The New Players of Commercial Real Estate and CRE Finance


2016 is just two months away and with the next wave of changes to come in the New Year, Commercial Observer sought out the most talked-about rising stars in commercial real estate. In total, we profiled 55 young guns—25 lenders and debt brokers under 35 years old in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic markets, and 30 leasing, sales, development and investment professionals under 30 years old here in the Big Apple. Looking back at the real estate and real estate finance industries more than 10 years ago, we found them both mostly comprised of older men.

This year, both lists of those born in the age of VHS were filled with more enterprising women than ever before. There are unconventional real estate players, like crowdfunding experts; but this is not to say there aren’t plenty of others who have mastered the bread-and-butter deals of the trade, like a $17 million lease for a single Microsoft store on Fifth Avenue. But for all the players here we expect an extremely bright future.—Damian Ghigliotty and Max Gross

25 Lenders and Debt Brokers Under 35

Ulrike Ahrens, 31

Director at Colliers International

Ulrike Ahrens got her start in private banking and wealth management at Deutsche Bank in Hamburg, Germany. The young finance specialist later served as an executive director at the European-American Chamber of Commerce, while working at the Bank of Princeton in New Jersey. She joined the capital markets and structured finance group at Colliers International this September, alongside her colleague Jeffrey Donnelly, after working for two years at DTZ.

Over the past 12 months, the German-born executive has arranged $26 million in deals on behalf of sponsors with another $318 million generated through letters of intent. Most recently, she helped secure renovation financing for a 252-room hotel in Hawaii; placed predevelopment, bridge financing for a luxury condominium project on Chrystie Street in the Lower East Side; and arranged bridge financing for an 18-acre luxury gated community in Whitestone, Queens. The 52-home community along the Whitestone waterfront, which is being developed by the New York-based real estate firm Edgestone Group, will include a park and marina.

Ms. Ahrens holds an associate degree in economics and a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance from the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management in Germany.—D.G.

John Alascio, 34

Managing Director of Equity, Debt and Structured Finance at Cushman & Wakefield

John Alascio, who joined Cushman & Wakefield in March 2013, works out of the brokerage giant’s Manhattan and East Rutherford, N.J. offices and reports to Steve Kohn, the president of C&W’s equity, debt and structured finance team. Mr. Alascio is responsible for the greater New York and New Jersey markets in his current role.

In the last year, he has led more than $1.6 billion in joint venture equity and debt deals and has worked on more than $5 billion in total transactions. The largest deal he brokered in that time was a $500 million loan on behalf of Atlas Apartment Holdings and Starwood Capital Group for a portfolio of 20 multifamily properties in Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Mr. Alascio was also part of a team that worked on the $315 million loan from Natixis Real Estate Capital to a joint venture led by Savanna to refinance One Court Square in Long Island City, Queens. Prior to joining the brokerage firm, the Baltimore native worked as a senior vice president at the New York-based investment bank Oberon Securities.

Mr. Alascio holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and criminology from Villanova University and attended the New York Institute of Finance for continued studies in financial accounting.—Danielle Balbi

Caroline Finger, 30

Commercial Banker at J.P. Morgan Chase

Caroline Finger joined J.P. Morgan Chase’s community development banking team from Citibank in August 2013. She is now tasked with originating construction, bridge and permanent financing for the development of affordable rental housing. Within the last year, Ms. Finger has completed $93.2 million in debt deals. While Ms. Finger primarily lends to for-profit and not-for-profit real estate developers in New York, with a focus on upstate, she also covers the Connecticut and Massachusetts markets (she grew up in Greenwich, Conn.).

She closed the community banking division’s first deal in the Bay State—a $13.2 million construction loan to Lawrence CommunityWorks to convert an old textile mill in Lawrence, Mass. into a 73-unit affordable housing rental facility. More locally, Ms. Finger closed an $8.5 million construction loan to Home Leasing to convert the Eastman Dental Dispensary in Rochester, N.Y. into 52 rental units. Forty-three of those apartments will target seniors and physically handicapped residents earning at or below 60 percent of the area median income.

Ms. Finger holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from University of Pennsylvania and an M.S. in real estate with a concentration in finance and investment from New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.—D.B.

Daniel Fromm, 33

Managing Director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

Daniel Fromm joined Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s capital markets group in August 2014 and has helped his team make a deeper push into national multi-housing finance. The New York-born debt and equity broker, who previously practiced law from 2007 to 2011, has closed $1.2 billion in financing over the past year under the leadership of NGKF Senior Managing Director Jordan Roeschlaub.

Among those deals was an $81 million loan for a value-add multifamily deal in Portland, Ore., a $40 million loan for an office acquisition and repositioning in Seattle and a $38 million loan for a ground-up senior housing project in Portland. He is now marketing another $1 billion in financing with Related Companies, MetLife, Colony Capital and Siguler Guff & Company.

Mr. Fromm holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Queens College and a J.D. from New York Law School.—D.G.

Laura Greenfield, 33

Vice President and Team Leader of Commercial Real Estate at M&T Bank

Laura Greenfield has been with M&T Bank’s New York commercial real estate team for more than eight years. She has stayed particularly busy in the past 12 months, originating a total of $750 million in debt.

The largest transaction Ms. Greenfield worked on in that time was $252 million in Housing Finance Agency financing for TF Cornerstone’s 80/20 development at 33 Bond Street in Downtown Brooklyn. She also led negotiations on the $175 million loan that M&T provided to development firms Flank and The Carlyle Group in June for their mixed-use retail, hotel and condominium development The Boerum in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. The Chicago suburbs native served as the administrative agent and sole lead arranger on both transactions.

Ms. Greenfield holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from George Washington University.—D.B.

Judah Hammer, 32

Vice President at Meridian Capital Group

Judah Hammer joined Meridian Capital Group in 2005 and now manages a team of three junior brokers and one analyst and underwriter. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining client relationships and has worked with 37 unique lenders throughout his career.

Year to date, Mr. Hammer has closed 140 loans, totaling close to $600 million, up from $473 million in debt deals in all of 2014. The Woodmere, N.Y. native has $716 million in construction and bridge financing in the pipeline. Mr. Hammer recently brokered a $52.8 million acquisition loan from New York Community Bank on behalf of a 406-unit multifamily property in North Plainfield, N.J., and a $22.7 million financing on the landmarked Paul Robeson Residence, a 128-unit apartment building in Manhattan’s Washington Heights.

Mr. Hammer holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Touro College.—D.B.

Michael Hoffenberg, 32

Founder and Managing Principal at Trevian Capital
Michael Hoffenberg started New York-based Trevian Capital—named after his high school mascot—just over two years ago and has originated $200 million in short-term bridge loans across 13 states since then.

Year to date, his firm is en route to investing a total of $150 million in debt, with a goal of reaching $300 million in 2016. Mr. Hoffenberg recently worked on a $22 million loan, which Trevian provided to Summit Equities to renovate a condominium and retail property at 148 Duane Street in Tribeca. The Chicago native also closed a $16.5 million loan to The Pugliese Company for a 400,000-square-foot self storage and industrial property in Belleville, N.J.

Mr. Hoffenberg received his bachelor’s degree in real estate and finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and his M.S. in real estate with a concentration in finance and investment from New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.—D.B.

Brandon Jenkins, 29

Chief Operating Officer at Fundrise

Prior to joining Fundrise, the real estate crowdfunding platform co-founded by brothers Daniel and Benjamin Miller in August 2012, Brandon Jenkins worked as an investment broker and advisor at Marcus & Millchap.

He now oversees product development for Fundrise and works with the design and technical teams to set the strategic direction for the firm’s platform. Within the past three years, Fundrise has grown its user base to more than 60,000 individuals and institutions and has expanded its reach to Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Within the first quarter of 2015, Fundrise sourced $50 million from investors—the same amount it sourced in all of 2014—and expects to raise up to $150 million for the full year. The McLean, Va. native originated $65 million in the last 12 months—one of his larger deals being $5 million in bond financing for 3 World Trade Center, and the first-ever crowdfunding construction loan for a Starbucks-anchored retail project in Tempe, Ariz.

Mr. Jenkins holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and public policy from Duke University.—D.B.

Christopher Kramer, 32

Vice President of Commercial Real Estate at Société Générale

Christopher Kramer, who joined Paris-based Société Générale from the Royal Bank of Scotland in January 2015, has helped several national and global sponsors finance their assets.

He now covers a wide range of borrowers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, providing both fixed-rate and floating-rate loans from the company’s New York office. Mr. Kramer has worked on more than $1.5 billion in loan transactions during his time at RBS and SocGen and has played a key role in several major CMBS deals closed in recent years. Within the past 12 months, that included a $760 million floating-rate loan to Starwood Capital Group to fund its acquisition of five regional malls during his run at RBS. The Massapequa, N.Y. native also played a significant role in SocGen’s first three CMBS offerings—the $716 million WFCMT 2015-SG1 and two others slated to be announced before the end of the year—since he and his colleagues joined the multinational banking firm.

Mr. Kramer received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Villanova University and his M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern School of Business.—D.G.

Michael Lavipour, 33

Principal at Square Mile Capital Management

Michael Lavipour joined Square Mile Capital Management in July 2013 and is in charge of the real estate investment firm’s debt originations in the Northeast.

The New York City native closed roughly $825 million in originated mortgage loans, mezzanine loans and preferred equity loans within the past 12 months. He also oversees all capital markets activities, including funding from warehouse lines and bank sales. During that time, Square Mile originated a $74.2 million loan to finance the purchase of a five-property, 152-unit multifamily portfolio in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights. The New York-based firm also originated a $75 million refinancing loan for 10 Penn Center, a 671,505-square-foot office tower in Philadelphia’s West Market Street. A joint venture between Sterling American Properties and Greenville Partners Investment Company purchased the property in 2006.

Mr. Lavipour holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from University of Pennsylvania.—Rachel Butt

Michael Lee, 26

Senior Mortgage Broker at HKS Capital Partners

Michael Lee, who joined the rapidly growing mortgage brokerage HKS Capital Partners in June 2011, now manages 13 other brokers at the boutique New York-based firm.

Since last November, the Long Island native has closed $250 million in deals on behalf of borrowers, with another $180 million in the pipeline. Among his biggest transactions of the past 12 months, Mr. Lee—the son and grandson of Chinese farmers—arranged a $30 million loan to refinance a retail and office building on Fifth Avenue and three loans totaling $26 million for three brownstones on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He is currently working on a $70 million construction loan for a condominium project in Midtown East and a $16 million construction loan for a 54-unit rental property in the Bronx.

Mr. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in business and applied economics from Cornell University.—D.G.

Jason Lydon, 32

Director at CIT Group

Jason Lydon works out of CIT Group’s New York office alongside Matthew Galligan, president of the company’s real estate finance division.

Mr. Lydon originally joined the financial firm in 2012 as an assistant vice president of originations, underwriting and portfolio management. He was then promoted to vice president in January 2014 and became a director in March 2015. In the past year, the Summit, N.J. native has originated $284.6 million in debt. Among his recent deals was a $19 million first mortgage that CIT originated for Hayden Maguire Real Estate Company’s purchase of a 152,000-square-foot office building in suburban Philadelphia. Mr. Lydon also worked on a $20.1 million construction loan to Bridge Development Partners for the completion of a 260,000-square-foot industrial building in New Jersey.

Mr. Lydon received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Fairfield University.—D.B.

Caleb Marten, 29

Vice President at KeyBank

Caleb Marten originally joined KeyBank Real Estate Capital’s mortgage servicing team as a surveillance analyst in 2009 and moved over to the bank’s mortgage group in 2012.

Since he was promoted to a mortgage banker this January, the Overland Park, Kan. native has originated more than $1 billion in multifamily financing. In his current role, he originates permanent financing for owners of multifamily assets through a number of KeyBank’s platforms, and works with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Federal Housing Administration (FHA), CMBS and life companies. This year, one of the largest deals Mr. Marten secured was a $44.5 million Freddie Mac loan for Citi Lakes Lux Apartments—a 346-unit apartment complex in Orlando, Fla. He also originated a $54.6 million Fannie Mae loan for a 622-bed student housing property, Flats at West Village, in Charlottesville, Va., which closed at the end of October.

Mr. Marten holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Kansas State University and an M.S. in accounting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.—D.B.

Christopher Peck, 31

Associate Director at HFF

Mr. Peck joined HFF’s New York office in January 2012 and has steadily amassed a large deal roster since then.

The young broker has assisted his team in closing nearly $1 billion in debt and equity across more than 15 transactions this year. Those deals include the $150 million acquisition and mezzanine financing for Ceruzzi Holdings’ 520 Fifth Avenue purchase and the $38.1 million preferred equity recapitalization of Brickman’s 95 Morton Street, a Class A office property in the West Village. Prior to joining HFF, the Long Island native worked for The Durst Organization, where he focused on acquisitions, development and leasing in the New York market.

Mr. Peck holds an M.B.A. from Fordham University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Colorado.—D.G.

Michael Petrizzi, 32

Director at Wells Fargo

Michael Petrizzi joined Wells Fargo Real Estate Capital Markets out of college in July 2005.

The Brooklyn native, who works with a national client base out of Wells Fargo’s New York office, originated $421.9 million in CMBS and balance sheet commercial real estate loans over the past 12 months. Among those were a $79.3 million loan on the 38-story City Place 1 in Hartford, Conn.—the tallest building in the city and state—and a $60 million loan on an office building in Campbell, Calif.

Mr. Petrizzi holds a bachelor’s degree in real estate from Baruch College.—D.G.

Justin Piasecki, 34

Principal of Real Estate Capital Markets at Avison Young

Justin Piasecki joined Avison Young in 2012 as the third member of the firm’s New York City office and the first member of its debt team. He is responsible for arranging financing packages for investors and developers, and trading performing and non-performing loans for banks and funds. Internally, Mr. Piasecki also helps recruit new employees in New York.

This year, he has closed more than 40 deals, totaling more than $600 million. One-third of that debt was provided through a $200 million line of credit from Nomura for West Coast-based real estate fund Corona Asset Management—an affiliate of HMC Assets. The credit is being used to finance the acquisition of non-performing real estate loans from banks and provide bridge financing for investors. Mr. Piasecki also arranged $30 million in acquisition financing for a hotel in Miami Beach.

Prior to joining the team at Avison Young, the Voorhees, N.J. native worked as a senior vice president at the international real estate banking firm The Carlton Group. Mr. Piasecki holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Rutgers University.—D.B.

Matthew Polci, 31

Director at Mission Capital Advisors

Matthew Polci joined Mission Capital Advisors in the national advisory firm’s debt and finance equity group in July 2015. Within the first half of the year, he closed nearly $485 million in debt deals nationwide with Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group, which he joined in 2009.

In his first deal with Mission Capital, Mr. Polci is representing a Harlem-based developer to secure financing for a development site in Upper Manhattan. The young debt broker also closed a $210 million loan for a luxury residential buy in Brooklyn and a $175 million loan to refinance an office building in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Polci holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Queen’s University in Canada and an M.S. in real estate finance and investment from New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.—R.B.

Arielle Rosenberg, 31

Senior Production Manager at Greystone

Arielle Rosenberg, the wife of Greystone Managing Director Donny Rosenberg, daughter-in-law of Greystone Chief Executive Officer Stephen Rosenberg and the mother of six, has stayed busy as of late.

Hailing from Long Branch, N.J., Ms. Rosenberg primarily works on agency deals out of Greystone’s New York office and has closed roughly $1 billion in loans in the past 12 months. Two of the larger deals she originated this year include a $20.5 million Housing and Urban Development loan for a residential project in Washington, D.C., and a $35.6 million loan for a project in Miami.

Ms. Rosenberg holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women.—D.B.

Jarret Schochet, 32

Senior Loan Officer at W Financial Fund

Jarret Schochet joined the New York-based direct lender W Financial Fund in late 2010. The Woodmere, N.Y. native first became exposed to the inner workings of commercial real estate as a child when he helped his father (a Long Island-based landlord) collect rent checks from tenants.

Within the last year, Mr. Schochet has closed more than $200 million in 42 debt deals—most of which were first and second mortgages in the five boroughs. In October, the young loan officer originated a $25 million acquisition loan—comprised of a $19 million first mortgage and a $6 million mezzanine loan—for a 500,000-square-foot development site in Flushing, Queens. In September, he closed a $3.5 million first mortgage on an industrial property in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in 24 hours. The borrower plans on redeveloping the 20,000-square-foot site into a hotel.

Mr. Schochet holds a bachelor’s degree in public and environmental affairs from Indiana University and an M.S. in real estate with a concentration in real estate development from New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.—D.B.

Jonathan Schwartz, 29

Senior Vice President in Debt & Equity Finance at JLL

Prior to joining JLL’s New York capital markets team in 2014, Jonathan Schwartz served as vice president at Meridian Capital Group and an analyst in the structured products group at PNC Bank.

In the past year, he has worked on more than $830 million in debt deals—the largest being a $390 million construction loan from Bank of America and Apollo Global Management to Steiner NYC for the development of a 52-story, 750-unit mixed-use tower in Downtown Brooklyn. Mr. Schwartz also arranged a $110 million permanent loan from Citigroup Global Markets for Castle Lanterra Properties’ acquisition of a 544-unit Class A multifamily property in New Jersey.

Mr. Schwartz grew up on Long Island and received a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Delaware.—D.B.

Harley Seligman, 28

Vice President at National Cooperative Bank

Harley Seligman works out of National Cooperative Bank’s New York office and has closed $83 million in loans across 55 transactions in the past year. The young banker is on track to increase his lending volume to $100 million by the end of 2015.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Westchester, Mr. Seligman originated a $7.5 million first mortgage and $1 million line of credit for Birchwood on the Green Owners Corporation, a 335-unit housing cooperative at 2800 Wilshire Lane in Oakdale, N.Y. He also closed a $5.5 million first mortgage and $500,000 line of credit for a 177-unit cooperative building at 390-430 Maryland Avenue in Staten Island.

Mr. Seligman holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from Cornell University’s School of Hospitality and an M.S. in real estate with a concentration in finance and investment from New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.—D.B.

Jonathan Singer, 28

Senior Managing Director at Eastern Union Funding

Jonathan Singer joined Eastern Union Funding in 2012 as a research assistant and by 2013 he received the company’s Junior Broker of the Year Award. The Brooklyn-born Mr. Singer works out of the mortgage brokerage’s Valley Stream, N.Y. office, and arranges deals both locally and nationally.

In the last year, Mr. Singer arranged $182 million in debt deals, one of the largest being a $33 million loan from BankUnited and KeyBank on behalf of Opal Holdings for the acquisition of a multifamily portfolio in Jacksonville, Fla. More locally, he worked on a $27 million refinancing loan from Investors Bank for the New York Center for Rehab and Nursing, a skilled nursing facility in Astoria, Queens, where he arranged a self-amortizing, 15-year loan. Mr. Singer attended Ner Moshe School of Jewish Law in Israel where he focused on Talmudic studies, but holds no formal degrees after high school.—D.B.

Jonathan Smith, 34

Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Banking at Capital One

Jonathan Smith joined Capital One through its acquisition of North Fork Bank during the last financial crisis. After starting out as an analyst in North Fork’s middle market lending group in 2005, the Freeport, N.Y. native joined Capital One’s commercial real estate team as a relationship manager in 2012. In the past year, Mr. Smith has originated $150 million in debt.

The largest transaction he worked on was the syndication of a $180 million loan provided to Vanbarton Group and Metro Loft Management, as part of a larger $240 million transaction, for the conversion of 180 Water Street. He also served as the sole lead arranger, book-runner and administrative agent of $100 million senior secured subscription and asset-based revolving credit facility for RCG Longview.

Mr. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the State University of Albany, a M.B.A. from Dowling College and an advanced certificate in finance from St. John’s University. He is currently a candidate for an M.S. in real estate from New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.—D.B.

Stephen York, 30

Vice President at Arbor Commercial Mortgage

Stephen York joined Arbor Commercial Mortgage in 2005 and is responsible for originating Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, CMBS and mezzanine and preferred equity deals. He primarily works in the multifamily lending space.

This year, Mr. York originated $600 million in debt deals across the country. He worked on a $29.1 million financing for Vista Shadow Mountain in Tulsa, Okla., and a $42.7 financing of the New Colonies Apartments in Steger, Ill. Mr. York holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in finance from Queens College.—D.B.

Marc Zegen, 30

Vice President of Acquisitions and Debt Originations at Madison Realty Capital

Marc Zegen has been with Madison Realty Capital since the New York-based real estate investment and lending firm got off the ground in 2004. He oversees new debt transactions, acquires development sites and buildings and manages properties the firm owns outside of New York City. In the past year, Mr. Zegen has originated $401 million in bridge loans, two of his largest having closed in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The biggest deal he worked on was a $107.3 million loan to fund Fortis Property Group’s acquisition of Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Mr. Zegen also originated an $81 million construction loan to Zelig Weiss to fund the development of a mixed-use hotel, retail and office project at 55 Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Before joining his brother Josh Zegen’s firm, the Ridgewood, N.J. native worked at Buildcorp Australia Development, a Sydney-based condominium development company. Mr. Zegen holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Brandeis University.—D.B.

30 Commercial Real Estate Pros Under 30

David Abrams, 27

Director at RKF

Following a two-month summer internship at RKF while still a student at Yeshiva University, David Abrams liked the experience so much he remained at the company for the fall semester. He was hired by RKF as a canvasser not long after graduating in February 2011.

But, his career in real estate actually predates this. Mr. Abrams was signing a lease for an apartment when the landlord mentioned he had many vacancies in the building. Despite having zero experience, Mr. Abrams found himself saying, “I want to make money and I want to make you money.” He began leasing apartments and was making good cash, but dealing with the “personality of an uneducated buyer” grew tiresome.

In the last year, he has tackled a challenging set of deals at 100 West 93rd Street. The Manhattan Childrens Center was looking to move from West 95th Street and Mr. Abrams identified a 19,008-square-foot space at the West 93rd Street building. He suggested that the school relocate there and bring “everything under one roof.” But the “deal got tricky because there was an opportunity for a purchase,” he said. Mr. Abrams also found the buyer, Coltown Properties, who snapped up the commercial condo for $16.5 million.

“Everything had to work out on an extremely tight schedule,” he noted.—Lauren Elkies Schram

Peter Brestovan, 28

Vice President at Cresa New York

Peter Brestovan hit the ground running at Cresa New York. Since joining the firm just a year ago, Mr. Brestovan has helped close leases totaling more than 150,000 square feet while working with Senior Vice President Howard Cross and Managing Principal Mark Jaccom. The trio recently represented Affinity Health Plan in its relocation to a 95,954-square-foot space in the Hutchinson Metro Center in the Bronx. Mr. Brestovan was also a part of the team that represented Twitter to sublease its 40,000-square-foot office space at 340 Madison Avenue for Prometheus Global Media in August.

“For Twitter it was about getting the name out,” Mr. Brestovan said. “When you say that Twitter is subleasing the space, everyone wants to see it.”

Mr. Brestovan actually started out with plans to be an accountant. After an internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2007, Mr. Brestovan knew accounting wasn’t for him. He preferred meeting people and negotiating deals.

“It was so dry,” Mr. Brestovan said. “I couldn’t see myself in front of a computer and not out there meeting clients.”

So he interned with CBRE in Stamford, Conn., in 2009. Upon graduation from Villanova University, he became an associate broker for Cassidy Turley and worked there for four years prior to joining Cresa.—Liam La Guerre

Joseph Buxbaum, 28

Senior Project Manager of Project and Development Services at JLL

Many technology and fashion companies are opting for cool spaces. Getting those 21st-century features and a hip look into an 84-year-old architectural icon can be a heavy lift, as Joseph Buxbaum learned when he revamped space at the Empire State Building. Mr. Buxbaum, a project manager for JLL, was tasked with remodeling 70,000 square feet of office, conference and studio space for LinkedIn at the Art Deco tower.

“There’s just constraints. It has low ceiling heights,” he said. “[But] buildings like that have great bones. We have a really great design team that makes it work out.”

Now he’s working on building out Amazon’s new, 400,000-square-foot corporate office at 7 West 34th Street in Herald Square. While Mr. Buxbaum couldn’t provide too many details on what the space will look like, he said the e-commerce giant was “creating a campus within the space.”

The seven-year JLL veteran is also working on the overhaul of a 13,000-square-foot warehouse in Brooklyn for Adidas which it plans on using as design space.

“It basically gives an opportunity and challenge to be creative and readapt and try to be cutting edge,” he said. “It’s been one of the biggest projects I’ve worked on in the last six months along with Amazon.”—Terence Cullen

Elizabeth Canela, 27

Senior Project Manager of External Affairs Division at Forest City Ratner Companies

It’s not easy to build up a group of 200 workers, let alone a crew that’s building apartments for the world’s tallest modular tower at 461 Dean Street.

That’s what the Brooklyn-born Elizabeth Canela, who started at Forest City Ratner Companies more than two years ago as an intern, had to do after the developer’s modular factory emptied out following its break up with Skanska. Ms. Canela built up a 200-employee staff at the Navy Yard that included 30 interviews with potential employees a week.

“It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do professionally,” she said. “It was very hectic, but really exciting, as well.”

Today, 80 percent of the modular housing construction employees are minorities, and 11 percent of the workforce is female. Ms. Canela has also begun tracking how many of the employees live in New York City Housing Authority buildings. While there isn’t hard data yet, Ms. Canela said it’s important to her as a NYCHA alum herself, growing up at the Ingersoll Houses in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.

“Creating access and opportunities in real ways is important,” she said. “I was able to put so much into it because it was my job, but also it was something I felt passionate about.”—T.C.

Brian English, 27

Director at Colliers International

Although he is not a broker, it’s safe to say that Brian English’s market analysis and knowledge of urban planning helped Colliers International brokers close many deals.

During his three-and-a-half-year tenure, Mr. English has worked on 1.6 million square feet of transactions as a director of its consulting division, providing research and intelligence for Colliers brokering teams.

Recently he helped close one of the largest deals of 2015, when Colliers’ Howard Grufferman represented Fortress Investment Group to lease 198,619 square feet at 1345 Avenue of the Americas.

“Fortress was unique because part of the deal was a direct lease and part was a sublease,” Mr. English said. “You had two different deals going on at the same time. Each side has their own interests. It was somewhat of a lengthy process to close it.”

Not only does Mr. English track market trends and data, but he also develops interactive presentations and quarterly and annual market reports.

The Los Angeles native was originally thinking of a career in urban planning and earned his master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of California, Irvine in 2012.—L.L.G.

Michael Ferrara, 28

Senior Director at Highcap Group

Michael Ferrara’s first real estate deal was a slaughterhouse. A real slaughterhouse. It was 2008, and he was canvassing Queens neighborhoods looking for a 5,000-square-foot lot for a construction company, when he stumbled on a 2,500-square-foot butcher shop, with a 2,500-square-foot parking lot.

“On the first inspection I went in there not really knowing what to expect,” Mr. Ferrara said. “There was hay on the ground for chickens, there were cages all over the place.”

But the price was right ($1.3 million) and the space was big enough. He made his first sale. By that point, Mr. Ferrara already had a couple of years on the periphery of real estate under his belt. When he was 19 and still at Indiana University, he started out as a jack-of-all-trades for a family friend’s real estate business; he did building maintenance one day, administration the next and showed apartments the day after that. The next two summers he worked at the Long Island firm Sutton & Edwards, and continued working there for a year after it was acquired by Colliers International, before setting his sights on Manhattan.

Mr. Ferrara landed at the Highcap Group when it was still an outfit of five (today it is 20) and was recently promoted to senior director.

As Superstorm Sandy raged outside his window (with eight or nine houseguests who had trekked uptown to his Midtown apartment, which still had power), he was finalizing the details on a $33 million sale of 69-73 Greene Street, his biggest sale to date. Since then he’s steadily drummed up a great list of sales: 154 Stanton Street, a vacant building at the corner of Suffolk Street for $4.9 million; 401 East 57th Street for $6.1 million; and a two-building sale on Thierot Avenue in the Bronx for $10.6 million.

Last December, Mr. Ferrara did both sides of the deal for 10 Greene Street for $14.5 million.

“That took over a year, from start to finish,” Mr. Ferrara said. “But when we finally got that closed it was unbelievable for me, professionally. Everybody walked away happy.”—M.G.

Aaron Fishbein, 26

Retail Real Estate Salesperson at Winick Realty Group

Trying to sell season tickets to someone can be an uphill task, and that gets harder when you’re selling them for the lackluster Los Angeles Clippers.

But Aaron Fishbein said his first job, selling tickets for L.A.’s other basketball team, taught him about making cold calls and walking into a situation with confidence. That carried over to being a broker in New York City.

Specializing in Long Island City, Queens, Mr. Fishbein has worked on deals that have brought retail to TF Cornerstone’s waterfront apartment high-rises. The bulk of that retail—30,000 square feet, according to Mr. Fishbein—is coming online this year and will serve as amenities to the residents of several thousand apartments.

“It was pretty exciting to be involved and a part of that, and to bring retail to those 3,000 units,” he said. “That was something that we worked hard on and this year saw it start happening.”

Across LIC, he arranged for Russia-based Stolle Bakery to set up its New York City headquarters at Jamestown’s Falchi Building. The bakery will serve the brand’s emerging locations in Gotham, which include a corner spot at 119 Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn.—T.C.

Staci Goodman, 27

Associate at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

In 2014, Staci Goodman and other members of the seven-person Brian Waterman team at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank negotiated a 79,000-square-foot, 16-year lease for fashion brand Theory in the Meatpacking District. That was a deal that brought out Ms. Goodman’s creative side.

“For the Theory deal at 2 Gansevoort we created a private ground-floor entrance to create a building within a building,” Ms. Goodman said. “We searched the market to find the right location and space for them.”

More recently, Ms. Goodman and the rest of her NGKF team have finished leasing Invesco’s 280,000-square-foot 1370 Broadway. The final space is a 4,500-square-foot pre-built, Ms. Goodman said, declining to be specific since the deal hasn’t closed. In the summer, she helped bring ACA Compliance Group in to 17,000 square feet in the building. She is also representing MRP Realty and Long Wharf Real Estate Partners as the exclusive leasing agent for 133 West 52nd Street, where her team is marketing 55,744 square feet of new construction office space.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for a tenant of that size to have their own building with an exclusive lobby and branding,” she said.

Ms. Goodman, who will be celebrating her three-year anniversary at NGKF following two and a half years at Adams & Company, likes her job because “every deal is so different.” She likes thinking creatively about how to make a deal work.

For her efforts, Ms. Goodman was selected in 2014 and this year to attend her company’s rising stars meeting, a by-invitation annual retreat for NGKF’s up-and-coming young leaders.—L.E.S.

Brooks Hauf, 26

Senior Associate at Cushman & Wakefield

One of the main reasons Baltimore-native Brooks Hauf chose to go to Trinity College was to play lacrosse. And while this didn’t translate into a pro career (yes, there is a Major League Lacrosse association), it served as a game-changing networking device.

Through a college friend’s dad, the history and economics double major met his future boss, John Cefaly, executive vice chairman at Cushman & Wakefield.

Mr. Hauf has now been with Cushman & Wakefield for more than three years, focusing on office tenant representation—but he’ll do the occasional deal for a landlord. He has completed 739,207 square feet of transactions.

During this calendar year he worked with Mr. Cefaly’s team—which includes Robert Lowe and Augustus Field—to complete 275,159 square feet of deals at 101 Park Avenue on behalf of landlord H.J. Kalikow.

“When I was put on the building, there was a significant amount of available space,” Mr. Hauf said. “We have really put quite an effort into it. We have been very diligent in getting back to people and giving tours.”

He also worked with the team that completed the 117,091-square-foot relocation of trading firm Jane Street Capital to Brookfield Property Partners’ 250 Vesey Street.—L.L.G.

Brendan Herlihy, 28

Senior Associate of New York Consulting Group at CBRE

Advising someone through a big move is never easy. Things get tougher when you’ve got to figure out how to work a beehive into a lease.

That’s what Brendan Herlihy, part of CBRE’s consulting group, found himself doing when COOKFOX Architects recently inked a deal to move to 250 West 57th Street along Billionaires’ Row.

COOKFOX—the designers of One Bryant Park—had been raising bees on their terrace at 641 Avenue of the Americas. Whatever new office they landed needed to include the bees. “This deal had a couple of interesting aspects to it,” he said. “Part of the challenge was getting the landlord to understand that [the beehive] was very important to the client.”

Mr. Herlihy should know a thing or two about the needs of an architecture firm: he got his bachelor’s degree in the field from Pennsylvania State University.

COOKFOX isn’t even the biggest deal he’s worked on in the last 12 months. Earlier this year, he was a consultant on J. Walter Thompson’s renewal for its massive 288,000 square feet at 237 Park Avenue. Mr. Herlihy also had his hand in advising on such deals as Sony’s 2014 lease at 11 Madison Avenue, in which the electronics giant took a whopping 579,000 square feet.—T.C.

Jesse Hutcher, 27

Associate Director of Retail Services at Cushman & Wakefield

Having grown up on the Upper West Side, Jesse Hutcher started out with an edge over his fellow brokers: he already knew the ins and outs of Manhattan neighborhoods.

But being local also served as motivation. “There is nothing like taking a cab down Fifth Avenue with my mom or my dad or girlfriend and saying, ‘Oh, that’s where we did the Microsoft deal,’” Mr. Hutcher said.

Mr. Hutcher wasn’t speaking rhetorically about the Microsoft deal. He and colleague Andrew Kahn represented the landlord of 677 Fifth Avenue, Kingsville Investments, in a deal for a 20,600-square-foot flagship Microsoft store. (The Wall Street Journal reported the deal has an estimated price of $17 million a year in rent.)

“Microsoft was desired by every landlord in the area,” Mr. Hutcher said. “What we did was, we created competition for the space and it created a sense of urgency for Microsoft.”

Earlier this year, Messrs. Hutcher and Kahn did more or less the same thing when they represented landlord Omabuild Corporation in a 17,000-square-foot lease for a new Tao Group restaurant at 14 East 60th Street.

Mr. Hutcher started out as an intern during high school at his father’s law firm, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. Later, while at Binghamton University, he interned at Somerset Partners, a private real estate investment firm.—L.L.G.

Mark Kostic, 28

Vice President of Street Retail, Leasing and Asset Management at Related Companies

In June, Mark Kostic went from being the No. 2 retail specialist at Brookfield Property Partners to the No. 1 at Related Companies. With that move, his purview expanded from 1 million square feet in New York City to 2.1 million square feet in more than 30 buildings nationwide.

The new job gives him “bigger opportunities with bigger responsibilities,” Mr. Kostic said. Since his hiring, he has negotiated and signed a 40,000-square-foot coworking lease in San Francisco and a 3,800-square-foot fitness concept at The Caledonia in Chelsea.

Mr. Kostic’s first job was as a research analyst for Sentinel Real Estate. He then worked as a commercial mortgage-backed securities due diligence provider at Situs for less than a year, but he “wanted to be on the owner-operator side.”

At Brookfield for four years, he developed a niche in repositioning retail properties. His main focus was on the $14 million redevelopment of the 40,000-square-foot Plaza Shops at One New York Plaza, which opened in February. “It was my little baby,” he said. He oversaw the cleanup and redevelopment efforts post-Superstorm Sandy and helped show space with the outside brokerage, Winick Realty Group.

“We had insurance claims and we had tenants we had to negotiate with and we had tenants that wanted to cancel leases.”—L.E.S.

Sean Lefkovits, 28

Senior Associate at Marcus & Millichap

Sean Lefkovits specializes in multifamily investment sales and is on a Marcus & Millichap team that has closed a number of major transactions this year.

Alongside colleagues Peter Von Der Ahe, Joe Koicim and David Lloyd, Mr. Lefkovits helped complete Kushner Companies’ purchase of a 14-building multifamily portfolio in Brooklyn and Manhattan for $131.5 million earlier this year. Mr. Lefkovits and his Marcus & Millichap colleagues represented both the buyer and the seller, a partnership between Stone Street Properties and HIG Realty Partners, in that deal. (Kushner Companies’ Jared Kushner owns Observer Media, which publishes Commercial Observer.)

Also, Mr. Lefkovits’ team handled this summer’s bankruptcy sale of 315 West 35th Street to Isaac Chetrit and Jacob Aini for $43 million.

Mr. Lefkovits, who was born in Manhattan, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He started his career as an intern with the Trump Organization in 2008, reviewing contracts and financial underwriting. Then, a year later, he joined Marcus & Millichap.

In February, he and the team sold an apartment building at 316 West 11th Street for $10.2 million, breaking the Manhattan record for a multifamily investment property at $2,661 per square foot.—L.L.G.

David Levine, 27

Associate at Blackstone Real Estate

On Sept. 8, David Levine returned to the New York City office of Blackstone Real Estate to work on his company’s $8 billion acquisition of all outstanding shares of common stock of BioMed Realty Trust, the life sciences office and lab space real estate investment trust.

“Given the nature of this asset class, which was a new asset class for us, [my job] was educating folks on the nuances of the space,” said Mr. Levine, who talked to CO from San Francisco, where he was touring some of BioMed’s assets.

It was working on that 100-plus-property deal that ended Mr. Levine’s stint in Brazil (he spent a year in Sao Paulo, opening a new office). In that period, Blackstone’s team either closed or went under contract to acquire three separate portfolios valued at more than $400 million in assets. With the biomed deal, which is expected to close early next year, Mr. Levine said his primary role was to “oversee the entire underwriting and due diligence process.”

Mr. Levine has been at Blackstone for five and a half years after interning in Morgan Stanley’s real estate group.

“I was pretty sold that real estate was what I wanted to do long-term,” he said.—L.E.S.

Matthew Lorberbaum, 27

Associate Director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

After two summer internships and one year post-college at Adams & Company, Matthew Lorberbaum started working at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank four years ago.

As part of Neil Goldmacher’s brokerage team, Mr. Lorberbaum specializes in tenant representation and strategic planning in the financial services sector. He and his team have completed transactions totaling more than 200,000 square feet and over $200 million.

“2015 was a very good year,” Mr. Lorberbaum said. “One of these leases alone was [46,000] square feet.” That was when he represented Centerbridge Partners at 375 Park Avenue.—L.E.S.

Robert Marino, 27

Leasing Marketing Manager at Industry City

Robert Marino—the leasing marketing manager for Sunset Park, Brooklyn’s Industry City—has a terrible secret: he lives in Hell’s Kitchen.

That piddling detail aside, few people cheer louder than Mr. Marino when the subject of Brooklyn, and particularly Industry City, arises.

“I considered it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said the lifelong New Yorker, who had previously been with his father’s PR company, The Marino Organization, working on projects like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Chelsea Market before what is arguably the biggest thing in Brooklyn came calling a year ago. (He also worked for Andrew Cuomo’s campaign for governor.)

Mr. Marino began working with Kathe Chase, the director of leasing, on marketing the project and he has seen some truly amazing deals inked in what was once a neglected warehouse part of Brooklyn. For example, Time Inc. snagged a 55,000-square-foot space earlier this year. “When someone like Time comes through the door you sell them on this new place, but you also deliver them concepts that they might not have thought about.” Industry City brought an interesting concept to Time: a vertical driveway—a kind of showcase for cars, where automobiles that the magazine was writing about could be photographed.

It also brought Chipotle to the campus—not to serve food, unfortunately; the national food operator now maintains an office/creative design studio where it can brainstorm design concepts for its outlets, as CO previously reported.

“When I first started, it was a struggle,” Mr. Marino said. “Now, it’s really taken off.”—M.G.

Peter Matheos, 27

Vice President at TerraCRG

When Peter Matheos came for his job interview at TerraCRG back in 2008, there were two other people working at the six-month-old, Brooklyn-based commercial real estate brokerage: its founder and president, Ofer Cohen, and his partner and senior vice president, Melissa Warren (née DiBella).

Mr. Matheos has been on board ever since, as the company has grown to around 30, and become a major player on the Brooklyn real estate scene.

“Being involved in real estate in Brooklyn has always been a passion of mine,” the Sunset Park-raised Mr. Matheos told CO. His family owned several buildings in Brooklyn and he “helped [his] mother manage them from a young age.”

Since coming to TerraCRG, Mr. Matheos has been involved in more than 100 different transactions, accounting for half a billion dollars worth of real estate, and the deals keep coming. Recently, Mr. Matheos sold a property at 570 Fulton Street on behalf of a nonprofit, SCO Family Services (which focuses on foster care and education programs) nabbing $23.5 million for it. And he has more deals that are about to close. We plan to hear more from this broker soon.—M.G.

Michael McCloskey, 24

Associate at Kaufman Organization

An opportunity at The Corcoran Group with long-time Brooklyn-based residential broker Vicki Negron completely changed Michael McCloskey’s life in 2012.

Mr. McCloskey, who grew up on Long Island, was attending the University of Pittsburgh and studying law. But he decided to drop out at the end of his junior year and started working full time for Ms. Negron as a broker assistant, after nabbing a recommendation from a family member.

After two years at Corcoran, he made the jump to Kaufman Organization and has since completed more than 33,000 square feet of leases. Mr. McCloskey and colleague Jared Sternberg represented PEX Card in a five-year lease for 7,200 square feet at 462 Seventh Avenue.

And one of his biggest deals includes representing CAST Software with colleague Michael Kaufman, in signing a 9,145-square-foot lease for seven years for its North American headquarters at 321 West 44th Street, a.k.a. The Plant (current home of CO).

“I found them through cold-calling,” Mr. McCloskey said. “They were looking for something unique. Their space before that was just standard. They were looking for outdoor space and anything that sets it apart from other New York City buildings. The Plant has a rooftop conference room. It just clicked with them.”

But going back to school and getting his degree is also in Mr. McCloskey’s cards. Currently, Mr. McCloskey is seeking to earn a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and was accepted to CUNY School of Professional Studies. He will start in the spring of 2016.—L.L.G.

Camille McGratty, 29

Vice President at Silverstein Properties

Apparently, Camille McGratty never lost her taste for New York. She was born in the city, grew up in Westchester, but moved to Dallas when she was 8.

“The main driver for me wanting to get involved in real estate here was my passion for the city,” Ms. McGratty said. “New York is the best city in the world, and working in the industry is the best way to get into the fabric of the city.”

After college at Holy Cross in Massachusetts, Ms. McGratty started out at Studley (now Savills Studley) as a tenant rep broker and then went over to Cushman & Wakefield’s corporate occupier and investor services group, where she also developed a taste for the big, sprawling deal by working with Pfizer.

For Pfizer she worked on the disposition of an almost 3-million-square-foot, sprawling campus in Pearl River, N.Y. (in Rockland County), consisting of 28 buildings and a 25-megawatt utility plant on the site.

It was not too long ago that Roger Silverstein, executive vice president of Silverstein Properties, came calling, and with it the granddaddy of big urban projects: the World Trade Center. Since going to Silverstein, Ms. McGratty has been doing leases at 4 World Trade Center, like a 13,000-square-foot deal for IEX, and 44,000 square feet for Silver Suites (the short-term office arm of Silverstein).

But Silverstein is, of course, active in much more than just the World Trade Center, and it reaches well beyond Downtown Mahattan. Ms. McGratty is also currently marketing other provinces of the Silverstein empire, like 50,000 square feet at 1177 Avenue of the Americas.—M.G.

Sean Moran, 29

Senior Associate of Retail Brokerage at CBRE

Sean Moran broke into the retail game five years ago, and became CBRE’s Manhattan Retail Services Rookie of the Year. That set a high benchmark he’s been keeping up with ever since as part of a four-member team.

Mr. Moran, under the leadership of Vice Chairman David LaPierre and Senior Vice President Stephen Sjurset, has worked on deals that brought H&M to the World Trade Center and the first brick-and-mortar store for the New York Road Runners, which oversees the New York City Marathon, to 320 West 57th Street.

While he wouldn’t discuss specifics of the Road Runners deal, in which CBRE represented the landlord Hearst Corporation, he said the group would be partnering with international retailers and doing community work out of the 7,000-square-foot space.

“That space had been out there for a [few] years,” he said, adding many retail tenants are looking for spaces of about 1,000 square feet. “You’re not finding a lot of tenants who need 7,000 square feet in total. So it was really a great fit for both parties.”—T.C.

Justin Pelsinger, 27

Senior Analyst and Associate at GFI Development Company

Nobody thought GFI Development Company would ever get the additional zoning it wanted for the 180,000-square-foot hotel it’s building on Bond Street in Downtown Brooklyn. The Board of Standards and Appeals sent project plans, which sought an additional 44,000 square feet, back to the company several times with questions on why certain alternatives to the project wouldn’t work.

But Justin Pelsinger just told everyone that the 287-key hotel, which will sit on top of a subway tunnel, had to be that size in order to work. “It was a rather large ask,” he said of the variance. “[We] really didn’t get that good feedback until the end. [Finally getting it] was a really great feeling.”

Figuring out how a project works, making sure the investment is sound and getting the building filled are all part of Mr. Pelsinger’s role at GFI. After interning at the Moin Development Group and grabbing a master’s in real estate finance from New York University, he has been mixing financial know-how with his boots-on-the-ground experience since joining GFI in May 2013.—T.C.

Edward Riguardi, 28

Director of Leasing at Vornado Realty Trust

Few people could make a better claim to having real estate in his blood than Edward Riguardi. His father, Peter, heads JLL’s New York office. And his grandfather (also named Edward Riguardi) is the former chairman of Colliers ABR.

Now, the younger Mr. Riguardi is making his real estate bones at Vornado, where he’s been for the past four years, after a three-year stint with Merchant Equity Group.

“I started with a fascination with hotel groups,” the Iona College graduate said. “I worked with Disney’s Hotel Group for four or five months—well, it was really more of an internship” before switching to a more familiar home in commercial real estate.

Since coming to Vornado, Mr. Riguardi has been focusing on one of the crown jewels of Vornado’s empire, 1290 Avenue of the Americas. (Last year, the building scored a 355,000-square-foot lease when Neuberger Berman relocated there from 605 Third Avenue.) Mr. Riguardi has also worked on other Vornado assets from 595 Madison Avenue, where he’s completed deals with Reva Holdings, to the Center Building in Long Island City, Queens at 33-00 Northern Boulevard, which Vornado picked up last year. (“I go to Long Island City about once a week,” Mr. Riguardi said.)

But we at CO are most interested about what Mr. Riguardi has in the pipeline: namely, 61 Ninth Avenue. “It’s a boutique building, ground-up new construction,” Mr. Riguardi said. “The entire building is hitting the market. It will be roughly 150,000 square feet of office with a retail component.”—M.G.

Jonathan Schwartz, 25

Director at Eastern Consolidated

Jonathan Schwartz majored in political science at Tulane University, where he contemplated becoming a lawyer.

But after graduating in 2012, Mr. Schwartz joined Marcus & Millichap as an investment sales associate, having gained experience interning for real estate landlords.

Mr. Schwartz, a native of the Upper East Side who has many friends whose families owned or managed real estate, knew it was the direction he should go over law.

As it turns out, he made the right decision. Mr. Schwartz received the firm’s rookie of the year award and then, in 2014, moved to Eastern Consolidated, where he was recently promoted to director. In his three-year career, Mr. Schwartz has closed or put into contract more than $200 million worth of transactions.

Recently, he represented Nico Moinian in the purchase of the 50-room Orchard Street Hotel at 163 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side for $23.8 million.

“When I saw this hit the market, I thought it would be great for him to buy,” Mr. Schwartz said. “That was the kind of market that he was trying to hit, to find younger travelers that want cool and hip areas. The Lower East Side on Orchard Street has a lot of appeal.”—L.L.G.

Patricia Simone, 29

President at Simone Management Group

In real estate dynasties, it’s usually the eldest child who gets first crack at running the empire. (Think Sonny Corleone.) Not so with Simone Management Group.

“I’m the youngest of three girls,” Patricia Simone said, making her the Michael Corleone of the organization. “I was more drawn to the business [than my sisters]. I was a shoe-in of the three of us in terms of who was going to end up joining the firm.” (Her middle sister ended up joining the firm, too.)

Simone Development Group is a full-service real estate investment company founded by Ms. Simone’s father and grandfather (who both still work at the firm). After graduating from Emory University and doing a quick summer stint at Cushman & Wakefield under super-broker Tara Stacom, Ms. Simone went back to her family’s firm and never looked back. (She also got a master's degree from the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate.)

“I started when the market was on its way down,” said Ms. Simone. “It was my first experience in the industry. But I got to learn what the market was really like.”

Her first deal was after Linens ’n Things went bankrupt and she had to lease a 44,000-square-foot outlet in New Rochelle, N.Y. She cut the space in two, leasing 14,000 square feet to Party City and the rest to Ashley Furniture.

But even though the Bronx-based Simone does a serious amount of business in Westchester, the company has been involved in New York City. It has acquired four medical condominium units in the city, and has enjoyed spectacular success leasing them out. At 62 East 88nd Street, Simone bought an 18,000-square-foot, three-floor condo, which it rehabbed and for which it managed to get $85 per foot. A year ago at Manhattan House, at 200 East 66th Street, one of its leases expired and the company managed to bag a tenant who paid $75 per square foot. “We doubled the rent the prior tenant was paying!” she said.—M.G.

Benjamin Stavrach, 21

Vice President of Development and Director of Leasing and Property Management at Triangle Assets

Benjamin Stavrach got an up-close-and-personal introduction to real estate.

His father, Joseph Stavrach, the chief executive officer of Triangle Assets, moved his desk over to make room for him. The senior Mr. Stavrach instructed his son to keep his eyes and ears open during every phone call and every meeting.

“I really learned from him for a year,” the junior Mr. Stavrach said. “He taught me everything I needed to know.”

That was in October 2013 when he started at Triangle Assets in Manhattan after working at his father’s Safdi Plaza Realty in Brooklyn. That period shadowing his father allowed Mr. Stavrach to move from the development and construction side of the business into leasing and managing.

The first asset he managed for Triangle Assets was the 150,000-square-foot 2 West 46th Street.

“At that time, it had a 30 percent vacancy rate, which is a lot,” he said. “I brought it to 100 percent occupancy in 60 days” through working late nights and weekends. The property has remained at 98 to 100 percent occupancy since, he said.

This March, Mr. Stavrach was promoted to director of leasing and property management (as well as vice president of development) “based on my performance, attention and devotion to my job,” he said. He is the primary leasing agent and manager for three Triangle Assets Midtown office properties with 450,000 square feet: 2 West 46th Street, 369 Lexington Avenue and 255 West 36th Street.—L.E.S.

Matt Strombelline, 25

Director of Hospitality Leasing at SKH Realty

In early September, when Matt Strombelline was at the Burning Man festival, he sealed a 4,700-square-foot lease on behalf of developer Dermot Company for an “all-day Italian restaurant” in the Downtown Brooklyn luxury high-rise 66 Rockwell Place. A “potpourri of people,” including restaurant designer Matthew Maddy, have come together to open the eatery at the base of the 46-story building.

“It’s nice to see a designer like that lead the charge,” said Mr. Strombelline, who has been at SKH Realty for nearly three years since obtaining a bachelor degree in entrepreneurship and marketing from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. “Even with a glass building it will have a unique interior.”

His favorite deal was representing the owners of Dimes café and the owner of Mexican joint Cochinita Dos, both at 49 Canal Street on the fringes of Chinatown. He helped the Dimes proprietors relocate from an 18-seat space on Division Street across the street to 49 Canal Street. The new 50-seat Dimes opened in March. The Dimes owners then turned the Division Street space into what they call a “take-away and grocery” and are taking the space next door to it for an apothecary.

“It’s a super exciting neighborhood,” he said. “I had met with them. It was clear they wanted to expand. We just so happened to represent a deal across the street. We facilitated a deal to buy out a taco place.”—L.E.S.

Jonathan Travis, 29

Managing Director at Redwood Property Group

A “good-looking deal” is not just one where the numbers are high. It can also be where the tenants are nice and svelte—or where the space in question looks beautiful. Jonathan Travis is Redwood Property Group’s tenant representative specializing in art, design and fitness clients.

“I picked art and fitness to focus on because I wanted to learn them intimately,” Mr. Travis said. “I figured it was good to know about things you like.” (He played football in high school and boxed in college and has recently begun collecting art.)

Mr. Travis’ first foray into real estate was at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank in its young leadership council; from there he hopscotched over to Ripco Real Estate to learn retail. He landed at Redwood this May when he decided that he wanted to be in a smaller, more boutique brokerage.

In the last year or so, Mr. Travis has scored a 13,200-square-foot lease for Brick CrossFit in Grand Central Terminal, which moved in a couple of months ago; a 10,200-square-foot lease representing Casey Kaplan gallery in its move from West Chelsea to the Flower District; and he nabbed a 5,300-square-foot lease for the Carpenters Workshop Gallery at Thor Equities’ 693 Fifth Avenue.

“The Casey Kaplan deal was really significant for me, because it was the first time a West Chelsea gallery left for a neighborhood that was unproven,” Mr. Travis said. “It helped attract the attention of other gallery owners.”

Mr. Travis, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics from New York University and a minor in finance from the Stern School of Business, has done $35 million worth of deals in the last three years on the tenant side of 85,000 square feet worth of transactions.—M.G.

Steven Westreich, 28

Founder of Westbridge Realty Group

Most people in the real estate industry don’t start working professionally until after college. Steven Westreich, however, was working as a broker at The Hogan Companies, in Annapolis, Md., in between classes during his final two years at the University of Maryland.

Seven years later, and following some time at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, he once again jumped ahead of his peers by starting his own firm, Westbridge Realty Group, earlier this year. The brokerage focuses on selling multifamily investment properties in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.

With just four brokers and one analyst, the company has already closed a number of deals, including representing the buyer of 1462 Second Avenue on the Upper East Side, a mixed-use, 8,620-square-foot building with eight apartments, for $9.6 million. Just before founding Westbridge Realty Group, Mr. Westreich also finalized numerous sales on his own, such as representing California-based Alliant Real Estate Investments in its purchase of a nine-building portfolio that included properties in Brooklyn and Harlem for $5.8 million.

“There are a lot of advantages in working for a large company,” Mr. Westreich said. “But I think if you are capable and aggressive then the reality is you don’t have to work for a big company. I wanted to build my own brand and my own resources.”—L.L.G.

Daniel Wilpon, 27

Vice President of Office Brokerage at CBRE

With a last name like Wilpon, you have two choices of family business: baseball or real estate. Daniel Wilpon chose the latter and has since become one of CBRE’s youngest vice presidents in its history.

The nephew of New York Mets owner and real estate developer Fred Wilpon, the brokerage executive is coming off a massive deal in which tech company Namely doubled its space at 195 Broadway to more than 83,000 square feet. “They were an absolutely fantastic client to work with,” he said. “They were able to make decisions so fast.”

He’s also working on a deal in which LiveIntent will expand to 45,419 square feet at 100 Church Street. Mr. Wilpon’s clients have mostly been in fashion or the technology, advertising, media and information (TAMI) realm, as well as boutique financial firms and hedge funds.

Mr. Wilpon joined CBRE in 2010, fresh out of college and after interning at the brokerage. He became a vice president of the company earlier this year. “It’s very humbling and I’m really proud of where I am,” he said. “For me, it’s a lot about the infrastructure at CB. It’s a great experience just having conversations in the hallways.”—T.C.

Amy Zhen, 29

Senior Vice President at JLL

Amy Zhen was lured away from Newmark Grubb Knight Frank a little over a year ago on the promise of building up JLL’s retail division. So far, she can boast about increasing the firm’s retail foothold from 20,000 to 200,000 square feet since starting in August 2014.

“It was a contributing factor that they were so invested in growing the team,” Ms. Zhen said of her move to the company. JLL is “very selective about who comes over.”

The company has done a slew of deals to fill the retail portion of 245-249 West 17th Street, right between Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. Tenants include Flywheel, Room & Board and Hastens Beds, most of which are on the West 18th Street side of the block-wide building. At 31 Penn Plaza, her team has been able to bring Blink Fitness, Pennsylvania 6 and Friedman’s All Day to the building between West 31st and West 30th Streets.

The leasing team got creative and cut off the West 30th Street entrance to the lobby—giving Blink Fitness its own entrance to the second-floor space, thus repositioning the retail without impacting office tenants.—T.C.