies who had never been on the Power 100 before. But with WeWork (which was valued last year at $5 billion) a profound new force has emerged in commercial real estate, and we are obliged to pay tribute.
We might get challenged on some of the entries on our list.
Danny Meyer, for instance, is neither a real estate broker nor a major landlord. But it would be difficult to name someone who has been a shrewder forecaster of a neighborhood’s success. In fact, Mr. Meyer might be the ultimate victim of his own predictive prowess. He took a gamble back in 1985 when he opened Union Square Café and the neighborhood was still dumpy. This year he was forced out of the celebrated space because the rent was too damn high. But that’s the nature of the beast that is called real estate.
These are the names of those who have tamed it.—Max Gross
1. Scott Rechler (8)
Chairman and CEO of RXR Realty
Mr. Rechler is a ball of energy; whether it comes to meeting reporters, sitting down on a panel or investing in real estate.
“2014 was an incredibly active year for RXR,” Mr. Rechler told Commercial Observer. “We had a record investment year by acquiring or contracting to acquire nine properties, representing $2.7 billion in assets.”
Some of those deals included the $110 million purchase of the Standard Motor Products Building in Long Island City and a long-term lease with American Landmark Properties for the 650,000-square-foot 470 Vanderbilt Avenue near the Barclays Center for $200 million. There was also a $595 million purchase of 530 Fifth Avenue with Thor Equities and General Growth Properties and a $330 million buy of 61 Broadway in the Financial District.
And in what was perhaps the firm’s biggest news of the year, “We finalized a mega-deal with Blackstone to sell them an interest in a $4 billion portfolio that we began to assemble in 2009,” Mr. Rechler said.
That’s in addition to an increased focus on RXR's debt and equity business which Mr. Rechler anticipates increasing in the next several years. As CO reported in September, Broad Street Development closed on the purchase of 80 Broad Street from Savanna for $173 million. Mr. Rechler said his firm provided around $90 million in preferred equity in the deal. The company was named master developer in New Rochelle, Hempstead and Huntington Station and sourced major developments along train stations in Yonkers and Stamford, Conn.
With Seth Pinsky on board as RXR’s investment manager of the emerging markets platform since the summer of 2013, Mr. Rechler said, “We have purchased office buildings in up-and-coming neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Long Island City and greatly expanded our development pipeline in transit-oriented suburban downtowns.”
And this approach will continue. “We expect to continue to expand this strategy into emerging submarkets and suburban downtowns in 2015 and beyond,” Mr. Rechler said.
Locally, there is RXR's $200 million development of the 560,000-square-foot retail complex on Pier 57 at West 15th Street with Young Woo. Earlier this month, RXR closed on its $675 million purchase of the 1.2-million-square-foot Class A commercial building at 32 Old Slip from Beacon Capital Partners.—Lauren Elkies Schram
2. Jonathan Gray (7)
Global Head of Real Estate at Blackstone Group
Blackstone Group’s international real estate guru oversaw several headline-grabbing buys, in part, facilitated by several headline-grabbing sales over the past 12 months.
Mr. Gray and his team also raised $15.8 billion for the firm’s eighth global real estate fund.
Among their biggest transactions within the last year, the Illinois native and company sold Blackstone’s U.S. industrial platform, IndCor Properties, to affiliates of Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund for $8.1 billion in December 2014.
Blackstone also bought the Park Avenue Tower at 65 East 55th Street from Shorenstein Properties for $750 million last July. Two months later, the firm sold its 42-story office tower at 1095 Avenue of the Americas to an Ivanhoe Cambridge-led partnership for $2.2 billion. This March, Blackstone bought Chicago’s Willis Tower, the second tallest building in the U.S., for $1.3 billion, and in April acquired most of General Electric’s real estate assets in a joint purchase with Wells Fargo, valued at roughly $23 billion.
Those deals are all part of a bigger plan, Mr. Gray noted.
“Surround yourself with the absolute best people, create a rigorous investment process and remember that unless you perform for your investors, nothing else matters,” he told Commercial Observer.—Damian Ghigliotty
3. Larry Silverstein and Marty Burger (41)
Chairman and CEO of Silverstein Properties
While Silverstein Properties has long held a place as one of New York City’s most known commercial real estate brands, this year, the firm outdid itself. After years of wrangling over funding for 3 World Trade Center, Silverstein secured $1.63 billion in financing and restarted construction, with the shiny tower now set to open in 2018.
Down the street, tenants moved into 4 World Trade Center, which is now 60 percent leased, according to a representative for the firm. Downtown’s revitalization is now in full effect, Mr. Silverstein said. “It’s happening. And it certainly makes us feel pretty damn good,” he told Commercial Observer in a December 2014 interview. And with “major tenant interest,” in 2 World Trade and 3 World Trade, as the representative said, the trend is set to continue. “I think 2015 will be an interesting year in the life of Tower 2,” Mr. Silverstein noted.
Silverstein also saw its Four Seasons Downtown top out and the firm sold over 65 percent of the condominium units in 30 Park Place. The company, which in January of 2014 made Mr. Burger the chief executive officer, also nabbed financing for 1 West End Avenue, a condo development it is building with Elad Group on the Upper West Side. The $650 million loan was led by Wells Fargo; construction on 1 West End began in January 2015.—Guelda Voien
4. Marc Holliday and Andrew W. Mathias (2)
CEO and President of SL Green Realty Corp
Not only is SL Green Realty Corp. one of the city’s biggest office landlords, with 101 Manhattan properties in its portfolio, it is also the real estate firm blazing the trail for the rezoning of Midtown East. Last month, the City Planning Commission approved the company’s 64-story, 1.6-million-square-foot 1 Vanderbilt skyscraper, which will sit adjacent to Grand Central Terminal. “We look forward to moving further through the approvals process for the 1 Vanderbilt project, which promises to finally transform the area around the iconic Grand Central Station,” Mr. Holliday said.
SL Green also picked up prized real estate this year, including the upper floors of Extell Development’s 34-story International Gem Tower at 50 West 47th Street for $275 million. The firm bought out its partner at Citigroup’s headquarters at 388-390 Greenwich Street, and now owns 100 percent of that property. It also shed some assets; in September, the company sold its joint venture with the Moinian Group at 180 Maiden Lane to MHP Real Estate Services and Clarion Partners for $470 million.
“We had a spectacular year on the acquisition front,” said Mr. Mathias. “We did over 2 million square feet of leasing in our office portfolio [in calendar year 2014]. Plus, we rapidly grew our portfolio of retail properties, including 752-760 Madison Avenue and 562 Fifth Avenue. We continued to be the leading provider of subordinate debt capital in the New York market.”
Mr. Mathias said he is looking forward to the completion of SL Green’s redevelopments at 280 Park Avenue, 10 East 53rd Street and the International Gem Tower and delivering a new building at 33 Beekman Street.—Danielle Schlanger
5. Douglas and Jody Durst (9)
Chairman and President of Durst Organization
When the first tenants moved into 1 World Trade Center late last fall, it marked the true culmination of the skyscraper’s decade-plus-long development, a highly complicated process brought to fruition by the Durst Organization. Among those tenants was Condé Nast, which relocated from the Durst’s 4 Times Square, a building that is now slated for a complete renovation.
“What stood out last year was moving Condé in, which we did with not too much yelling and screaming—we’re very happy that all took place,” said Douglas Durst in a phone interview. “And we’re particularly proud of the building on 57th Street, it’s finally coming together, although we don’t want to take credit for it before it’s done,” he added, in reference to the distinctive Bjarke Ingels Group-designed rental and commercial project at 625 West 57th Street. The building's temporary certificate of occupancy is expected in 2016.
The Durst Organization also closed on the last Astoria parcel it needs to move forward on its Hallets Point megaproject, where excavation is expected to start in the fall (after city approval). Mr. Durst noted that it was also the 100th year of the Durst Organization, which was started by Douglas and Jody’s grandfather, Joseph.
So far, this year has been a personally trying one for the family, with the airing of a six-part HBO documentary, The Jinx, about Douglas’ estranged older brother Robert and his potential involvement in a series of strange disappearances and deaths, followed by Robert’s arrest in March. Asked if there had been any notable challenges this year, Mr. Durst responded: “Guess you don’t read the papers.”—Kim Velsey
6. Stephen M. Ross, Jeff T. Blau and Bruce A. Beal Jr. (1)
Chairman, CEO and President of Related Companies
Later this year, Related will have roughly 8.5 million square feet of development happening at once in the Hudson Yards. That’s more under development at the same time in a single area than at any other project in U.S. history ever, Mr. Blau recently told Commercial Observer, but the developer is pushing through with the daunting task. The project is in full swing with 10 Hudson Yards—the future office building of Coach, L’Oréal and SAP—already built above the 30th floor.
The platforms continue to rise over the rail yard. Nearby, Related is getting its highest rents in the city at The Abington—which towers over nearly everything else in Chelsea for the time being. While the firm is building its own curtain wall factory for Hudson Yards, the Far West Side development is not the only goliath it is undertaking. “We’re really moving from pre-development and pitching and selling Hudson Yards to executing,” Mr. Blau told CO in a recent interview. “Those are totally different businesses. We spent a lot of time on that.”
The developer’s joint venture with Sterling Equities to redevelop Willets Point is moving through the approval process and environmental remediation is slated for later this year. Related also has plenty of projects outside of the Big Apple—including developments in Santa Clara, in Northern California, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C.—Terence Cullen
7. Steven Roth (3)
Chairman and CEO of Vornado Realty Trust
Mr. Roth—the Bronx-born founder of what has become one of the largest landlords in the country—never tires, while his appetite for outsmarting the market seemingly grows with time.
Among major buys within the last year, Vornado Realty Trust purchased the Center Building, a 437,000-square-foot office property in Long Island City, for $142 million, including the assumption of a $62 million mortgage on the property. The firm also partnered with New York-based Crown Acquisitions to purchase retail condominium space at the St. Regis Hotel and an adjacent retail townhouse totaling 24,700 square feet for $700 million.
Among major lease transactions over the past 12 months, Vornado inked a 20-year deal with Neuberger Berman for 402,000 square feet at 1290 Avenue of the Americas to house the money manager’s new global headquarters and a 17-year lease with Amazon for 470,000 square feet at 7 West 34th Street, which comprises all of the building’s office space.
Meanwhile, Vornado sold its 601,000-square-foot office building at 1740 Broadway for $601 million and completed the spin-off of Urban Edge Properties, a newly formed, separate, publicly traded REIT.
Mr. Roth is now trumpeting his company’s millions of urban retail square footage surrounding Pennsylvania Station as some of Vornado’s most undervalued assets.
“There is no reason that we cannot achieve very, very substantial rising rents in Penn Plaza,” Mr. Roth told shareholders at a Citigroup investor conference last month, as The Wall Street Journal first reported. “That’s going to be the principal focus of Vornado in the next short period of time.”—D.G.
8. Gary Barnett (4)
Founder and President of Extell Development Company
Mr. Barnett has been hailed as a pioneer with One57, the condominium and hotel at 157 West 57th Street that held a building height record for a while at 1,004 feet. With One57, he was the first developer along “Billionaire’s Row” to break ground and the first to launch sales.
It’s One57, which he has been working on for 17 years, that is his favorite project. “It was tremendously challenging to complete the assemblage, to build the building,” Mr. Barnett previously told Commercial Observer. The building should be 99 percent completed in the next few months.
With the “poor-door” controversy at 40 Riverside Boulevard behind him, Extell has focused on completing the office building, International Gem Tower, and the Hyatt Times Square. In the works are Riverside Drive at 1 Riverside Park; the Nordstrom Tower at 225 West 57th Street; the Pathmark site on the corner of Pike Slip and South Street; 70 Charlton Street between Varick and Hudson Streets; and 555 10th Avenue.
Mr. Barnett has had his feet firmly planted in Manhattan, but in the third quarter of last year, he said he was moving into the Brooklyn market for the first time. Sources close to the deal told CO in mid-September that Mr. Barnett was slated to develop residential units in what marks phase three of City Point, the mixed-use development in Downtown Brooklyn.
Extell’s focus appears to be on larger sites. At the end of the year, Mr. Barnett signed a contract to sell off a four-building site for in excess of the $80 million asking price, as CO reported in December (the deal has not closed yet). Mr. Barnett explained that the properties were “not strategic for us. They’re not that big.”—L.E.S.
9. Jerry and Rob Speyer (5)
Chairman and Co-CEO and President and Co-CEO of Tishman Speyer
The father-and-son executive team continued its global expansion over the past year with new acquisitions and development plans in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and London, among other international gateway cities.
In April 2014, Tishman Speyer announced that it had purchased a block of undeveloped land in the Hudson Yards district to build a 2.85-million-square-foot tower for an estimated $3.2 billion. This January, the firm disclosed plans to acquire a 103,500-square-foot office and retail building in Central London—a third buy in the area since last April.
Tishman Speyer now boasts more than 98 million square feet of property around the globe, including many “world-renowned landmarks,” according to its website.
But one renowned asset presumed to belong to the family-run real estate dynasty was revealed in March to have a different majority owner. The MetLife Building—one of the Speyers’ advertised crown jewels—is now actually 97.3 percent owned by Donald Bren’s Irvine Company, Bloomberg News reported.
All considered, that revelation is likely a minor dent for a firm with controlling stakes in the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, Berlin’s Sony Center and São Paulo’s Torre Norte.—D.G.
10. Anthony E. Malkin (6)
Chairman and CEO of the Empire State Realty Trust
Anthony E. Malkin’s Empire State Realty Trust has helped fuel the revolution of Times Square South from Garment and Fashion Districts to the epicenter of cool for office space. Its tenant roster at the Empire State Building, that has been successfully repositioned, now reads as a who’s who of tech companies.
But ESRT’s success in the past year extended beyond the Empire State Building, the crown jewel in its portfolio. Last July, the real estate investment trust acquired the ground leases at 112 West 34th Street and at 1400 Broadway. And of course, the company continues to court new tenants at its nine Manhattan properties.
Mr. Malkin told Commercial Observer that his biggest accomplishment in the past year has been “delivering on the promise that we set forth when we went public in late 2013 with 800,000 square feet of leasing to top credit tenants, 31.5 percent spreads on new Manhattan office leases, and the opening of our 15,000-square-foot tenants-only fitness center, State Grill and Bar and our new tenants-only conference center at the Empire State Building.”—D.S.
11. Ric Clark and Dennis Friedrich (12)
CEO of Brookfield Partners and CEO of Brookfield Property Partner's Global Office Division
Mr. Clark, who heads Brookfield Property Partners’ $120 billion global real estate business out of the New York office, has led the company’s expansion with recent portfolio acquisitions in the U.S., U.K., China and India.
At home in New York City, Mr. Clark led Brookfield’s acquisition of the 4,000-unit Urban American multifamily portfolio in Upper Manhattan, which closed last fall. He has also been a driving force behind the company’s $5 billion Manhattan West development with plans to launch construction on the first of its two large office towers this year.
As head of Brookfield’s global office business, Mr. Friedrich oversees more than 100 properties in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia totaling nearly 100 million square feet.
In the last year, the company leased 3 million square feet at Brookfield Place, formerly known as the World Financial Center, bringing the 8-million-square-foot office complex in Lower Manhattan to 95 percent leased from 59 percent leased a year earlier.
“We’re very opportunity-driven,” Mr. Clark told Commercial Observer. “It’s important to have the skill set to be able to identify the opportunities, identify how we can add value and underwrite the investments properly. We have these capabilities in each sector—office, retail and the other property types.”—D.G.
12. Jeff Sutton (19)
Founder and President of Wharton Properties
Even in this gluttonous city, few people have the appetite for real estate that Mr. Sutton has. The Brooklyn-born, Wharton School-educated Mr. Sutton got his start in the outer boroughs (he famously began by writing leases for Payless Shoes in buildings he did not own and using the money from the leases to buy the buildings they were in) before trying his luck in Manhattan—and Manhattan has been very good to him.
Aside from amassing a 130-building portfolio including huge chunks of Madison Avenue, 34th Street, Harlem, the Flatiron District and Soho, probably his greatest mark is on Fifth Avenue. Since the early 2000s, Mr. Sutton has gobbled up some of the major addresses on Fifth Avenue, including 609 Fifth Avenue (a.k.a. the DZ Bank Building), 720 Fifth Avenue (home to Abercrombie & Fitch) and 724 Fifth Avenue (where he put in a Prada). But that was all a prelude to the deal that closed two weeks ago for the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue, for a jaw-dropping $1.78 billion (which included a $1.25 billion mortgage). Mr. Sutton declined to comment (he is notoriously press shy) but in his case, actions speak louder than words.—Max Gross
13. Donald Trump (13)
CEO of the Trump Organization
When Forbes put The Donald on its annual billionaire’s list, the publication noted that he was by far the most prolific tweeter on the roster. Indeed, Mr. Trump is no mere real estate developer—few real estate moguls have an adoring fan base who hang on what their favorite brash, searing personality has to say. (Disclaimer: He is also the father-in-law of Commercial Observer’s publisher, Jared Kushner.) But besides the personality there is a major operator. The $269 million 18-hole Ferry Point golf course he just built with Jack Nicklaus overlooking the Whitestone Bridge finally opened this month, the first course in the city in 52 years. His Downtown building 40 Wall Street is one of Lower Manhattan's roaring success stories, and his Midtown buildings have been great successes, too, from 1290 Avenue of the Americas (which he owns a 30 percent stake in) to Trump Tower. No word yet on whether he takes a stab at the GOP nomination for president.—M.G.
14. William Rudin (15)
Vice-Chair and CEO of Rudin Management
With many great families of New York real estate who planted their seeds in the city long ago, it is often enough to just sit back and reap their rewards. Not the case for the Rudins. “Our philosophy is take our product, contemporize it, modernize it, reinvest in it,” Mr. Rudin told Commercial Observer from his office that sits perched above Lew Rudin Way, named after his late father.
To this end, the Rudins have been busy. They created and installed Di-BOSS, an energy saving data system at 345 Park Avenue and 560 Lexington Avenue. They are in the midst of converting the former St. Vincent’s hospital into luxury condominiums called Greenwich Lane. And there is even talk of a deal with WeWork to provide its first foray into housing at 110 Wall Street.
But the Rudins are still masters of the bread and butter transactions of their empire; earlier this year Vodafone signed a 34,408-square-foot lease at 560 Lexington Avenue, and earlier this month the German bank Bayern LB renewed another 53,000 square feet at the same property. “We just signed an almost 600,000-square-foot lease with Publicis at 1675 Broadway; we’ve worked on that deal for a year and a half—it was maybe even two years in the making,” Mr. Rudin told CO. “They renewed their lease and took another 100,000 feet of space.”—M.G.
15. Andrew Farkas (16)
Founder, Managing Member, Chairman and CEO of Island Capital Group
The founder, managing member, chairman and CEO of behemoth Island Capital Group helms a diverse real estate empire. Among Island’s many subsidiaries and affiliated firms are commercial brokerage EVO, commercial real estate services network NAI Global, and C-III Capital Partners, one of the largest CMBS investors and special servicers in the U.S. C-III is the special servicer for about $130 billion in commercial loans and the primary servicer for more than $16 billion, according to numbers from the firm. Through other funds, C-III handles over $3.7 billion in real estate assets and counts massive insurers and pension funds as clients.—G.V.
16. Bill de Blasio (35)
Mayor of New York City
John Lindsay, the two-term mayor of New York City from 1966 to 1973, described leading America’s largest city as the “the second toughest job in America.” Mr. de Blasio, now well into his first term as mayor, has learned that the mayoralty is indeed rife with challenges; however, in his 16-month tenure he has procured victories that align with his progressive agenda.
This month, Mr. de Blasio helped secure $3 billion in federal funding for New York City Housing Authority developments damaged by Superstorm Sandy. These funds will also be used to preemptively secure the housing units from future extreme weather events. Mr. de Blasio also extended the rent-stabilization laws in the city until April 1, 2018, and has made headway in his affordable housing mission, with 17,300 affordable units financed last year. In fact, he has doubled-down on his affordable housing mission; in his OneNYC Plan, announced this month, the mayor calls for the creation of a half million new affordable housing units by 2040. But the mayor is also struggling to appease big-time developers, who are looking for the mayor to support the renewal of the controversial 421a program. Time will tell what stance the mayor will take on the legislation, which is set to sunset this June.—D.S.
17. Barry Sternlicht (10)
Founder, Chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group
The former CEO of Starwood Hotels, Mr. Sternlicht is truly one of real estate’s household names. Last year, Starwood Property Trust, the nation’s largest publicly traded commercial mortgage REIT and a subsidiary of Starwood Capital, closed north of $7 billion in transactions. SWPT was also behind a number of massive loans, including a $480 million construction loan for San Francisco mixed-use tower 181 Fremont Street and the $200 million refinance of London’s Aldgate Tower.
Meanwhile, in New York, Mr. Sternlicht returned to hospitality operations for the first time in almost a decade, overseeing the final touches on the Baccarat Manhattan, a 114-room hotel he built on West 53rd Street. But before the hotel could even open, Mr. Sternlicht’s company announced that it would sell the hotel for a record of just over $2 million per room—$230 million for the whole shebang, as The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year. The price matches the record achieved by the sale of The Plaza in 2012, according to reports.—G.V.
18. Mary Ann Tighe (20)
CEO, New York State Region of CBRE
If 2014 was all about Downtown Manhattan, then Ms. Tighe was the broker who arguably made it all work. When Larry Silverstein needed to lease up the World Trade Center, he turned to Ms. Tighe and the names she signed down there—names like Condé Nast and GroupM—are the reason why the area is exciting. “I think if you plotted the demographics of the senior leadership of Condé Nast, you would see most of them live closer to 1 World Trade Center than they do to Times Square,” Ms. Tighe told CO in January. This marked a big shift from the days when the barons of the media were Upper East or West Siders, and wanted a commute closer to, say, Times Square. (Which, it should be noted, Ms. Tighe was key in revitalizing—she first brought Condé Nast to Times Square in 1996.) But even if we weren’t sticking to Downtown Manhattan, Ms. Tighe’s clients rank some of the most well-known names in the city, from Coach, to News Corp., to the Archdiocese of New York, to The New York Times.—M.G.
19. Sandeep Mathrani (New)
CEO of General Growth Properties
The developer from the Windy City has made quite the foray in the Big Apple within the last year, with Mr. Mathrani leading that charge. A lot of that has been focused on 200 Lafayette Street—the 121,354-square-foot Soho building GGP bought in 2013 for $150 million. Earlier this year, it announced it would sell the 85,000 square feet of office space in the building, currently home to operations for J. C. Penney and the New Berlin, N.Y.-based yogurt giant Chobani. That portion of the building is expected to sell for a cool $120 million. GGP will hold on to about 40,000 square feet of retail space, the lion’s share of which it leased to the San Diego-based Pirch, a luxury furniture producer.
Pirch has an annual rent projected at roughly $5 million. That isn’t even the biggest deal the Chicago-based company has done in Gotham this year. Just last week, Commercial Observer broke the news that GGP and Jeff Sutton’s Wharton Properties closed on the purchase of the Crown Building on Fifth Avenue for $1.78 billion with the help of a $1.25 billion mortgage.—T.C.
20. Alicia Glen (77)
Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development
On a whiteboard in her office, Ms. Glen, the deputy mayor for Housing and Economic Development since January 2014, keeps a tally of the number of affordable housing units created as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan, a cornerstone of his administration. As of Friday, April 3, the number was 18,154.
“I think my biggest accomplishment to date has been to really lay out a blueprint for an entirely new approach to building housing in New York City,” said Ms. Glen. “And [we are now beginning to take] that blueprint, which is really quite exhaustive and innovative and creative, and are beginning to see it be implemented.”
Ms. Glen, a veteran of city government and a Goldman Sachs alumna, emphasized the excitement she felt as a key player in getting the affordable housing program up and running.
“It’s been really amazing to be able ... to do real thinking and policy work and also get to the implementation phase in such a short period of time,” she said. “So I think that’s an extraordinary accomplishment for a brand new administration with a team that I was able to assemble.”—D.S.
21. Mitchell S. Steir and Michael Colacino (27)
Chairman and CEO and President of Savills Studley
Mr. Steir has been with Studley since 1988 and led the brokerage through its $260 million sale to London-based Savills last May, and Mr. Colacino has been president of the firm since 2002. Mr. Steir announced the deal last May, which was paid out to the 130 partners of the firm over the following three years. The longtime Studley leaders retained their role in the merger.
That wasn’t the only big move for the firm with the past year: in March it acquired the management consulting firm KLG Advisors. Its six employees, who specialize in corporate management and realignment, have since moved into Savills Studley’s headquarters at 399 Park Avenue. A Savills Studley team negotiated a 20-year lease extension and restructuring for law firm Kirkland & Ellis at 601 Lexington Avenue where it occupies more than 400,000 square feet of office space. Studley made a splash in January 2014 by representing Time Warner in its megadeal for 1.5 million square feet at Hudson Yards, along with the spun-off magazine unit, Time Inc., in its move to 700,000 square feet at 225 Liberty Street. “It will be hard to top our incredible performance in 2014,” Mr. Steir said in prepared remarks, “but we are certainly going to try.”—T.C.
22. Adam Neumann and Miguel Mckelvey (New)
Co-Founder and CEO, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Office of WeWork
It would be difficult to come up with two men who made a more meteoric rise in New York real estate than Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey. Actually, why limit ourselves to the five boroughs—let’s say world real estate. In January 2008, Mr. Neumann took an office in Dumbo and began renting out some of his surplus space on Craigslist. Seven years later, the two have built an office-sharing goliath, in WeWork, which was valued last year at $5 billion. “To be honest, that’s something I’m still reconciling,” Mr. McKelvey said in an interview with Commercial Observer in March.
Just looking at the sheer volume of real estate this company has swallowed in the last 12 months is something to behold: 72,000 square feet in Dumbo at 77 Sands Street; 180,000 square feet at 1460 Broadway; 125,000 square feet at 205 East 42nd Street; 30,000 square feet at 5 West 125th Street; and 40,000 square feet at 242 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. And if that weren’t enough, WeWork is also dipping its toes into the residential side of real estate with talk about bringing its business model to 110 Wall Street. “We think it’s an interesting market, and an extension of what we do,” Mr. McKelvey said while pointing out that WeWork hasn’t announced anything yet, “and a way to serve our members so they can follow their creative path.”—M.G.
23. Charlie Garner, Richard Ressler and Avi Shemesh (25)
Principal, Co-Founder and President, Co-Founder and Principal of CIM Group
Messrs. Ressler and Shemesh founded CIM in 1994. Mr. Shemesh now acts as a principal and head of the firm’s investments group, a role shared with Charlie Garner, who is also CEO of CIM Commercial Trust Corporation. CIM is one of those real estate behemoths—managing approximately $18.7 billion in assets, according to its website, and in its 20-plus years the firm doesn’t seem to want to let up.
The Los Angeles-based firm has been investing in New York City for more than a decade, starting with 11 Madison Avenue, which was 96.5 percent leased as of August. In September, CIM won Trump Soho hotel and condominium at 246 Spring Street in a foreclosure auction. It had already taken control of the building after foreclosing on the developers: Sapir Organization and Bayrock Group.
CIM’s other investments include 432 Park Avenue (the tallest residential building in the Western hemisphere at 1,396 feet), 225 Fifth Avenue and 15 William Street (the ground-floor retail condo sold for $7.4 million, according to property records.)—Sara Pepitone
24. Keith Gelb and Tom Gilbane (23)
Co-Founding Managing Member and Managing Member of Rockpoint Group
Messrs. Gelb and Gilbane have been working together for 16 years, since Mr. Gilbane joined the firm. His focus is Rockpoint’s Eastern U.S. investment activities; Mr. Gelb is responsible for the private equity firm’s overall operations and management, a role he’s had along with co-founding managing member Bill Walton for 21 years.
They both also oversee the origination, structuring and asset management of all investment activities. Rockpoint did not wish to comment further, but as first reported by Mortgage Observer (before it merged with Commercial Observer), at the end of 2014 the firm acquired The Wimbledon, a 28-story apartment high-rise on the Upper East Side, for $218 million, with a $115 million loan from Wells Fargo, city records show. In September, Rockpoint announced closing on $950 million of equity commitments, including co-investment commitments, for Core Plus Fund I, its first lower-risk, lower-return core plus investment vehicle.—S.P.
25. Joseph J. Sitt (56)
Founder and CEO of Thor Equities
For Mr. Sitt and Thor Equities, 2014 was, both literally and figuratively, a Fifth Avenue kind of year. Thor acquired more than $1.5 billion worth of property on the iconic thoroughfare, including a 220,000-square-foot building in NoMad, at 212 Fifth Avenue, plus two more to the north—at 530 and 685 Fifth Avenue—and two further south, at 164 and 172 Fifth Avenue. Those purchases brought the company’s prime Fifth Avenue holdings to 15 buildings, including the new Valentino flagship store at 693.
In other blue-chip retail news, Thor leased the entire 15,000-square-foot facility at 155 Mercer Street, in Soho, to serve as Dolce & Gabbana’s local flagship, as well as a 55,000-square-foot Meatpacking District building at 837 Washington Street, to Samsung. In partnership with Taconic Investment Partners, Thor subsequently sold the latter facility for $200 million to TIAA-CREF, breaking a neighborhood price record.
In the last year, Thor also moved to boost its international profile, with acquisitions of trophy properties on Boulevard Haussmann and Avenue des Champs Élysées in Paris, and on Saint Catherine Street in Montreal. Mr. Sitt, meanwhile, continues to chair the Global Gateway Alliance, a group that lobbies on behalf of infrastructural improvements to New York City area airports.—Christopher Pomorski
26. Douglas Harmon and Adam Spies (32)
Senior Managing Directors of Eastdil Secured
The Eastdil Secured duo is the powerhouse behind many of the largest building sales in New York City. In 2014, The Real Deal estimated that the Eastdil brokers handled nine out of the 10 largest property sales in the city (the one that they didn’t handle had no broker).
Last year, the pair arranged the sale of Time Warner’s office space at the Time Warner Center to a joint venture of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Related Companies and Singapore’s GIC for $1.3 billion. They also brokered Chinese insurer Anbang’s nearly $2 billion purchase of the Waldorf Astoria and the purchase, by Jeff Sutton and General Growth Properties, of 730 Fifth Avenue. Their crowning achievement, however, was the deal announced last November: the largest building sale in New York City post-recession. The $2.25 billion transaction made Canadian pension fund Ivanhoe Cambridge, in partnership with Callahan Capital Partners, the new owners of 1095 Avenue of the Americas, a trophy office property previously held by the Blackstone Group.—G.V.
27. Joseph Chetrit (30)
President of Chetrit Group
The infamous Hotel Carter got a new lease on life with its purchase by Chetrit Group, run by Mr. Chetrit and his brother Meyer.
In January, the firm paid $191.9 million for the 600-room 1930 former flophouse at 250 West 43rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
“Mr. Chetrit is going to make it/rebuild it to be an incredible hotel for tourists,” a source with knowledge of the deal previously told Commercial Observer.
This March, The Blackstone Group agreed to purchase the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, in Chicago for $1.3 billion from Mr. Chetrit, Joseph Moinian and American Landmark Properties, The Wall Street Journal reported. The deal marks the highest-ever price paid for a U.S. office tower outside of New York City.
In January, Chetrit Group refinanced the Soho mixed-use building known as the Suspenders Building with a $70.5 million loan. Last September, Mr. Chetrit and Clipper Equity received $228.5 million in construction funds to convert the Flatotel at 135 West 52nd Street to a combination of office and residential condominiums.
In 2014, the firm, along with Cornell Realty Management, bought 245 and 247 West 34th Street for $31.5 million. But the firm was also dealt a blow when Sony Corporation of America announced it signed a 15-year lease at 11 Madison Avenue, planning to leave its current U.S. headquarters at Chetrit’s 550 Madison in early 2016.—L.E.S.
28. Andrew Cuomo (14)
Governor of New York
In the 2015-16 New York State budget passed earlier this month, there is, as always, a substantial amount of capital allocated for New York City development. The budget supports four new Metro North stations in the Bronx (Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester and Hunts Point) that is all but certain to spur growth in these areas. It provides $100 million for the New York City Housing Authority. It allocates money for the state’s roads and bridges and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which together keep New York functioning.
Overseeing the budget and all state legislation impacting city residents is Mr. Cuomo. From his seat of power 150 miles north of the city, the governor wields a tremendous amount of influence over real estate and development issues, both directly and indirectly. In the past few months, Mr. Cuomo has designated brownfield sites in the South Bronx and southeast Queens, announced that grants are available to provide repair and assistance to historic places impacted by Superstorm Sandy and declared that a train line will be built to LaGuardia Airport.
Mr. Cuomo recently rebranded his campaign committee as “Andrew Cuomo 2018,” giving an indication that he is considering a third term, according to the New York Daily News. He will continue to use his political pull to impact real estate and growth throughout the five boroughs.—D.S.
29. Matt Bronfman and Michael Phillips (26)
CEO and President of Jamestown
It’s fun when real estate and sports intersect in a deal.
Jamestown got to experience that last year when the Brooklyn Nets signed a lease at Industry City to create a 70,000-square-foot practice facility. The team will relocate to the Sunset Park, Brooklyn, development from East Rutherford, N.J., where it has practiced for 15 years.
Jamestown, which owns the home of the New Year’s Eve ball drop at 1 Times Square, last year improved the webcast experience for the annual celebration with 1.7 million unique online viewers. And those fans are in addition to the 1 million people who gather for the event at West 42nd Street and Broadway.
In 2014, Jamestown had a couple of massive real estate transactions. The company and partners sold 530 Fifth Avenue for around $600 million and Pacific Place, a hotel, retail and office complex in San Francisco, for $415 million.
The Atlanta-based firm plans this year to open Ponce City Market at the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building in its home city, a 2-million-square-foot adaptive reuse project. Also this year, the company will continue expansion of its nutrition in public schools program and the opening of its tech lab at Robert Fulton Houses on Ninth Avenue between West 16th and West 19th Streets.
“Our focus on acquiring and creating catalyst real estate projects over the last few years has resonated with tenants and the public,” Mr. Phillips said.—L.E.S.
30. Darcy Stacom and William M. Shanahan (34)
Vice Chairmen of CBRE
In what seemed to be a boom year, CBRE led that charge by brokering big partnerships and leases throughout the city. That includes arranging for the Shanghai-based Greenland Holding Group’s purchase of a 70 percent stake at Pacific Park—partnering up with Forest City Ratner. The project has nearly 2,500 affordable housing units under construction. Ms. Stacom and Mr. Shanahan also marketed a stake in 11 Times Square, which eventually went to Norges Bank Investment Management. The 45 percent stake in the 40-story tower, closed this past February, was valued at $1.4 billion.
Arranging these partnerships and others is some of the work the CBRE team is most proud of, Mr. Shanahan said. “It’s a very rewarding and very exciting business,” he said. “That’s all about finding the right partner to come into a partnership with somebody.” CBRE brokered a deal for the Rockpoint Group’s purchase of The Wimbledon, an Upper East Side high-rise, for $218 million from J.P. Morgan Investment Management. It also had an acquisition of its own when it bought the construction, property condition and environmental consulting firm, IVI International.—T.C.
31. Leonard Litwin and Gary Jacob (33)
Chairman and Executive Vice President
Turning 100 years old has not slowed down Mr. Litwin. Last year, his company opened Hawthorn Park, a 339-unit rental tower at 160 West 62nd Street at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue. The building overlooks Lincoln Center, and it was the first large-scale rental completed in the area since 2010. But there’s also plenty in the pipeline at Glenwood. The developer is working on 175 West 60th Street between Columbus and 10th Avenues—a 256-unit building nearby, slated to be complete in 2016. That’s in addition to the 26 buildings across 8,700 apartments that Glenwood owns and oversees.
“With Hawthorn Park, Glenwood continues its decades-long commitment to one of New York City’s best neighborhoods—Lincoln Square,” Mr. Jacob said in prepared remarks. “As with our past buildings in the neighborhood, The Regent and Grand Tier, Hawthorn Park offers New Yorkers a truly superb lifestyle with unmatched building management, services and amenities in the cultural heart of the city.”
Despite all the success of Glenwood, Mr. Litwin landed himself in hot water this year. (Or, at least brought himself some unwanted attention.) He is believed to be “Developer 1” in the indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who allegedly steered Glenwood to a law firm to handle property issues. Mr. Silver, according to federal prosecutors, supposedly pocketed some of the legal fees. Mr. Litwin was not named as a criminal suspect in that investigation, or the investigation into Glenwood’s involvement with the son of State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.—T.C.
32. Jeffrey Gural, Jimmy Kuhn, Barry Gosin and David Falk (22)
Chairman, President, CEO and President of the New York Tri-State Region at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
Newmark Grubb Knight Frank enjoyed a bullish year, making significant deals both in New York and nationwide. Parent company BGC Partners acquired ARA, a firm specializing in multi-family units, which is expected to boost NGKF’s position in the field. The firm acquired Cornish & Carey Commercial—one of northern California’s top real estate brokerages—solidifying its presence on the West Coast. While it now has a strong foothold in Silicon Valley, NGKF’s team has a presence in Silicon Alley, having represented landlords in leases with Google, Twitter and BuzzFeed. It also represented Facebook in its lease and subsequent expansion at 770 Broadway in Midtown South.
But the brokerage isn’t going completely digital: NGFK is the retail-leasing agent for Grand Central Terminal, and has also done deals with Bloomingdale’s and Barneys. At the end of last year, the anchor tenant of 125 Park Avenue, NGKF, expanded its footprint in the building to 133,000 square feet—about a quarter of the building—in a 15-year lease renewal. Mr. Falk recently represented the tenant group that’s leasing at 190 Bowery: a 29,750-square-foot deal that takes up most of the 35,617-square-foot building.—T.C.
33. Jeffrey Feil and Jay Anderson (28)
CEO and COO of Feil Organization
The Feil Organization’s first acquisition was 75,000 square feet of office space at 380 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn in 1950. In 1965 the firm acquired 368,000 square feet of office space at 7 Penn Plaza at 370 Seventh Avenue, a property the company spent $3 million renovating in 2012, and was 95 percent occupied as of January, as first reported by Commercial Observer.
Messrs. Feil and Anderson have been working together for 35 years. Mr. Anderson said his greatest achievement of 2014 was “to be lucky enough to work for a great organization for most of my career.” Mr. Feil did not wish to comment. Through its Broadwall Consulting Services the firm is developing the 300,000-square-foot Staten Island site that includes the 60-story New York Wheel. The firm is also among the investors in the $300 million project, which broke ground earlier this year.—S.P.
34. Richard LeFrak (17)
Chairman and CEO of LeFrak
After completing a $30 million renovation at 40 West 57th Street and fully leasing the tower to, among others, fellow developer Steve Witkoff, Mr. LeFrak, who presides over the family company that owns more than 40 million square feet in the U.S., has increasingly turned his attention to Florida. LeFrak’s $600 million 1 Hotel + Homes development in South Beach, a joint venture with Starwood Capital’s Barry Sternlicht, just opened its hotel portion in March, and Mr. LeFrak and Turnberry Associates announced plans for a joint-venture to develop an 183-acre site in Biscayne Landing in North Miami—what could be a $1 billion master-planned community.
Nonetheless, the family’s presence is still felt in New York City, with a $10 million donation that enabled the wildly popular Prospect Park ice skating rink, which bears the names of Mr. LeFrak’s parents, to open. Not so popular was the demolition of the West 57th Street building that housed the beloved Rizzoli bookstore, where LeFrak and Vornado Realty Trust plan to build a “seven-star hotel.”—K.V.
35. Anthony Orso and Michael Lehrman (24)
Co-CEOs, Co-Founder and Executive Managing Directors of CCRE
The past year was another big bash for the two CCRE chiefs. Not counting the fruits of their Berkeley Point Capital acquisition last April, their firm originated $6.68 billion in CMBS debt in 2014, up from $5.06 billion in 2013 and $3.83 billion in 2012.
Messrs. Orso and Lehrman have also watched their staff grow to more than 300 people nationwide, up from 106 two years prior.
“As the largest non-bank commercial real estate lender with 15 offices nationwide, CCRE is well positioned for future growth,” Mr. Lehrman said in a recent interview. That seems likely with CMBS issuance reaching $95 billion in 2014 and projected to grow further in the upcoming years.
Among the firm’s biggest New York deals in the past 12 months, CCRE lent $220 million against Chetrit Group’s Standard Oil Building at 26 Broadway and $45 million to Joseph Cayre’s Midtown Equities for a majority stake in the Soho House New York at 29 Ninth Avenue.
“We remain bullish on the CMBS market and predict it will continue to rise to $125 billion in 2015,” Mr. Orso told Commercial Observer.—D.G.
36. Blake Hutcheson and Andrew Trickett (29)
President and CEO and Senior Managing Director of Investments at Oxford Properties
Messrs. Hutcheson and Trickett have worked as a team for five years at Oxford Properties, the real estate investment arm of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, a Canadian pension fund that opened a U.S. office in New York in 2010. The Toronto-based firm with $34 billion of real estate assets aims to develop and manage a $10 billion portfolio in the U.S. by 2018.
A partner of Related Companies in the Hudson Yards development, in 2014 Oxford got closer to its goal with the acquisition of 450 Park Avenue. Last year, the firm’s biggest accomplishment was establishing world-class, full-service real estate teams in their markets, Mr. Trickett said. “We increased our asset base in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.,” he said. “We successfully acquired a $2 billion-plus portfolio in Boston from EOP Blackstone. And we saw organizational growth in all markets with capabilities in all areas of real estate acquisitions, finance and asset management.”—S.P.
37. Stanley, Isaac, Haim and Richard Chera (52)
Principals of Crown Acquisitions
Any deal that has the figure $700 million attached to it should arch an eyebrow or two. So, yes, consider our attention grabbed when we learned that the Cheras’ Crown Acquisitions had put up $700 million to scoop up the retail condo at the St. Regis Hotel, along with Vornado Realty Trust last spring. But then, there were so many mega-purchases and sales by Crown since 2014; the firm bought 450 Park Avenue with Oxford for $450 million. It also picked up a 49.9 percent stake in Olympic Tower, the four-building complex along Fifth Avenue, for approximately $1 billion—but sold another building on Fifth Avenue (530 Fifth Avenue).
“I think with the purchase of 450 Park and a series of retail properties, the best in class retail, in office, I would say it’s a great year for us,” Haim Chera told Commercial Observer. “We’re sticking to our core competencies and continuing to buy great assets.”
The sale of 530 Fifth Avenue went to Thor Equities, which is owned by the Cheras’ cousin, Joseph Sitt of Thor. But Crown is strictly Chera: Stanley (the dad) runs the business with his three sons, Haim, Isaac and Richard.
“It’s a family affair, certainly not a two-person show,” said Haim Chera.— M.G.
38. Peter Riguardi (43)
New York Tristate Regional President of JLL
2014 was a very good year for JLL. “It was a year that we have really been—for the first time, I think—able to use all of our resources at their full extent,” Mr. Riguardi told Commercial Observer from his Madison Avenue office. It “was our highest gross performance earnings year and our highest profit volume year ever.” Among JLL’s major deals of the last year was the signing of a 123,000-square-foot lease with J.P. Morgan Chase at 450 West 33rd Street; the firm was tapped to lease out the 646,422-square-foot 685 Third Avenue; it was selected by Time Warner to re-let the Time Warner Center; and the Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun chose JLL to lease out 28 Liberty Street (formerly 1 Chase Plaza). And Mr. Riguardi sees more international investment in New York City in JLL’s future. “It’s very easy to convince an investment community offshore about Park Avenue or certain parts of the city,” Mr. Riguardi opined, “but I think what has made New York even more attractive for foreign investment is that the entire city now is looked at as a good place, it’s safe, it’s clean, it’s gentrified.”—M.G.
39. Christopher Schlank and Nicholas Bienstock (59)
Founder and Co-Managing Partner and Co-Managing Partner of Savanna
Savanna, the New York-based real estate private equity and asset management firm run by Messrs. Schlank and Bienstock, added five New York City properties, which total over 2.5 million square feet, to its portfolio in 2014. These properties range from 1 Court Square in Long Island City, the largest tower in the outer boroughs occupied by Citibank, to 141 Willoughby Street, a site with tremendous development potential in Downtown Brooklyn.
Savanna is known for identifying properties that may fly under the real estate community’s radar, including Class B buildings that have not fulfilled their potential, and maximizing their value (case in point: Twitter’s New York City headquarters at 245-249 West 17th Street, which Savanna purchased in 2012 for $75.8 million and sold for $335 million last year).
“In the last year, we completed almost $2 billion in purchase and sale transactions in New York City, including acquisitions in exciting submarkets like Long Island City, the Meatpacking District, the Financial District and Bushwick,” said Mr. Bienstock.
What does Savanna hope to do in the coming year?
“We will continue to buy and execute great value-added deals in New York City while selectively growing the debt side of our business,” Mr. Schlank said.—D.S.
40. David and Jed Walentas (23)
Principals of Two Trees Management
When it comes to talking about Brooklyn development, Two Trees Management is at the center of the conversation, especially if the topic homes in on Dumbo. The company owns and manages much of Dumbo with 12 buildings comprising more than 3 million square feet of commercial and residential space.
While David Walentas founded the firm and ran the day-to-day operations for the majority of the company’s life, Jed has run the company for the last several years.
Two Trees is redeveloping the 11-acre shuttered Domino Sugar refinery site along the Williamsburg waterfront into a mixed-use community with five buildings and seven acres of park. The company received final approval for the site last May, except for the refinery building, which will be restored, and later broke ground on the first apartment building and the waterfront infrastructure. The firm is building the ground-up development of the 300-apartment BAM South in Fort Greene, which is a year from completion; finished the 17-story 60 Water Street at Dock Street in Dumbo with its loft-style rental apartments; and erected the Wythe Hotel at 80 Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg.
In Manhattan, Two Trees announced this January a repositioning of 50 West 23rd Street including creating an 11,000-square-foot common rooftop space, hoping to draw tech tenants to the office building. By tech tenants, Jed Walentas previously told CO, he meant them “in the broadest sense of the word—what I refer to as softer industry tenants.” Brooklyn Roasting Company is a tenant in the building, opening its first Manhattan outpost there.
“We are a family company that manages our own construction, and we couldn’t be prouder of the work our team has done to juggle some of the most exciting projects in the city,” Jed Walentas said in prepared remarks. “In under a year at Domino, we’ve cleared the entire 11-acre site, broke ground on the first building and started the waterfront work that will allow us to build the five-plus-acre public park. New Yorkers will be living at Domino in 2017.” David Walentas declined to provide a comment.—L.E.S.
41. Owen Thomas and Mortimer B. Zuckerman (18)
Director and CEO and Executive Chairman of Boston Properties
Boston Properties, which turns 45 this year, is showing no signs of slowing down despite its age. The real estate investment trust, led by Messrs. Zuckerman and Thomas, currently has $2.2 billion worth of real estate developments in the pipeline nationwide. That includes the 61-story, 1.4-million-square-foot Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, which will be the tallest building in the Bay Area when completed in 2017. The company also had a record year for leasing in 2014, inking 7.7 million square feet of deals at its properties nationwide. Part of that is 1.8 million square feet in New York City, such as Apple’s renewal of its flagship glass cube space and international law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ re-up for its office space, both at the General Motors Building at 767 Fifth Avenue.
“Last year we actively recycled capital from existing buildings into attractive higher yielding new development opportunities,” Mr. Thomas told Commercial Observer. “In 2015, we intend to add several new projects to our development pipeline in New York City and our other core markets.”—D.S.
42. Douglas Shorenstein and Mark E. Portner (39)
Chairman and CEO and Managing Director of Capital Transactions of Shorenstein Properties
Shorenstein Properties, one of the country’s oldest real estate companies, raised upwards of $1.2 billion for its 11th real estate fund in 2014 while fully investing its 10th fund—a $1.2 billion capital raise the firm completed in 2010. And the San Francisco-based firm continues to pursue new investments.
Over the past year, Shorenstein sold more than $2 billion in stabilized assets, including Park Avenue Tower in Midtown Manhattan, the Seaport Center in Boston and The Reserve, a redevelopment of a U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Los Angeles.
The firm also acquired more than 2.5 million square feet of real estate that it aims to reposition in 2015, and invested nearly $1 billion in properties, including L.A.’s 707 Wilshire Boulevard and New York’s 1407 Broadway.
“2014 was another active year for us on both the buy and sell side of the market,” Mr. Shorenstein told Commercial Observer. “As well as raising over a billion dollars for our 11th fund, we continued to deliver solid returns for our investors and, while the economy undoubtedly has its ongoing challenges, the U.S. market continues to be the best in the world from a strategic real estate investment perspective.”—D.G.
43. Ziel Feldman and Nir Meir (71)
Chairman and Founder and Managing Principal of HFZ Capital Group
After refraining from buying properties for much of 2014, Mr. Feldman jumped back into the fray, nabbing the hulking 518 West 18th Street, which spans West 17th to West 18th Streets from 10th Avenue to the West Side Highway late last year. HFZ signed an $870 million contract for the property in November and is closing the deal imminently.
The company has grown quite comfortable with Chelsea, as they’re also building luxury condominiums designed by Thomas Juul-Hansen at 505 West 19th Street, where closings will reportedly begin later this year. At the tail end of last year, HFZ went into contract on the residential portion of the Belnord on the Upper West Side in a $575 million deal that closed this March.
HFZ has been busy in the conversion department as well. The firm has reportedly been developing the site of the former Bancroft Building, a parcel including six buildings, in a joint venture with Collegiate Asset Management, and has two other residential conversion projects underway at 88 and 90 Lexington Avenue.
At 20 West 40th Street, HFZ is “in the ground,” Mr. Feldman previously told Commercial Observer, where it is erecting a David Chipperfield-designed hotel in the base of the building, and condos above.
Messrs. Feldman and Meir have their hands full between the projects they’re working on and managing HFZ’s 80-member staff.
“This has been an eventful year for HFZ,” Mr. Feldman told Commercial Observer. “We continue to acquire and are developing new and exciting projects with world-class architects and designers in a number of strategic locations around the city.”—L.E.S.
44. Dottie Herman and Howard Lorber (45)
President and CEO and Chairman of Douglas Elliman
Douglas Elliman, the city’s largest residential brokerage, has taken bold steps to expand its brand nationally and internationally as of late. The firm, purchased by Ms. Herman and Mr. Lorber for $72 million in 2003, expanded its presence stateside in Florida and California, growing to 5,500 agents, which undoubtedly helped the company achieve record high sales of $18 billion last year, up from $14 billion in 2013. And through a partnership with Knight Frank Residential, the brokerage’s reach now extends to 52 countries and six continents.
Meanwhile in New York, TV’s power duo Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes (stars of Million Dollar Listing New York) sold $371 million as a team last year, the firm’s numbers show—a record for any agent or team at the firm. Douglas Elliman also picked up the No. 1 agent from rival Warburg Realty, Richard Steinberg, last month.
Not content to simply sell real estate, the brokerage is also bolstering its role as a lifestyle brand, re-launching its biannual luxury lifestyle publication Elevate last fall.—K.V.
45. Pamela Liebman and Kelly Kennedy Mack (43)
President and CEO of The Corcoran Group and President of Corcoran Sunshine
“Why don’t we just say that 2014 was the best year in the history of the company,” a pleased Ms. Liebman suggested not long ago to Commercial Observer, only half-winkingly. It was a good year indeed for The Corcoran Group, which did $18.5 billion in total sales, up a half billion from the year before, and aided in no small part by the planning, design, marketing and sales efforts of Ms. Mack’s Corcoran Sunshine, the firm’s new development marketing arm.
Corcoran Sunshine’s current projects include snazzy properties like 220 Central Park South, 53 West 53rd Street and the Four Seasons Private Residences Downtown at 30 Park Place. The team’s relationship with Related Companies’ Hudson Yards shouldn’t hurt either, as the mega-development slowly grows on Manhattan’s Far West Side. As announced in 2013, Corcoran Sunshine will handle sales there in partnership with Related’s internal team—a departure for Related, which has historically done all new development marketing in-house.
Corcoran Sunshine has also recently earned deals with major industry players such as JDS Development Group, Vornado Realty Trust and HFZ Capital Group.—C.P
46. Constantine (Dean) Dakolias and Ben Michelson (85)
Co-Chief Investment Officer of the Credit Funds and Managing Director of the Credit Funds of Fortress Investment Group
While Fortress Investment Group tries to fly under the radar, it’s hard not to notice the $67.5 billion operation—a quiet presence behind a number of headline-grabbing real estate projects.
Last fall, Messrs. Dakolias and Michelson teamed up with Ian Bruce Eichner to help provide $420 million in construction financing for the developer’s condominium tower in the works at 45 East 22nd Street. That deal included about $340 million in debt from Goldman Sachs Group and $80 million in preferred equity from Fortress and Dune Real Estate Partners.
At the end of 2013, Fortress bought four Manhattan residential properties, including the Upper West Side building The Astor, in a partnership with HFZ Capital Group. The two firms are converting those assets to condos for a total cost of $870 million.
Outside of the five boroughs, Fortress closed on its $290 million purchase of AT&T Lenox Park Campus in Atlanta in October 2014.
“They’re everywhere, but they’re nowhere,” one well-placed source told Commercial Observer about Fortress’ real estate business. “That’s because they sit in the shadows rather than on the front lines.”—D.G.
47. Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs (51)
Co-Founders and Principals of RFR Realty
It’s been a whirlwind year for RFR Realty—the company picked up a number of eye-catching buildings, among them photographer Jay Maisal’s graffiti artist’s lair at 190 Bowery, the Flemish-renaissance Church Missions House at 281 Park Avenue and the low-rise brick 11 Bond Street. The buying spree has occasioned some raised eyebrows given this market’s sky-high prices.
“It is a good time to buy great buildings—it is a bad time to buy cheap buildings,” Mr. Rosen told The New York Times last fall. Of course, it helps that Mr. Rosen has been filling RFR’s coffers, too, with some big-ticket sales such as an $86 million retail space on lower Fifth and a tower in Frankfurt for $510 million, to name a few. Messrs. Rosen and Fuchs also recently broke ground on the Norman Foster-designed condominium tower at 100 East 53rd Street.
The ever-flamboyant Mr. Rosen also had a very good year personally, prevailing in a bitter battle to get a Pablo Picasso curtain removed from the Four Seasons restaurant, which is slated to undergo renovation shortly, and buying the lion’s share of a 19,000-square-foot co-op mansion at 1025 Park, which he’s rumored to be converting to his very own mega-mansion.—K.V.
48. Carl Weisbrod (New)
Director of the New York City Department of City Planning and Chairman of the New York City Planning Commission
Since March 2014, when Mr. Weisbrod was appointed to lead New York City’s Department of City Planning and to chair its Planning Commission, the department has taken a multipronged approach, balancing the city’s need for real estate development with local communities’ concerns.
The Commission signed off on the redevelopment of two massive residential projects, both of which will include a sizable affordable housing component: The Domino Sugar Factory conversion in Brooklyn and Astoria Cove’s redevelopment in Queens. The department also continues to address resiliency issues, especially in neighborhoods still struggling to regain their footing post-Superstorm Sandy. In October, it released a manual designed to guide New York City homeowners in flood zones on how to modify their buildings to adapt to increased flood risks. And of course, the department is working to achieve the mayor’s affordable housing goals by creating or preserving the promised 200,000 housing units for New Yorkers in need.
“We’re really at the center of so much the mayor seeks to accomplish,” Mr. Weisbrod told Commercial Observer.—D.S.
49. Steve Witkoff (63)
CEO of the Witkoff Group
Earlier this month, the $35 million floor-through penthouse at 10 Madison Square West—two units on the 22nd floor of the former Toy Building, which the Witkoff Group won at auction in 2011 for $190 million—entered contract. By combining the two units, Mr. Witkoff secured a price 21 percent higher than might have been expected had the units been sold separately. Now, just one available apartment remains at the Flatiron development.
But sky-high prices and lightning-quick sales are becoming routine for Mr. Witkoff. In 2013, another Witkoff project, the ultra-luxe West Village condo 150 Charles Street, sold out in less than four months.
Mr. Witkoff has lately turned his attention to the Times Square Marriott Edition, a mixed-use project at 701 Seventh Avenue that he is developing with a consortium of other developers.
“It’s the first new build Times Square retail and hotel property in maybe 20 years,” Mr. Witkoff told Commercial Observer. “We’re vertical now, and we’re also about to begin foundation work at 111 Murray Street,” an 80-story condo project in Tribeca. Mr. Witkoff is currently involved, too, in developing a second Marriott Edition, at Sunset Boulevard and Doheny, in West Hollywood, Calif., as well as a yet-to-be-branded hotel in South Beach, Miami.
Next up? An office in Europe—maybe. “It’s an inefficient marketplace,” Mr. Witkoff opined about our neighbors across the pond. “And there aren’t a lot of operators. This might be a little like the tail wagging the dog, but it’s likely that the office would be in London,” where Witkoff already has notable experience, he said. There, he shepherded the renovation of two luxury office buildings: the Shell-Mex House on the Strand, and Devonshire House in Mayfair.—C.P.
50. Paul E. Pariser and Charles Bendit (40)
Co-CEOs of Taconic Investment Partners
When Messrs. Pariser and Bendit started Taconic Investment Partners in 1997, the Meatpacking District was a much different place. But thanks in part to their firm's investment and development the neighborhood has been transformed into a luxury mecca in the last two decades. Taconic wrapped up construction in mid-2014 on its six-story office and retail project 837 Washington Street and subsequently leased the entire building to Samsung. Together with its joint venture partner in the building, Thor Equities, Taconic sold the 55,000-square-foot property this January to TIAA-CREF, for $200 million—reportedly a record price for the area. And the pair likely pocketed a hefty sum, since they bought that property for a cool $45 million in 2008 in a package with another nearby parcel.
Taconic has its hands in other boroughs as well. In October, it sold its Bronx office building, The BankNote, for $114 million, following a $37 million renovation of the building.
But, perhaps the capstone of its development pipeline is Essex Crossing, a 1.9-million-square-foot mixed-use complex on the Lower East Side, where Taconic is partnering with BFC Partners and L+M Development Partners. Construction is slated to start later this year.—T.C.
51. Melissa Mark-Viverito (55)
Speaker of the New York City Council
Developers may have visions of hundred-story skyscrapers towering above Midtown or luxury condominiums dotting Lower Manhattan, but the real estate community is grounded by the New York City Council, the governing body of the five boroughs. Ms. Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the Council and the first Puerto Rican and Latina to hold a citywide elected position, works to ensure that development truly benefits communities and jumpstarts local economies. In her State of the City address in February, Ms. Mark-Viverito stressed her commitment to empower New York City Housing Authority tenants and ensure that residents maintain their quality of life. But she also has her hand in market-rate developments, working to ensure neighborhoods are equitable.
“As we saw with recent development projects such as Astoria Cove in Queens and Domino Sugar in Brooklyn, these projects have the potential to make a real difference at a neighborhood level, leveraging affordable housing, local hiring and educational opportunities for residents,” said Ms. Mark-Viverito. “Through substantive hearings and community feedback, the Council’s collaborative oversight of development proposals maximizes public benefits for our city while harnessing our potential for growth.”—D.S.
52. David W. Levinson and Robert Lapidus (50)
Chairman and CEO and President and CIO of L&L Holding Company
The leaders of L&L Holding Company have some ambitious plans for several Manhattan properties. Last year, they inked several big-name tenants including Mashable, MasterCard and Zara. But they’re also developing major projects in the city.
Construction is underway on 425 Park Avenue, which offers a new, glassy look that will shake up the older buildings of Midtown. The 650,000-square-foot tower was designed by Norman Foster of London-based Foster + Partners. Bloomberg reported that the landlords want to stock the building with hedge funds and money management firms. In January, it was announced the developers were undertaking the lofty task of rebuilding 380 Madison Avenue, with the same square footage, but a modern look and a slightly new name: 390 Madison. Because the renovated building will be the same size, the facelift—including all glass curtain walls—can be done as-of-right and is expected to be finished by 2017.—T.C.
53. Arthur and William Lie Zeckendorf (57)
C0-Chairmen of Terra Holdings and Co-Chairmen of Zeckendorf Development
The name Zeckendorf is almost synonymous with ultra-luxury residential development in New York City. Years after their arguably unparalleled success at 15 Central Park West, brothers William Lie Zeckendorf and Arthur Zeckendorf, who together head Zeckendorf Development, continue to find success with each new project. They’ve moved their focus to 50 U.N. Plaza in recent years—a project that holds special meaning for them since their grandfather, Trygve Lie, was the first U.N. Secretary General.
The 88-unit tower topped out last year and the first four apartments were sold to an affiliate of the Qatari government. The firm also broke ground on its latest project, soaring condominium tower 520 Park Avenue, last year. In March, the asking price for that building’s triplex penthouse was revealed to be a whopping $130 million. As principals of Terra Holdings, the Zeckendorfs are also the owners of residential brokerages Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property.—G.V.
54. Andrew Kimball (New)
CEO of Industry City
Industry City, the colossal 6-million-square-foot complex on Sunset Park’s waterfront, made headlines this year with its announcement that it will undergo an extensive $1 billion makeover. The plan aims to continue Industry City’s ascent as an innovation and manufacturing hub for Brooklyn’s creative class. If successful in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, the full development, owned by Belvedere Capital, Jamestown and Angelo Gordon with Cammeby’s International and FBE Ltd., is projected to generate $6 billion in economic activity and 20,000 jobs both on and off site.
At the forefront of this repositioning is Mr. Kimball, who was named Industry City’s CEO in 2013 to direct the redevelopment project. In his role, Mr. Kimball has taken a site that had fallen into disrepair and overseen $100 million in property upgrades along with the leasing of 850,000 square feet.
“I think Industry City is going to become New York City’s most dynamic new innovation district that provides thousands of good-paying, local jobs,” said Mr. Kimball.—D.S.
55. Edward Minskoff (37)
President of Edward Minskoff Equities
He was a man with a vision. When Mr. Minskoff started work on 51 Astor Place, the building now referred to as the IBM building, in 2011, the deck seemed stacked against him. Office rents in Manhattan were depressed overall, and office rents in the East Village, in particular, were nowhere near where they’d need to be to support fresh office development. But he forged ahead, beginning construction on the glassy tower with a construction loan he secured in November of that year from Bank of America. At the time, he told CO he’d get rents over $100 per square foot, and some scoffed. But fast forward three and a half years and the building has signed exactly the tech tenants he hoped for, including IBM, which reportedly beat out Twitter for a hefty chunk of the space. Mr. Minskoff has also seen a resurgence of interest in his 101 Avenue of the Americas office property, which signed several financial tenants in recent months and for which he secured a $200 refinancing from Citibank and Barclays last December.—G.V.
56. Harry Macklowe (44)
Founder and Chairman of Macklowe Properties
Mr. Macklowe’s career has been erratic surely, but the founder of Macklowe Properties finds himself again on the up and up, with a number of projects in the pipeline and his Park Avenue tower currently holding the rank of tallest residential building in the Western hemisphere. While he famously lost a slew of buildings during the downturn, he is now back in business, gearing up to sell the shining, soaring condominiums of 432 Park Avenue for untold millions—if the 57th Street corridor proves as lucrative as it seems.
In addition, his once-plagued 510 Madison Avenue is fully leased, after an investment firm signed for a full floor last month. (He retains only a minority ownership in the building, but hey, who’s counting?) Mr. Macklowe is also in the midst of converting a 50-story Financial District tower into a residential building with retail, at 1 Wall Street. The ambitious project will hold 350,000 square feet of retail in the former home of Bank of New York Mellon—one of the largest residential conversions Downtown in years, reports show. And last summer, Macklowe Properties spent $69 million to grab a group of Upper East Side parcels on Third Avenue, a site where observers say a condominium with retail would also made a lot of sense, and, likely, a lot of money.—G.V.
57. Paul Massey and Robert Knakal (49)
President of New York Investment Sales and Chairman of New York Investment Sales of Cushman & Wakefield
Selling your company usually means retirement or a nice big pay day. Messrs. Massey and Knakal got the latter, when they sold their business—which was marketing properties across the city for more than 25 years—to Cushman & Wakefield for about $100 million in December. The former? Not so much. It was a busy year for the ex-partners building up to the sale. Mr. Knakal’s team did $2.2 billion in sales for all of 2014, up from $1.2 billion a year earlier. A Massey Knakal team in November marketed Extell Development’s sale of a four-building property for $80 million. Other major sales include 21 Penn Plaza, which went for $244 million.
In fact, since the sale they've been arguably busier than before. In February, Mr. Massey announced C&W would adopt the old firm’s 50-zone system for marketing throughout New York City. Attaching the C&W banner to marketing materials has been a boon for business. “It’s kind of like we’ve hit the hyperspace button,” Mr. Knakal said. “We’re doing what we were doing before, but we have the horsepower of a global giant behind us.”—T.C.
58. Bruce Mosler, Edward Forst and Ron Lo Russo (68)
Chairman of Global Brokerage, President and CeO and President of the New York Tri-State Region of Cushman &Wakefield
Cushman & Wakefield has seen a lot of big changes in the last year and a half, but the company is still brokering some of the city’s biggest deals. Mr. Forst now has a year under his belt as president and CEO of C&W. The brokerage has since been involved in major sales and leases of well over 100,000 square feet. “Ed had the client-only approach,” Mr. Mosler said, referring to when Mr. Forst first came onboard. “To me, the key to success is putting your client first. He also manages with his heart, because he understands his assets are his people.” C&W also acquired Massey Knakal Realty Services this past December for around $100 million—one of the biggest mergers of 2014.
Mr. Mosler has been instrumental in massive deals in the last year including representing Brookfield Property Partners in signing Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to 550,000 square feet at 1 Manhattan West—allowing the office tower to move forward with construction on the Far West Side. He also closed on the biggest deal of 2015’s first quarter: the consolidation of MetLife Insurance to 550,000 square feet at 200 Park Avenue South. Mr. Lo Russo oversees operations in nine regional offices throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.—T.C.
59. Peter Hennessy (88)
Tristate President of DTZ
Merging one company with another constitutes a big year. In that sense, Mr. Hennessy, who was formerly head of Cassidy Turley, had a very big 12 months. Late last year, Cassidy Turley was acquired by DTZ, the international real estate company. But that was not all that Mr. Hennessy was up to. “We had double-digit revenue growth—over 13 percent growth in revenue,” Mr. Hennessy told Commercial Observer. “We recruited 22 people and added about 500,000 square feet of agency business [to our portfolio].” Of course, amidst all these changes there is another one that is being whispered about: DTZ has expressed interest in purchasing Cushman & Wakefield for a reported $2 billion. Mr. Hennessy is mum on the subject, but we’re excited to see where he winds up on the 2016 CO Power List.—M.G.
60. Ralph Herzka and Aaron Birnbaum (78)
Chairman and CEO and Executive Vice President of Meridian Capital Group
Messrs. Herzka and Birnbaum—alongside partners Avi Weinstock and Jeff Weinberg—have continued to build on their success in the commercial mortgage brokerage business. Last year marked a new record for the Meridian Capital Group founding partners, who oversaw the closing of $30 billion across the U.S., up from $25.8 billion in 2013.
In total, Meridian, which dubs itself “America’s most active debt broker,” negotiated 3,477 loans in 2014, averaging $120 million per business day. Meanwhile, the volume of deals currently under application with lenders is 15 percent higher than it was last April, according to the Manhattan-based firm.
Meridian’s biggest transactions so far this year include $320 million in Fannie Mae financing for a 15-property New Jersey multifamily portfolio on behalf of Cammeby’s International and a $310 million CMBS loan from Morgan Stanley to refinance 535-545 Fifth Avenue on behalf of the Moinian Group.
“Clients are exploring opportunistic and value-add strategies, and expanding their horizon into new markets where returns are higher,” Mr. Herzka told Commercial Observer. “Meridian is working closely with clients to facilitate these strategies, including by devising and sourcing creative debt products across many markets.”
Topping off the firm's recent successes, Meridian poached Eastern Consolidated brokers David Schechtman, Lipa Lieberman and Abie Kassin in April to launch a new investment sales division.—D.G.
61. Peter Hauspurg and Daun Paris (60)
Chairman and CEO and President of Eastern Consolidated
The first quarter of 2015 was the best quarter for Eastern Consolidated in eight years, and the firm’s second best in the firm’s 34-year history.
The firm’s sales as of April 7 were valued at over $800 million, an increase over the same date in 2014, including three $100 million-plus deals. Its retail leasing team, assembled at the beginning of 2014, is averaging one closed deal per week, while its capital advisory group, established at the end of 2013, is on track to do four times the revenues generated in 2014.
The company’s workforce has increased to 76 brokers from 45 at the beginning of last year. Those hires included investment sales broker Ron Solarz rejoining late April as an executive managing director and principal after a three-year hiatus at Brookfield Financial. Finally, the firm expanded its office space to an additional 4,000 square feet at 355 Lexington Avenue, as Commercial Observer previously reported.
“2014 was a year of incredible vitality,” Ms. Paris said. “We nearly doubled our brokerage team, doubled our revenues and launched two incredibly successful new divisions. And we’re on pace for an even more robust 2015.”
Mr. Hauspurg added: “We expanded our reach with institutional clients, which translated into a tremendous amount of new business.”—L.E.S.
62. Joseph Cayre (New)
Founder and Chairman of Midtown Equities
He may be one of the quieter real estate titans in New York City, but Mr. Cayre’s low profile hasn’t kept him out of high-profile deals. An investor in 2, 3 and 4 World Trade Center, Mr. Cayre has also made his mark in Miami, where his firm Midtown Equities developed the “city-within-a-city” project in Midtown Miami, a $2.3 billion mixed-used development that opened in 2007.
He’s also got one foot in the residential side of the business, as a co-founder of residential brokerage Core. Late last year, Midtown grabbed $95 million in construction funds from M&T Bank for its Empire Stores redevelopment project, in which Midtown will restore a waterfront building into an ambitious adaptive reuse endeavor that will create 400,000 square feet of cultural, commercial and retail space near Brooklyn Bridge Park. In February, Mr. Cayre bought out billionaire Ron Burkle’s interest in the Soho House New York. Looking forward, construction is currently underway at 240 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, where Midtown has already signed leases with Whole Foods and WeWork, a representative for the firm confirmed.—G.V.
63. Francis J. Greenburger (New)
Founder and Chairman of Time Equities
Mr. Greenburger has built or owned, by a recent count, 20,000 or so apartments over the last 50 years and currently has plans to add seven more super-luxe apartments to the total, partnering with Hamlin Ventures on the conversion of the St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School in Nolita. But this year it’s the rising silhouette of the long-stalled 50 West Street that makes him stand out.
Mr. Greenburger secured construction financing for the 64-story Helmut-Jahn designed tower, considered to be his signature project, in 2013, and condo sales started last summer. If his commitment to having a ground-floor restaurant at the building is any indication—Mr. Greenburger recently said that he decided to offer the space for below-market rent to get the right tenant—they will be lovely. Ever the Renaissance man, Mr. Greenburger also owns literary agency Sanford J. Greenburger Associates and recently took on a passion project to build a 25-bed facility for convicts with mental illness.—K.V.
64. Hall Willkie (64)
President of Brown Harris Stevens
It’s impossible to deny that this year’s residential spotlight has belonged to trophy co-op sales (even if that slew of showy closings at One57 has been a little distracting), and Brown Harris Stevens had a hand in nearly all of them. Mr. Willkie’s firm was involved in the $71.27 million deal at 740 Park Avenue (John Burger was the seller’s co-broker) as well as the $70 million trade at 960 Fifth Avenue (Mary Rutherfurd, Alina Pedroso and Leslie Coleman were the listing brokers), and the firm’s internal numbers show that BHS sold 75 percent of all co-ops over $25 million and 47 percent of all co-ops over $10 million. It was, Mr. Willkie told us, the company’s best sales year in history (as a private company BHS does not disclose figures). And though 15 Central Park West rainmaker Kyle Blackmon’s defection to Compass was a blow—Mr. Willkie issued an uncharacteristically tart statement that Mr. Blackmon “has made the decision that the equity proposition offered to him trumps a singular focus on brokerage”—upcoming sales at Zeckendorf Development’s 50 United Nations Plaza and 520 Park Avenue should pick things up on the condo side. The company has hired some 50 new brokers (a 10-fold increase compared to a “normal” year) including top agents Robby Brown, Maria Pashby and Wendy Sarasohn. “Our goal has always been to be the best, to continue to dominate the high end of the market in New York,” Mr. Willkie said. “We sell real estate; that’s what we want to continue to do.”—K.V.
65. Jason Pizer (62)
President and CEO of Trinity Real Estate
“2014 was a good year in general for real estate; we were just trying not to kill the momentum,” said Mr. Pizer. The president of Trinity Real Estate was elected last year as chairman of the board of directors of the Hudson Square Connection for his role in determining the business improvement district's priorities, nurturing the area’s transformation—from light industrial to first-class office space—and creating what could be the city’s most sustainable neighborhood, as reported by Commercial Observer. But it’s still a work in progress. “Retail has always been a little bit of a laggard at Hudson Square, but it’s beginning to turn the corner,” said Mr. Pizer, who is pleased by the first sign of triple-digit rents for Trinity’s four buildings there—One Hudson Square, 200 Hudson Street, 205 Hudson Street and 12-16 Vestry Street. “I’m pretty happy about where the [value of the] ground floor is going in the future.”—S.P.
66. Aaron Jungreis (67)
President of Rosewood Realty
One of the city’s most prolific brokers, Mr. Jungreis heads Rosewood Realty, a small but nimble brokerage that can compete with the big guys. A veteran of investment sales brokerage GFI Capital, he brokered several big deals in Manhattan this last year, and 90 percent of those that Rosewood did, he handled personally, he estimates. Among those was A&E Real Estate’s purchase of a 32-building portfolio spread across three boroughs from The Dermot Company for $362 million in February. The portfolio of mostly multifamily residential buildings holds more than 1,000 apartments, according to published reports. On the flip side, Mr. Jungreis also represented A&E in the sale of an 11-building Brooklyn multifamily portfolio to Heller Realty, led by Ben Heller and Arnold Simon, for $206.5 million. And it’s hard to argue with the incredible volume of deals the super-broker is able to close. As of late April, he said he had already done an estimated $1.5 billion in deals in 2015 alone, and is on track to close $4 billion in transactions by year’s end.—G.V.
67. Stephen Siegel (53)
Chairman of Global Brokerage at CBRE
In one of the 10 biggest deals of last year, Hudson’s Bay Company, parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue, decided it would consolidate its New York City offices and relocate to 410,000 square feet at Brookfield Place. The transaction included additional space at 225 Liberty Street and 250 Vesey Street.
Having co-represented Hudson’s Bay Company in the transaction, it was Mr. Siegel’s greatest accomplishment last year.
“It was an amazing deal,” Mr. Siegel previously told Commercial Observer. “It was great working with the Hudson’s Bay people. They were very progressive. Their ideas for Saks [and] Saks Off Fifth down there [are] brilliant, and it was one of the more enjoyable transactions I’ve ever done.”
Mr. Siegel, who has worked at CBRE since the firm acquired Insignia Financial Group in 2003, has a lot of balls in the air.
He is working at the World Trade Center on buildings 3 and 4. He is part of an agency team for what was the old St. John’s Terminal Building, a 1-million-square-foot development called CLARKSQN at 550 Washington Street. Atlas Capital Group, Fortress Investment Group and Westbrook Partners are planning retail on the ground floor.
Regarding 2014, Mr. Siegel told CO: “I think it was a tremendous business right across the board, from the office leasing to condo sales, to apartment rentals, to construction management, to contractors—I mean, you name any aspect of that business related to it, and it was a superhero.”—L.E.S.
68. Arthur J. Mirante II (70)
Principal and Tri-State President of Avison Young
Mr. Mirante has been working on building up the presence, size and cachet of Avison Young in New York City. That hasn’t been an easy task as it was only in April 2012 that Canada’s largest independently owned commercial real estate services company announced the opening of its first office in New York City to expand the firm’s market and business line coverage in the tri-state area.
“The past year has been one of significant expansion for the Avison Young partnership in the tri-state area,” Mr. Mirante said. “I’m very proud of the firm’s growth, which is best exemplified by the large number of talented professionals who have joined us during this time.” Most recently, A. Mitti Liebersohn was hired as principal and president of Avison Young‘s New York City office.
On March 16, Avison Young tripled the size of its New York City office space with a move into 40,200 square feet at 1166 Avenue of the Americas.
Mr. Mirante has two prominent Manhattan assignments. One is being part of the leasing team for the Moinian Group’s planned 3 Hudson Boulevard, a 1.8-million-square-foot mixed-use tower spanning a full city block north of Hudson Yards. The other is handling leasing for the 800,000-square-foot Paramount Building at 1501 Broadway.
In addition to the Manhattan assignments, Mr. Mirante said he is “pleased with the opportunities we’ve had to service prestigious clients such as 1-800-Flowers in Long Island, Mountain Development and their Merritt 8 office complex in Connecticut, KBS Realty Advisors and their Park Avenue at Morris County property in New Jersey.” Mr. Mirante worked at Cushman & Wakefield for more than 40 years prior to joining Avison Young, most recently as president of global client development. He is C&W’s longest serving chief executive.—L.E.S.
69. Ori Allon and Robert Reffkin (91)
Founder and Executive Chairman and Founder and CEO at Compass
Mr. Allon and Mr. Reffkin founded residential brokerage house Compass in September 2012, their first venture together and Mr. Allon’s first foray into real estate (the web engineer sold his previous company, Orion, to Google and Julpan, to Twitter; his partner worked at Goldman Sachs in private equity and as chief of staff for Goldman President Gary Cohn). Their social network-meets-rentals site is changing the market. And that seems to be just the start. Mr. Reffkin said that in an industry with a typical two-year turnover of staff, the success of Compass (no longer Urban Compass) lies in the creation of “a company where not one agent has resigned because they are happy and productive.” The firm’s focus is on training, technology, business processes and marketing support, he said, offering its 160 agents more benefits than its industry peers. It’s well known the company’s agents use proprietary software for everything from client relationship management to sales. Less known: In the past 12 months the value of the firm’s listings has increased 10 times, Mr. Reffkin said.—S.P.
70. Dolly Lenz (New)
Founder of Dolly Lenz Real Estate
For years, Ms. Lenz was the broker to beat, and not only at Douglas Elliman, where she was such a perpetual regent in top sales that she eventually stepped aside from her company’s annual competition and was graced instead with a “Stratosphere” award. (Ms. Lenz claims to have sold $10 billion in property over her career.) So it was with great interest that the real estate world watched the super-broker step out to form her brokerage, following in the footsteps of other mega-brokers past like Shaun Osher and Michael Shvo. Several years in, Ms. Lenz, a frequent presence on the likes of CNBC, MSNBC and Fox (Manhattan’s ultra-luxury residential market needs someone to speak for it, after all), presides over a team of 20 real estate veterans with a stable of macher listings, such as the one for Rupert Murdoch’s never-before-lived-in $72 million triplex penthouse atop One Madison (which she sold to him for $57 million), a $75 million penthouse at 10 West Street and Tommy Hilfiger’s newly discounted $75 million Plaza penthouse (though she’s had that listing since October 2013). Ms. Lenz was also the seller’s broker for the $45 million sale of the former New York Foundling home in the West Village, which is slated to become a single-family mansion.—K.V.
71. Santiago Calatrava (New)
Founder and Chief Architect of Santiago Calatrava
Adjacent to 1 World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan, a phoenix in the form of a transportation hub has risen. The World Trade Center PATH station, designed by Spanish-born Mr. Calatrava, has become a symbol of resilience (and, to some, of unrestrained government spending).
“The development of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub has been a tremendous challenge but nothing great is really ever achieved without a struggle, no?” asked Mr. Calatrava.
Indeed, the road to completing the $4 billion hub has been arduous, but the end is near: The train station is expected to open by the end of this year. And the station is set to become an instant icon of the renewed Financial District.
“I have always believed in creating public spaces of exceptional quality where everyone—not just commuters—experiences a sense of grandeur that is consistent, that draws their attention to the place in obvious and subtle ways,” said Mr. Calatrava.
Mr. Calatrava is also working on the St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center, and has work strewn across the globe. He has worked on infrastructure projects in Argentina, France, Holland, Qatar, Ireland and Israel.—D.S.
72. Robert Stuckey (58)
Heard of U.S. Real Estate of The Carlyle Group
The Carlyle Group, one of the largest private equity firms in the world, now has $194 billion in assets under management, with $36 billion in the U.S., as of Dec. 31, 2014. This is due in no small part to Mr. Stuckey, who manages real estate investments for the powerhouse investment manager.
In 2014, Carlyle completed 30 deals in the U.S., including the $117.8 million sale of 920 Broadway and the $170.3 million sale of 570 Seventh Avenue. In the latter deal, Carlyle nearly doubled its money after owning the asset for only one year.
Among several new fund transactions, the global asset manager announced the closing of two collateralized loan obligation funds in the U.S. and Europe totaling approximately $1.2 billion in March. The $670 million U.S. CLO, arranged by Morgan Stanley, will invest predominantly in senior secured bank loans.
“Last year was particularly active for our U.S. real estate funds,” Mr. Stuckey told Commercial Observer. “The U.S. real estate market is dynamic, and we believe there’s more investment runway ahead.”—D.G.
73. Joseph Moinian (New)
CEO of the Moinian Group
It’s been a busy year for Mr. Moinian and his development team as they move forward with major developments on Manhattan’s West Side. The firm is developing the 1.8-million-square-foot mixed-use project 3 Hudson Boulevard—riding, smartly, on the coattails of mega-development Hudson Yards—as well as luxury residential rental development 605 West 42nd Street. The Moinian Group has also sold several big-ticket properties both in New York and Chicago and has 20 million square feet of office, retail and residential space under ownership with another 5 million in the pipeline. In November 2014, the NBA’s flagship store signed a lease to move to Moinian’s 545 Fifth Avenue, expected to open this fall. And in March, Mr. Moinian reached a deal to sell his interest in the Willis Tower in Chicago for $1.3 billion to Blackstone Group.
“We are very bullish,” Mr. Moinian told Commercial Observer. “We are putting a lot of our eggs in New York City baskets. We believe our backyard is the best. We love our home and that’s where we’re putting a lot of our investments.”—T.C.
74. Diane Ramirez (79)
CEO of Halstead Property
“Our core is Manhattan,” Ms. Ramirez told Commercial Observer recently, alluding by implication to Halstead’s ancillary business in Brooklyn, Connecticut, Riverdale, the Hamptons and New Jersey. “So the markets that we’re in really do resonate with that Manhattan core.” Fortunately for her, Brooklyn is looking more and more like Manhattan these days, even as Manhattan’s residents increasingly resemble those of its wealthiest suburbs. It’s a rather synergistic pattern for Halstead, which shows no signs of balking, continuing to expand in high gear as the company has done for the past decade (with a few minor hiccups during the recession).
Ms. Ramirez hinted at a bevvy of planned tri-state-area ventures in the works, but was cagey about the details. Still, she mused, “I always say, ‘We’re not in Bergen County—yet.’”
Doubling down on a healthy trade in Greenwich, Conn., last year, Halstead acquired a historic building there. Renovations on the property are nearing completion, and Halstead’s local agents will soon relocate. About Bedford Stuyvesant, where Halstead opened roughly a year ago, becoming the first major Manhattan brokerage to do so, Ms. Ramirez is bullish. “It’s such an exciting market,” she said. “The product is beautiful.” Indeed, its brisk business contributed to a year-over-year record for Halstead. And Ms. Ramirez was pleased to report her election to the board of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a global network of 500 high-end firms. “It’s a mouthful,” Ms. Ramirez said. “But once you say the name, you don’t have to explain anything else.”—C.P.
75. Kathy Korte (75)
President and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty
In 2014, Ms. Korte celebrated her 30th year with Sotheby’s International Realty, which will itself mark its 40th anniversary next year. “I like to say that when I started, I was 5, which is not quite the case,” Ms. Korte quipped recently. “But at this point I’ve held pretty much every job with the company.” For the last nine years, she has been president and CEO, a post from which she has overseen the deepening of the brand, diverse domestic and international expansion, and the cross-pollination of the brokerage’s activities with Sotheby’s auction house business.
“Sotheby’s has always been synonymous with luxury,” Ms. Korte said. “But you can’t just rest on your laurels. We’ve really been focused on strengthening the pipeline of international buyers.”
In 2014, those efforts bore enviable fruit. The brokerage saw a 111 percent increase over the previous year in closed transactions of $10 million or more, and a 252 percent increase over 2013 in closed transactions of $20 million or more—a batch of sales involving clients in place ranging from “Hong Kong to London to Bejing,” and beyond.
Last June, Serena Boardman, a perennial star broker at Sotheby’s, was involved in the $70 million, record-setting co-op sale of the former home of Seagram Company Chairman Edgar M. Bronfman, at 960 Fifth Avenue. Then in September, Ms. Boardman broke that record, with the sale of the French ambassadorial residence at 740 Park Avenue, for $71.2 million. And, again, in March 2015, she made short work of that record as well, selling off Jets owner Woody Johnson’s duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue, for $77.5 million.—C.P.
76. Jonathan Mechanic (95)
Chairman of the Real Estate Department of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson
There are a lot of lawyers who focus on real estate in this city who could easily make a list of the heavy hitters. (In fact, we made a separate list of some of the biggest players. See the story on page 54.) But if we had to pick one lawyer to focus on for our “Power 100,” it would have to be Fried Frank’s Mr. Mechanic—as there are so many deals in this city that have his fingerprints on them. At a Commercial Observer breakfast hosted late last year, Larry Silverstein called him “the lawyer of choice to go to … he represents me, he represents I don’t know how many developers in this town. That’s Jon Mechanic … Really terrific guy.”
Mr. Mechanic—who was sitting a few feet away, moderating the discussion—turned to the crowd and cried: “Did everybody get that?” (Mr. Silverstein then proceeded to heap praise on CBRE’s Mary Ann Tighe, also in attendance, and after the gushing had gone on for a few minutes Ms. Tighe and Mr. Mechanic high-fived one another.)
Mr. Mechanic’s legal prowess has been on display in Downtown with the World Trade Center, on the West Side with Hudson Yards, in Brooklyn with Atlantic Yards (excuse us—we mean Pacific Park) and even at the new 200,000-square-foot Whitney, which is slated to opened to much acclaim on May 1. Yup, Mr. Mechanic was counsel. High five!—M.G.
77. Norman Sturner, David Sturner and David Greene (79)
Founding Principal and CEO, Principal and COO, and President of Brokerage Services of MHP Real Estate Services
MHP Real Estate Services got into the trendy Downtown market this year with its $470 million January purchase of 180 Maiden Lane along with Clarion Partners—the largest building buy ever for MHP. Following the acquisition of the 1.2-million-square-foot Class A office tower, the building is undergoing a $28 million renovation.
When Commercial Observer asked the father-and-son duo, Norman and David, in March what they had been up to, the senior Sturner said: “In the last 24 months we have sold an interest in 530 Fifth Avenue, 1250 Broadway, 1 Park Avenue, 1250 Broadway and 509 Fifth Avenue.”
But even as it exits assets, the firm maintains ownership of a steady 6 million or 7 million square feet of commercial space, and is actively developing a Dream Hotel at 560 Seventh Avenue. MHP is working with Soho Properties, Hampshire Hotels and Colony Capital on the 100,000-square-foot Garment Center project, which will include 237 hotel rooms, a restaurant, a two-story club lounge on the roof with an outdoor deck and 17,000 square feet of retail below the hotel. The firm bought the site for $61.5 million in February 2014—“the most memorable deal of the year,” David Sturner said.
And all of that in a record-setting year, where MHP’s 40 brokers leased multiple deals over 60,000 square feet of space, according to Mr. Greene. For instance, MHP’s Roxana Girand represented Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim in his lease of the entire 16,000-square-foot building at 10 West 56th Street for $1.5 million per year.—L.E.S.
78. Stephen Meringoff and Leslie Wohlman Himmel (80)
Co-Managing Partners at Himmel + Meringoff Properties
With a portfolio that includes several Midtown South buildings, Mr. Meringoff and Ms. Himmel this year celebrated 30 years as New York City real estate barons. Over that time, the firm has bought, redeveloped or renovated more than 50 buildings totaling at least 5 million square feet of space. In recent weeks, Himmel + Meringoff Properties inked a 19-year deal to lease all 180,000 square feet of office space at 1460 Broadway to WeWork.
“This lease signing was executed with perfectly orchestrated synchronicity,” said Mr. Meringoff in a statement. “We are thrilled to be able to accommodate WeWork at its first Times Square location, one of its largest in New York City.”
Himmel + Meringoff, along with building co-owner the Swig Company, also recruited MdeAS to redevelop the storefront of the building’s retail level, creating 35,000 square feet of space expected to become available this December. The firm’s management wing also sold 686 Lexington Avenue last May to Istanbul Hospitality, the owner of The Marmara Manhattan Hotel. The 15,000-square-foot building, home to a Harley Davidson store, closed at $21.3 million.—T.C.
79. MaryAnne Gilmartin and Bruce Ratner (73)
President and CEO and Executive Chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies
Forest City Ratner Companies, led by Mr. Ratner and Ms. Gilmartin, has spent the past year continuing to execute its vision for Pacific Park Brooklyn, the re-branded Atlantic Yards. After substantial delays, construction has resumed at the 32-story B2 BKLYN, the project’s modular residential component. When completed, the 346,000-square-foot tower at 461 Dean Street will be a cornerstone of the 22-acre development and the world’s tallest modular building.
“Recognizing [Bruce and me] together is especially befitting since it is the power of our partnership that drives the vision and results in our company,” Ms. Gilmartin told Commercial Observer. “We are carrying through on our commitment to create a more livable, dynamic and global 21st century city.”—D.S.
80. Ron Kravit (72)
Senior Managing Director and Head of Real Estate Investing at Cerberus Capital Management
Last year, Cerberus bought a portfolio of $8.4 billion U.K. and Irish nonperforming loans, which helped make it the top 2014 buyer of European distressed debt. It picked up a mighty $26.8 billion in such assets, much of which it can likely turn around at great profit when prices rebound on the continent.
In 2014, Cerberus also spent $9.2 billion acquiring Safeway, the second-largest grocery chain in the U.S. It merged Safeway with Albertson’s, the fifth-largest grocer (which Cerberus bought from SuperValu in 2013). Cerberus picked up a hefty portion of real estate in the transaction, with Safeway reportedly owning nearly half its locations.
“We’re fortunate that our investors trust us to find the best opportunities,” said Mr. Kravit, who is now director of Safeway’s Board. Mr. Kravit joined Cerberus Real Estate Capital Management in 1996. Cerberus staff works together, Mr. Kravit said, “investing up and down the capital structure, regardless of geography.”—S.P.
81. David Weinreb (New)
CEO of Howard Hughes Corporation
The Howard Hughes Corporation, the mammoth real estate development and management company based in Dallas, continued to make inroads in New York City over the past year. Led by Mr. Weinreb, the firm made progress in its ambitious plan to reinvigorate the South Street Seaport (though the proposal is not without detractors). Underscoring its commitment to becoming a permanent fixture on the city’s real estate scene, Howard Hughes signed a 37,000-square-foot lease for a Lower Manhattan office last fall.
In the upcoming year, Howard Hughes plans to build on its progress bringing visitors back to the previously neglected Seaport. This summer it will launch Seaport Studios, a storefront that will showcase designers who are rising stars in the fashion world. And the first iPic movie theater, a venue that includes dinner along with a cinematic experience, will open inside the renovated Fulton Market Building.
“I am particularly proud of our progress in 2014 in serving as an anchor for the Lower Manhattan community,” Mr. Weinreb told Commercial Observer. “Many New Yorkers—residents and workers alike—are beginning to return to New York’s oldest new neighborhood.”—D.S.
82. Adam Schwartz (54)
Managing Director of Angelo, Gordon
In 2014, Mr. Schwartz said, real estate hedge fund manager Angelo, Gordon raised its inaugural European real estate fund at an over subscribed level (with its busiest pace of buying in Europe)—two times over the previous year—and sold Georgetown Park in Washington, D.C., for $272.5 million; together with Vornado Realty Trust it purchased the 307,000-square-foot property out of foreclosure for $61 million in 2010 which they renovated and leased. “It was a huge home run for us,” said Mr. Schwartz, who has been with the firm for 15 years and is head of the United States/Europe real estate group. Georgetown Park is the first D.C.-area retail property to trade for more than $100 million, according to Real Estate Alert’s Deal Database, which dates to 2001. Angelo, Gordon manages $27 billion in assets for clients, including $8 billion in commercial real estate.—S.P.
83. Burton and Jonathan Resnick (82)
Chairman and CEO and President of Jack Resnick & Sons
The year 2012 was not Jack Resnick & Sons’ best. When Superstorm Sandy hit that October, the Resnicks’ 35-story, 1.1-million-square-foot tower at 199 Water Street was inundated; the real estate moguls were forced to pump out 8 million gallons of seawater from its signature Downtown office building’s basement. Undeterred, the father-and-son duo repositioned the property and added upgrades that include critical mechanical systems being relocated to higher floors and floodgates to protect the asset. The firm’s perseverance has paid off. This past year, the Resnicks celebrated a notable milestone: 199 Water Street reached 100 percent occupancy. “Our spectacular redevelopment effort, followed by the 100 percent lease-up of 199 Water Street, which was badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy, was easily our crowning achievement of the past year,” Jonathan Resnick told Commercial Observer.—D.S.
84. Earle Altman (94)
Chairman and Co-Founder of ABS Partners
Mr. Altman co-founded ABS Partners in 1999 (the Chairman is the “A” in ABS). The firm was a first-mover in the Midtown South market where it acts as leasing and property manager for many office buildings, including the 2,560-square-foot ground-floor retail space at 280 Third Avenue it acquired last year. ABS spent $10 million to renovate 915 Broadway last year. The building now features a rotating art exhibit in the new two-story lobby. Mr. Altman has been part of the building’s ownership—a partnership of ABS executives and other investors—since it was purchased in 1981. The firm itself does not own any real estate. Mr. Altman has more than 50 years of experience in the real estate industry; prior to co-founding ABS in 2000, Mr. Altman spent four decades working at Helmsley-Spear, the firm owned by Harry Helmsley.—S.P.
85. Elizabeth Stribling, Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan and Kirk Henckels (81)
Chairman and President and Director of Stribling
The Upper East Side is not known for embracing change, but should it desire a model, the neighborhood need look no further than Elizabeth Stribling. Ms. Stribling personally followed a move to Brooklyn Heights in 2009 (a vote of confidence for 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park) with a series of bold, business-boosting moves, with longtime director Kirk Henckels by her side and since 2013, daughter Elizabeth Ann serving as president. With more than 300 agents, the firm has exceeded its boutique beginnings, and has recently opened several new offices to accommodate its growing size. The firm has been able to benefit from both its traditional bread-and-butter business—“In the $5 million-and-up co-op category, the big price increase that we saw was really on Park Avenue, and we’re a Park Avenue firm,” Mr. Henckels said—as well as new development with Stribling Marketing Associates, which is representing sales and marketing for 20 new development projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn. “It’s been a year of maturation. We’ve finalized the plan and added a lot of good new brokers,” Mr. Henckels added.—K.V.
86. K. Thomas and Frederick Elghanayan (90)
Chairman and President of TF Cornerstone
It would be difficult to imagine that the Long Island City waterfront would be the bustling neighborhood that it’s become without the efforts of TF Cornerstone’s founders, brothers K. Thomas and Frederick Elghanayan. They were honored in November at the Long Island City Partnership’s Annual Luncheon for their role in the development of the neighborhood’s Center Boulevard—numbers 4540, 4545, 4610, 4615, 4630, 4720—a $1.4 billion project with a whopping 2,800 residential units and 35,000 square feet of retail space, which was finally completed last year after 10 years of work.
“It’s incredible to look across the East River and see how the area has become all that we envisioned and more,” said K. Thomas in an email. The brothers have also evolved through the years, from the renovation of a brownstone in 1970 to today’s large projects like the 1.2-million-square-foot 606 West 57th Street. “What we’ve enjoyed the most has been the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the neighborhoods that we’ve helped create, and to grow with these communities over the years,” Frederick said.—S.P.
87. Albert Behler (86)
President and CEO of Paramount Group
Midtown Manhattan-based Paramount Group, which raised $2.29 billion in its initial public offering last November, made headlines both before and after for planning the largest IPO ever carried out by a U.S. REIT.
In late March, Mr. Behler and his team poached Boston Properties veteran Michael Walsh to join Paramount as its new chief financial officer and treasurer.
Those moves signify more aggressive plays to come from the seasoned real estate executive who oversees ownership and management of high-end office properties in select parts of New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Among his firm’s biggest transactions in the past year, Paramount bought a 23-story office building at 50 Beale Street in San Francisco from Rockefeller Group Investment Management for $395 million last September.
“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 said in a prepared statement at the time of the purchase.—D.G.
88. Henry and Justin Elghanayan (96)
Principals of Rockrose Development
It was a busy year for the men behind Rockrose Development, the prolific developer and real estate investor that has been pioneering Long Island City’s reemergence. In the last year, Rockrose purchased 15 East 26th Street, a 150,000-square-foot boutique commercial office building near Madison Square Park, for $105 million and announced construction of 43-25 Hunter Street, one of the largest 80/20 projects ever constructed outside of Manhattan, which will rise 50 stories in LIC. The building will have 974 apartments, 20 percent of which will be affordable units, with amenities including a yoga studio and multiple roof decks. In July, the firm revealed another LIC tower: Eagle Lofts, a 54-story building with 783 apartments. Last October, Rockrose purchased The Wills Building at 43-01 21st Street in LIC, a commercial building with three floors and approximately 130,000 square feet of space. The building is fully occupied, and Rockrose will continue to operate it as a commercial property. Completed projects also saw success in 2014—Rockrose’s Linc LIC was entirely leased up. It was also the first Court Square building to be leased in its entirety, according to Rockrose. And the firm is bullish on the neighborhood—in total, it will have constructed at least 2,500 apartments in the Court Square section of LIC in the next few years.—G.V.
89. Ron Moelis (New)
Co-Founder of L+M Development Partners
L+M Development Partners, headed by Mr. Moelis, has found a winning real estate strategy in joint ventures. The development firm, founded in 1984, is partnering with BFC Partners for a 50 percent stake in nearly 900 apartments in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, which are part of the New York City Housing Authority’s portfolio. The initial sale costs $150 million with another $100 million over the following two years, plus other payments, The Wall Street Journal reported in December.
Along with Nelson Management Corp., L+M acquired a 256-unit apartment building at 257-271 South Street on the Lower East Side for $115 million. Further south in Manhattan, L+M and the owners of J&R Music and Computer World are redeveloping the retail property at 31 Park Row and possibly 23 Park Row, The Real Deal reported last April.
Perhaps the apex of Mr. Moelis’ career is the Essex Crossing new development on the Lower East Side on which L+M, BFC and Taconic Investment Partners will soon commence construction. Through it, L+M is developing 1.9 million square feet of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. “The project, Essex Crossing, will be instrumental in further transforming the Lower East Side and expanding affordable housing options in the city,” Mr. Moelis said.”—L.E.S.
90. Mitchell Hochberg and David Lichtenstein (99)
President and COO and Chairman and CEO of Lighstone Group
Messrs. Hochberg and Lichtenstein have been a team since August 2012 when Mr. Hochberg joined the firm Mr. Lichtenstein founded in 1988. Part of the decision to join forces—investing and developing—was to step up development in New York City, Mr. Hochberg said. Today, Lightstone’s portfolio includes more than $2 billion invested in nine residential and hospitality projects under development in three boroughs, the most significant of which is its partnership with Marriott International: three Moxy hotels—the first in the U.S.—to open in 2017. The flagship, with 619 micro-rooms, will be at 485 Seventh Avenue, a site the firm purchased for about $200 million in November. At the end of this year, leasing for the 700-residential-unit Gowanus project 363 and 365 Bond Street will begin. “There’s a lot of excitement in the company in the depth and breadth of development projects this year,” Mr. Hochberg said.—S.P.
91. Héctor J. Figueroa (65)
President of 32BJ SEIU
The unsung heroes of the real estate community are the security officers, doormen, porters, superintendents, handymen and building service workers that guarantee properties are up and running even under the most unfavorable of circumstances. The largest union of property service workers in the country, 32BJ SEIU, works to ensure that these employees are treated fairly and industry standards are upheld. Leading this charge is Mr. Figueroa, the president of 32BJ. Mr. Figueroa works on behalf of the union’s 75,000 members in New York City, which are part of the 145,000 members in the U.S.
“32BJ improved the pay and benefits of 35,000 apartment building workers in New York City last year with the signing of a new residential contract,” Mr. Figueroa told Commercial Observer. “We also organized 5,000 new workers last year and we’re on our way to organizing 10,000 this year, including airport workers at JFK and LaGuardia [airports].”
Mr. Figueroa also noted that, thanks to an organizing campaign, some 12,000 airport workers have already seen their wages go up from minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour. The union has also worked with the real estate industry to advocate for the renewal of the 421a tax break for new developments that provide affordable housing.—D.S.
92. John Banks (New)
President-Elect of the Real Estate Board of New York
Last December, the Real Estate Board of New York announced that John Banks, the vice president of government relations at Consolidated Edison, would become the new president of the industry’s leading trade association. Officially named president-elect on March 2, Mr. Banks became the face of the organization that carries the responsibility for promoting public policies that ensure that the real estate community will thrive in the Big Apple.
“When the opportunity came, I jumped on it,” Mr. Banks told Commercial Observer in a January interview.
Mr. Banks brings with him to REBNY a sizable Rolodex, which grew from his days working in city government as the chief of staff for the New York City Council, to his years spent leading the government and community affairs team at Con Edison. These contacts will prove to be indispensable when navigating the political landscape in both New York City and Albany.
“John knows everyone,” Frances A. Resheske, the senior vice president of public affairs at Con Edison, told CO in January. “Everyone respects him. And, after 25 years, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like John.”—D.S.
93. Ian Schrager (New)
Founder of Ian Schrager Company
At 68, Mr. Schrager finds himself betwixt and between. No longer young, the co-founder of Studio 54 can’t anymore be called an upstart. His chief innovations—the boutique hotel and the urban resort—have become so familiar as to blend into the zeitgeist, rather than signal its changing currents. Neither is Mr. Schrager very old. Gray-haired though he may be, he is hardly the wise man, offering nuggets of sagacity from a mountaintop retirement. Ever competitive, Mr. Schrager has spent a good portion of his energy in recent years on the Edition hotels, his partnership with Marriott International that has so far opened—to positive reviews—in London and Miami Beach. Two are currently under construction in New York, at Madison Avenue and in Times Square, due to open later this year and in 2017, respectively.
Edition seeks to combine a “personal, intimate, individualized and unique lodging experience” with “the global reach, operational expertise and scale of Marriott.” Call it the Starbucks model. (Mr. Schrager might prefer Apple, to whose products he recently likened to his own.) But at 215 Chrystie Street, on the Lower East Side, Mr. Schrager is under way on a hotel more traditionally in his wheelhouse, topped by an audacious set of Herzog & de Meuron-designed condominiums averaging close to $4,000 per square foot in their asking prices. The penthouse is asking a whopping $18.75 million. Here, too, the developer attempts to walk the line between old and new, quotidian and lavish, employing a concrete-and-glass motif that he has called “tough luxe” to draw suddenly-rich tech geeks and Park Avenue stalwarts alike to what was, not so long ago, the land of the gutter punks.—C.P.
94. Paula Del Nunzio (92)
Broker at Brown Harris Stevens
Ms. Del Nunzio prevailed again in 2014, closing the biggest townhouse deal in New York City with the $51 million sale of former Coach exec Reed Krakoff’s 113-115 East 70th Street. The home itself, a 30-foot-wide Georgian townhouse with golden snakeskin wallpaper and a Guggenheim-inspired staircase, was just as notable as the super-broker who sold it. Ms. Del Nunzio also had the top townhouse deal the year before. And the year before. She specializes, as she likes to put it, in townhouses and “townhouse equivalent” spaces—i.e. very large and grand. Like an 8,000-square-foot Time Warner Center penthouse condominium that’s currently asking $60 million.
At the moment, she’s representing over $565 million in luxury listings in the city, including $110 million in off-market exclusives for sellers who don’t want to see their living rooms and bathtubs splashed all over Streeteasy, an enviable position to be in in this market, to say the least.—K.V.
95. Sam Chang (New)
President and CEO of McSam Hotel Group
Mr. Chang may have told folks he was retiring by age 50, but once the most recent recession struck, that meant the hotelier, now 55, had to keep working.
Since then, the head of the Great Neck, N.Y.-based firm and the king of the limited-service hotel sector has been quite active.
This January, he closed on the $22.5 million purchase of the industrial loft building at 338-340 West 39th Street. The site is adjacent to what was global digital advertising agency R/GA’s home at 350 West 39th Street, which Mr. Chang bought last October for $112 million.
The following month, he picked up two Manhattan parking lots through two separate long-term land leases: a through-block parking lot at 322-326 West 44th Street and 111-115 East 24th Street. Both sites are expected to be turned into hotels.
He’s also closed a flurry of sales as of late. Last summer, Mr. Chang sold Hilton Garden Inn Midtown East for $85.3 million, less than a week after opening the hotel and, in December, he sold the East Midtown building that used to be home to a Blarney Stone Irish pub for more than $17 million. This February he sold two adjacent vacant lots in Midtown West for $19.6 million.
And of course the above list doesn’t account for the construction projects he already has in the works, which include a number of hotels in Manhattan.—L.E.S.
96. Andrew Heiberger (93)
CEO and Co-Chairman of Town
Mr. Heiberger, who officially retook the reins as CEO of Town last October, bringing closure to much publicized contretemps with business partner and Thor chieftain Joseph Sitt over his leadership of the firm, saw a 15.6 percent jump in Town’s residential sales and leasing volume from 2013 last year. This had perhaps not a little to do with lately robust—and complimentary—new development and marketing and leasing departments. The pair are together currently responsible for more than 1.7 million square feet of residential property, including a trio of Financial District rental buildings owned by DTH Capital that Town took on late last summer. The brokerage’s total volume clocked in at more than $1.86 billion last year, a record for the firm. And, of course, Mr. Heiberger likes to dabble in condominiums from time to time, too. Town brought a pair of boutique developments to market in 2014 in the form of the Morningside Condominiums, in Central Harlem, and 15 Leonard Street, in Tribeca, where the four units released so far are all in contract, having been listed for between $6.5 million and $7.5 million. (A maisonette unit and a triplex penthouse wait in the wings.) And yet, that all pales beside Town’s successful leasing in December of the city’s most expensive rental unit—the $500,000 floor-through on the 39th story of the Pierre—not to mention its sale last fall for $7 million of 305 Degraw Street in Cobble Hill, another (neighborhood) record. Did we mention that the firm also started a commercial division last year? It also started a commercial division!—C.P.
97. David Von Spreckelsen (100)
President of Toll Brothers City Living
Under the leadership of Mr. Von Spreckelsen, the City Living division of suburban McMansion builders Toll Brothers has proven that the brand can excel in the most sophisticated of urban markets. After successful projects like the Touraine in Lenox Hill, the company has upped its game in recent years, with projects like the Pierhouse condo and hotel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, where sales have been so massively successful that an argument could be made that the BBP Corporation sold the development rights to Toll Brothers for too little at $119.7 million in rent in a 97-year ground lease back in 2012. After investing $39 million in the project, Toll is expecting revenues of some $250 million. (Although, who knows. Maybe BBP was shrewd. Last week the activist group Save The View Now got a stop-work order against the project.)
Other forthcoming projects include 1110 Park Avenue, the just-topped-out Sutton in Sutton Place and the condo portion of 400 Park Avenue South, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc. Toll also closed on three development sites in 2014, including one in Gramercy where a Rem Koolhaas-designed condo—the first in New York City—will rise.—K.V.
98. Brandon Weber and Nick Romito (New)
Founder and CEO of Hightower and Founder and Chief Executive of VTS
Just as Pepsi and Coke drinkers know there isn’t one single cola company, real estate pros should know there isn’t one single digital real estate data company that promises efficiency and analytical advantages.
This February, Hightower, a commercial leasing process digitization startup, partnered with interactive 3-D property visualization company Floored to provide potential tenants and brokers with virtual tours of a property. As CO reported in February, the partnership made Hightower the only leasing platform to offer 3-D tours on a mobile application. (Thrive Capital is an investor in Hightower; Thrive is run by Josh Kushner, who is the brother of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Commercial Observer.) The company tracks more than 10,000 vacant units totaling nearly 40 million square feet. “We built our platform from the ground up to be flexible,” Mr. Weber previously told Commercial Observer.
And in January, rival VTS (formerly known as View the Space), which provides landlords and brokers with a cloud-based system to track data, received a $3.3 million stake in its leasing and portfolio management company from Blackstone Group’s real estate unit. That came several months after VTS moved into new shiny digs at 142 West 36th Street. The company set itself up for the future with the establishment of a mobile reporting platform early last year. Mr. Romito called it a “leasing command center,” as The Wall Street Journal reported.—L.E.S.
99. Bill Bratton (11)
Police Commissioner of New York City
Concerns simmered among real estate executives in the early days of the de Blasio administration about the return of the grime, graffiti and violence that often characterized city life in the pre-Giuliani era. Broken windows, after all, are not merely the stuff of criminological theory. They're also bad for property values. But even as tension between the mayor and his representatives in blue led to breakdowns in communications—and, in some cases, in day-to-day-policing—in the wake of Eric Garner's police chokehold killing in Staten Island in July, and the December shooting deaths of two officers in Bedford Stuyvesant, crime in 2014 fell to historic lows. The city saw fewer murders than in any year since at least 1963, the earliest for which reliable data is available, and robberies, which are often considered an indicator for overall crime patterns, also hit a historic low.
In his second tour of duty in the police department's highest office (the first term was from 1994 to 1996), Mr. Bratton has overseen a massive decline in the application of stop-and-frisk tactics, while helping to maintain what the mayor has called years of "momentum" in crime reduction, lending his left-leaning administration credibility with the red-blooded capitalists that increasingly run this town. That real estate prices have maintained a momentum of their own, albeit one driving in the opposite direction, hasn't hurt the commissioner's—or the mayor's—profile with the corporate set either.—C.P.
100. Danny Meyer (New)
CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group
Mr. Meyer may be a private person, but when it comes to Shake Shack, he is quite public.
In 2014, his company prepared for the burger joint’s January 2015 initial public offering (listed on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol SHAK). The $105 million IPO came 11 years after the chain opened its first location, with that killer secret sauce, at Madison Square Park.
On the dining front, last year he opened Marta pizza restaurant inside the Martha Washington Hotel on East 29th Street and more recently, USHG’s first and only bar, Porchlight, a Southern-inspired bar in far West Chelsea. (Think: Hudson Yards/High Line territory.)
Two USHG restaurants had major anniversaries in 2014: Gramercy Tavern turned 20 and Maialino turned five. Meanwhile, as USHG’s Union Square Cafe approached its 30th anniversary and news of its soon-to-end lease was publicized, Mr. Meyer and his team started (and continue) seeking the perfect new space for the popular eatery.
And, the company was tapped to operate Untitled at the new Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking District, as well as the museum’s eighth-floor Studio Cafe.
“In the past year, as we prepared for our 30th anniversary and began to lay the groundwork for the next 30 years, nothing has made me more proud than watching our next chapter of business growth arise out of the ambitions and talents of our colleagues,” Mr. Meyer said in prepared remarks. “Our entire team is as excited as ever to keep advancing our businesses and, in turn, our culture.”—L.E.S.