Owners Magazine 2015

Slide 1: Owners Magazine 2015
Nicholas Bienstock
John Catsimatidis
Sam Chang
Isaac Chera
Charles Cohen
Tommy Craig
Douglas Durst
K. Thomas Elghanayan
Slide 10: Owners Magazine 2015
Ira Z. Fishman
Scott Galin
MaryAnne Gilmartin
Laurie F. Golub
Francis Greenburger
Jeffrey Gural
Leslie Himmel
Marc Holliday
Steven Kaufman
Jared Kushner
Robert Lapidus
Richard LeFrak
Anthony Malkin
Eric Meyer
Joseph Moinian
Jason Muss
Michael Phillips
Eran Polack
Scott Rechler
William C. Rudin
Gregg Schenker
Larry Silverstein
Norman Sturner
David Zar

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Maybe we’ve been watching too much Real Time with Bill Maher or something, but when thinking about Commercial Observer’s 2015 Owners Magazine, we decided to institute some new rules.

Owners Magazine—CO’s yearly compendium of interviews and features about the city’s landlords and developers—is one of the great platforms for the top people in the business to discuss the issues of ownership. We believe we’ve covered these topics well, but this year we tried to hone the finer details.

New rule: If an owner doesn’t fill out the survey, we’re not putting them in the magazine.

In years past when Steve Roth, or Rob Speyer, or some other bigwig decided that they were either a) too busy, b) too important or c) too angry at us for something we wrote, we would profile them anyway in what is known in the trade as a “write around.”

Frankly, it seemed silly. The great thing about a production like Owners Magazine is not that we’re naming or ranking the best in the business (we already do that in CO’s Power 100). Rather, it’s that we’re giving readers something straight from the horse’s mouth: what does Marc Holliday think about a possible real estate bubble? What was the biggest mistake of Bill Rudin’s career? What’s the most glorious achievement that Larry Silverstein tells his grandkids about? Who is Norman Sturner boosting for president?

New rule: No double dipping.

Another thing that CO did in previous Owners Magazines was put out questionnaires to two, sometimes three, people in the same firm. This also seemed like a mistake.

Not that Leslie Himmel is going to have the exact same take on things as her partner Stephen Meringoff, but while people who are partners in business might have some different answers on, say, whether they prefer a PC to a Mac, they share the same basic vision of the market and the city. We wanted to get a wider perspective, which gets us to our third new rule.

New rule: Cast a wider net.

Cohen Brothers Realty is one of the biggest property owners in the city (and the country). Why wasn’t Charles Cohen in Owners Magazine last year? No reason that we could think of—so he’s in this year. A lot of New Yorkers know John Catsimatidis as the owner of Gristedes and as a candidate for mayor. But, as Mr. Catsimatidis told us in an interview last year, Red Apple Group makes most of its money from oil and real estate deals. Mr. Catsimatidis is in now. What of the great retail families? Welcome, Isaac Chera! Isn’t there an abundance of hotels going up in this town? Say hello to Sam Chang!

New rule: Don’t shy away from the hard stuff.

This magazine isn’t just a sounding board for owners—it also offers all our readers a window into the issues that are affecting developers and landlords. Thusly, Terence Cullen has tried to explain all the byzantine details of air rights, and why it has become such a valuable commodity for owners. Danielle Balbi has tackled affordable housing’s next (and extremely treacherous, from a financing point of view) frontier: 50/30/20. 

New rule: Do it with style.

Of course, we didn’t just write about zoning and tax incentives. Liam La Guerre explains why certain architects and designers despise the glass towers that have overrun this city. Mr. Cullen has rounded up the owners who have a second life in sports teams (owning of them, not playing on them). Lauren Elkies Schram has delved into why retail condos are becoming more attractive for certain tenants. And, finally, Ms. Schram also explains why certain tenants like pre-built space versus dictating every little detail of how their office should be designed.

The end result is a sumptuous feast of this city and its real estate.—Max Gross

Nicholas Bienstock

Managing Partner, Savanna

What are your thoughts on the “b” word? (And by “b” word we mean “bubble.”)
While I am concerned about the depth of the market for offshore oligarchs buying $3,500-per-square-foot, $20-million-plus apartments, I think that the supply/demand balance of other segments of the New York market are fairly healthy. New York City is much less dependent upon the financial industry than it used to be, and is, in fact, being led by the growth of companies like Google and Twitter—the incredibly profitable companies of tomorrow. The people those companies want to hire want to live and work in New York. In addition, every other leg of the New York economy—media, advertising, tourism, education, biotech, nonprofit, etc.—are all growing. And we are seeing record offshore investment come to New York to invest into this incredible strength. Barring a 9/11 exogenous event or a worldwide meltdown, my view is that the New York economy is strong and getting stronger. That strength is based on the extraordinarily attractive fundamentals of investing here, not a bubble.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
As rents go up in Manhattan, we are seeing tremendous growth in some terrific New York City core submarkets, like Long Island City, Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Bushwick and Mott Haven. Some of these markets are “hipper and cooler” than Manhattan and are places where a tenant can find not only an exciting place to work, but also a lower price point.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
A practical, middle-of-the-road problem-solver. It ain’t going to happen, but I’d vote for Mike Bloomberg.

What tech do you most heavily rely on beside your cell phone?
My iPhone 6 Plus. It drives my wife crazy, but I’m totally dependent upon it. I don’t even use an iPad anymore.

If you had to pick, are you more of a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
I’d support anyone who recognizes that healthy businesses and safe, clean streets are fundamental to the success of this city and the livelihood of not only the 1 percent, but also the 99 percent. I grew up in New York City. The New York of the 1970s was a dirty, dangerous place and both people and businesses fled to the suburbs. In the past 20 years, New York has become one of a small handful of cities around the world that have become extraordinary magnets for talent, culture and business. But if the streets are not clean and safe and businesses are treated as a problem, all that can change remarkably quickly.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
We desperately need another rail tunnel under the Hudson. But that will require incredible coordination and cooperation between the federal government, New York, New Jersey and various agencies. I don’t see those pieces coming together anytime soon.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
We love SoBro. We are buying in Mott Haven and looking at lots of other deals in the South Bronx.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Best: the decision to launch our first real estate private equity fund in 2006. Worst: In 1998 we bought 500,000 square feet of super-powered, former IBM tech space in the Hudson Valley for $8 per square foot. In a tertiary market, sometimes you can’t give space away and $8 per square foot is overpaying! Lesson learned—invest in deep, liquid primary markets.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
I think the High Line is the most exciting and compelling urban renewal project that has been completed in New York in my lifetime. Not only is it an incredibly beautiful, visionary project, but it has helped change the Far West Side into one of the hippest and coolest markets in all of New York. This has led to the opening of great restaurants, retail, hotels, new office projects and transformative residential developments. We would love to buy more deals next to the High Line. The problem is that the cat is out of the bag and pricing is off the charts. We have not found many deals to buy there that make sense at today’s pricing.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
We started a small fractional office business directed at Internet companies in the late 1990s. The business has high fixed costs, but highly variable revenues. When the Internet bubble burst, occupancy dipped and the business model failed quickly. We have generally turned away coworking spaces as tenants of our buildings. Given our experience, it is not a business we would endorse.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
I recently flew back into LaGuardia and it was a depressing experience. The terminal was antiquated and the low-ceilinged corridors were dirty, dark and dank. As we drove back into the city, the road was filled with potholes and there were practically no painted stripes between the lanes. The underside of the overpasses had exposed rebar poking out of the crumbling concrete. It felt like I was in a third world country. This contrast is especially glaring when returning from Korea, Japan and China—where every airport is gleaming, every road is in perfect condition and all the buildings and infrastructure are new. We need a much broader upgrade to keep up with our peers across the globe.

John Catsimatidis

Chairman, Red Apple Group, United Metro Energy Corporation

What are your thoughts about the “b” word? (And by “b” word, we mean “bubble.”)
Right now there is no bubble. New York is the capital of the world and yet it is a lot less expensive when compared with other major cities like Tokyo or London.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Look at New York’s supermarket industry, which is facing similar challenges. The average rents now require 10 to 12 percent of sales. Ten or 15 years ago only 3 to 4 percent of sales were needed to pay rents. The grocer then has to raise prices on products, goods and merchandise. It becomes further complicated by the increasing costs of union-based labor for some of the supermarkets. New York supermarket real estate rents combined with energy costs have become among the highest in the nation.
Also adversely affecting tenants: NYC has been encouraging and enabling more street vendors—who do not pay real estate taxes. There is a pretense here that each street vendor is a sole, independent entrepreneur. Actually, most of these vendor locations are controlled by a few, large owners who sublet them to individuals. NYC government has allowed many of these vendors to skim customers by opening right in the front door of “bricks/mortar” retailers and business owners who are paying huge rents. (Agencies like Consumer Affairs, the Health Department, or Zoning often look the other way!)

Who would you like to be the next President of the United States?
It is too early for me to endorse a particular candidate. America’s next president must first and foremost provide worldwide defense of our nation. They must have a much-improved, pro-active leadership foreign policy, which includes stronger relationships with our allies. (It is tragic the way Christians are being slaughtered all over the Middle East and no one is defending them.)

The next president must do a much better in job growth. They must stop illegal aliens from taking jobs, which could go to American citizens. Remember, I am an immigrant from Greece—but people cannot be allowed to come and-go as they please.

The next president needs to end the practice of part-time jobs replacing many full-time, quality career jobs. The supposedly robust employment figures are skewed.

What tech do you most heavily rely upon besides your cell phone?
My computer and being able to instantly replay news and financial data. This includes accessing business news channels through my iPod.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a De Blasio guy?
I am more of a Cuomo guy.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
More incentives need to be created to motivate people to invest in New York City. My next $100 million investment could be in Florida or New York, depending on the policies of city government.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
It is going to be a very long time before the scope and quality of subway service NYC needs is achieved. Look at the way the Metrotech region subway has transformed that entire section of Brooklyn in the past decade. This includes my motivation to construct four major apartment complexes combined with retail in the Fort Greene neighborhood.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx, because Staten Island still requires much more improved transportation to support growth.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
I am interested in Nassau-Suffolk. I believe some of my development peers share my enthusiasm.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
My best decision was buying United Refining Company out of bankruptcy where I was able to save some 5,000 jobs. My worst decision was failing to get out of the supermarket business 10 years ago, given what I have now learned.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in?
The ferris wheel in Staten Island. No particular reason.

What transportation project is going to help the city most?
The new Tappan Zee Bridge should be very beneficial. The “air train” to LaGuardia would be important.

Do you think Airbnb can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
You cannot stop progress. Like UBER, AIRBNB seems to be a harbinger of the future. Ultimately, it will have some effect on NYC’s pricey hotel market.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
My choice would be the General Post Office at Eighth Avenue by 33rd Street in Midtown Manhattan. There is great access to transportation along with other major business centers.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
It is important for LaGuardia to expand their runways, even if they have to build into Flushing Bay and Bowery Bay.

Sam Chang

President and Chief Executive Officer, McSam Group

What are your thoughts about the “b” word? (And by “b” word, we mean “bubble.”)
I think the bubble eventually will come. It just depends on when. I feel we have two more years.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
I think they can just rent a space in my new hotels. The rent in a hotel is always cheaper than the retail space. Most of the hotels we’re building we are always leasing the restaurant out. Holiday Inn Delancey Street, we have a full-service restaurant there. We are leasing them for $5,000 a month. Just myself. Our rent is always 50 percent less than retail space.

Who would you like to be the next President of the United States?
Hillary Clinton for sure.

What tech do you most heavily rely on beside your cell phone? Ipod.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
De Blasio. I know him. I had a couple of dinners with him before.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: Bronx or Staten Island?
Absolutely the Bronx. I only have done one project in the Bronx. I have done three or four deals in Staten Island. They’re not as successful.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Right now what I know is San Francisco. I’d like to do something here but I can’t find anything to buy. I have three brokers working for me to find something in San Francisco.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Best: Investing in New York City. Worst: Investing outside New York City. Between 2003 to 2008, I invested a lot of money in L.A., Oklahoma City, Connecticut and Alaska. I lost over $100 million.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
That’s a very good question. Hudson Yards.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
No, I don’t. Absolutely. It already does. Real negative way.

If you could own air rights over NYC building, which would it be?
Anywhere on the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
I think whatever they do at LaGuardia Airport would be helpful. It’s just a real, real old airport.

Isaac Chera

Principal, Crown Acquisitions

What are your thoughts about the “b” word? (And by “b” word, we mean “bubble.”)
All I can say is what goes up must come down. Always make sure that you are well secured with your seat belts fastened and you should be fine and in position when it goes back up again, which it will.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
It’s not about the rent being too high. It’s about the rent being too high for that tenant for that market. You need to find the tenant that is geared to best serve that customer.

Who would you like to be the next President of the United States?
Whoever will take whatever actions are necessary, period—without worrying about public opinion. The public will ultimately be happy with the results.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
Who needs anything else?

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Brooklyn, baby!

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yes, they are.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
I already do. Corner of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Charles Cohen

President and CEO, Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
Well, I’m not in a residential marketplace. So I’m not close to it but I just am an avid reader, and I have a pretty good nose for smelling which way the wind is blowing. I think that what’s going on in the world is that there’s a lot of uncertainty [and] I don’t think anyone that develops a for-sale product today can count on attracting buyers from any particular walk of life…It’s not only what’s going on in New York City, it’s what’s going on in the suburbs, Los Angeles, in other high-profile neighborhoods across this country where there was so much product being put on the market at astronomically high prices. That tells me two things: that people have very little faith in other forms of investment and that therefore this is also a safe place to invest. Now will they be able to extract the same value of their investment in the near future? I don’t think so. But at least they have it parked somewhere that has some relative basis for safety.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
I would never have let a tenant like Union Square leave. My philosophy about retail and particularly about ground-floor retail in high-rise buildings is that [they set] the tone for value and for image. And I think it speaks volumes about the commitment of the owner. There are owners that are in this business for the short term, and there are those that are in it for the long term. I’m not interested in selling my real estate. My real estate is here for generations to come. I’m a believer in reinvesting, and a high-quality tenant could only pay so much. And I believe that a tenant has to be in business [for] himself—and not in the business of paying rent to the landlord. So it’s a sad thing when a tenant like that leaves and finds another space.

What’s your technology of choice aside from your phone?
It depends on what I’m doing. I’m using PC at home or here, or I’m using the iPhone a lot. Maybe 10 years ago I didn’t do any emails. I had people printing for me; I looked at them. It’s been phenomenal. I built a 400,000-foot office building, a 900,000-foot project with parking—3,000 miles away by video conferencing. I did two hour-long calls twice a week for three and a half years. And that’s how I got it done. I mean I visited every month, but I did it weekly almost every day by video.

Do you think coworking spaces are here for the long run?
I don’t know. I think for this generation, at this point in time, it’s here. I mean, is it really for someone who doesn’t want to work from home? Has to get out of their house? Doesn’t have enough room at home? Wants a change of scenery? Because ultimately if you’re really doing it with this or some other device, do you really need to go somewhere to do that if you can do it from home? I don’t know. I’m a little afraid of some of the firms that are growing exponentially with desk space as their predicate. They’re here and there, they grow, they explode and they go out of business.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
I have no idea. I’m really discouraged by everybody. Maybe I know too much; maybe I wish I was much younger and more naive. It’s very complicated, unfortunately over complicated for reasons beyond my control. I like to think of myself as a liberal conservative or a conservative liberal. So I really don’t know. I think that the independent is noble but I don’t think it’s practical in the scheme of things. Things cost so much to accomplish today. Did you ever think in your life you’d hear about a candidate spending a billion dollars on a race?

Do you see yourself more of a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
I’m neither.

What should REBNY’s John Banks do to win your respect?
Lead. Be clear about leading, I don’t think there’s much clarity. I think that REBNY is a great organization with deep roots and great historical value. I think it needs to be less reactionary and more proactive.

If you had to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx. Closer. Easier to get to. I know it better. I did develop in Brooklyn, so I’ve done that, and we have done work on Roosevelt Island, so I’ve been there.

What do you think is the most exciting market outside of New York?
It would depend on what you’re talking about. You’re going to need to be much more specific. I have property in Texas, Florida, California. I think those are all good markets under the right circumstances.

Everybody’s talking about 80/20… What are your thoughts on 50/30/20?
Oh we did an 80/20 on Roosevelt Island with FAJ. From what I’ve heard about 50/30/20, it’s very tough to make it work. I think to create affordable housing is a very noble, ambitious plan that needs serious attention and I can respect how the city wants to get it done. And I think the city needs to encourage more development in areas that need to be redeveloped. There are the areas that naturally get redeveloped, like Brooklyn, but there are probably other areas of burnt out sections that really need urban renewal. And that’s where the affordable houses in new neighborhoods should grow. I agree.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think you can make any dent in the New York hotel market?
No, I’ve heard about it; have you? That’s like staying in someone’s house, is that what that is? Bed and breakfast by the Internet? You know it’s almost like a sitcom, if you take the idea of a desk-sharing tech operation, and you put that in someone’s home. So you come home one night and you ask your wife “what’s new?” and there are like 10 strangers sitting there. But they’re not only working there, they’re living there.

Tommy Craig

Senior Managing Director, Hines

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
They are a great firm and their recent IPO reflects that. Hines would welcome them in many of our buildings and is highly confident that a fair rent could be negotiated with a fair sharing arrangement based on their success or not in any given space.

Who would you like to be the next President of the United States?
I would not be comfortable with either a Bush or a Clinton candidacy for no other reason than our democracy can do better than candidates who seem to be part of a dynastic tradition. I would welcome a ticket—probably needs to be a third party—with an inclusive candidate, to match that appeal to a fiscally responsible program that maximizes individual liberty.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
My iPod for music and iPad for videos and content.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
Thankfully, I do not have to pick.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
A new Penn Station is long overdue suggesting it seems least likely to get done, but I certainly hope it gets done.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx. The work that Phipps Houses—a nonprofit entity on whose board I serve—is doing on affordable housing is a great story about realizing the potential the Bronx has to offer.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
San Francisco and Seattle, where innovation is happening first and fastest. They are also points of transit and exchange for the two largest economies in the world, China and the U.S.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Best decision has been to remain with Hines in New York through the very strong development cycles over each of the last four decades offering a chance to work with people of the highest caliber.

Worst decision: not moving forward more decisively with our capital partners on 590 Madison Avenue in 1994 and 399 Park Avenue in 2002. Getting ahead of cap rate compression has separated winners from losers in global gateway markets for 15 years.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Pacific Park—formerly Atlantic Yards—which is currently being carried out by Forest City Ratner and Greenland.
Brooklyn is arguably the most exciting “new” urban location in the country and this project has been one of the catalysts in establishing a real focal point in place within the historic neighborhoods.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
All of the work being undertaken by SL Green as part of the One Vanderbilt project to improve the transit-to-transit connections associated with the Lexington Avenue line, East Side Access, Grand Central Terminal and the No. 7 line.

Do you think Airbnb can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
Yes—but only moderately.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
Our MoMA tower, 53W53, as originally contemplated.

What is the one thing that LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
The basic aspiration to create an experience for people arriving and departing from New York that is equal to the caliber of other airports around the world that are part of New York City’s peer group.

Douglas Durst

Chairman, The Durst Organization

What are your thoughts about the “b” word? (And by “b” word, we mean “bubble.”)
Not much. The office market is far from frothy and shortage of rental housing is not getting solved anytime soon. That being said, it pays to be prudent.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
USC is a great restaurant, but their old space needed to be renovated. Managing a renovation while operating is near impossible. Finding a new space was probably the best option for Danny Meyer, plus it gave him the opportunity to take a shot at his landlord.

Who would you like to be the next President of the United States?
Someone who recognizes the economic importance of and cares about cities.

What tech do you most heavily rely upon besides your cell phone?
The wheel.

If you had to pick, are you more of a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
We love all politicians.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
He’s got big shoes to fill. Keeping the membership together through a crisis is the true test of that job.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
That Sunnyside Yards thing has been kicking around for a long time.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
The South Bronx has terrific transit options.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
We think the Hudson Valley is the next big opportunity.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best was being born Seymour’s son. The worst was thinking that no one would ever want to live in Soho.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Our plate is pretty full, it’s hard even to glance up and look at what anyone else is eating.

Any predictions over the battle over rent regulation and 421a?
Government should not hand off the difficult parts of legislation to the private sector. We pay them to make tough decisions.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
We need more and better rail connections to New Jersey.

Everybody talks 80/20… but what are your thoughts on the 50/30/20 affordable housing model?
Affordable housing problems are math problems. With enough subsidy and abatement you can build a 50/30/20. Without a subsidy and a program to support it a 50/30/20 is 0/0/0.

Ever used Airbnb?
It used to be crashing on a friends couch. Thankfully, those days are behind me.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
I’ve seen this movie before. Not sure the market can support limitless expansion of coworking space.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Some aspirin for the construction phase.

K. Thomas Elghanayan

Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of TF Cornerstone

What are your thoughts about the “b” word? (By “b” word, we mean bubble.)
Downturns seem to happen just when everyone begins to think that this time will be different than the last. There tends to be a “bandwagon effect” in this business. But we’ve found it’s best to be conservative, to avoid rushing in and getting carried away. Our strategy is to stay alert, and to always be prepared.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Tenants need to be smart and think long-term about their real estate decisions. Retail retention is strong at our properties and we have tenants ranging from top-name restaurants to small mom-and-pop shops. A lot of this success can be attributed to the honest and candid relationship we have with our tenants.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
I personally like Jeb Bush. I think he’s the smartest and most level-headed of the candidates. He’s done a lot for the state of Florida in terms of lowering taxes and reducing unemployment.

What tech do you most heavily rely upon besides your cell phone?
The iPhone app, Waze, is a great piece of technology. It always manages to find the most efficient way to navigate in and out of the city. I also occasionally still use Jawbone, a fitness tracker. I do a lot of walking around at our properties and I like to keep track of my fitness stats while I do it.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
They both have their positive traits, but I believe Cuomo has a bit more of a business-minded approach to politics.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
Any time a new executive is coming in and replacing a leader like Steve Spinola—someone who has been adored and respected in his position as President for a long period of time—it presents a challenge. John Banks has big shoes to fill, but he’s a terrific guy and I’m confident that he’s more than capable of stepping up to the plate and getting the job done.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
The replacement of the Hudson River train tunnels. It will be way too expensive and time-consuming.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx—I think it’s a better investment play. Neighborhoods like Riverdale are beautiful, and there’s so much opportunity to build along the subway lines, giving residents access to great transportation options.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Washington, D.C. The real estate market there consistently remains strong.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Our best decision was investing in the Long Island City waterfront over 15 years ago and developing our portfolio there. There were surely bumps along the way, but we managed to successfully complete the development and today the neighborhood is bustling and our buildings are consistently fully leased. Our worst decision was selling off some of the properties we had in the Meatpacking District 30 years ago.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Related’s development in Hudson Yards. We understand how much of a risk it was to invest initially in the Far West Side—having been one of the first residential developers in the area. Related took a chance and it has paid off. They’ve shifted the center of Manhattan further west.

Any predictions over the battle over rent regulation and 421a?
New York City has always depended on a healthy real estate market. This administration has a roster of intelligent decision-makers, and I’m confident that they’ll modify their approach to keep the market thriving. I also think they’ll be able to resolve the last piece of the 421a program regarding prevailing wage. Everyone in the industry recognizes that the program must go on otherwise less housing will be created and rents will get pushed up.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
Revisiting plans to open up the subway stop at 10th Avenue and 41st Street. Being able to get across town in Manhattan is extremely important.

Everybody’s talking 80-20…but what are your thoughts on the 50-30-20 affordable housing model?
The 50-30-20 model is simply not feasible for developers. With the high land prices, taxes and construction costs we face today, there would have to be very deep subsidies from the government in order for it to be successful.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
I’ve never used it. It will have a significant impact on hotel prices and that’s why the business community is fighting it so hard. Additionally—while Airbnb is appropriate in some situations—it presents a challenge for building management because it creates a transient environment, requiring us to police the illegal use of our apartments for Airbnb in order to maintain a stable living atmosphere for the residents within our properties.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yes, it’s a great alternative for smaller start-ups until they are ready to transition to a conventional office environment.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
Any building that has views over Central Park in areas such as 57th Street, 5th Avenue, and Madison Avenue.

What is one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
The organization of taxis and public transportation. Getting into and out of the airport needs to be easier.

Kenneth Fisher

Partner, Fisher Brothers

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
What we have witnessed recently is the power of New York City as a place to live and do business. Real estate values are up, but there is still a great deal of demand from an investment standpoint, and New York is still viewed as a bargain globally. The big question is what happens when interest rates rise? And with all this office construction, can we create jobs fast enough to fill all of the new and existing space?

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
The boroughs outside of Manhattan have become very viable destinations for restaurants and retail. Brooklyn is a perfect example.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
I am not in the endorsement business, but you want someone who understands the dynamics of business and treats job creation as the single biggest factor. Decisions need to be made in the interest of putting people back to work and strengthening the middle class.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
My iPad—and not just because it’s got Candy Crush.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
I’m for a strong New York.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
John’s already got my respect and full support. I have no doubt that John is the right guy to succeed Steve Spinola. He’s got all the tools necessary to do a great job. I’m sad to see Steve go, because my whole tenure on the board of governors had been with Steve.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
Every infrastructure project that is on the table right now is equally important. There’s no pecking order. Infrastructure has to be attacked in its entirety. We are in trouble if we start picking projects we can think we can live without.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
All five boroughs have become increasingly viable options—not just to live and work, but also to invest. I wouldn’t shy away from any investment if the economics work.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
I have always loved Washington, D.C., and we have made a number of major investments there. Earlier this year, we opened Station House, a 378-unit residential building in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which is doing great. They always need more housing, and office space tends to be absorbed faster when there’s a Democrat in the White House because they love big government.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Yet to be determined. That book is still being written.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
The rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Downtown has become what it was always intended to be. It’s long been a great place to live and work, and shop and eat and it’s only gotten better. Look at the market it has created both commercially and residentially. When we started rebuilding, it was the catalyst for everything that is happening in Lower Manhattan today.

Any predictions over the battle of rent regulation and 421a?
There’s a give-and-take that has to happen here. We need to agree on a solution that makes it attractive to build new housing in all five boroughs. The economics in the outer boroughs are thin as it is.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
I’ve never used it, so you can probably guess that I don’t see it as a genuine threat to New York City’s hotel sector. It doesn’t seem to be scaring away hotel developers.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
I think it’s here for the long run. With the economy the way it is, more and more people are beginning to rely on themselves and their own talents. While they may be modestly successful, they can’t afford to pay Manhattan prices. Coworking spaces work for them, and it’s a great way to rent office space. It’s created a different kind of market.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
I’ll take a building in a hot district with a lot of air rights that somebody else can actually use.

What is the one thing that LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
It absolutely must include the most modern air traffic control system known to man. You need to make it so that people can get in and out of there on time. A subway extension that provides a mass transit link to the airport is also really important.

Ira Z. Fishman

CEO of EVO Real Estate Group

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
Somebody asked me that question this morning…I believe we’re at a plateau. I don’t see a bubble; I see a plateau. Rents have gone up, but ’15 has seen less activity than ’14—things are leveling off. But I don’t see a bubble.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Traditionally, they take less space or move to a less expensive neighborhood. When you talk about rents going up, it takes two to tango: unless they have zero credit, a retailer or someone’s going to pay the rent. It’s a two-way street.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
I’m not thrilled about all the options. I haven’t make up my mind.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
Cuomo.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx, because it has mass transit. To me, it’s pretty obvious.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The worst decision was not buying 257 West 29th Street for $585,000 in 1978. Want to know what it’s worth today? $110 million. The best was buying 200 Varick Street with my uncle in 1989.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
I think the entire Far West Side Hudson Yards area. From my personal point of view, there’s a lot of ownership interest in making that area more and more valuable. It’s definitely going to affect what I own east of Ninth Avenue.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
Clearly, finishing the Second Avenue subway—on time!

Everybody’s talking 80/20. But what are your thoughts on the 50/30/20 affordable housing model?
From a business point of view, I couldn’t give you an opinion. From a citizen’s point of view, I like the idea of 80/20. Throwing the middle stuff in there doesn’t sit right with me. Developers are not going to build it if they’re not going to make money. That’s what drives it. If you want to get something done that’s beneficial for low-income housing, don’t take more away [from the developers]. That’s what you’re doing by taking away the middle tier.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
I think they are. For the moment [they’re viewed as] the wave of the future; that’s the way the younger generation—not my generation—views it. But it appears to be for real.

If you could own air rights over any New York City building, which would it be?
Somewhere in Midtown East.

What is one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
The only thing I could see would be some mass transit going there. That’s the only thing that would be really helpful—like the monorail from Jamaica to Kennedy. That’s a project I’d like to see. That’s something I think would be helpful.

Scott Galin

Principal & CEO, Handler Real Estate Organization

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
There are underlying and technical macro-economic issues that could affect real estate values—for example, interest rates could impact pricing—but I do not see a bubble coming. Fundamentals are strong, and I expect that to continue. It is possible that we’ll see a leveling-off period, with real estate values “normalizing” at some point, much as we may be experiencing now in the stock market. However…as a matter of perspective, when you talk about New York City real estate and economic issues, you can’t talk about it all in one breath; it’s far too complex. But barring some unforeseen catastrophic event, I don’t see a bubble coming.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Tenants have to expand their geography when considering locations for office space. They need to be a bit more flexible on where they’re willing to relocate, and by that I mean a somewhat enhanced “grid” that would be acceptable. In addition, they need to look at their criteria set. They may have to fulfill some very specific real estate needs in order to serve and/or advance their business model, but in some cases they may have to adjust and accept that they might not be able to get everything on their wish list. Lastly, if they don’t require a custom build-out, and would accept a retrofit, many landlords will be more flexible on rent.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
Michael Bloomberg.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
Mophie cell phone charger.

If you had to pick, are you more of a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
Probably slanted a little toward Cuomo, but it’s not really an either/or situation. We need them to work together to serve New York City.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
He has my respect already. He’s a serious man with an impressive resume. I’d like to see him push back on the demonization of owners.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
Penn Station.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx, simply because of its density and superior mass transit.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Nationally, San Francisco and Miami. Locally, there are interesting opportunities in Westchester and Connecticut.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Best—making a career change to real estate at age 50. Worst decision—not doing it sooner.

What’s the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved with and why?
The entire Hudson Yards District. This is an absolute generational, transformative project. Nothing in our lifetimes—from a real estate perspective—will have a greater impact on New York City in terms of its size and scope.

And predictions over the battle for rent regulation and 421a?
After having invested in several residential projects in the five boroughs over the last two years, with more investments to come, I’m still wrapping my arms around this issue. But there’s obviously a lot at stake here.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
The Second Avenue subway will have a giant effect on the Upper East Side. Also, the 7 line extension makes Hudson Yards District a practical reality. Further, the East Side Access project—extending the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central—would have the biggest effect on the city at large because workers would then be able to effectively commute to and from Long Island to Midtown Manhattan.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
I haven’t used it, but I don’t think it will have a significant impact on the hotel market. However, it should be regulated properly, as traditional hotel owners are subjected to far greater scrutiny and regulation, giving Airbnb an unfair competitive advantage. If they want to compete in the hotel space—and more power to them—then they should be held to the same standards as the rest of the hospitality market.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yes, but they are only suitable for certain uses and not others. There’s also a concern about potential overbuilding here. The larger operators probably have the size and scale to flex as needed, but some of the others might struggle. It is entirely possible that when the market “normalizes,” some operators might find themselves with a lot space they can’t lease.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
Any of the buildings we own. Otherwise…the Chrysler Building.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Additional runway capacity. Without it, all the other improvements are still great, but they don’t resolve the key problem. As currently situated, LaGuardia is simply too small.

MaryAnne Gilmartin

President and Chief Executive Officer, Forest City Ratner

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
I think NYC remains incredibly strong. The shaky international markets may certainly have some impact over time on the super high end, but NYC will continue to attract a wide range of people from all economic backgrounds and we are focused on meeting all of those needs.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
I don’t think it is an issue of what Union Square can afford or not afford. I think it is an issue of some institutions—cultural, restaurants, community—that create value in a community and then find it difficult to stay there. We need to create environments that are economically diverse. It is hard but it must be a goal if we want to maintain the diversity that is the defining characteristic of New York.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
Hillary Clinton, of course. She’s a tenant.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
I have an iPhone and a BlackBerry and a wide variety of computers in different locations. The tech I rely on most heavily, though, is my mini iPad. It fits perfectly in my purse and I can operate from anywhere.

If you had to pick, are you more of a Cuomo supporter, or a de Blasioite?
New York is very lucky to have both so we don’t have to choose.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx. Location, location, location.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
San Francisco is the most compelling; Jersey City has the most promise.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Best decision is a tie: accepting the Urban Fellow placement at the NYC Public Development Corporation, the predecessor of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and joining Bruce Ratner at FCRC 20 plus years ago. As for the worst? Given our real estate holdings and ownership in Brooklyn, I do wish we had jumped into the coworking business years ago.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
The New York Wheel/Staten Island Ferris wheel. What’s more exciting than a 60-story Ferris wheel?

Any predictions over the battle for rent regulation and 421a?
I think the industry will reach an agreement that recognizes the extraordinary cost of development in this city, especially for affordable housing.

What transportation project is going to help the city most?
Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access and the extension of the Number 7 line. Mass transit is the backbone of this city and responsible for our economic strength. We worked for ten years with the LIRR on upgrading the transit infrastructure at Pacific Park Brooklyn, so I know how hard, important and impactful these types of projects are.

Everybody talks about 80/20. But what are your thoughts on the 50/30/20 affordable housing model?
The 50-30-20 model is good; we are using it at 461 Dean Street and will use it on some other buildings at Pacific Park. The main issue is that a developer needs to have the financial capacity to do a 50/30/20 because 80/20 allows for a larger ratio of market rate rentals to subsidize the affordable units. And rising land costs exacerbate this challenge.

Ever use Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
So far, just outside the country. I am a believer and a customer.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
I prefer air rights over rail yards—bigger, bolder and even more complicated.

What is the one thing that LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
SoulCycle. Would be nice to get in a workout while waiting for flights.

Laurie F. Golub

General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, HFZ Capital Group

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
I don’t believe it’s a bubble because there are a significant number of buyers who are expressing interest in buying the available inventory and money is still coming in domestically and internationally.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
There are new areas that have arisen around the city—both in in Manhattan and the boroughs—that have drawn a significant number of tenants for their more affordable rents and have seen their businesses flourish. Union Square [today is] not what Union Square was when Danny Meyer first leased space there.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
Someone who has an understanding of people’s needs, can create jobs, protect our borders, hopefully lower taxes and create an excitement in America once again.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
My computer.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo supporter, or de Blasio?
Depends on the issue. I am for the New York guy who is pro-real estate and pro-business.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
He already has my respect. I have worked with John over the past several months since he was announced by REBNY as Spinola’s successor. He has proven himself already to be strategic and thoughtful in approach.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
The Second Avenue subway. Or maybe it’s just starting to feel that way…

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx. It’s the next natural frontier heading north. The cost to enter is very low and the opportunity for success is significant. Staten Island is still challenged in terms of accessibility by public transportation.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Detroit. Because it was beaten down so low in terms of pricing that developers are now re-entering at a very low cost basis and the opportunities for success are significant. Detroit is seeing a resurgence in young people who want to live there because of its affordability and the restaurant industry is already booming.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best decision was leaving law and choosing the real estate industry as my primary focus. The worst decision was not buying buildings in the ’80s and ’90s.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Hudson Yards. Grand scale, mixed use—changing the West Side skyline.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
The extension of the 7 line, which will enable the realization of the Hudson Yards vision as a place where people want to live, work and play.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
Never used it, but still don’t think it will make a dent.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
220 Central Park South.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Adding new or extending existing runways to accommodate more international air travel and jets.

Francis Greenburger


Chairman and CEO, Time Equities

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
I think certain markets have very aggressive cap rates and the question is whether they are going to be sustainable through thick and thin, and that obviously applies to New York. My own orientation is generally wanting to own real estate that is positive leverage. There are many thoughts about this, but my own predilection is to sustainable positive yields.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
I think they made an intelligent choice, which is to look at relocation options. With all due respect, the space that they had on 16th Street was an awkward space. I’d be delighted to have them in my building in 50 West Street and I think many landlords would be delighted to have them for less rent. It’s a very strong brand and they should utilize their negotiating power. The people that go to Union Square Cafe are not just going because it’s on 16th Street. I’m sure it would do well downtown.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
From the known candidates, Hillary Clinton. I think that it is very important that we have leadership that does not sensationalize the conflict and hurt that exists in this country or in any country. And I think Hillary has the kind of statesmanship and demeanor that can appropriately represent the most important country in the world.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
IPad. For email.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
I respect de Blasio’s social agenda and I respect Cuomo’s political acumen. I would like to roll them into one.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
The thing is I don’t really know him. I haven’t met him and I’m not really in touch with what his policies or ideas are. So in one way or another he needs to be more visible, to me at least.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
I would pick the Bronx, because I think the Bronx’s transportation access to rest of New York City is easier. I like ferries, but they are not as convenient as subways.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Well, we are bullish on Chicago right now. And we are also bullish on Detroit, both downtown as well as suburban. We see a lot of recovery in greater Detroit. We see major revitalization going on in downtown Detroit and there is large amount of people who want to reside in downtown Detroit and who want to work there. We think downtown Detroit, as well as suburban is well on its way back. We own and rented a lot of space there.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The worst decision that immediately comes to mind of my career was to develop a golf course community in a very beautiful, but too-early-in-the-cycle of an area of Toronto, called Muskoka.
The best decisions of my career were some of my early purchases in New York, including the building on Spring Street between West Broadway and Thompson [Street] that today is worth 600 to 800 times the purchasing price I paid for it. I bought it in 1975.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
For me, it’s the World Trade Center redevelopment. I think it’s an example of government getting it right. The commitment to infrastructure, the commitment to memorializing history and the commitment to rebuilding has been nothing less than spectacular.

Any predictions over the battle for rent regulation and 421a?
I think the city government is being extremely shortsighted and I think that history has shown that excessive rent regulation and the lack of what are effectively temporary inducements are not in the interest of creating housing and a stabilized market in New York. And it is very confusing to me that we have a city administration that wants to create affordable housing but does everything in its power to discourage that from happening and sees no relationship between that and incentives and production. It is still a market economy and those are the things that market economies respond to.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
I haven’t used it as a consumer. I think my wife uses it to rent a cottage we have in France—we have a cottage in southern France. And I know other people that have used it. I think it’s a very positive force and it is making certain underutilized housing available for people for travel.
I think there are complicated zoning uses, but when used properly it shouldn’t affect transient housing. But if it’s used properly it might affect long-stay hotels.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
I think the post office site on Eighth Avenue between 31st Street and 33rd Street offers a major mixed-use development opportunity. It’s one that occurs to me.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
You know, I think that [Berlin] Tegel Airport is unique in one’s ability to access planes approximate to the entry point to the airport. I think that’s an interesting model to consider for LaGuardia, which already benefits in its design in not having excessively long terminals.

Jeffrey Gural

Chairman, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
It’s always a bubble, and then one day it bursts and everything crashes. It usually doesn’t go down slowly. It just goes down quickly. That’s the biggest shock to those people who are novices at this game.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Usually the tenants that you see being forced out are mom-and-pop operations, not tenants like that. I feel more empathy for the mom-and-pop operator. In our buildings, if I have a tenant that’s been there a long time, I’ll generally not try to raise the rent to a level that they can’t afford as owners.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
Any Democrat. But right now, I guess that would be Hillary.

What tech do you rely on most heavily besides your cell phone?
I’m not a high-tech person, but I use my iPad constantly.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
I’m friendly with both. Although, the governor may still be angry at me for some remarks I made to the press a couple of years ago. Hopefully, all is forgiven at some point. I think both have their strengths and weaknesses and I really would hate to have to pick one.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
He’s really won my respect. I think he has a great reputation. Steve Spinola is a tough act to follow, so I wouldn’t want to be in John Banks’ shoes to be honest. But I’m not all that concerned that he won’t be up to the task. I think he understands politics and labor relations, and I think he’s a good choice for the job.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
I lived a good chunk of my life on Staten Island, so I’d have to pick there. You can make an argument that the subways connect to the Bronx. We own a building in the Bronx, actually, which has always done okay. But I think Staten Island may have more going for it along the waterfront.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
We own some property in Jersey City, and that area seems to really be flourishing. Any place where you can take the PATH train into the city is no different than taking the subway somewhere. The views from Jersey City are spectacular, and I think it’s really growing by leaps and bounds.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best decision probably was getting into the real estate business, which I had no interest in. My father and his partners persuaded me to try it. Then hooking up with Barry Gosin.

Anybody will tell you this, but the worst decision: I had the contract to buy the Crown Building about 30 to 40 years ago for a couple of million dollars. My lawyers talked me out of it because we were buying an offshore corporation and everybody felt there were unknown liabilities.

What’s the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in?
The Hudson Yards. I think that’s a terrific project and when that’s completed it’ll make that area around the convention center really vibrant. Obviously, Brookfield has done a good job downtown with their buildings. But I think Hudson Yards is a really spectacular project, and I give Related a lot of credit for having a vision to take it on.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
Getting those tunnels [between New York and New Jersey]. You get [the impression] that these two rail tunnels between New York and New Jersey are in terrible condition and are way overcrowded. All it takes is one thing going wrong and it backs up the whole system. Protecting people who travel between New York and New Jersey on Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, I think, is really important.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
I’ve never used it, but my son just used it when he went to California. Certainly it will not help the hotel market at all. It will hurt.

Are co-working spaces here for the long run?
I do think they’re here to stay. Whether they’re going to expand too quickly, that’s to be determined. I’ve seen the model that WeWork has. It seems to be growing, and they seem to have a successful model. When a lot of kids graduate college today, they’re looking for a job. They can hook up with two or three people, start small and have an opportunity to network with other people. At least they can tell their parents that they’re going to work and they’re not sitting home.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
“I’m not sure [about] developing in the Plaza District, [or] the Grand Central area, if that’s where the growth is going to be.”

What’s the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Having the ability for people to get there by train would certainly be an important component. At rush hour it’s a tough place to get to from Manhattan. Finding a way to take advantage of the existing subway system and tie that in would be important.

Leslie Himmel

Principal, Himmel + Meringoff

What are your thoughts on the “b” word?
Historically, real estate economic cycles repeat themselves; a long-term growth cycle is often followed by a downturn. However, New York City real estate is facing so many positive growth factors, including new industries and companies expanding as well as rising international demand so that it is unlikely, in my opinion, for a bubble to burst. Yet, it is inevitable that there will be a correction, which will create opportunities for us to buy properties and expand our portfolio.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
IPad.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
Having served on the board of governors and executive committee and co-chaired REBNY’s Economic Development Committee since 1992, I know the difference that a strong, influential President of REBNY can make, as evidenced by Steve Spinola’s major impact. I’ve had the benefit of meeting both individually and in groups with John and feel confident that his inimitable perspective and fresh vision will lead us forward in the right direction.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done? The Gateway Tunnel Project to build a high-speed rail corridor between Newark and New York City.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
Bronx.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Long Island City. We have been owners of 34-02 Queens Boulevard, a full square block building, since 1986. I am confident that LIC’s phenomenal growth and expansion will continue.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best decision was to partner with Steve Meringoff in 1985 and we’ve enjoyed a fabulous partnership over the last 30 years. The worst decision was signing personal guarantees for our loans in the late 1980s.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
Two things, the extension of the 7 subway line along West 34th Street to Hudson Yards and the Jacob Javits Center, and the completion of the Second Avenue subway.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yes, coworking spaces are here to stay. We just leased the entire office space at 1460 Broadway (180,000 square feet) to WeWork, they are also tenants at 401 Park Avenue South and we are confident of their continued success and long-term growth.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
All the air rights around Grand Central Terminal.

Marc Holliday

CEO, SL Green

What are your thoughts on the “b” word? (And by “b” word, we mean “bubble.”)
Specifically as it relates to the New York commercial property market, I am not seeing anything that resembles a bubble. The fundamental driver of the commercial market is job growth, and job growth has been very strong for several consecutive years and is now more diversified among industry sectors. There’s no sign of a let-up, even in the face of disquieting world events. Demand for space remains strong, as evidenced by declining vacancy rates and double-digit mark-to-market rent increases.

What infrastructure project to you think is least likely to get done?
With 520 miles of coastline, New York City’s coastal developments are very vulnerable to storm surge as we saw in Sandy. While ambitious in its conception, I’m skeptical about the city’s ability to install storm surge barriers or deployable flood walls, to protect high risk shoreline areas. A project of this scale would likely cost in excess of $25 billion to construct, have substantial operating and maintenance costs, take decades to complete, and have significant environmental impact.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
It’s great to see so much new construction activity around the city after many years of dormancy. I think that the new MoMA project is a building that captures the cultural aspects of New York in the 21st century in its assimilation of art and architecture. The MoMA campus has been completed with the extension of the galleries to the west on three floors.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
The really good news is that the opening up of Manhattan’s East Side is truly on the way, with the Second Avenue subway project nearing completion and the LIRR access to Grand Central moving ahead. The completion of the latter project will enhance the area considerably, bringing in tens of thousands of commuters per day to help fuel local economic growth.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
We created our own incubator space platform several years ago and we rent space to other providers as well. We expect that to continue. The market is there—there are many small companies that can benefit from well-located, high-quality, office space that is fully supported. Our long-term view is that by helping to nurture them at the beginning, we have a good chance of keeping them as tenants as they grow.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
We already own the city’s best commercial development opportunity, and that is enabling us to move forward with One Vanderbilt. The city was very smart to make economically-viable bonus density possible along the Vanderbilt corridor, and we are developing an incredible project that will serve as the area’s commercial hub and catalyst for growth.

Steven Kaufman

President of the Kaufman Organization

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Tenants need to be more creative when it comes to finding space—side streets and up-and-coming neighborhoods can be very attractive locations for tenants priced out of neighborhoods where rents are surging.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
My iPad. It’s very convenient—I can access office email and can read the papers. When I’m away from the office, it’s always beside me.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
If I really had to pick—Cuomo. De Blasio’s recent comments about the Times Square pedestrian mall are very negative. The business improvement districts worked very hard to get the pedestrian malls built—visitors and residents benefit from them.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
I am very hopeful that all major Manhattan projects will be completed—the Hudson River tunnels, Hudson Yards, the first phase of the Second Avenue subway and LIRR access to the Grand Central Terminal, are all projects I envision the public benefiting from. But, down the road, development in the Sunnyside Yards in Queens, looks like it may never happen.

If you were going to invest in one, which would pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx has better transportation; the subways all go to the Bronx.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
New Jersey.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Generally speaking, the best decisions we have made were to buy properties in New York and the worst have been to sell.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Hudson Yards is very exciting. They are creating a whole new city on the far West Side: new buildings, lots of residential, a new street—extremely exciting project.

Any predictions over the battle for rent regulation and 421a?
For political reasons, New York City will always have rent regulations.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
The Second Avenue subway and longer term, the building of new rail tunnels to and from New Jersey.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
From what I hear, it can co-exist with the hotel market in New York City.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yes, absolutely. They still represent a small percentage of the Manhattan office space market.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building which would it be?
Grand Central Terminal.

What is one thing that LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Rail access.

Jared Kushner

Chief Executive, Kushner Companies

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
I think right now we’re at a place where New York City is growing and there continues to be job growth and population growth. People are moving to New York, people aren’t using excessive amounts of debt, and people investing now have a long-term horizon.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
They should move to places where they can afford the rents—there are a ton of restaurants in this city and another restaurant was able to pay the rent. This is about people evolving their business, exploring their areas. Rents are a factor of supply and demand.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
That’s an easy one.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cellphone?
IPad.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
I think he’s got the credentials and the background. It’ll be interesting to see how he interacts with the real estate community. Spinola left big shoes to fill—so he has to be able to focus, to make sure that he’s putting his attention on the highest priority initiatives, but mostly he has to explain why real estate owners are naturally aligned as partners and benefit from each other doing well, and manage things like 421a.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
I’ve chosen not to invest in either. Luckily, I’ve been able to find opportunities closer to Manhattan that I’ve been enjoying.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Jersey City is one. San Francisco or London maybe. Those are probably the next best outside of New York.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best was moving the business to New York. And the worst was any building I decided not to buy from 2009 to 2012.

What’s the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
The World Trade Center—Manhattan has moved south as the population has expanded into Brooklyn and Jersey City, and Downtown is the new center of the New York metro area as it expands. The World Trade Center is in the center of all that.

Any predictions over the battle for rent regulation and 421a?
See my Banks answer. The outcome of this will have an impact on that!

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
Whatever improvements to the rail they can make between Manhattan and Jersey City.

Ever used Airbnb?
No.

Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
Yeah, it could expand the market 10-plus percent. One way or another, it will have an impact on the market.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Absolutely.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
I think it would be awesome for New York if they could really make the airport feel like a world-class user experience. It would create great jobs. Oh, and give easy access to the city.

Robert Lapidus

President, Chief Investment Officer, L&L Holding Company

What are your thoughts about the “b” word? (And by “b” word, we mean “bubble.”)
Real estate’s a cyclical business—there are up markets, and down markets. I can’t predict the future, but what I can do is plan accordingly and intelligently and hope for the best, plan for the worst. Don’t overleverage, don’t take crazy risk, take advantage when interest rates are low and when things change be nimble. Clearly the market is healthy now—how much longer does it last? I don’t know.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Union Square Cafe can afford rent—they chose to move somewhere, else. [Danny Meyer] was part of a successful empire, but there are so many [restaurants], and the failure rate is very, very high. Landlords and tenants need to work to find creative ways to structure deals, so that restaurants and landlords can be more partners. But sometimes you have to go to a different location. Right now when the real estate market is as high as $200-plus rent it pays to be cutting edge. And when [a restaurant or retailer] grows up it goes to a more established neighborhood.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
I’m a music guy. Spotify, Pandora, Sonos. Music is an important part of my life.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
David [Levinson]’s on the board of governors so he knows him a lot better than I do—but it’s always a tough job balancing the needs of constituents and the city. I hope he’s an open minded, thoughtful, practical person—it’s not more complicated that. It’s certainly not an easy position to fill, and I wish him luck.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
As a Yankees owner, I pick the Bronx. I spend time in Bronx; I spend no time in Staten Island. There’s probably good reason to invest in both—[but] I would defer to the Bronx because of the subway.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
London, San Francisco—places like that. Miami has some interesting potential. The 24/7 global gateway cities, where the young people want to be, infrastructure is, and all aspects of your life can be outside your doorstep. I don’t believe in investing in tertiary markets even if you can buy cheap and get great cap rates.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Best was partnering with David—that’s a really easy one. The worst was probably investing in New Jersey—a commercial office in New Jersey, that was more of an aspirational [decision] than reality.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Probably Hudson Yards and World Trade Center, I hate to say one over the other. We need new product in New York and both are going to be fabulous. I’m never betting against my friends in Related and Oxford; Hudson Yards is transforming that neighborhood, and area. World Trade Center really started the rebirth of downtown in a real meaningful way.

Ever used Airbnb?
Never.

Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
My general view is we are in the age of the disrupter economy, be it Uber disrupting taxicab medallions, or Fresh Direct. Airbnb found a niche, it’s being filled, and it obviously ruffled feathers along the way. But at the end of day, there are certain people who come to New York to study who want to be in a hotel, some want to live in someone’s home. There’s room for both.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Coworking spaces are an answer to today’s economy, with small companies, startups, who don’t know if they’re going to have 10 employees or 1,000. As young companies mature, they’ll want to have their own space and won’t want to share, but that’s part of our economy that needs that.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
425 Park, 12 months ago.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
All of the New York metropolitan airports are terrible. They all need to brought in 21st century. Anything we’re doing is a plus.

Richard LeFrak

Chairman and CEO of LeFrak

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
We’ve had low interest rates—and there’s been an avalanche of money coming into New York, so the market is pretty frothy at this point. I’m not sure fundamentals justify some of the higher prices, but New York sometimes defies logic.
You have to be selective—I don’t think everybody in the boroughs can pay $4,000 a month for a two-bedroom; the rents are sometimes too high. But at the end of the day—in New York especially, where the population is supposed to increase by a million people in 10 years or 20 years—I always go back to, “Where are you going to put them?”

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
They become resourceful, that’s all. There’s no such thing as an unconventional location today—five years ago, 10 years ago, Brooklyn was an unconventional location.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
I have a computer at my desk and an iPad. I’m pretty technologically savvy. I’m not like a kid, but my firm is highly reliant on technology, and we have a very sophisticated system to manage our buildings, and our assets and liabilities.

If you had to pick, are you more of a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
Much more of a Cuomo guy.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
Stop just representing owners of office buildings and owners. I [wish] that was [his] approach—stop being Manhattan-centric, office-centric and broker-centric. Be a bit broader. To me, if they’re going to represent the real estate industry, look at all of it.

What infrastructure project do you think is the least likely to get done?
Extending the 7 subway to Jersey. It’s a great project—but the thing that happens here with the infrastructure of the region, the [New York people say] it’s a New Jersey problem, or a Westchester problem, or a Long Island problem. They don’t look at it as one giant metropolis, and that’s what they have to do. It would be great if they extended subway to Jersey. Will they do it? No.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
Miami… I’m like a lot of [New York developers in that LeFrak is] more of a national company now. I think I like New York best. But it’s the hardest market competitively—it’s like being in a tank with 20 sharks versus 500 sharks. There’s more money here than in any other market, and it’s harder here because of that.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best was buying land on the waterfront in Jersey City. There’s a lot of money out there—and in many ways it was also the worst decision. It stopped me from going [elsewhere]. I’m the largest owner on the waterfront, we have 20 million square feet there—I took on a big project, I’ve been developing, I’m still developing it, it was highly successful, but I couldn’t do other projects.

Any predictions over the battle for rent regulation and 421a?
Rent regulations will continue to get more severe because the pendulum is swinging in that direction—but the battle over 421a is ridiculous.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
If they improve Penn Station, that’ll make a big difference. And if they improve the tunnels to New Jersey.

Everybody’s talking about 80/20. But what are your thoughts on the 50/30/20 model of affordable housing?
It’s a math problem. [When you factor in] cost of land and making a fair return, and you look at the non-market rents, somebody has to subsidize it. Today people are more open to [living] in a community of heterogeneous incomes. This was not the case in the past few decades. But in the end it is a problem of creating subsidies to cover the costs of providing shelter at a reduced rent.

Do you think Airbnb can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
Yes—it’s an online travel agency and it’s more inventory. Does it compete with inventory at top? Not really. Is it ever, “I’m going to stay at the St. Regis or someone’s house?” It’s a little crazy that they have a totally unregulated system, and that tenants in apartment houses can turn their apartment into profit center but there’s regulation on the landlords.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yeah, I think they are—it’s not a new concept. WeWork is Regus with a beer tap. I’m not being critical of them, it’s shared office space and instead of a fax machine they have a basketball court, instead of a conference room, a bike room.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building which would it be?
The ones next to my site on 57th Street.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Correct mass transit access.

Anthony Malkin

Chairman and CEO of the ESRT

What are your thoughts on the “b” word?
Rents are certainly not in a bubble; tenant demand fundamentals are solid, particularly for the high quality, great locations and good values presented by ESRT.

It is interesting to see public investors who have access to daily liquidity withdraw investment from the REIT market, driving company values to a meaningful discount to property values, while private equity investors continue to drive pricing higher. Remember, private equity capital must be invested, otherwise managers lose fees and potential for upside, while public company investors come and go as they please and rate their view of value every day.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Adapt and redeploy. Danny Meyer’s businesses are growing and he’s making a lot of money. He makes his own choices on locations, concepts and returns on his investments. Just because he has to close an outlet because rents have gone up is not the end of anyone’s world.

What tech do you most heavily rely on beside your cell phone?
My laptop.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
The flood-proofing of downtown.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx. Better location, better access.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Best: Going public. Worst: Buying a garden apartment property in Kansas City, Kan.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Residential development in Midtown in the 30’s is changing the entire complexion of the marketplace.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
The Second Avenue subway is going to change the entire market dynamics of the Upper East Side.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
They have been here for decades, and they will be here in the future.

Eric Meyer

Senior Managing Director, Colliers

What are your thoughts on the “b” word?
There are always cycles, which present opportunities. Prices definitely seem high based on compressed cap rates, but we are all hoping that rents grow at a faster pace than interest rates.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford the rents, what’s a tenant to do?
When possible, firms should take risks and move to cutting-edge locations where rents are lower and they can benefit from a maturing neighborhood. I believe that also adds to the “cool” factor for restaurants and bars. Union Square is a more stabilized market and tenants are willing to pay for that certainty.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
I tend to side with the social policies of the Democrats but have serious concerns with their fiscal agenda. If I could combine the best attributes of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, that would be a candidate I would vote for. But it is quite early in the race and I think the game will change a lot over the coming months.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
My home computer with high-speed Wi-Fi. It allows me to be with my family during off hours and still be connected and complete the day’s work.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
I am staring to get worried about all the homeless people on the streets. The current administration is populated with really bright politicians, but I think many of de Blasio’s policies are too much to the left for my taste. I also wish [he] and the NYPD could better work out their issues.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
I have met with him a few times. He is highly intelligent and has an excellent reputation. I respect him already and hopefully time will prove that he is the right person for the job.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
Connecting New Jersey to Penn Station. East Side Access, the Seventh Avenue subway and the Second Avenue subway will be completed…eventually.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx, because of transportation. The Bronx has a lot of potential.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Locally, Long Island City is the most opportunistic market outside of Manhattan. Throughout the U.S., I would say Miami (unless the bubble pops there too soon). Outside of America, I think that much of Europe offers value opportunities due to the U.S. dollar’s strength and the European economy.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best and worst decision are the same. Working with my father, Marty, because he is my best work friend and always lifts my game up. It is also the worst because I have to work twice as hard to prove that any success I achieve I accomplish on my own. But that drive has helped me to succeed, so even the “worst” part of it is also really the best.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Hudson Yards. This will be a spectacular development, made truly out of the Wild West of New York City real estate. They are creating a huge development project in a part of the city that, for practical purposes, was useless.

Any predictions over the battle for rent regulation and 421a?
Rent regulation is not going to change much and 421a will continue in one form or another.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
East Side Access and the 7 extension line. It will combine Grand Central Station with Penn Station and allow East and West to merge.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
I haven’t, but I do not think it will have any effect on the hotel market because the cost of apartments [is] so high in New York City that for most people it isn’t worth using them as a hotel.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yes, but the model will change over time. As tenants who lease space in coworking locations—and the owners of those spaces—both mature, the needs and functionality of coworking spaces will evolve.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which one would it be?
Grand Central, because they are easy to transfer, and easy to monetize.

What is one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Transportation both to and from the airport and within the airport itself, and amenities including shopping, spas, restaurants and the like—entertaining ways to pass the time between flights.

Joseph Moinian

President and CEO, The Moinian Group

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
The local and national economies are strong, and my expectation is that trend will continue, particularly as capital continues to flow into New York City from foreign sources. New York City also continues to be the one city globally, among all others, where the younger generation wants most to be, experiencing an exciting work/live/play lifestyle that is 24/7. I have never seen greater interest in New York than I see today. There is always the possibility of an outside event that could impact our market, and there has been news of late regarding a possible correction among some Chinese investors, but indications are that our local real estate market will continue to perform at an extremely high level.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Prices for all types of space have steadily increased over the last few years, which is a demonstration of healthy demand and a positive economic environment. There are some parts of Manhattan—particularly on the Far West Side—that are still emerging and are providing retail and commercial tenants with great opportunities for now and into the future, which is wonderful for New York City businesses.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
I will decide very soon.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
We have recently implemented new tech platforms for leasing and asset management for the entire company that I have become very in tune with on a regular basis. Additionally, our leasing agents at Sky are using a new touchscreen technology to show clients the great amenities, views and floor plans offered. It has been extremely popular and I am very happy with its success.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
The tunnel to New Jersey, but I hope that I am wrong.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
In the U.S., downtown L.A and Miami I see as the most promising.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
One of the best decisions was to invest in and purchase more than 4 million square feet of buildable land along 11th Avenue more than 20 years ago. We held onto these assets and waited until the market and the area—the Far West Side—were ripe for major development activity. We’ve reached that time and our plans for this land are coming to fruition. We are in the process of completing Sky—a 1,175-unit luxury residential rental tower at 605 West 42nd Street—and will soon begin construction on the foundation of 3 Hudson Boulevard—our 1.8 million-square-foot mixed-use development in the heart of the Hudson Yards District. I only wish I had purchased even more land along 11th Avenue when I had the chance!

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
The East Side Access project will be a wonderful addition to our city, allowing a far easier commute from Long Island to Grand Central. This will open up opportunities for everyone. Connectivity is the key to our economy. I am also looking forward to seeing the positive impact of the Second Avenue subway line.

What transportation project is going to help the city most?
The new 7-line subway extension along the Far West Side. This addition will connect the rest of the city to an area that was previously underserved, as far as transportation, and serves as the catalyst for the area’s overall development possibilities. The 7-line extension is one of the key aspects to making the Hudson Yards District one of the greatest neighborhood development projects in New York City’s history.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Coworking spaces have been around for a very long time. While the concept has recently been revamped and it has become a very hot topic, this type of office space has been meeting a specific need in the New York City commercial market for years, especially with TAMI tenants. I expect this will continue and we plan to be a part of it in our Midtown South portfolio, where coworking and tech go hand-in-hand.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
The Metropolitan Museum.

What is one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Travel to and from New York City is vital to our continued economic success, especially as we are seen as a safe haven for international investors, and as we continue to set records for visits by tourists, who contribute greatly to our economy, and act as brilliant advertising agents for the city. The improvements at LaGuardia will be a major benefit to all, as long as they ensure that there is more runway space to accommodate the increased demand for flights.

Jason Muss

Principal, Muss Development

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
My thoughts on the “B” word? I can think of much worse words. But a bubble would refer to an artificially high market—one being fueled by a frenzy of some kind. We just don’t see that happening now. In most instances real people are buying apartments to use or rent out. In all instances hotel rooms and office space is being occupied by real visitors to New York and real tenants who want to be here. Retailers who stop making money, in our experience, quickly go out of business. If they can’t afford the rent they generally don’t bother in the first place.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Find a location in which they can afford the rent. Or sell something else. It is that simple. We live in a capitalist society and these questions are best left unasked. The market usually figures things out quickly. We recently replaced a Barnes and Noble in Forest Hills with a new concept smaller Target. It wasn’t our choice, frankly. Barnes & Noble couldn’t afford the rent any longer for the long term and declined to exercise an option they had. Target has a new concept and very much wanted the location. They acted very quickly, and got it.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
I have no idea. Way too early to tell.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
Google Maps and Argus. Simple but useful. And whatever air traffic control uses to keep tourists coming safely into New York.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy or a de Blasio guy?
I am more of a “give me a break and please don’t ask me that question” kind of guy. There is no reason we need to choose between our mayor and governor. They have political differences—so what else is new?

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
He already has my respect. He is a known entity in New York and a terrific guy. REBNY and the New York real estate community are going to be well served by his presence. It would be great if he could continue to focus REBNY on common sense policies that benefit all of New York, and thus, of course, the real estate industry. All of our interests are pretty closely aligned.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
New tunnels across the Hudson River; $20 billion is a lot of money!

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
Staten Island.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
London? Detroit? East Hampton? Tel Aviv? Who the heck knows?

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
I haven’t been around long enough yet to answer this one.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
I recently attended an event for Yeshiva University’s real estate division, at which Jeff Blau was the speaker. He made a compelling case for Hudson Yards. The sheer magnitude of it all is very impressive and will be a great boon for New York.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
The Second Avenue subway. The Upper East Side is an incredible neighborhood, with spectacular schools, restaurants and cultural amenities. It needs to expand eastward and the subway will allow for that. It will also help make the case for the continued expansion of the Midtown office district, and the continued development and revival of East Harlem. It is going to be a very symbolic indication that we can still make big capital projects happen.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yes. They fill a real need. It reminds me of the trend of people continuing to live with their parents after college. Not everyone is ready to go out on their own.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building which would it be?
Trump Tower—imagine having Donald Trump have to pass through your apartment to access his helipad! That would be quite interesting.

What is one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
A direct train in and out of there, connecting to Midtown Manhattan somewhere, where there are many subway connections.

Michael Phillips

President, Jamestown

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
We’re faced with a less interesting Manhattan. Landlords need to be mindful of keeping New York interesting for New Yorkers and for visitors alike.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
Google.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
He already has it.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
Both.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Boston is compelling right now and continues to have strong growth in the tech sector.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Hudson Yards and the Penn Station sub market. Pressures on all sides and innovative thought make this an exciting time in those neighborhoods.

What transportation project is going to help the city most?
The waterfront is the best option for inter-borough transportation long term with ferries, water taxis and other options.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
I’ve not used it but heard success stories. Not sure how well it would apply in New York City.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Certainly, I think they’ve been here for the long run for a long time with models like Regis. Newer, sexier, upmarket options like WeWork and NeueHouse I think provide more choice. I believe we will start to see more conventional companies using this type of space to manage growth and contraction and IT solutions in the future.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Fast through lanes between terminals.

Eran Polack

CEO & Co-Founder, HAP Investments

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
If the market decreased 10 to 15 percent, I would expect international and domestic buyers to step in and absorb the difference, as demand for Manhattan real estate remains strong. As a company, the HAP portfolio is largely rental and located in emerging markets. We are not overly invested in luxury products that need to sell at a high price per square foot.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
The commercial retail market is interesting, as an increase in vacancy has not led to a decrease in prices. Markets like Harlem, Bushwick and Red Hook will continue to see an increase in demand as tenants expand to new neighborhoods and boroughs.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
I want to focus on development and not politics.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
My Apple Watch.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy or a de Blasio guy?
I am a Cuomo guy and a de Blasio guy. Both love New York, both love the citizens of New York and both are trying to do good with a different approach.

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
One infrastructure project I think should be completed is a network of streetcars or a light rail. Ted Rall wrote a great opinion piece in the Observer in February on the subject.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
Given our strong portfolio in northern Manhattan, HAP would be more comfortable doing projects in the Bronx.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
The Jersey City market is very promising, with good public transportation into Manhattan.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best decision of my career was that I purchased land in Manhattan at attractive prices during a down market, and the worst decision is that I did not purchase more land than I did.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Ziel Feldman’s HFZ Chelsea land acquisition has exciting possibilities and is in a superior location.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
The Second Avenue subway line will relieve tremendous overcrowding on the 4/5/6 subway line and add value to HAP’s properties in East Harlem.

Everybody’s talking 80/20. But what are your thoughts on the 50/30/20 affordable housing model?
The 50-30-20 housing model needs to be structured properly to take into account that development costs are very high. Land and construction costs make it very difficult to make most projects work financially. I agree that more needs to be done to add housing for New Yorkers of all income levels.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
I have used Airbnb in the Hamptons and Canada when vacationing with my family. I think there are separate markets for Airbnb and hotels, as the customer base is different.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yes. Coworking spaces allow many individuals and industries to exist in an expensive urban environment. It fosters collaboration and opens possibilities of new business practices.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
A building in Brooklyn or Queens with open views of the Manhattan skyline in which I could construct a tower.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Dedicated driverless car lanes to facilitate easier arrival and departure time, and connection to public transportation either subway or light rail.

Scott Rechler

CEO and Chairman of RXR Realty

What are your thoughts about the “b” world?
While valuations for commercial real estate have recovered to, and in some cases past, the 2007 highs, I do not believe the market is in bubble territory. There are three key differences from the 2007 bubble.

First, the leasing markets are much healthier. Demand continues to pick up steam and is being driven by a diverse group of industries. At the same time, while Class A rents have recovered, they are still only up about 30 percent from the cyclical trough as compared to 90 percent in past recoveries.

Second, in 2007, prices were inflated by highly leveraged investors that were able, with relatively little equity at risk, to speculate that rent growth (which was already up over 90 percent from the trough at the time) would continue to soar. At the time, lenders were glad to fuel this speculation.

Today, lenders are much more disciplined and are being much more conservative about the amount of leverage an investor can take on. Finally, the investors that are driving the appreciation of value in this cycle are primarily well-capitalized institutions that, as mentioned, are using low leverage and are long-term holders. Accordingly, even in the event of a correction, these investors will have the capacity to invest in upgrading the properties and hold them through downturns, which should help keep the bottom from dropping out of the market.

That being said, one has to acknowledge that real estate is a cyclical business and corrections do come from time to time. Also, I do worry about potential “bubbles” in the land market. It seems that prices are being driven by an assumption that residential real estate prices will continue to appreciate endlessly. Investors may not be properly differentiating between land that is well suited for that type of development and the market in general. I guess time will tell … until then, we at RXR remain cautious when considering investing in land and development projects.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
First, it’s worth pointing out that, if a tenant is priced out of an area, this does not mean that “nobody can afford the area.” Rather, it means that someone else is willing to pay more—which is generally a positive sign for the city. Meanwhile, with respect to those tenants that have been priced out, in many cases we have seen these tenants turning to alternative markets in Manhattan and the outer boroughs. Ultimately this should result in a stronger regional economy. However, to allow this dynamic to continue to play out, we as a region are going to require continued investment in public transportation and infrastructure and to continue to focus on quality of life to make these alternative markets attractive to companies and residents.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
Someone who is principled, experienced and puts the country as a whole ahead of his or her party.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
My iPad … I don’t even travel with a computer anymore.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
I believe that suburban downtowns across the region that offer walkability, diversity and architectural character and that are linked to the city through efficient transportation will be key to the region’s continued growth and should be looked at as an important potential source of affordable housing for the region’s workforce.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Best decision: To sell Reckson in 2007. Worst decision: Not to take some time off before starting RXR.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Hudson Yards will transform Midtown Manhattan for generations to come. It is a model of how a combination of good planning, creative public infrastructure investment and the tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector can do extraordinary things.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
One of the biggest transportation challenges we face as a region is how to move the millions of commuters across the Hudson River. Just recently, it was announced that the New York City region passed the population mark of 20 million people, the first region in the country to do so. Our region has done nothing but continue to grow, yet we’re using the same rail tunnels that were built over 100 years ago, bridges and tunnels that haven’t been expanded since the 1960s, and a bus terminal that’s operating well beyond its capacity. We have to expand our transportation infrastructure across the Hudson River, but this growing challenge can’t be solved with one stand-alone project. It will require developing a comprehensive, holistic solution that involves better utilization and expansion of our existing infrastructure, as well as constructing new facilities to meet the transportation needs of the region. From a new rail tunnel, an expansion of our ferry system, to addressing our need for a new bus terminal by considering solutions both in New Jersey and New York that enable us to monetize the intrinsic real estate value of the existing bus terminal in Midtown Manhattan and minimize future bus congestion—all of these things must be on the table in developing a trans-Hudson solution.

What is one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
For far too long, LaGuardia has been the stepchild of the region’s airports. The last thing that LaGuardia’s modernization effort should do is continue the kind of disjointed development that has plagued the airport over the past few decades. But as the governor outlined in his vision for LaGuardia last July, I am confident that the days of piece-meal planning and development at the airport are over. We’re now moving forward with a comprehensive redevelopment effort that will transform LaGuardia into the kind of 21st century airport that this region deserves.

William C. Rudin

CEO and Vice Chair of Rudin Management

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
I think there’s tremendous liquidity and capital in the market and the economy still seems strong—particularly in New York where growth continues to occur. The market has diversified away from financial services—which is growing after several years of not. So we’re cautiously optimistic that the city will continue to retain its value. There’s tremendous interest in investing in New York from all over the world both in residential or commercial. Sales volume in the first half of the year was very strong, and leasing volume is on track to do better than last year.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
If you go back to when Danny Meyer did that first lease—20 or 30 years ago—that was a neighborhood at that moment in time that was thought not to be safe. He thought out of the box and took a chance, and that’s what happens in this city when that neighborhood becomes too pricey. But he will create value for himself and the market will figure out a way to deal with that. In my mind it creates opportunities in other neighborhoods to get re-invigorator and revalued.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
I use multiple devices—Blackberry, iPhone, iPad—depending on the situation.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
Continue what he’s been doing, and [that’s] showing leadership, strong political acumen and understanding the importance of creating jobs and balancing needs of affordability with economic reality.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
I would pick the Bronx because of our historical connection—that’s where my grandfather Sam Rudin built 1400 Benson Street, but I’m going to keep with our [company philosophy], “If I can’t get there by subway I don’t want to own it.” So that’s where we would build. Which is not to say Staten Island doesn’t have great opportunities with the Ferris Wheel and the Staten Island Yankees and all the economic development. And you can get there by the ferry, so I guess you can get there by public transportation.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
Marrying my wife. She’s helped me in my life, been supportive and helped me raise two amazing children, who now work for me.

The worst would be not listening to my grandfather, who said not to go to college but put a desk in his office and work with him. I went to college and then he passed away. I should’ve done that for a year.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
I think East Side Access is a very big project that will have tremendous impact on the city, and in particular Midtown East.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Most definitely yes—that’s a very big driver for our economy, the sharing economy. It’s affordable and it’s creating a platform and infrastructure for [small businesses] to grow. Most definitely.

Gregg Schenker

President of ABS Partners Real Estate

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
Well located and well maintained properties in NYC should, over time, hold their value, notwithstanding market cycles. Of course, every cycle ends at some point. The key is to be aware and stay in a position to ride out changes in economic conditions.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
For as long as I can remember, retail rents in NYC for prime locations have been disproportionately high relative to the sales revenue that the occupying business can generate. This dynamic is a major component of the retail-leasing paradigm of New York City. I am a longtime fan of Danny Mayer; Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Café are two of my personal favorites. It is my understanding the Union Square Café has identified a new location to expand and remain nearby.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
A person with experience running a business who is thoughtful, intelligent, understanding and cognizant of complex social and policy issues. They should recognize there must be a method to pay for social programs, while maintaining a balanced budget, and creating incentives for businesses to reinvest and grow. I would like to see greater balance in the tax code so that America maintains a strong middle-class meritocracy, and immigration reform. By making changes to immigration policy everybody would pay their fair share of taxes and receive their fair share of benefits.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
All forms. I rely heavily on VOIP technology, which our office utilizes, and, from time to time, allows me to work from a remote location. My iPad is also indispensable.

If you had to pick, are you more of a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
I am hopeful that Bill de Blasio will become more focused on the value of a motivated and respected police force, the importance of safety in our city and the value of quality of life in New York City. Gov. Cuomo has been a very effective leader, promoting tourism, helping to create jobs, attracting new and keeping existing businesses, and fighting for policies that make New York State more competitive.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
I hope for well thought out ideas and positions, both balanced and objective. With respect to the official REBNY position regarding important policy issues, I believe it is important to avoid self-serving recommendations and always remember there is more than one perspective on policy and how it affects others; in a large city like N.Y. we must often compromise.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
If I had to pick just one, I would be biased towards the Bronx because it is connected to the subway system. There are many charming and lovely neighborhoods in the Bronx, which could benefit from new investment. Many years ago, some of the Robert Moses projects disrupted and changed otherwise good Bronx neighborhoods. Utilizing the talents of great planners, this dynamic could be corrected and, to the extent possible, old neighborhoods could be restored and new neighborhoods created.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Miami is experiencing incredible growth and prosperity, based upon three key groups of real estate buyers: U.S., European/Russian and South Americans. For different reasons they are simultaneously purchasing residential real estate and driving absorption, which in turn is creating demand for retail and commercial development along with new infrastructure projects. I think the dynamic will continue for a long period of time. I am a partner in a property in downtown Miami, which our group has owned since the 1990s; our investment group is amazed by the depth of the transformation.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best decision was to team up with honorable, decent people. I have been lucky enough to have excellent partners and believe teamwork is critical to success. I have made plenty of mistakes, although there is no one mistake that stands out beyond others. I recall making an investment in a loan fund, which did not turn out well; the managers were the most capable and highest caliber, although not as disciplined with this fund as they were in the past.

Any predictions over the battle for rent regulation and 421a?
The real estate board would be well served in supporting reasonable rent regulation in exchange for vacancy decontrol. 421a is critical to new development, and should be renewed subject to negotiation and possible amendments to the law.

What transportation project is going to help the city most?
East Side Access will be incredible for the Grand Central office market by bringing together two major mass transit lines of Metro North and LIRR plus the NYC subway system. Values in that location should dramatically improve. I am equally enthusiastic about the future potential of the LIRR serving Lower Manhattan along with PATH trains based upon the same rationale.

Everybody’s talking 80/20… But what are your thoughts on the 50/30/20 affordable housing model?
It is very difficult to set aside a total of 50 percent for affordable housing, 30 percent for median income housing, and simultaneously have a viable development, even if land value is zero. In order for the program to work well, substantial additional tax abatements or economic credits are required. The 80/20 program has been successful and should be enthusiastically embraced and continued. One important dynamic related to 80/20 is that people with lesser economic means are well served through integration as opposed to segregation. The 80/20 program embraces integration.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
I have never used Airbnb. Notwithstanding the issues, I think there is substantial demand for New York City hotel rooms, given the approximately 54 million visitors each year.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
I envision density within office space increasing further. Ten or 15 years ago, the model was 250 square feet per employee vs. the present target density of 100 square feet per employee. With the passage of time, rising values and the need for corporations to remain competitive and efficient, it occurs to me that office space, at some time in the future could be used 24/7/365, with employees being allocated a portion of each day within a specific space. For example: one employee could use an office for an eight hour shift beginning at 6:00 a.m.; the second employee starts an eight hour shift in the same space beginning at 2:00 p.m.; with the possibility for a third shift beginning at 10 p.m.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building which would it be?
The Flatiron Building. It is the coolest, most interesting building in New York City. However, that building will and should always be preserved. Therefore, my preference is to own air rights in places where development can occur.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
The rebuilding of LaGuardia Airport is long overdue and a wonderful concept for the future growth and sustainability of NYC. Access to LaGuardia via mass transit through a new comfortable high-tech rail line, which connects Grand Central Station, Penn Station, 125th Street, Lower Manhattan, JFK Airport and the NYC subway system would be a meaningful transformative component helping to reduce traffic, congestion, and to make the airport experience much more user friendly.

Larry Silverstein

Chairman, Silverstein Properties

What are your thoughts about the “b” word? (And by “b” word, we mean “bubble.”)
I like the “b” word for bullish. I have always been bullish on New York—and I continue to be bullish on New York. I’m on my way to being 85 and I have gone through I don’t know how many of these bursts. It’s fascinating because after every low, it gets higher. You see, what’s happening is values overtime are increasing here in New York. It’s a place where an enormous amount of capital is coming from around the globe to find safety. People want to put their money somewhere where it could be protected and there is no better place than New York.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
I’ve been in this business for about 60 years. What has always worked are the laws of supply and demand. I think somehow things will sort themselves out using the laws of supply and demand. The other consideration is restaurants have a very important part in our lives and therefore the impact on attracting other tenants, in the floors above, can be affected by the quality of the food or the nature of the food that is provided by the restaurant below. These are other considerations for the developer and it’s not always based on price.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
Whoever the American people elect will probably be the best person to be president of the United States.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
Technology is wonderful. Cell phones and iPads are all very important, but the most important ingredient in everything you do is people. I look around at Silverstein Properties and we have wonderful people. I love the idea of having the brightest and the best people and I think that’s what makes the best company.

If you had to pick, are you more of a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
Well, you have two different functions. You have Gov. Cuomo functioning at a high level to make the lives of people in New York State better and here in the city you have [Mayor] Bill de Blasio doing the same thing. At the end of the day, time will tell who was the most influential in their role.

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
First, John has stepped into an elephant’s shoes. Steve [Spinola] had that position for about 30 years and did an extraordinary job and came to be respected by everyone in the industry and in government. My sense is John’s knowledge of the city will do him well. I wish him the best.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
Well, they are different. They are two very different boroughs. But if I had to take one, the Bronx is where I spent four years in college so I would say for sentimental reasons I would pick the Bronx.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
What I like outside of Manhattan are the boroughs. Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island are exploding and it’s good for New York City. The next place I suppose that will feel an impact will be New Jersey.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
It could be the best or the worst. The inception of buying the World Trade Center was the best and then six weeks later it was the worst. We took the title about six weeks before 9/11.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
Clearly the transportation experience that will result from the completion of the PATH terminal at the World Trade Center will be the most impactful to the people of New York. The terminal, which is scheduled for completion early next year, I think will stagger everybody in its beauty and efficiency and it will provide for a transportation experience unlike any other existing facility.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
I would think so. When you have creative people they really enjoy working together. The Silver Suites that we have here at 7 World Trade Center, which is expanding to 4 [World Trade Center], has been very successful for us.

Norman Sturner

President and Chief Executive Officer of MHP Properties

What are you thoughts on the “b” word?
There is no bubble in New York; it’s a dome. There’s plenty of room to grow.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Since the beginning of time it’s survival of the fittest.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
Marco Rubio.

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone.
David Greene, [president of brokerage services at MHP]. [Laughs] Our IT department.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy or a de Blasio guy?
Definitely a Cuomo guy!

What does REBNY’s John Banks need to do to win your respect?
He already has it!

What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
Bridges and tunnels.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
The Bronx.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
California.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best decision was to enter the real estate business in 1971. As far as the worst decision, I haven’t made it yet, but stay tuned!

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
The redevelopment of the east side of Manhattan. Midtown Manhattan needs new infrastructure.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
The rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey.

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yes.

If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
The Roosevelt Hotel.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
A direct rail to LaGuardia without any need to change trains.

David Zar

Principal of Zar Properties

What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
The real estate market has been cyclical for the past 100 years and we are definitely at that peak. There will eventually be a reset but we are very fortunate that New York won’t be as drastically affected as elsewhere.

If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
Unless you are a destination tenant, it’s an unfortunate situation to be in at the moment. Luckily there are landlords who prefer the security of having a creditworthy tenant as opposed to achieving top dollar. Unless the market shifts downward there’s not much for them to do. Maybe find the next up-and-coming neighborhood and secure a long-term lease.

Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
Our city was positively impacted when a businessman like Bloomberg was elected rather than a politician. He ignored public opinion and acted in the city’s best interest—like when he banned smoking indoors. I was furious about that at the time, but am now super appreciative. It’s pretty unrealistic, but I would love to see that happen again. The publisher’s father-in-law would be an interesting option!

What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
My cell phone charger.

If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy, or a de Blasio guy?
Cuomo.

If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: The Bronx or Staten Island?
My choice is the Bronx due to the population and transportation. The housing demand, foot traffic and population density will always remain stable and therefore be valuable factors for any investment.

What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
Any market that is easily accessible to New York City: New Jersey, Westchester, Long Island. Residents will continue to get priced out and will prefer the longer commute rather than pay escalating rents. Conservative investors are getting priced out as well and will look for better returns nearby.

What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The worst was ignoring everyone and getting involved in a project that was too good to be true. The best was ignoring everyone and acquiring properties in the downturn.

What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you’re not involved in and why?
Related’s projects on the West Side, Hudson Yards, will transform that area. They are building a city-within-a-city—which is unbelievable.

What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
Second Avenue subway. It will reduce a ton of congestion on the east side and revitalize that neighborhood.

Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
We rented a house in the Hamptons over the summer using Airbnb and it was a relatively easy process for me—and beneficial to that homeowner. I likely wouldn’t have found it anywhere else. New York City is fortunate to have over 50 million tourists visiting every year. A few thousand rooms sitting empty won’t have a great impact. They are now also implementing food and beverage into their business model so charging $20 for a single drink will help balance that “dent.”

Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
They are a phenomenal option for both startups that are not looking for the long-term commitment, and established companies looking to enter and grow a presence in the city. Groups like WeWork promote networking and entrepreneurship within, and I think the members appreciate it. We are fortunate to have them in our portfolio and they have been fully occupied since their grand opening. They are here to stay.

What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
LaGuardia in my opinion is the most horrible airport I have ever visited in a major city. It is an embarrassment to New York City. Revamping is an understatement. Tear it down and rebuild from the ground up.