Last week, as we were conducting the final interviews for Power 100, we got on the phone with one of the city’s bigwigs to ask him what he had been up to over the last year. He used the opportunity to list every grievance he held against the names on last year’s Power 100—one by one.
The call lasted 45 minutes, approximately half an hour of it devoted to trashing last year’s rankings.
One name we put in the 20s was way too high for such a small-timer. Another was a terrific broker, but how powerful is a broker, really? One name couldn’t really be considered a great power broker in New York—New Jersey, maybe. And, dammit, why was our interviewee so frickin’ low?
In exasperation our friend finally barked, “I don’t know how you define power!”
Well, we replied, that’s the $64,000 question.
As we embarked on this year’s Power 100, the first thing we asked ourselves was what was the story of the last year?
Certainly, talking to any broker or property owner about the state of the market, you sense a certain hesitation that you didn’t get last year. The market is softening, they say. The crazy overheated hunger for $90 million condominium units is finally cooling. Cap rates are too low. The loss of 421a makes it impossible to build any new construction.
All fair arguments.
But despite all of this, one couldn’t help but notice a penchant for the big, crazy, smash-all-records deals.
The biggest of these deals was the $5.46 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village to the Blackstone (BX) Group and Ivanhoé Cambridge.
However, that was just two properties trading hands. Blackstone made another massive bet when it, and Wells Fargo, purchased General Electric’s commercial real estate loan portfolio for $23 billion.
Blackstone’s global head of real estate, Jonathan Gray, certainly hasn’t shrunk from a challenge. If anything, he has stepped up and set the tone. It was the reason we ranked him No. 1 this year.
Across the street from Hudson Yards in a building that Related Companies uses as office space is a countdown clock to its city-within-a-city. Every day this visionary project gets closer to reality. Stephen M. Ross, Jeff T. Blau and Bruce A. Beal, Jr. have certainly earned a No. 2 place on our list.
In a normal year, SL Green (SLG) Realty Corp.’s purchase of 11 Madison Avenue for $2.29 billion from the Sapir Organization and CIM Group would have been the deal of the year. But we’re not sure if this was even the most significant thing SL Green has done. It’s also working on its big, visionary plan for One Vanderbilt, the 1.6-million-square-foot tower across from Grand Central Terminal. It seems only right that SL Green’s Marc Holliday and Andrew Mathias should get the No. 3 spot.
This year’s list is definitely somewhat skewed to the people who made big bets on a grand vision.
Sometimes we’re not sure how—or even if—the vision will be fully realized. Hopes rose last year when Bjarke Ingels unveiled his design for 2 World Trade Center, and Silverstein Properties announced that it had secured News Corp. and 21st Century Fox as an anchor tenant, only to be deflated when Rupert Murdoch announced that they were pulling out of the deal. But Silverstein Properties head Larry Silverstein is left with a pretty spectacular design. And he’s on the hunt for a golden tenant who can take several hundred thousand square feet of space.
Some names on this list have the power to build cities. Some have the power to persuade tenants to move to some unheralded corner of Gotham. A few have the power to shape municipal or state budgets. But they all share a grand vision of real estate and the city.
It is a powerful vision.—Max Gross
1. Jonathan Gray (2)
Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Real Estate at Blackstone Group
It’s hard to go up when you’re already at the top.
But under the leadership of Jonathan Gray, Blackstone Group has done just that. As global head of real estate for the private equity giant, Mr. Gray oversees a real estate platform with $94 billion in investor capital under management. In New York City alone, the company completed $17 billion in deals last year, with some of the most iconic properties trading hands.
Blackstone invested billions in some of RXR Realty’s properties, including the Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue, swept up a 24-building multifamily portfolio from the Caiola family for $690 million and sold off the old New York Times Building at 229 West 43rd Street for $526 million, four years after scooping it up for $160 million. And of course, Blackstone acquired the coveted Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village for $5.46 billion with partner Ivanhoé Cambridge.
“I think all real estate investors in New York have had an attraction to Stuy Town,” said Mr. Gray. “It’s 80 acres, fee simple, with 11,000 apartments on the East Side of Manhattan. It’s hard not to be attracted to that real estate. We were not unique in the sense of trying to talk with the servicer and trying to find a way we could find an investment opportunity.”
Instead, what set Blackstone apart in the Stuy Town deal and many others, Mr. Gray said, is the firm’s range of investment vehicles—its public mortgage real estate investment trust, its mezzanine debt fund and its dedicated opportunity funds in the U.S. and Europe. Those came in handy, especially when closing on the $23 billion GE Capital real estate portfolio in mid-2015, he said, which was done in a mere three weeks.
As for the real estate giant’s future plans, Mr. Gray has faith in the market’s supply and demand fundamentals, which fueled Blackstone’s balanced buying and selling of assets last year.
“We still see opportunity, but at the same time there’s liquidity for mature assets,” he said. “We’ve been active sellers the last two years. I wouldn’t be surprised if we continue on that pace this year.”—Danielle Balbi
2. Stephen M. Ross, Jeff T. Blau and Bruce A. Beal, Jr. (6)
Chairman, CEO and President of Related Companies
Staying in the upper circles of New York City real estate usually requires either a lot of square footage or creative ways to keep people’s jaws dropping. Related Companies can check off both boxes.
Under the leadership of Stephen M. Ross, Jeff T. Blau and Bruce A. Beal, Jr., the global developer has more than half of its 17-million-square-foot Hudson Yards project under construction. Related, which is building the five-tower development with Oxford Properties Group, has leased out 6 million square feet of the site. In the last year, that included filling 10 Hudson Yards and neighboring 30 Hudson Yards, where Wells Fargo Securities and private equity firm KKR bought office condominiums last year. Related last year closed on $5 billion in financing for 30 Hudson Yards and the retail component of the project, as well as a $1.3 billion raise for 15 Hudson Yards, the first residential tower at the site.
With tenants moving into 10 Hudson Yards starting next month and 30 Hudson Yards under construction, the focus is now on filling up the 1.6-million-square-foot 55 Hudson Yards.
“It’s been probably our biggest year ever if you really think about major accomplishments,” Mr. Blau said. The activity can be seen as “really giving our site, the West Side and Hudson Yards [in general] all the credibility and confirmation in the market that we’ve been talking about for quite some time.”
In December, Related sold 11 floors of MiMA Tower in Hell’s Kitchen to Kuafu Properties for a reported $260.8 million. The company is currently developing its eighth of nine projects with Hudson Companies on Roosevelt Island, as well as redeveloping the islet’s retail. Related’s Hunters Point South project in Long Island City, Queens opened in May 2015, bringing online nearly 1,000 affordable and middle-class units.—Terence Cullen
3. Marc Holliday and Andrew Mathias (4)
CEO and President at SL Green Realty Corp.
Whether it’s investing in or financing commercial real estate in New York City, SL Green Realty Corp. finds a way to be a part of the deal.
The 19-year-old, Manhattan-based real estate investment trust has ownership interest in 30.5 million square feet and preferred equity investments in 17.8 million square feet of buildings in New York City alone.
SL Green CEO Marc Holliday described the company’s strategy as “integrated,” and pointed to its $2.6 billion purchase of the iconic 11 Madison Avenue. The company sold, joint-ventured, refinanced and recapitalized assets and “used all of the proceeds of those activities to acquire what was one of the best acquisitions in 2015,” Mr. Holliday said.
Indeed, SL Green shed a number of assets to fund the purchase of the landmarked Midtown South building. Just to name a few, the REIT sold its stake in the Lipstick Building for $453 million and the entire Tower 45 for $365 million. That didn’t stop the company from buying a 90 percent stake in 110 Greene Street in Soho for $229.5 million, as well as two Downtown Manhattan buildings at 187 Broadway and 5-7 Dey Street for a combined $63.7 million.
Beyond buying and selling, SL Green made progress on its development at One Vanderbilt, receiving permitting, rezoning of the site and commencing demolition. Andrew Mathias said that the company expects to have a formal groundbreaking and begin foundation work in the fall of this year.
SL Green executives are in the process of nailing down financing for the project, and the “reception has been terrific,” Mr. Mathias said. “It will be the most significant development in Midtown Manhattan in the last 40 years or so.”—D.B.
4. Ric Clark (11)
Chairman of Brookfield Property Partners
Ric Clark is heavily invested in Downtown Manhattan. Not only is he a resident of Tribeca, he heads the company that developed Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan, which opened a year ago.
Mr. Clark told Commercial Observer earlier this year that retailers are faring well at the 8.5-million-square-foot commercial complex formerly known as the World Financial Center.
“So I’ll come on a Sunday morning at 10 o’clock, and the Winter Garden is packed, and I’ll be working late on a Friday,” Mr. Clark said. “Or once in a while I’ll be here on a Saturday night, and there’s just a ton of people at all times.”
His company, Brookfield Property Partners, is developing an 844-unit residential building at the 5.4-million-square-foot mixed-use Manhattan West and two residential towers in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, at Greenpoint Landing, a 22-acre development site along the East River. That’s all part of the company’s $140 billion global portfolio.
On the investment side, the company is slated to close soon on a $650 million-plus bid for the rest of mall owner Rouse’s stock after already owning one-third of it.—Lauren Elkies Schram
5. Scott Rechler (1)
CEO and Chairman of RXR Realty
RXR Realty has grown a reputation as a big-time redeveloper.
“In general, I am proudest that RXR has positioned itself as the New York region’s premier redeveloper, redeveloping iconic New York City buildings and historic downtowns throughout the region,” Mr. Rechler told Commercial Observer.
Projects of note in the last year include the company’s acquisition of the landmark Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue in August 2015 for $1.2 billion.
“The Helmsley Building has long been neglected and our plan is to re-energize and upgrade it so that it is once again considered one of Manhattan’s most sought after addresses,” Mr. Rechler said in a company annual letter he prepared for his team.
The same month, RXR sealed a deal to purchase a 49 percent interest in 5 Times Square at a $1.6 billion valuation, closing the deal this January.
“We had previously provided $150 million of mezzanine financing to the existing owners when they acquired this property in 2013,” Mr. Rechler wrote in the annual letter. “Due to our connection with 5 Times Square and the belief that RXR would enhance the property’s future repositioning efforts, we were able to acquire this stake in the property off-market and at the same investment basis as the existing owners.”
Other big deals within the last 15 months include paying $675 million to Beacon Capital Partners for 32 Old Slip in Lower Manhattan and closing on a 97-year ground-lease for Pier 57, a 900-foot-long historic structure along the Hudson River. Google will become the anchor tenant with a 250,000-square-foot lease and Anthony Bourdain will be establishing a public food market in 140,000 square feet.—L.E.S.
6. Douglas and Jonathan “Jody” Durst (5)
Chairman and President of Durst Organization
Leasing across Durst Organization’s portfolio totaled 1.3 million square feet in 2015. Company head Douglas Durst said that was a pretty good year, although he would have liked to have seen a deal or two close at the vacant space at the company’s 4 Times Square. A big chunk of the Midtown tower was vacated when Condé Nast moved Downtown to 1 World Trade Center last year, which Durst owns with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Mr. Durst said a new deal at the space should be finalized in the near future.
“We’re pleased with where our portfolio stands,” Mr. Durst said. “We wish we had been a little more active at 4 Times Square, but we have a lot of things underway, which we’ll be announcing very shortly.”
In the meantime, Durst has had luck this year filling part of the 285,000 square feet at 1133 Avenue of the Americas vacated by the Internal Revenue Service, with Dutch banking giant ING Financial Holdings taking 132,400 square feet.
Durst also kicked off construction at Halletts Point in Astoria, Queens, in January. But because only the first few phases of the rental project are covered by the 421a tax abatement, Durst has publicly said that later phases of the affordable housing-driven project would not be economically viable. If, however, some alternative manages to pass in Albany, it promises to be one of the biggest projects in the city.—T.C.
7. Anthony E. Malkin (10)
Chairman and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust
Last year, Empire State Realty Trust may have been outbid on a property it was hoping to buy, but in August, the company “got a $2.5 million termination payment, which was a penny per share of profit for us,” Anthony E. Malkin said. And the company is open to other building buys.
“We’re maintaining our discipline but we are actively looking,” Mr. Malkin said.
For the last three years, the company has raised asking rents portfolio-wide by 10 percent. And when tenants’ leases have expired, ESRT has upgraded the spaces and increased the rents by more than 50 percent.
Last year, ESRT polished its crown jewel Empire State Building with deals like the expansion of LinkedIn to 280,000 square feet, Mr. Malkin said, and the opening of a “new Starbucks which delivers within the building so people can phone down and have Starbucks delivered upstairs.”
In February 2015, ESRT brought in a new president and chief operating officer, John B. Kessler. “He’s been tremendous in building the organization,” Mr. Malkin said.
ESRT has also launched a repositioning of 250 West 57th Street to “focus on full-floor tenancies now.” Such tenants include CookFox Architects and GuildNet.
“We also launched the rebranding of 112 West 34th Street as 111 West 33rd Street, which also includes a new lobby by Studios Architecture,” Mr. Malkin said. His company will be relocating to and consolidating in space at the building in June.—L.E.S.
8. Jerry and Rob Speyer (9)
Chairman and President and CEO of Tishman Speyer
After sharing the reins of the company he founded in 1978, Jerry Speyer gave full control of the CEO position to his 46-year-old son, Rob, last September as part of a phased transition plan. The father-son real estate duo had split duties as top executive for the seven years prior.
The 75-year-old Jerry, who founded the company with his father-in-law, Robert Tishman, is still active in the company as it continues to expand across New York City and the globe.
Last August, Tishman Speyer was named the long-awaited buyer of the Macy’s in Downtown Brooklyn at 422 Fulton Street. The Rockefeller Center-based developer will create 10 floors of office space above a truncated version of the department store in a $270 million agreement.
Tishman Speyer is developing a 1,789-unit residential complex a bit north in Long Island City, Queens, where the company has been building for roughly 10 years. The new 1.2-million-square-foot project will also include 15,500 square feet of retail for the shopping-starved neighborhood.
The company has not shied away from the Far West Side, either. An original bidder for the Hudson Yards site, Tishman Speyer is now working on two projects practically across the street: a 2.9-million-square-foot, Bjarke Ingels Group-designed tower dubbed The Spiral; and an assembled site across from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center for a planned 1.3-million-square-foot office building.
Both father and son have remained active in civic life. Jerry is the chairman of the Museum of Modern Art and vice chairman of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Rob, meanwhile, is in his rare fourth year as chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York (chairs usually serve only three years). The real estate scion also chairs the advisory board for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.—T.C. and Liam La Guerre
9. Steven Roth (7)
Chairman and CEO of Vornado Realty Trust
During a recent Vornado Realty Trust earnings call, Steven Roth called Penn Plaza “our Big Kahuna.”
The firm, which is one of the biggest landlords in the country, is trying to bring new life to the Pennsylvania Station area. Vornado recently announced plans to combine the office buildings at 1 and 2 Penn Plaza into a 4.2-million-square-foot complex. It will also completely rip off the façade at 2 Penn Plaza and replace it with glass.
Vornado, which owns 9 million square feet around Penn Station, is capitalizing on the excitement brewing along the West Side of Manhattan—and the company got a boost when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to overhaul the crumbling hub.
“The timing of this submarket is perfect now,” Mr. Roth said in the earnings call. “The confluence of the events surrounding Penn Plaza is nothing short of extraordinary and validate our investment strategy, and so I have said before, the island of Manhattan is changing to the west.”
Besides the Big Kahuna, Vornado has been very active within the last year around the city, where it owns more than 20 million square feet of office space.
In August 2015, Vornado acquired a 99-year ground lease at 260 11th Avenue, also known as the Otis Elevator Building, using stock units valued at $80 million. The site currently is home to a 235,000-square-foot office building with a 10,000-square-foot parking lot, and Vornado plans to redevelop and expand the structure to meet the demand for office space in Chelsea. It will make annual payments of $3.9 million for the ground lease, and Vornado has the option to buy the property for $110 million.
The company isn’t overlooking the outer-boroughs either. It picked up the 437,000-square-foot Center Building in Long Island City, Queens, at 33-00 Northern Boulevard for $142 million in March 2015. —L.L.G.
10. Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey (22)
Co-Founder and CEO and Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of WeWork
WeWork has been getting bigger and bigger since the company’s inception in 2010. In 2015, the company grew to over 40,000 members from roughly 16,000 the year prior (and is now at 55,000), according to WeWork, with over 9,000 businesses, up from 4,000, that call their WeWork digs home, or office home.
The $16 billion co-working giant run by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey opened 40 new WeWork locations all over the world in 2015, including in Austin, Amsterdam, Berkeley, Chicago, Miami, Portland, Herzliya and Be’er Sheva. Plus, WeWork has been expanding with new spaces in New York City, like the 60,000-square-foot fourth floor at the post office building at 450 Lexington Avenue between East 44th and East 45th Streets, as Commercial Observer previously reported.
WeWork’s employees number 1,400, according to a company spokeswoman. And there are 90 WeWork locations in 67 countries as of earlier this month—but WeWork has been on such a tear, it’s not likely that number is still good. The company expects to open another 100 locations by the end of the year.
WeWork purchased the 63-person building information consultancy CASE, which had been working with WeWork for several years, David Fano, a co-founder of CASE, previously told CO. WeWork and the CASE employees moved into new 115,600-square-foot WeWork headquarters last August at 115 West 18th Street.
And there are exciting things ahead for WeWork, as the company has launched its residential offering, WeLive, including a location at 110 Wall Street. On June 1 the first WeWork space will open in China, in Shanghai. And WeWork is working with Rudin Management and Boston Properties to develop a 675,000-square-foot office project called Dock 72 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard—L.E.S.
11. Jeff Sutton (12)
Founder and President of Wharton Properties
Last year, Jeff Sutton’s Wharton Properties completed one of the biggest and most talked about purchases in New York City real estate: the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue, a shining star in the firmament of New York’s most coveted and luxurious strip of retail. The price tag was an unfathomable $1.78 billion.
The hard part was never making a deal; it was always making a big (and somewhat scary) investment like that pay off by keeping some of the best brands at the address and, with them, the ludicrous rents.
It has been remarkable to watch Mr. Sutton pull it off, but last year he signed a deal with Bulgari that reduced its amount of frontage from 46 feet to 28 feet while at the same time taking the rent from an already stratospheric $9.5 million per year to $16.5 million a year for the 3,000-square-foot space, working out to $5,500 per foot. It makes the $4,000-a-foot lease he signed with Ermenegildo Zegna at the same building look sort of shabby by comparison. We hear that with real estate that valuable at his fingertips, he plans on transforming the Crown’s lobby into yet another retail space.
It’s sort of been the story of the rest of Mr. Sutton’s portfolio; nine years ago, he signed Giorgio Armani at 717 Fifth Avenue for what was then considered a high $1,000 per foot. He has been raising the bar ever since.
Mr. Sutton, who still lives in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn where he grew up, appears to be moving with the tide of the market; since seizing the Crown, he has purchased a handful of buildings (notably 511 Fifth Avenue and 85 Fifth Avenue) but overall he seems to be focused on getting the premier tenants to his 123-property portfolio.
In addition to his Fifth Avenue properties, Mr. Sutton has addresses in Soho (he brought Canada Goose to 101 Wooster Street and Nike to 529 Broadway), Times Square (his alma mater, the Wharton School, is planning on doing a case study about how he tiptoed around the landmarking rules to advertise alongside one of these properties) and Harlem, where he’s bringing a Whole Foods, a Burlington Coat Factory, an Olive Garden and a TD Bank, among others.—M.G.
12. William Rudin (14)
Vice Chairman and CEO of Rudin Management
William Rudin kicked off 2015 signing a monster 580,000-square-foot lease at 1675 Broadway with Publicis Groupe in January in the mid-$70s per square foot—but the year only seemed to get better from there.
“The Greenwich Lane project was very strong in terms of sales,” Mr. Rudin told Commercial Observer, referring to the FXFOWLE-designed 199-unit luxury condominium in Greenwich Village at the old St. Vincent’s Hospital, where the average apartment was listed at a whopping $3,584 per square foot, according to StreetEasy. “We started moving people in [in the fourth quarter of 2015] and we’re almost at 90 percent sold now. We sold 180 units and by the time you go to press, we’ll have closed 75 units.”
Greenwich Lane was the culmination of many years of labor. But there were other initiatives in 2015, and so far in 2016 that were just as exciting. For instance there was Rudin’s collaboration with WeWork at 110 Wall Street for its initial WeLive project, which opened earlier this month. And at the Brooklyn Navy Yard last May, Rudin embarked on an extremely ambitious project with Boston Properties and WeWork (again) to build out a 675,000-square-foot office project called Dock 72.
All the while, Rudin has continued leasing its heart out. “The metrics of the city seem very strong, job growth continues and there’s a lot of activity in construction and renovation,” Mr. Rudin said. “The energy in the city is very vibrant; it’s all very positive signs.”—M.G.
13. Larry Silverstein and Marty Burger (3)
Chairman and CEO of Silverstein Properties
Few names stand out Downtown like Silverstein Properties, which is led by Larry Silverstein and Marty Burger.
The developer is finishing up 30 Park Place, which will be anchored by the Four Seasons Downtown at the base with luxury condominium units upstairs. Work on the hotel should finish up this summer, and it is slated to be operational by this fall, Mr. Silverstein said.
Group M, 3 World Trade Center’s anchor tenant, signed an expansion—a total of 650,000 square feet, or 28 percent, of the under-construction tower. The building will top out this summer. Mr. Silverstein said he wouldn’t be surprised if the company signed on for more space before the building opens in 2018.
Neighboring 4 World Trade Center is now more than 70 percent spoken for. One big lease at the skyscraper includes SNY, the cable network that carries the New York Mets games, which inked an 83,000-square-foot deal to relocate Downtown from Midtown.
The last year would have been a grand slam, however, if one of the city’s largest deals had gone through. Silverstein had been in talks with News Corp. and 21st Century Fox to anchor more than half of the 2.8-million-square-foot 2 WTC. But the media companies backed out of the negotiations this January over concerns that it couldn’t facilitate a massive headquarters move.
Mr. Silverstein has remained optimistic that a tenant will sign to the yet-to-be-built tower, which got a new Bjarke Ingels design last year. “Any occupant requiring a large amount of space is going to look at this building, and I simply have to tell you, they are,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if this happens this year.”—T.C.
14. Gary Barnett (8)
Founder and President of Extell Development Company
Last week, Gary Barnett reversed course at One57, announcing that he would try to sell 38 unsold units at the building instead of putting them on the luxury rental market. Those apartments at 157 West 57th Street include one, two and three bedrooms and will range from $3.5 million to $10 million, Mr. Barnett said.
“Even after taxes, we see the opportunity to do better than we would do as a rental,” he said.
The property is home to the five-star Park Hyatt New York, which in January was ranked as the top hotel in New York City by U.S. News & World Report.
Extell Development Company has been on a tear assembling properties in the Diamond District from West 46th to West 47th Streets and Fifth Avenue to Avenue of the Americas. “We basically have site control,” Mr. Barnett said, noting he is not sure what Extell will do at the site.
In March, Mr. Barnett said he went to Israel to do a bond issue and to explain to his institutional investors his deal with RXR Realty. RXR is lending Extell $463.2 million for the construction of a condo at 250 South Street called One Manhattan Square and rental buildings at 500 East 14th Street and 555 10th Avenue.
This month Extell plans to start marketing its 80-unit condo at 1681 Third Avenue at East 94th Street that is under construction. And he has under construction a ground-up development at 1010 Park Avenue, which Mr. Barnett called “one of the few new buildings to be built on Park Avenue.”
And in its first foray into Brooklyn, Extell is working on a 500-unit residential tower at City Point.—L.E.S.
15. Andrew Cuomo (28)
Governor of New York
He’s been called the Prince of Darkness, The Contender…but Master Builder?
It had remained to be seen which of New York’s top Democrats—Gov. Andrew Cuomo or Mayor Bill de Blasio—would leave the biggest physical mark on the city, but just in the last few months the governor announced a string of projects that would make Robert Moses’ head spin: $100 billion worth of infrastructure projects in New York State, which include a revamp and addition to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, sprucing up and expanding Pennsylvania Station and a brand new LaGuardia Airport.
“Together, we will build an even smarter, stronger and fairer New York than ever before—and we will show the nation the way forward once again,” he said in his Jan. 13 State of the State address.
Questions remain on how the second-term Democrat plans to pay for all of these programs, but the real estate community applauded his commitment to overhauling Gotham’s crumbling infrastructure.
Mr. Cuomo also showed how much influence his perch has over the five boroughs when it comes to real estate policy. The governor pushed through a six-month renewal of the 421a tax break in June 2015 after it expired for about a week. He tied the continuation of the program to a prevailing construction wage, which had to be agreed upon by landlords and labor unions by this January. Because talks broke down, the abatement crucial to building rental market-rate and affordable apartments in New York City expired. Mr. Cuomo’s office has said that a 421a replacement could be forthcoming.—T.C.
16. Douglas Harmon and Adam Spies (26)
Senior Managing Directors at Eastdil Secured
When it comes to billion-dollar deals, Douglas Harmon and Adam Spies know a thing or two about them, having done more than 20 of them last year in New York City alone. (Last year Mr. Harmon represented the sellers of the Willis Tower in Chicago for $1.3 billion, the highest-ever price paid for a U.S. tower outside of New York City, The Wall Street Journal reported.)
Mr. Harmon brokered a doozy of a deal: the record Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village sale to Blackstone and Ivanhoé Cambridge for $5.46 billion.
Messrs. Harmon and Spies negotiated the $1.78 billon deal in which developer Jeff Sutton and Chicago-based General Growth Properties bought the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue from Spitzer Enterprises and Winter Properties. That set an all-time world record price per square foot—$4,551—for an entire commercial building, Bloomberg News reported.
The duo also set a record for office space at $2,000 per square foot at 3 Bryant Park when Ivanhoé Cambridge and Callahan Capital Properties picked up the building at 1095 Avenue of the Americas from Blackstone Group for $2.2 billion.
And they negotiated the deal in which Anbang Insurance Group nabbed the legendary and landmarked Waldorf Astoria New York for just shy of $2 billion from Hilton Worldwide.
Messrs. Harmon and Spies, who have a team of eight, could not be reached for comment.—L.E.S.
17. Barry Sternlicht (17)
Chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group and Starwood Property Trust
Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group was on a spending spree in 2015. The firm negotiated 27 acquisitions around the globe (some of which closed in early 2016) for properties totaling $15 billion.
Its purchases last year make Starwood one of the country’s largest apartment owners. Starwood picked up 23,262 residential units scattered through 72 communities around the nation from Equity Residential for $5.4 billion in October 2015. Then it purchased multifamily investment firm Landmark Apartment Trust in a $1.9 billion deal, which added another 19,615 units from eight states. Starwood now has approximately 90,000 units in its multifamily portfolio.
The 25-year-old firm didn’t stop at just apartments last year, though. Starwood also picked up extended-stay hotel developer TMI Hospitality for $1.16 billion, adding 196 new hotels (88 percent of which were Marriott and Hilton-brands) to its real estate portfolio.
Last year wasn’t all about acquisition. Starwood also sold off its Baccarat Hotel New York early in the year at 20 West 53rd Streets between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas to China-based Sunshine Insurance Group for more than $230 million.
On the financing side, Starwood Property Trust—Starwood’s lending division—enlarged its portfolio to more than $9.1 billion in 2015 and is still the nation’s largest commercial mortgage real estate investment trust. The firm closed $5.8 billion in transactions last year.
“We remain well positioned to take advantage of the most compelling commercial real estate opportunities globally as it relates to lending, acquisitions and development,” Mr. Sternlicht said. “Looking ahead, we will continue to shift between real estate asset classes, geographies and positions in the capital stack to find the best risk-adjusted returns.”—L.L.G.
18. Sandeep Mathrani (19)
CEO of General Growth Properties
The Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks wasn’t the only Windy City entity to take home a crown in 2015.
Chicago-based General Growth Properties, headed by Sandeep Mathrani, and Jeff Sutton of Wharton Properties together purchased the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue from Spitzer Enterprises and Winter Properties. The transaction became one of New York City’s largest single-asset sales last year at a whopping $1.78 billion. That came with the help of a $1.25 billion acquisition loan from Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
The joint owners went on to renegotiate Bulgari’s lease at the building between West 56th and West 57th Streets—the asking rent in the deal was a jaw-dropping $5,500 per square foot. Italian menswear retailer Ermenegildo Zegna went on to sign a 9,000-square-foot deal that had an asking rent of $4,000 per square foot.
Rumors swirled earlier this year that Brookfield Property Partners was considering a purchase of the retail-savvy GGP. But Brookfield executives shot down those suggestions in an investors call this February. That’s not to say there still isn’t a cozy relationship between the two companies. GGP was temporarily brought in to head up leasing at Brookfield Place along the Hudson River, following the departure of Brookfield’s leasing chief Ed Hogan.—T.C.
19. Mary Ann Tighe (18)
CEO of the New York Tri-State Region at CBRE
For Mary Ann Tighe, 2016 started with a bigger bang than most brokers hear in their whole careers: Citadel, the Chicago-based hedge fund, took a 225,000-square-foot lease at 425 Park Avenue. It paid $300 per square foot for the space—a record.
“Nothing has ever touched that before,” said Ms. Tighe, who handled the deal for the landlord, L&L Holding Company, with colleagues Evan Haskell, Sarah Pontius and Zak Snider.
But it was hardly the only blockbuster deal Ms. Tighe worked on over the course of the last 12 months. For the past five years, she has been readying 7 Bryant Park to go on the market with its developer, Hines, and before the temporary certificate of occupancy was even ready, Bank of China bought the 475,000-square-foot building for roughly $600 million. “It was big—and for me uncharacteristic,” Ms. Tighe said (she typically leases space and rarely sells them). If not for these two coups, we’d be talking about Ms. Tighe’s Gensler deal: 119,414 square feet that the architecture and design firm took at 1700 Broadway with an asking price of $59 per foot in which Ms. Tighe represented the tenant—or the 191,138 square feet at $58 per foot that the Teachers Retirement System of New York took at 55 Water Street in FiDi. Ms. Tighe represented the landlord, the Retirement Systems of Alabama.
“When I looked at my overall numbers, I did 3.4 million square feet of leases last year,” Ms. Tighe said.—M.G.
20. Andrew Farkas (15)
Founder, Managing Member, Chairman and CEO of Island Capital Group
Andrew Farkas is the head of Island Capital Group, a firm he founded in 2003. He previously worked as chairman and CEO of Insignia Financial Group, which later merged with (what is now) CBRE in 2003, to become the largest commercial real estate firm in the world.
Island Capital is the parent or an affiliate of several major firms, including C-III Capital Partners, commercial brokerage EVO Real Estate Group and international real estate brokerage network NAI Global.
C-III provides special servicing for about $100 billion in commercial loans and is the main servicer for more than $5 billion in loans, according to the company. C-III also manages more than $3.8 billion in real estate assets and has a wide range of clients, including pension funds and major insurance firms.
C-III is an active investor in the local real estate market. The firm has purchased 2,000 units across 15 buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn in deals that either closed last year or are currently in contract.
Mr. Farkas also sits on the board of Cadre, a real estate investment platform founded by Jared Kushner (head of Kushner Companies and the publisher of Commercial Observer) and his brother Joshua Kushner. —David Jones
21. Jeffrey Gural, Jimmy Kuhn, Barry Gosin and David Falk (32)
Chairman, President, CEO and President of New York Tri-State Region of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
Maybe we’re just distracted by the latest shiny piece of news, but last month when The New York Post reported that Facebook had taken 200,000 square feet at 225 Park Avenue South, we counted it as a big coup when we found Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s fingerprints on the deal. (The firm represented the landlord.)
Of course, that was last month. This month (last week, in fact) NGKF won the Henry Hart Rice Achievement Award (aka the Ingenious Deal of the Year Award) from the Real Estate Board of New York for a three-part transaction to turn a garbage truck depot at 525 East 73rd Street that was demolished in 2008 and slated to be turned into a City of New York Department of Sanitation parking garage into a 1.1-million-square-foot Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center hospital and nursing school.
But beyond leases and sales, NGKF has been getting bigger and bolder in its real estate vision, which has extended well beyond New York; in 2014 it acquired the California real estate firm Cornish & Carey. “We are No. 1 in the Bay Area,” NGKF’s Barry Gosin told Commercial Observer late last year, “No. 1 in Boston; No. 2 in New York and expected to be on the leaderboard in all major markets around the country.”
And that wasn’t the only firm to be swept up in NGKF’s acquisitions kick: A little over a year ago NGKF picked up Apartments Realty Advisors, or ARA, making itself the second-largest multifamily sales company in the country; in May it nabbed Computerized Facility Integration, or CFI, which manages over 3 billion square feet of real estate globally; and in July it purchased the dispositions and lease-restructuring firm, Excess Space.
Aside from that, Messrs Gosin and Gural are themselves owners of a considerable portfolio of real estate: They own a stake in about 50 buildings, including the Flatiron Building and 40 Worth Street.—M.G.
22. Christoph Kahl, Matt Bronfman and Michael Phillips (29)
Principal, CEO and President of Jamestown
Jamestown scored a real coup last year when Time Inc. decided it would move more than 300 employees to 55,000 square feet in Industry City in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. The employees moved in in December 2015.
The 16-building, 6-million-square-foot IC complex is home to 400 tenants, including furniture and accessories retailer Design Within Reach, 3D printing company MakerBot, the Brooklyn Nets’ practice facility and a community-based skills training center, which opened in early April. The waterfront property is undergoing a $1 billion revitalization, which is being led by Jamestown and Belvedere Capital.
Jamestown’s other New York City holdings include the Falchi Building, a five-story, 600,000-square-foot office building in Long Island City. Jamestown leased space there to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission as well as rivals Lyft and Uber, which Michael Phillips called “the trifecta of transportation companies.”
In February, Jamestown closed on 49 percent stakes in office buildings 63 Madison Avenue and 200 Madison Avenue, which have a $1.15 billion valuation, Mr. Phillips said. The firm’s portfolio spans beyond New York City to Washington, D.C., Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bogotá, Columbia and Lima, Peru. And it has hit $10 billion in assets under management now. “We grew a lot over the last four years,” Mr. Phillips said. The company also launched its first Latin America fund.—L.E.S.
23. Mitchell Steir and Michael Colacino (21)
Chairman and CEO and President of Savills Studley
When evaluating a brokerage firm like Savills Studley and its pecking order in the New York City real estate universe, you have to look at the deals it inked. By any measure, 2015 was a great one for Mitchell Steir and Michael Colacino.
There was the New York State Teachers Retirement System of New York, which expanded its footprint at 55 Water Street to a gargantuan 191,138-square-foot space. There was the Associated Press, which Savills Studley moved from its location at 450 West 33rd Street (which is being repurposed as 5 Manhattan West), down to Brookfield Place, in 172,352 square feet of space. And there were plenty of other transactions that broke the 100,000-square-foot mark—Nike for 142,954 at 855 Avenue of the Americas and Markit Group for 139,332 at 5 Manhattan West. This is all from a firm that has only 100 brokers in New York. According to Mr. Steir, there are 25-plus offices nationwide and 400 professionals manning them.
But it was a record year for the firm for reasons beyond the leases. The company opened its first office in Canada, Phoenix, Austin and Minneapolis as well as picked up a Cresa office in Silicon Valley, which will be run under the Savills Studley banner. Savills Studley also bought the Tampa Bay-based occupier services company, Vertical Integration, and the New York-based management consulting company, KLG Advisors.—M.G.
24. Joseph Sitt (25)
President and CEO of Thor Equities
The elusive Joseph Sitt said through a spokesman that his Thor Equities is “one of the most active real estate companies in New York City right now.” What metric is he going off of? That isn’t clear. But it’s difficult to walk through this city and not notice the name Thor stamped on a dizzying array of properties.
Thor is known for its retail holdings, which it has plenty of in the posh Soho and Noho neighborhoods. Many of those holdings are on Greene Street, where Thor has scooped up several retail condominiums, including the recent $9 million purchase of 45 Greene Street between Grand and Broome Streets. That site is one of 13 that Thor owns a piece of along the Midtown South thoroughfare.
The Thor spokesman also noted that the landlord has bought a slew of residential properties over the last year, totaling north of $1 billion. That includes 17 West 125th Street in Harlem, which Thor nabbed in August 2015 for $30.6 million.
But Thor has become a global landlord and doesn’t want to discuss too much of its New York City roots. Mr. Sitt has increasingly been focused on the company’s holdings in Europe. So this January, he promoted 20-year Thor veteran Melissa Gliatta to serve as chief operating officer for the firm’s North America dealings.—T.C.
25. David and Jed Walentas (40)
Principals of Two Trees Management Company
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is all the rage these days, commanding some of the most expensive residential, office and retail rents in the borough. Developer Two Trees Management Company will likely help boost the value even more as it reshapes the Domino Sugar refinery along the waterfront of the Brooklyn enclave.
The developer is turning the dilapidated site into a mixed-use complex over the next several years. Refining the old site will lead to 800 affordable apartments as well as 600,000 square feet of office space. Foundation work has already begun at the plot, which covers 11 acres.
A little south along the East River, Two Trees has had success in Dumbo—a neighborhood it converted from old warehouses to one of the most expensive enclaves in the borough over several decades. Two Trees is also leasing out its 17-story 60 Water Street, which currently has more than 15,000 square feet of retail on the market at the base of the building.
Two Trees has also filled up its sole commercial holding across the river in Manhattan, at 50 West 23rd Street in the Flatiron District.
“Bringing our Dumbo leasing approach to Midtown South, we signed top tenants, including DropBox and SoundCloud at our West 23rd Street building,” Jed Walentas said.—T.C.
26. Darcy Stacom and William Shanahan (30)
Vice Chairmen of CBRE
Darcy Stacom and William Shanahan head up one of the city’s top investment property teams. They have worked on some of the city’s biggest real estate deals, including last year’s sale of the Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue by Monday Properties to RXR Realty and Blackstone Group for $1.2 billion; the sale of 11 Madison Avenue by The Sapir Organization and CIM Group to SL Green Realty Corp. for $2.6 billion; and 787 11th Avenue for Ford Motor Company to the Georgetown Company and an Ackman family-controlled investment fund for $258 million.
The duo also represented Edison Properties in the sale of 516 West 18th Street (aka 76 11th Avenue), which spans West 17th to West 18th Streets and from 10th to 11th Avenues, to HFZ Capital Group for $870 million, one of the most expensive land deals ever recorded in the city.
The Real Estate Board of New York awarded Ms. Stacom and Mr. Shanahan the first-place prize at the annual Ingenious Deal awards for closing a 70 percent recapitalization of Pacific Park.
“It’s complicated. But between the guarantees and the equity, it was $780 million up front, and over the course of the investment it would be closer to $4.5 billion,” Mr. Shanahan said.
And that was the fourth Ingenious award for the CBRE duo.
“If you look at the types of transactions people get us for, they require special knowledge, high-level detail,” Mr. Shanahan said. “They’re not your run-of-the-mill transactions. People call us when the bar is high.”—L.E.S.
27. Blake Hutcheson and Andrew Trickett (36)
President and CEO and Senior Managing Director of Investments at Oxford Properties
If you ask the average investor if he’s ever worked with Oxford Properties, you might elicit a head scratch and a question about whether the firm is based in London. In reality, this Toronto-based firm has quietly emerged over the past year as one of the most powerful and influential players in New York real estate circles.
Led by Blake Hutcheson, Oxford has grown into one of the top dealmakers at Hudson Yards, and while keeping its feet firmly grounded in smaller transactions, the company is quickly making a name for itself.
“I think a lot of the market would be surprised to know that we now have over 35 team members in New York and a fully integrated platform, including full property operations, leasing, development and investments in house,” said Andrew Trickett, the senior managing director of investments.
Oxford first made a splash locally in 2012 by teaming up with Crown Acquisitions to buy a stake in Olympic Tower, the headquarters of the National Basketball Association, and then buying 450 Park Avenue in 2014 before dipping into the well again last year to buy out the Olympic Tower for a combined $1 billion. The firm also stepped up with Related Companies to score a total of $5 billion in debt for their 90-story office condominium tower at 30 Hudson Yards and the Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards.
“Oxford continues to be bullish on New York,” Mr. Trickett said. “We are principles and have a long-term horizon, so in addition to making smart investment, development and asset management decisions, delivering top-tier customer service and perpetually reinvesting in our assets are very important parts of our business.”
Despite its sudden success here, Mr. Trickett cautioned that the company is “very thoughtful” about investing in New York and hasn’t started talking about itself in the third person.
“We don’t want the biggest portfolio; we want the one that best fits our strategy and our risk profile,” he said. “We know which blocks fit for us and which don’t and which assets on which blocks fit.”—D.J.
28. Ziel Feldman and Nir Meir (43)
Chairman and Founder and Managing Principal of HFZ Capital Group
HFZ Capital invested big last year—and nowhere did they go bigger than on the High Line.
HFZ purchased the 850,000-square-foot 518 West 18th Street, which spans West 17th to West 18th Streets and from 10th to 11th Avenues, for $870 million, one of the most expensive land deals ever recorded in the city. A month earlier, the company picked up the 550,000-square-foot Belnord apartment building at 225 West 86th Street between West 86th and West 87th Streets and Broadway to Amsterdam (a property Mr. Feldman previously owned in 1994).
Mr. Meir said his company is one of “if not the only” developer to close on two full square blocks within a 60-day period.
This quarter, the company will be breaking ground at 505 West 19th Street where two Bjarke Ingels-designed towers will rise. HFZ has almost topped out at 20 West 40th Street, which will have a hotel at the base and 16 floors of residential condos above.
But that doesn’t mean HFZ has only gone for the expensive parts of town—or only for this town. In the last year, HFZ made its first investment in Detroit, a market Mr. Feldman described as “sorely undervalued.”
In partnership with Southfield, Mich.-based development and management firm Redico, HFZ bought a pair of Detroit landmarks—the Fisher Building and the Albert Kahn Building—for $12.2 million on Auction.com
HFZ is also doing its first project in Miami, having acquired the Shore Club for $175.3 million in December 2013. The company plans to reopen the hotel as Fasano Hotel + Residences at Shore Club at the end of 2017.—L.E.S.
29. Mortimer Zuckerman and Owen Thomas (41)
Co-Founder and Chairman and CEO and Director of Boston Properties
Billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman has capped off an illustrious year—and career—as co-founder and chairman of Boston Properties by announcing plans to step down from the chairmanship. CEO Owen Thomas will remain in charge.
Boston Properties has been active on the development front, forging an agreement with Rudin Development and WeWork, in conjunction with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. for a 675,000-square-foot property called Dock 72 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard at a total cost of $380 million.
The company entered a deal to redevelop the former Metropolitan Transportation Authority headquarters at 341-347 Madison Avenue, but the project is on hold amid questions about whether the real estate investment trust will be able to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, according to reports.
Media giant Al Jazeera paid a $45 million termination fee to Boston Properties after exiting an 85,000-square-foot lease at 250 West 55th Street. The lease, originally signed in 2014, was set to expire at the end of February 2035.
Boston Properties has been very busy at the property, signing a series of financial and law firms, including a 10-year deal for a 14,542-square-foot space for Sachem Head Capital Management, a 5,800-square-foot lease for Dwight Capital and a 30,400-square-foot space for law firm Watson Farley & Williams.—D.J.
30. Brett White, Bruce Mosler and Ron Lo Russo (58)
Chairman and CEO, Chairman of Global Brokerage and President of New York Tri-State Region at Cushman & Wakefield
Forget the $1.78 billion sale of the Crown Building or the $2.29 billion buy of 11 Madison Avenue. One of the largest transactions last year was DTZ’s $2 billion purchase of Cushman & Wakefield—the latest in a string of brokerage consolidations for the two firms.
Leading up to the merger, which was announced in May 2015, the two companies had been on a buying frenzy. Chicago-based DTZ scooped up Washington, D.C.-based Cassidy Turley near the end of 2014. C&W around the same time bought Massey Knakal Realty Services for $100 million to boost its New York City investment sales presence. Insiders this year speculated the next step is for the brokerage to go public.
The combined firm still carries the C&W moniker (although it’s got a new logo) but now has a combined workforce of 43,000 employees. Brett White, a former CBRE chief, took over as CEO following the completion of the merger in September 2015. Longtime C&W executive Bruce Mosler remained on his perch as the chairman of global brokerage, as did New York tri-state region President Ron Lo Russo. The consolidated brokerage is expected to now have $5 billion in annual revenue putting it behind CBRE and JLL in terms of income.
“The company has come to a different level,” said Mr. Mosler, the CEO of the brokerage from 2004 to 2010. “If I could have drawn it up on a strategic piece of white paper I’m not sure I would have come to a better outcome.”—T.C.
31. Charles Cohen (New)
President and CEO of Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation
Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation was founded in the 1950s, but the “brothers” part of the business has now come down to one Cohen heir—Charles—who runs the real estate empire.
It’s a particularly large one. When Commercial Observer sat down with Mr. Cohen in the fall, the company had 12 million square feet in its portfolio and stretched from some of the toniest sections of New York to the trendiest parts of Los Angeles.
Mr. Cohen has been involved in real estate, he said, since he “started showing apartments when I was 13 or 14 years old” and has since segued into other aspects of the business, from writing leases, to management, to construction, to finance and development.
On the development side, Mr. Cohen has been focusing on South Florida, partnering with Starwood Hotels & Resorts on a Le Meridien hotel in Fort Lauderdale, and he’s also got preliminary plans for an approximately 200-unit residential development in West Palm Beach.
Closer to home, for the last five years, he has been sprucing up 475 Park Avenue South with his old collaborator, Cesar Pelli (Mr. Pelli worked on Mr. Cohen’s Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles), making it one of the premier office properties in Midtown South, which is truly Cohen Brothers’ bailiwick.
And the leases keep coming at Mr. Cohen’s existing Midtown properties: a 13,000-square-foot deal for Brewer Attorneys and Counselors at 750 Lexington Avenue; a 9,000-square-foot Dean & DeLuca at 3 Park Avenue; an 8,200-square-foot space for the law firm Farrell Fritz at 622 Third Avenue and—a major coup for any landlord—a 56,000-square-foot lease to Saks & Co. in the old Daffy’s space at Tower57, aka 135 East 57th Street.—M.G.
32. Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby (New)
Co-Founders of Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg
Those delighted by the prospect of having over 75 varied and scrumptious food vendors to choose from in one place, not to mention more artisanal vendors than one could possibly buy from, have Brownstoner website founder Jonathan Butler and partner Eric Demby to thank.
Founders of the Brooklyn Flea, the largest public market in New York City with about 100 vendors, as well as its culinary Smorgasburg offshoot, Messrs. Butler and Demby not only created two of the city’s more enjoyable shopping and eating destinations but also inspired a larger food hall trend in their wake. And the city absorbed a ton of their imitators in the last few years, from City Kitchen to Urbanspace Vanderbilt to Hudson Eats to Berg’n to Lord only knows.
According to Mr. Butler, the pair spent 2015 “solidifying the long-term stability of our markets in Brooklyn while laying the groundwork for geographic expansion outside of the city.” While both markets had steady homes on Saturdays, they had been bouncing between different locations on Sundays, an issue the pair has now remedied. The Brooklyn Flea will remain in Fort Greene on Saturdays and operate at the Pearl Street Triangle in Dumbo on Sundays. For Smorgasburg, which adds around 25 new vendors this year, their Saturday Williamsburg presence will be joined on Sundays by a market at Breeze Hill in Prospect Park. This will be the first time in the markets’ nine-year history that all are situated in permanent locations.
This past winter saw a successful run for their Food Hall at Sunset Park’s Industry City, which had 100 vendors in a 50,000-square-foot space. There will also be versions of the markets at Central Park Summerstage and at the South Street Seaport for the spring and summer seasons.
Now, the pair is looking to take its winning concepts on the road. Messrs. Butler and Demby are preparing a version of Smorgasburg in Kingston, N.Y., with 60 to 70 vendors, set to launch on June 4, and bringing the concept to Los Angeles, opening Smorgasburg L.A. 15 days later.—Larry Getlen
33. Christopher Schlank and Nicholas Bienstock (39)
Founder and Co-Managing Partner and Co-Managing Partner at Savanna
Savanna tested the waters last year, putting its 1.5-million-square-foot One Court Square tower in Long Island City on the market, which could have been worth more than $500 million.
But the private equity firm, which is run by Christopher Schlank and Nicholas Bienstock, decided to hold on to the trophy tower as the real estate explosion in Long Island City continues and instead refinanced the 50-story tower’s $315 million mortgage in September 2015.
“You see ground-up developments by Tishman [Speyer] and Related [Companies]—the major players of New York—taking positions in Long Island City, so the scale of the capital and the investments going in there is just making the market better and better,” Mr. Bienstock said. “And our lease with Citi Corp. doesn’t expire for four years. So I think we are happy to ride the market.”
Nevertheless, it was another year of investing in under-the-radar properties for Savanna, which entered the young Bushwick, Brooklyn, office market with a $33.7 million purchase of the old Schlitz Brewery at 95 Evergreen Avenue in January 2015. Savanna began transforming the property from an industrial building to high-end office space, which is set to open this year.
And staying within the outer-boroughs, Savanna picked up 2415 Third Avenue in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx in March 2015 for $31 million. It is engaged in a $12 million renovation of the property. Savanna is, of course, not leaving Manhattan out of the conversation. It purchased a 24,682-square-foot retail property in the Meatpacking District under the High Line at 461 West 14th Street for $47.6 million, aiming to take advantage of the mass exodus to Manhattan’s West Side.—L.L.G.
34. Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs (47)
Co-Founders and Principals at RFR Realty
Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs, both co-founders and principals at RFR Realty, are very much into having iconic properties.
In January 2015, Messrs. Rosen and Fuchs’ firm closed the $55 million buy of the old Germania Bank building at 190 Bowery. By April, the firm inked a lease with a group of creative agencies for 30,000 square feet of space in the 37,000-square-foot graffitied property.
Meanwhile, RFR went into maturity default on a $100 million commercial mortgage-backed securities note for the landmarked Lever House at 390 Park Avenue in March 2015.
Just down the street, RFR’s Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue will be losing the Four Seasons Restaurant, but Mr. Rosen is well on his way to replacing the historic tenant, which has yet to find a new home, with his own restaurant concept. He launched a campaign to raise $30 million for a new eatery concept led by Mario Carbone, Jeff Zalaznick and Rich Torrisi.
And most recently, it was reported that RFR would be partnering with Kushner Companies and LIVWRK to buy two of the best-known Brooklyn properties from the Jehovah’s Witnesses—the Watchtower at 25-30 Columbia Heights in Downtown Brooklyn and 85 Jay Street in Dumbo—for $700 million.—D.B.
35. Richard LeFrak (34)
Chairman and CEO of LeFrak
In 2015, LeFrak (which has dropped “Organization” from its name) expanded on its already sprawling, three-decade-old Jersey City mega-complex, Newport, and made big strides to built another mega-community in a sunnier climate.
The firm, led by Richard LeFrak—the great-grandson of Aaron, who started the company in 1905—began construction of Ellipse, a 43-story rental apartment tower on the Jersey City waterfront in December 2015. The nearly 600,000-square-foot property will have 376 apartments and was designed by Miami-based architect Arquitectonica. The tower will be completed in 2017.
Ellipse adds to the approximately 9,000 units already in the Newport complex, which also includes 5.5 million square feet of office space, two hotels and two malls.
On a waterfront community hundreds of miles south, the landlord purchased 55 acres of land from the City of North Miami for $22 million in November 2015 for a $4 billion mixed-use, 183-acre monster development. LeFrak broke ground on the new community, SoLe Mia, which is being built in partnership with Turnberry Associates. It will have about a dozen residential buildings with 4,390 units and more than 1 million square feet for commercial uses and green space. The project is slated for completion in 2018.
But LeFrak didn’t stop there in the Sunshine State. The firm opened a new 426-key 1 Hotel in South Beach, in a joint venture with Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group, in March 2015.
In New York City, LeFrak continues to own a number of Midtown office towers such as 40 West 57th Street and, on the residential side, the 20-building LeFrak City in Queens.—L.L.G
36. Peter Riguardi (38)
Chairman and President of the Tri-State Region of JLL
Providing an anchor tenant at one of the city’s headline properties is a tricky business—but Peter Riguardi proved a master of the game when he brought the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to anchor Brookfield Properties’ 2.1-million-square-foot One Manhattan West last spring.
The law firm snapped up a 20-year lease for 550,000 square feet in the 67-story tower, which cast the whole Far West Side’s future in sharp relief.
Of course, that wasn’t the whole of 2015. JLL scored two major new clients, Morgan Stanley and BlackRock. For Morgan Stanley, JLL is handling all its brokerage offices in North America. In the case of Blackrock, Mr. Riguardi is going to be representing it in a 1-million-square-foot office space assignment in Manhattan. Is it going to be staying put or moving?
“We’re evaluating the New York real estate occupancy strategy,” is all Mr. Riguardi would say.
All in all, it was a very good year for JLL—and for Mr. Riguardi, who took on the role as chairman and president of the tri-state region for JLL in January. (The new position will mostly mean taking control of the firm’s capital markets and corporate solutions offices.)
“In New York, business was slightly more than $300 million,” Mr. Riguardi said. “It’s a big business. And we’re the leasing agent for 55 million square feet of office space in New York.”—M.G.
37. Jeffrey Feil and Jay Anderson (33)
CEO and COO of Feil Organization
For Jeffrey Feil and Jay Anderson, 2015 might have left their heads spinning—literally and figuratively.
To take the literal stuff first, Feil Organization is an investor behind the $250 million New York Wheel in Staten Island near the planned Empire Outlets mall. It broke ground on the 630-foot wheel last year, however, investors of the project are fighting in court over cost overruns, mismanagement and the lack of a business plan. The 60-story Ferris wheel, which hopes to attract 3.5 million tourists annually, will allow for 1,440 riders at once when it opens in 2017.
To speak figuratively, the 65-year-old, family-owned investment, development and management firm had some family problems, which got resolved this year.
Jeffrey Feil, who runs the company and its multibillion-dollar, 26-million-square-foot portfolio scattered around the country, won a court victory against his brother-in-law Stanley Barry in January. Mr. Barry, who is related to the family by way of Mr. Feil’s sister, Marilyn Barry, sued the CEO in 2012 for a reported $10 million in damages over mismanagement of the Upper East Side residential buildings Clermont York at 445 East 80th Street and Clermont at 444 East 82nd Street. (Ms. Barry has a stake in the company.)
But there were plenty of more positive highlights for Feil in 2015. Together with Boston-based private equity firm Rockpoint Group, Feil paid more than $120 million for an 83.5 percent stake in the office building at 200 West 57th Street. And in December 2015, it purchased a 28,000-square-foot office and retail building in Downtown Brooklyn at 356 Fulton Street from Capital One for $43 million. The property has about 104,000 of buildable square feet for commercial use and 87,000 buildable square feet for residences.—L.L.G.
38. Stanley, Isaac, Haim and Richard Chera (37)
Principals of Crown Acquisitions
Continuing along from its busy 2014, veteran retail developer Crown Acquisitions, led by the Chera family, was no less buzzing in 2015.
Crown completed the transformation of the five-story 490 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn, including returning fashion retailer Forever 21 to the area (it had been at 1 DeKalb Avenue until 2007) with its red store concept for a 40,000-square-foot space. Rents for the lower-level space were $55 per square foot, rising to $325 per square foot for the main floor. Forever 21 joins Planet Fitness, Raymour & Flanigan, Express, Swarovski, Chase Bank and IHOP at the property. Long Island University dorms take up the upper floors.
Other Crown lessees last year included the shoe and accessories store Journeys, coming to 452 Fulton in a 4,000-square-foot space, and Burger King, which will occupy 3,500 square feet at 522 Fulton Street.
The company also partnered with Oxford Properties Group last May to buy the remaining 50 percent of Olympic Tower in Midtown for $652 million. Crown had purchased a 49.9 percent stake in the four-building complex in 2012.
Thanks to Crown, global fashion powerhouse Balmain, which recently opened its first store in London, will introduce its haute couture fashions to Americans in a 2,600-square-foot ground-floor space at 100 Wooster Street, in a deal that also includes lower-level storage space.
The company is already off to the races for a busy 2016. In January, Crown signed a 99-year ground lease at 136-50 Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, Queens, currently home to a Macy’s store. Future plans for the site are as yet unannounced.
The following month, Adidas signed a lease for a 4,500-square-foot Brooklyn flagship at 452 Fulton Street for $350 per square foot, which, as Commercial Observer reported at the time, marks a high for the borough. The space was vacant at the time of signing, having previously served as a Bakers Shoes. The new store is scheduled to open in late spring.—L.G.
39. Bill de Blasio (16)
Mayor of New York City
Creating affordable and middle-income housing has been a tall order for the towering Mayor Bill de Blasio. The 6-foot-5 mayor was able to pass through two key housing initiatives—mandatory inclusionary housing, or MIH, and zoning for quality and affordability—that essentially allow for more affordable and below-market units. But the first plan, MIH, is dependent on the 421a tax abatement, which expired in mid-January. If and when a replacement for the affordable housing-creating incentive will be enacted is still up in the air.
Hizzoner helped broker an agreement with Blackstone Group during its $5.46 billion purchase of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village. Blackstone agreed to keep 5,000 of the 11,232 rental apartments affordable over the next 20 years.
The mayor, the first City Hall leader to hail from Brooklyn since Abraham Beame in 1974, has been active in promoting the outer-boroughs. This February he unveiled a study and a plan to build a streetcar between Astoria in northwest Queens and the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn.
All in all, the once weary real estate industry has warmed to Mr. de Blasio, who has also courted the industry for campaign funds. His administration has come under fire in 2016 for a real estate-tinged snafu. The New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services lifted the deed restriction on the Rivington House nursing home on the Lower East Side so it could be sold to a developer, making way for new luxury condominiums. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced he’s investigating if the administration might be involved in some wrongdoing. The mayor said he’s had his lawyer reach out to the prosecutor’s office and said he wasn’t aware of the deed restriction being lifted.—T.C.
40. Tommy Craig (New)
Senior Managing Director at Hines
Hines has a hand in many of the newest iconic towers rising around the city, and last year the Texas-based firm hit a number of significant milestones.
Headlining the year for Hines was the (somewhat unusual) completion of 7 Bryant Park’s construction after selling the property in May 2015 to Bank of China for approximately $600 million. Hines’ tri-state office, led by Tommy Craig, manages a portfolio of $13.5 billion in real estate assets and remains as the property manager of the 30-story tower near Bryant Park.
Also, the firm began selling residential condominiums last year in its 82-story tower 53W53, also known as the MoMA Expansion Tower, which is currently under construction at 53 West 53rd Street between Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue.
“Our goal last year was to be in a position where we would start selling units [at 53W53],” Mr. Craig said. “We’re not only building the building, but we are selling units, and I think in a market that clearly doesn’t have the exuberance that it did a couple years ago, we are pleased.”
The firm is also the development manager with SL Green Realty Corp. for the 1.7-million-square-foot One Vanderbilt across from Grand Central Terminal. The planned mega-tower, which will stretch 1,501 feet high, received the permits last year, and demolition has already begun.
Hines topped out on the 60-story, 145-unit condo at 56 Leonard Street last year and hopes to complete the building this year. And partnering with Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty, Hines is building a 63-story condo at 100 East 53rd Street, which Mr. Craig expects to be completed in 2017.—L.L.G.
41. Charlie Malet, Brandon Shorenstein and Mark Portner (42)
President and Chief Investment Officer, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Shorenstein Properties
No company in real estate experienced the juxtaposition of the business world with the cold realities of real life as did San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties. The privately held real estate firm lost Douglas Shorenstein, its chairman, CEO and most importantly, husband, dad, brother and legacy bearer to cancer at the age of 60. The impact on the firm was profound.
“Doug’s loss was felt deeply throughout our organization,” Mark Portner said. “He was a leader who was both pragmatic and visionary. He was also a wonderful colleague and friend.”
Before his death last November, Shorenstein put together a thoughtful transition plan, according to Mr. Portner, and the senior leadership at the company had an average tenure of 18 years, so the company was as prepared as it could humanly be.
Under the new leadership structure, board member Mike Rossi became chairman; Glenn Shannon, the president of Shorenstein Properties, was named president of a new family office that advises the family on its business interests; Charlie Malet was promoted from chief investment officer to president and Brandon Shorenstein (Douglas’ son), who oversaw multifamily residential investment, was promoted to executive vice president.
The company sold its 21-story office tower at 850 Third Avenue to MHP Real Estate Services for $460 million this January after completing a value-add program and leasing the property to 99 percent occupancy. Shorenstein is set to complete lobby storefront renovations at 1407 Broadway, where it acquired the leasehold and sub-leasehold for $330 million in 2015 by the end of the summer and officials expect to announce new retail tenants, which Mr. Portner said will not only change the feel of the property but the neighborhood.—D.J.
42. Charles Bendit and Paul Pariser (50)
Co-CEOs of Taconic Investment Partners
Under the leadership of its co-CEOs, Taconic spent much of the year developing existing sites but was relatively quiet in the area of new acquisitions.
The firm began development on 525 West 52nd Street, where it is building a 450,000-square-foot residential property with 392 apartments. Mitsui Fudosan acquired a majority stake in the property, which will have a strong affordable housing component. Leasing is scheduled to begin in 2017.
Construction is also underway at Essex Crossing, where Taconic, L+M Development Partners and BFC Partners are redeveloping a 1.87-million-square-foot mixed-use site into a full residential and commercial neighborhood with multifamily, office space, retail and community space. (Taconic’s affiliate, the Prusik Group, is doing the leasing.)
In January, NYU Langone Medical Center signed a 15-year lease for 55,000 square feet of space on Site 6 of the site.
Taconic also teamed up with Cogswell-Lee Development Group to acquire the ground lease at a former Pathmark site at 410 West 207th Street, where the developers plan to redevelop the retail and are considering building residential.
Mr. Bendit said the company has taken a cautious approach to the New York market, particularly the office sector, in favor of residential rental projects. He expects to see more “consolidation” in the market over the next year or two as the “froth in the market we’ve seen in the last couple of years” is expected to wane.
“I think there will be a flattening in the growth curve of values and rents,” he said.—D.J.
43. Constantine (Dean) Dakolias and Ben Michelson (46)
Co-Chief Investment Officer and Managing Director of the Credit & Real Estate Business at Fortress Investment Group
If any company personifies its name, it’s Fortress Investment Group.
Impenetrable is a fair adjective to describe the firm, which has more than $70.5 billion of assets under management and very limited media coverage about what it actually does. But Fortress couldn’t manage to stay entirely out of the spotlight this past year.
Being the owner of special servicer CWCapital Asset Management, the investment giant benefited from the $5.46 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village. According to an article by The Wall Street Journal, special servicers typically collect a 0.25 percent fee on the total debt yield when a property is sold, whereas CWCapital claimed entitlement to 3 percent of the debt on the massive housing complex, which eventually exceeded the original $3 billion. Estimates pegged the servicer’s profit at up to $615 million from the sale, and yields didn’t end there. In August, Westbrook Partners bought out Fortress’ stake in the 1.1-million-square-foot St. John’s Terminal for $200 million.
Fortress also participated on the lending front, in December originating a $115 million floating-rate loan to Chetrit Group and JDS Development Group to refinance debt on 9 DeKalb Avenue and to fund the buy of 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension in Downtown Brooklyn.—D.B.
44. Joseph Chetrit (27)
Principal of Chetrit Group
Beyond putting a lawsuit to bed that alleged Joseph Chetrit laundered $40 million in two real estate developments from two individuals who stole billions of dollars from Kazakhstan, it’s been a busy year for the Manhattan-based company.
Mr. Chetrit—the principal and co-founder of Chetrit Group along with his brothers Meyer, Jacob and Judah—has a number of developments in the works. And if anyone has been riding out the condominium wave, it’s this family-run firm.
One of its most notable condo projects is the conversion of the former Sony headquarters at 550 Madison Avenue, which will soon house a total of 96 residences with an average asking price of $4,791 per square foot. The penthouse triplex at the luxury development is expected to hit the market for a mere $150 million.
And $150 million might be a lucky number for Chetrit Group. After partnering with Clipper Equity to buy the shuttered Cabrini Medical Center in Midtown South for just over $150 million in 2013, the duo received $280 million in construction financing and went public with its plans for the block-through project dubbed “Gramercy Square” last year. Once completed, the project will hold 256 units across four buildings at 215 East 19th Street, 225 East 19th Street, 220 East 20th Street and 230 East 20th Street. A little farther north, the company filed plans for a 33-story, 300-key hotel at 255 West 34th Street.
But it’s not all about Manhattan for Chetrit Group. The company, which historically invested in the outer-boroughs, is going back to its roots. The developer partnered with Keith Rubenstein’s Somerset Partners to buy two waterfront development sites in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx for $58 million. In Brooklyn, Chetrit Group is pairing up with Michael Stern’s JDS Development Group to construct a 73-story residential building at 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension, which will be the borough’s tallest tower at 1,000 feet.—D.B.
45. Santiago Calatrava (71)
Founder and Chief Architect of Santiago Calatrava
Instagram went wild when the first part of the futuristic new Oculus transit hub at the World Trade Center opened in March with its spikes casting a winged shadow on the new Downtown.
Given everything from the project’s symbolic importance to its tremendous cost—almost double the original $2 billion estimate—the Hub at WTC is one of interest to all New Yorkers. (Mr. Calatrava told Commercial Observer in the past that aside from security additions following rail attacks in Madrid and London, which were a small part of the additional expenditures, the cost increases were out of his control.)
With roughly 800,000 square feet of space, including 225,000 square feet of retail, the station could come to equal Grand Central Terminal in its importance and significance to New York City, especially as its March completion will be a further sign that, post 9/11, the area is not only back but experiencing the beginnings of a grand new phase.
For all its grandeur and significance, the WTC center is only one project on Mr. Calatrava’s overflowing plate as of late. Other significant projects in 2015: Seven large-scale public aluminum sculptures, painted red, black and silver, which were on display along the Park Avenue median from June to November; beating out five competitors in his bid to design an observation tower in Dubai Creek Harbor; the opening of the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio De Janeiro; beginning work on three road and pedestrian bridges in Huashan, China; winning awards for projects including the Innovation, Science and Technology building at Florida Polytechnic University; and becoming the recipient of the 2015 European Prize for Architecture
For 2016, Mr. Calatrava is looking forward to the full opening of the WTC terminal, as well as that of the nearby St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.—L.G.
46. Steve Witkoff (49)
CEO of the Witkoff Group
At a time when questions have been raised about excess hotel capacity in New York, the Witkoff Group is placing a huge bet that it can find success with a couple of proven commodities. The company is working with Marriott International and legendary hotelier Ian Schrager on Edition, a 452-room luxury hotel and the first hotel of this scale to rise in Times Square in more than two decades.
Steve Witkoff is so committed to the concept that he’s working with New Valley, which handles real estate for the Vector Group, led by Howard Lorber, on another Edition property on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.
Beyond the luxury hotel development, Mr. Witkoff is also ready to debut his conversion of a 350,000-square-foot office tower at 10 Madison Square West, which will debut as 122 high-end condos and ground-floor retail. Mr. Witkoff is also working with Vector and Fisher Bros. on a 157-unit condo development at 111 Murray Street. —D.J.
47. Leonard Litwin and Gary Jacob (31)
Chairman and Executive Vice President of Glenwood Management
There have been few survivors in New York real estate as strong and steadfast as Leonard Litwin—which is good because the octogenarian real estate pioneer has not had the easiest past few years.
While never charged with illegal activity, Mr. Litwin’s company, Glenwood Management, one of the largest residential landlords and political donors in the city, has recently been tied with the two notorious corruption scandals of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and ex-State Senate Leader Dean Skelos.
Unsurprisingly, this has not slowed Glenwood, the city’s third-largest owner of residential property with almost 9 million square feet of space in 26 buildings across the city, down in the slightest. The Encore, a 256-unit building at 160 West 62nd Street near Lincoln Center and complete with marble bathrooms and nine-foot ceilings, is preparing to open this spring.—L.G.
48. Kevin Maloney (New)
Founder and Principal of Property Markets Group
Among the towers planned for 57th Street, aka Billionaire’s Row, the most architecturally complex might be 111 West 57th Street. It will be 1,428 feet tall and only 60 feet wide. It has a slick design by SHoP Architects and promises full floors and duplexes to all potential buyers. Marketing hasn’t started yet, but prices promise to be high, though maybe not as high as at some of 111 West 57th Street’s neighbors.
If Kevin Maloney, who’s building the tower with JDS Development Group, pulls 111 West 57th Street off, he will be a 57th Street hero—especially when you consider that the luxury condominium market has begun to soften.
Nonetheless, this project is only one of many balls that PMG has in the air, all of which tend toward the ambitious.
In Queens, for instance, Mr. Maloney is at work on the 830-unit Queens Plaza Park and a 391-unit rental Queens Plaza South. In Manhattan he just began closings at 10 Sullivan Street, a condominium where the average price is around $3,500 per square foot. And that’s just New York; Mr. Maloney has a second empire in South Florida and a third in Chicago.
“This cycle, we’ll probably do about $4 billion, $5 billion in business,” Mr. Maloney told Commercial Observer from his new Chelsea office earlier this year, “depending on what we actually get built. And the retail component [of PMG’s portfolio] could be as much as $1 billion.”—M.G.
49. David Levinson and Robert Lapidus (52)
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and President and Chief Investment Officer of L&L Holding Company
David Levinson is a little bit Town & Country; Robert Lapidus is a little more rock ‘n’ roll.
But together the founders of L&L Holding Company have gotten the highest asking rents in New York City as they create the first new block-front office building along Park Avenue in 50 years. The 16-year-old company is converting 425 Park Avenue from a short, squat building into a tall, thin skyscraper. Chicago-based hedge fund Citadel has signed a deal for its New York City offices to anchor the building, a transaction in which the asking rent was a record-breaking $300 per square foot. L&L also plans to move its offices to the building when it’s completed in 2018.
“We’re negotiating with ourselves,” Mr. Levinson said of L&L’s own lease at the office tower. “It’s an arm’s length transaction. It has to be looked at by the partners to approve. I never imagined I’d be paying so much rent.”
At the same time, L&L is employing a similar technique at 380 Madison Avenue—or 390 Madison Avenue, as it’ll be called once the conversion is done of the hulky Midtown building into something taller with roughly the same square footage.
“All our projects are moving forward as planned,” Mr. Levinson said. “They’re big, wonderful projects, and it’s very exciting.”—T.C.
50. Kenneth Bernstein and Christopher Conlon (New)
President and CEO, Executive Vice President and COO of Acadia Realty Trust
It often seems that people clamored for the redevelopment of Downtown Brooklyn for years without doing much about it. Kenneth Bernstein and Christopher Conlon are the ones doing something about it, and their vision is now transforming an essential section of the borough.
That effort, the 1.8-million-square-foot, mixed-use City Point, which consists of residential, retail and office components, is slated to bring a 675,000-foot shopping center plus three adjoining residential towers to the area. So far, indie movie theater innovator Alamo Drafthouse will start screening films there this summer, and fashion retailer Century 21 is set to open in the fall. Target and Trader Joe’s are also planned for the location with opening dates to be deteremined. Below ground, the 26,000-square-foot food hub DeKalb Market Hall will open sometime in late summer or early fall.
In addition to the buildings, the developers announced in December 2015 the addition of the Prince Street Passage, a corridor between Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue that will be open to the public.
In June, Mr. Bernstein announced the sale of the project’s final residential development rights to Extell Development Company for $115.5 million, about $217 per buildable square foot. Extell is developing a 665,000-square-foot tower, which will be divided into 600,000 square feet of residential and 65,000 square feet of commercial use on Willoughby Street between Gold Street and Flatbush Avenue Extension. This joined two residential towers already in development. Construction is scheduled for a 2017 kickoff with completion three years later. Mr. Bernstein has said that once complete, the tower will be “one of the most prominent residential buildings in the borough.”—L.G.
51. Ralph Herzka and Aaron Birnbaum (60)
Chairman and CEO and Executive Vice President at Meridian Capital Group
Meridian Capital Group kicked off its 25th anniversary with a bang. The Manhattan-based brokerage, founded by Ralph Herzka and Aaron Birnbaum in 1991, closed $35 billion across more than 3,900 loans in 2015, up $5 billion from the year prior.
While the firm operates nationally, it stayed true to its home roots of New York City, closing $21 billion in debt deals within the confines of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. The firm arranged a $785 million loan for Scott Rechler’s RXR Realty on the Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue, a $592 million loan for Blackstone Group and Fairstead Capital for a 24-building residential complex in Manhattan and a $345 million mortgage for Chetrit Group and Clipper Equity’s Gramercy Park condominium conversion.
But this year Meridian Capital took its commitment to the real estate market a step further. In April 2015, nearly 12 months to the date, the group launched Meridian Investment Sales. Eastern Consolidated’s David Schechtman, Lipa Lieberman and Abie Kassin as well as Cushman & Wakefield’s Helen Hwang joined Meridian to spearhead its newest division.
Mr. Herzka felt it was the right time to launch the new division because of the firm’s clients. “Our client base relies on us for trusted advice, and it became increasingly important that this advice did not stop with financing but that it also include the sales service line delivered in the same best-in-class fashion to them as our mortgage platform,” he said. Now, the acquisitions the investment team brings are largely being funded through Meridian’s financing arm.
In addition to the brokerage’s growth, Mr. Herzka is pleased with the work environment he’s helped foster.
“We always had great expectations in our ability to grow and expand, but the thing I am most proud of is our people and their commitment to our clients and the firm,” he said. “Of our 290 employees across both platforms, 85 have been with us for over 10 years and 15 have been with us for more than 20 years.”—D.B.
52. Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz (New)
Chairman, Co-Founder and Senior Partner and President, Co-Founder and Senior Partner at Sterling Equities
Sterling Equities, the family-owned real estate giant led by New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and brother-in-law Saul Katz, had a traditionally busy year, making moves across the city’s retail, commercial and residential real estate sectors.
Sterling’s stellar year began at Citi Field, where the pennant-winning Mets saw attendance grow by almost 20 percent over 2014 (and their post-season run generated over $46 million for the local economy).
But outside of baseball, Sterling continued to build its presence in the outer-boroughs with 15 projects throughout Brooklyn, including in Carroll Gardens, Williamsburg and Crown Heights. In November 2015, Sterling paid $20.5 million for a two-story warehouse on North 7th Street in Williamsburg, hoping to reposition its 15,000 buildable square feet into a mixed-use retail and residential site.
The company also continues its behind-the-scenes work on the redevelopment of the Willets Point area via the Queens Development Group, Sterling’s joint venture with Related Companies. Exact timelines have yet to be determined, but the project’s Phase 1 plan for 5 million square feet of local development—encompassing a $3 billion investment—surrounding Citi Field includes 2,500 housing units (875 affordable) and the creation of 7,100 permanent jobs and 12,000 construction jobs. As Commercial Observer reported in 2014, the New York City Economic Development Corporation expects the project to “yield a 30-year total economic impact of $25 billion.”
Toward year’s end, Sterling made news on the other side of the real estate divide, announcing its own move, along with its SNY cable network, from the Time & Life Building to 4 World Trade Center. The move is scheduled for early 2017.—L.G.
53. Peter Hauspurg and Daun Paris (61)
Chairman and CEO and President of Eastern Consolidated
If you want to travel the world with any real estate folks, it’s probably the ones at Eastern Consolidated. The employees at the firm are fluent in a total of 17 languages from Russian to Albanian to Korean.
Last year, husband-and-wife duo Peter Hauspurg and Daun Paris oversaw significant growth mode at the company with the brokerage nearly doubling its number of brokers to 84 from 45 in 2014. Eastern Consolidated closed roughly $2.1 billion in deals through its investment sales arm, up 27 percent from the year prior, and roughly $850 million through its capital advisory division, with $180 million currently in the pipeline. Eastern has also focused on growing its retail leasing division, which jumped up to 20 brokers from eight. The company even launched a national medical office division, which closed more than $124 million in transactions in 2015 and currently has nine deals in contract.
The company has gotten so busy that it expanded its space by another floor and installed an internal staircase to “ensure maximum interaction between divisions,” Ms. Paris said. “Unless you have proximity, it doesn’t facilitate interaction.” She attributes 2015’s success to “synergies between different divisions.”
Eastern Consolidated is no newcomer to real estate and its cycles, and Mr. Hauspurg said that its capital advisory team just recapitalized its first stalled condominium deal.
“We’re seeing some unsettled conditions in the land market because of two factors,” he said. “One is the expiration of 421a, which has brought market rental and affordable housing rental [development] pretty much to a halt and the glut in the high-end market.”
Now more than ever, it’s important for executives at the firm to encourage interaction between the different divisions.
“We’ve been known to be very nimble,” Ms. Paris said. “In each downturn, we’ve identified areas on which to be focused, and I feel it is appropriate to be aware and make sure that for us we focus not on having silos of information but on making sure each department works closely together.”
“2015 was one of our best years ever, and 2016 is shaping up to be on par or possibly better,” she added.—D.B.
54. Arthur J. Mirante II and A. Mitti Liebersohn (68)
Principal and Tri-State President and President and Managing Director of Avison Young
About four years ago, Arthur J. Mirante II opened up Canada-based Avison Young’s first New York City office.
Since then the firm has exploded, employing more than 200 people (including brokers and other staff) in the tri-state region. Among the management hires last year, Mr. Mirante brought in A. Mitti Liebersohn in April from JLL, where he was a vice chairman, to further expand the brokerage and manage the New York office.
While the firm has been expanding physically, so have its deals. Mr. Mirante and Martin Cottingham represented the National Basketball Players Association in its move to 1133 Avenue of the Americas in a nearly 48,000-square-foot lease last year. The new offices include a 10,000-square-foot basketball court, and the transaction was up for (but didn’t win) the Real Estate Board of New York’s Most Ingenious Deal of the Year Award. After completing the NBPA deal, Avison Young represented the players union in a sale of its Harlem building at 310 Lenox Avenue for a little more than $20 million.
In addition to its deals, Avison Young has secured assignments to represent a number of high-profile buildings in Manhattan, including Kamber Management Company’s Tower 45 at 120 West 24th Street, Moinian Group’s 3 Hudson Boulevard and the 800,000-square-foot Paramount Building at 1501 Broadway. Mr. Mirante and Michael Gottlieb recently represented the Paramount Building in a 12,000-square-foot lease for casting agency Telsey + Company and a 35,000-square-foot deal for engineering firm Hardesty & Hanover.—L.L.G.
55. Robert Knakal (57)
Chairman of New York Investment Sales at Cushman & Wakefield
Robert Knakal had a difficult-to-top 2014, when he and partner Paul Massey sold their firm, Massey Knakal Realty Services, to Cushman & Wakefield for $100 million. So how did he follow up such an accomplished year? With a slew of deals.
“In 2015, my team and I sold 72 properties with an aggregate consideration of $1.7 billion,” Mr. Knakal said. “Already in first- quarter 2016, my team and I have closed $750 million in sales volume.”
Mr. Knakal’s significant recent transactions include the $300 million sale of 143-161 East 60th Street, six attached low-rise properties with almost 282,000 buildable square feet, from the World Wide Group to Kuafu Properties, which plans a massive (possibly more than 1,000 feet tall) luxury residential tower for the site, and a $310 million multifamily portfolio on the Upper East Side.
Mr. Knakal is currently representing the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania in the sale of $700 million in Brooklyn properties bordering Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo, and the Empire State Development Corp. in the sale of 1.5 million square feet of development rights at the Farley Building.
“Under the new Cushman & Wakefield umbrella,” Mr. Knakal said, “we have seen the size and scope of our transactions greatly enhanced and believe that what we have done so far is just the tip of the iceberg.”—L.G.
56. Mitchell Rudin and Michael DeMarco (New)
CEO, President and COO at Mack-Cali Realty Corporation
While nearly all of the real estate folks on this list have been making a big play in New York City and other gateway markets, Mack-Cali Realty Corporation is doing just the opposite.
The company’s CEO Mitchell Rudin and President and COO Michael DeMarco have been shifting efforts and actually sold some of Mack-Cali’s assets in New York City and Washington, D.C., for a total of $365.5 million.
“Those are good markets and good buildings, but we felt we could focus on markets where we had a dominance,” Mr. DeMarco said.
Indeed, Mack-Cali currently owns one-quarter of the properties along the New Jersey waterfront, according to Mr. DeMarco. The company also relocated its offices from suburban New Jersey to Jersey City, as a means to be more “on the ground.”
The firm, which currently owns 273 properties, is developing URL Harborside, a 765-unit apartment building on the waterfront in Jersey City. The first of three buildings at the complex is currently under construction and once completed will bring a total of 2,500 units to the neighborhood.
“[The company] is well on its way to being a dominant apartment platform in the northeast,” Mr. DeMarco said. “We’ve been able to significantly improve rent in the markets and add to cash flow, which has enabled us to have the stock market return we currently have.”—D.B.
57. Melissa Mark-Viverito (51)
City Council Speaker
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has been busy working to increase affordable housing in the city.
In March, the council voted to approve the mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability programs after substantially modifying the proposals to provide deeper affordability, close loopholes, protect neighborhood context, improve transparency.
A month prior, Ms. Mark-Viverito released a report on rezoning East Harlem, including efforts to designate more affordable housing in the neighborhood. It’s a comprehensive blueprint for how East Harlem can maximize the opportunities presented by development to meet longstanding neighborhood needs and concerns.
In an effort to clamp down on the aggressive Times Square costumed characters, the council gave the New York City Department of Transportation the authority to regulate the public plazas in the city, which will make it easier to control Spiderman, the Joker and the like.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Ms. Mark-Viverito took steps to boost the city’s dying manufacturing industry, making zoning changes to limit new hotels in Industrial Business Zones, or IBZs. The deal came after months of negotiations between the mayor’s office, the Department of City Planning, the council and other stakeholders. Ms. Mark-Viverito also proposed a $1.4 million in baseline funding to protect IBZs last May. It marks the most substantial change to the city’s industrial policy in the last half century.
Ms. Mark-Viverito, who won the speaker seat in January 2014, said in early April that the council is looking into details of the lifting of a deed restriction at 45 Rivington Street, which allowed developers to buy the property in February. The New York City Department of Buildings issued the developers of the Lower East Side building a stop-work order for an allegedly illegal conversion.
“In a livable city, physical development and human capital development must go hand-in-hand,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said via a spokeswoman. “We need to be as focused on supporting neighborhood economies, reinvesting in schools and open space and creating room for social service and cultural organizations as we are on urban renewal, rezoning and housing production. We live in the neighborhoods we represent, and we are at the frontline of the challenges our communities face. We don’t see the world in silos; we see neighborhoods in all of their complexity and specificity every day. And this, I believe, is one of the central challenges of community development moving forward.”—L.E.S.
58. Daniel Rashin (New)
Co-President and CEO at the Rockefeller Group
If any company is in the business of creating iconic, mixed-use developments, it’s the Rockefeller Group. The family-founded firm has continually demonstrated that it has more and more to offer New York City, even as Rockefeller Center continues to flourish.
“In New York especially, mixed-use makes a lot of sense,” said Daniel Rashin. “Mixed-use is a clear direction for both ourselves [and the city].”
Just last month, the Rockefeller Group, in partnership with F&T Group and AECOM Capital, topped out phase one of Flushing Commons, a ground-up, $300 million development that will house office and residential condominiums via two phases.
“What’s very exciting there is the reaction of the market,” Mr. Rashin said. “ We had high hopes, but before topping out, we were 90 percent sold off in both office and residential condos at prices that are record for the downtown Flushing market.”
The Rockefeller Group is also focusing on redeveloping and has invested tens of millions of dollars in 1211 Avenue of the Americas and the Time & Life Building at 1271 Avenue of the Americas.
“For over 50 years that building was occupied by Time Inc., and then all of a sudden it’s a vacant building, which presented a terrific opportunity because it had been obviously a modern, Class A Rockefeller Center west project when constructed and now we have the opportunity to make sure it remains a Class A, well-received building,” Mr. Rashin said.
It’s rumored that Major League Baseball is negotiating to take a huge chunk of space and consolidate its operations under one roof. Mr. Rashin said he couldn’t comment on any specifics, but that the firm is “seeing a lot of interest from very large tenants because as you can imagine, there aren’t that many opportunities in New York like this one, where you’ve got 2 million square feet of space.”—D.B.
59. Stephen Siegel (67)
Chairman of Global Brokerage at CBRE
Stephen Siegel is part of the team that has leased about 750,000 square feet at 3 and 4 World Trade Center with about a million square feet between Group M and Media Math alone.
But one deal that has really stuck out over the last year is finding a new laboratory and office for New York Stem Cell Foundation. The nonprofit, a leader in stem cell research and the development of stem cell technologies, inked 42,000 square feet at Taconic Investment Partners’ 619 West 54th Street in Hell’s Kitchen.
The new lab “will save thousands and thousands of lives,” Mr. Siegel said. “We were looking for space for them for two years.”
He also was on the team representing well-known architecture firm Perkins Eastman in its 77,000-square-foot renewal at 115 Fifth Avenue between East 18th and East 19th Streets at the end of last year.
Outside of CBRE, Mr. Siegel is a partner at multifamily investment and asset management firm Fairstead Capital. Last September, Fairstead partnered with Blackstone Group to buy a $690 million multifamily portfolio in Chelsea and on the Upper East Side and will soon be closing on the purchase of the 1,790-unit rent-stabilized complex Savoy Park in Harlem for $340 million.
Mr. Siegel is an investor in restaurants, including the Knickerbocker, three Sarabeth’s and four Schnippers. He also has an interest in the Tri-City ValleyCats, a minor league baseball team based in Troy, N.Y.—L.E.S.
60. Eliot Spitzer (New)
Head of Spitzer Enterprises
In New York City there is a great deal of intersection between politics and real estate—but there’s very little crossover in terms of the real estate moguls becoming government officials, or vice versa. The two big exceptions would have to be the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination and former Gov. Eliot Spitzer who has given up politics to go into the family business.
The real estate scion left the governor’s mansion in March 2008 amid ties to a prostitution ring that ended a promising political career. He re-emerged in 2013 in a bid to become New York City’s comptroller, during which he lost a close Democratic primary race to Scott Stringer.
But Mr. Spitzer wound up taking over the family Spitzer Enterprises after his father, Bernard Spitzer, died in November 2014. And since taking the helm, Mr. Spitzer has been making some unmistakably bold moves. One of his first acts was selling off the company’s Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue between West 56th and West 57th Streets. Jeff Sutton of Wharton Properties and Chicago-based General Growth Properties paid $1.78 billion for the property in a deal that closed last April.
Like many longtime Manhattan developers, Mr. Spitzer has also ventured across the East River and into Brooklyn. Spitzer Enterprises is doing its first ground-up development in almost 20 years at 420 Kent Avenue in the posh Williamsburg section of the borough. The three-tower development will include 856 rental apartments on the waterfront.—T.C.
61. Bobby Cayre and Joseph Cayre (62)
Chairman and CEO of Aurora Capital Associates and Founder and Chairman of Midtown Equities
Bobby Cayre may be the most caffeinated man in New York real estate. One of the younger members of the real estate family of the same name, Mr. Cayre has enjoyed somewhat of a coming-out party of late, as his companies are quickly becoming some of the fastest-growing entities in New York real estate.
Earlier this month, his Aurora Capital Associates teamed up with Vornado Realty Trust to land the largest Starbucks store in the world. The Seattle-based coffeehouse chain will open a 20,000-square-foot store at 61 Ninth Avenue and that is just the latest in a series of major deals coming from Mr. Cayre’s firm.
Aurora is working with William Gottlieb Real Estate to redevelop 46-74 Gansevoort Street into almost 111,000 square feet of commercial space, under a controversial plan that has met some resistance from the Landmarks Preservation Commission due to height issues but is expected to get through after modifications.
In December 2015, Aurora Capital, A&H Acquisitions and Crown Acquisitions refinanced a $120 million loan at 600 Broadway, a six-story retail building in Soho, with Iron Hound Management and Bank of New York Mellon.
Mr. Cayre’s uncle, Joseph Cayre, who runs Midtown Equities has been busy with his own more-than-fledgling empire. He spent most of 2015 taking dead aim at an 11-acre development site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one of the most highly sought-after parcels of land outside of Manhattan.—D.J.
62. John Banks (92)
President of the Real Estate Board of New York
Last year, a significant amount of talk around the Real Estate Board of New York was the departure of Steven Spinola, who led the lobbying arm of the industry for 30 years. But John Banks has come into his own since taking the reins of REBNY in July 2015.
In less than a year, the former Consolidated Edison executive has already begun to leave his own footprint on the industry. That includes working with preservation groups on a timetable for the city’s landmarking process, suing the Big Apple over a controversial two-year halt to converting hotel rooms into condominiums and negotiating new terms of a 421a tax abatement.
“I think now, given that the program has been sunset for a few months, people are starting to take a second look at the variety of issues that make up any 421a program,” Mr. Banks said. “There’s a healthy debate that’s taking place, but there’s no time frame.”
Despite the lawsuit against Gotham’s government, Mr. Banks and REBNY have been working with the city on reducing its carbon footprint 80 percent by 2050. REBNY has hosted a sustainability boot camp for landlords to learn ways to reduce building emissions and cut energy costs.—T.C.
63. Mitchell Hochberg and David Lichtenstein (90)
President and Chairman of Lightstone
Amidst the $2.5 billion, or so, of real estate that Lightstone is currently working on in New York, one of the most intriguing projects that it opened three weeks ago was 365 Bond Street, the 430-unit rental with 30,000 square feet of green space along the waterfront in Gowanus.
It was intriguing because this feels like the first tremor in the great Gowanus earthquake poised to hit Brooklyn real estate in the next few years. Plenty of developers like Property Markets Group and Kushner Companies (which is owned by Commercial Observer’s publisher, Jared Kushner) have also begun buying land near the canal.
“I think we saw something earlier than a lot of people did,” Mitchell Hochberg said. “We felt that the canal was a nonissue.”
Mr. Hochberg and David Lichtenstein picked up 365 Bond Street after the recession hit; the project had originally been envisioned by Toll Brothers as a condominium, but Lightstone repurposed it as a rental. (According to StreetEasy, a six-bedroom is on the market for $7,500 per month.)
But Gowanus was the tip of the iceberg for Lightstone this past year; it’s spending about $700 million on four Moxy hotels, two of which are currently under construction.
“We forged a partnership with Marriott to launch this new brand called Moxy to millennials, which are focused on small rooms and very active public spaces,” Mr. Hochberg said. “They way I’ve described it, it’s like a cruise ship turned on its side. On a cruise ship nobody stays in their room. They do the activities or they’re in the ports.”
The two Moxys currently under construction are a 618-key hotel at 485 Seventh Avenue between West 36th and West 37th Streets and a 350-key hotel at 105 West 28th Street between Seventh Avenue and Avenue of the Americas. Each is slated to open in 2017. (Another two are also in the planning stages, one near Union Square and the other on Chrystie Street.)
And that’s not even mentioning the 30-unit boutique condo on the corner of East End Avenue and East 82nd Street or the 450-unit project in Queens Plaza North.—M.G.
64. Daniel Rice (New)
Head of Real Estate at Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania (Jehovah’s Witnesses)
It’s no miracle that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose businesses and real estate holdings are carried out by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, is on this list. Instead, it’s the sheer number of New York real estate holdings it has and deals in Brooklyn that the religious group has done. These transactions are part of the organization’s effort to move upstate.
To many real estate observers, the doings of the Witnesses are largely a mystery. So is its head of real estate, Daniel Rice (who politely declined to be interviewed via a spokesperson and asked to be taken off Power 100). But one cannot deny the impact that it’s had in Kings County.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses recently completed the sale of its international headquarters at 25-30 Columbia Heights, a 733,000-square-foot complex, and a 1.1-million-square-foot development site at 85 Jay Street to Kushner Companies (run by the publisher of Commercial Observer, Jared Kushner), LIVWRK and RFR Realty for $700 million. (The same group of buyers also purchased a five-building Dumbo complex for $375 million from the religious group in 2013.)
Despite what kind of future profit the buyers make on this, the Witnesses did extremely well—it bought the property at 25-30 Columbia Heights for $3 million nearly 50 years ago.
And in a follow up to its latest sale, the organization also began shopping another north Brooklyn property from its portfolio at 107 Columbia Heights. The 154,000-square-foot residential building is expected to trade for about $1,000 per square foot, or around $154 million.—L.L.G.
65. Francis Greenburger (63)
Founder and Chairman of Time Equities
Francis Greenburger’s Time Equities, which controls about 20 million square feet of property around the world, topped out its skyline-changing 50 West Street luxury residential condominium in Downtown last year.
The 64-story, 780-foot tower, which will have 191 units, features an all-glass façade designed by architect Helmut Jahn. Units are already selling, and the building is expected to be completed this year.
Time Equities also began construction last year of a conversion of the St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral School in Nolita into a residential building. Being done in collaboration with Hamlin Ventures, the structure will feature seven high-end condos and two townhouses. Marketing for the units began last year as well.
But one of the nearly 50-year-old firm’s biggest milestones last year was to get approvals from various city agencies in Chicago for a 73-story residential development at 1000 South Michigan Avenue, which will also be designed by Mr. Jahn. It is planned as a rental (one-third) and luxury condo (two-thirds) with a total of 480 units. The property is expected to take 36 months to build after Time Equities breaks ground next year.
And searching for more opportunities across the Atlantic Ocean, Time Equities started investing in the Netherlands with the purchase of 12 office buildings in 2015 (11 purchased at one time and the 12th bought later) for a total of 35 million euros, or $39.5 million.
“We just think it’s an interesting moment to be in the market there, because Holland has just gone through a difficult recession and they are recovering,” Mr. Greenburger said.—L.L.G.
66. MaryAnne Gilmartin and Bruce Ratner (79)
President and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies and Executive Chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies and Executive Vice President of Forest City Enterprises
“If I have to leave my kids everyday, it better be good,” MaryAnne Gilmartin said.
And as president and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, she certainly makes it worthwhile. Ms. Gilmartin, who is in charge of the New York City office wing of its Ohio-based parent company, works closely with Bruce Ratner, together spearheading many of the $1.5 billion in projects FCRC has under development.
The company officially started operating as a real estate investment trust under the moniker Forest City Realty Trust on Jan. 1 of this year, which Ms. Gilmartin said has helped the company align with its peers in the public markets and exposes it to a different set of dedicated investors. “We get more velocity and trading on our stock, and it’s a much more tax-efficient structure which really allows us to drive shareholder value,” she said.
As for Ms. Gilmartin’s first love—building and operating—there is plenty going on. FCRC currently has 1,800 units of residential, 800 of which are affordable, under development at Pacific Park in Brooklyn and is topping out at the Bridge at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island (a project that Ms. Gilmartin is particularly excited for because it will “change the way we think about spaces”).
“As I say, there’s no favorite child, but certainly the one we’ve been doing for well over a decade is Pacific Park,” Ms. Gilmartin said. “It’s an extraordinary amount of work, and only some of it is visible. It’s not just what you see and is in some ways the tip of the iceberg.”
The company also regained control of the modular factory in Brooklyn, allowing it to push forward with the construction of 461 Dean Street, which will be the tallest prefabricated building in the world when it opens in the fall.
FCRC is also priming site five of Pacific Park for development and is exploring different ideas of how to use the space. Earlier this month it was reported that FCRC and its partner Greenland USA are looking to sell a stake in three of their Pacific Park buildings.
“As a company, we decided we could do more with less of our equity and align our equity with others,” she said.—D.B.
67. Albert Behler (87)
Chairman, CEO and President of Paramount Group
While Paramount Group is celebrating its first year as a public company, it’s no newcomer to the real estate game.
Under the leadership of Albert Behler, who joined the firm as CEO and president in 1991, Paramount has grown its presence on a national scale. In 2015, the company focused on raising capital for its Fund VIII, which will be used to originate mezzanine loans. It also became the full owner of 31 West 52nd Street by purchasing the remaining 35.8 percent ownership stake in the building and bought 670 Broadway, a 77,000-square-foot office building in Noho. All in all, Mr. Behler said that Paramount experienced “significant momentum in New York.”
The one-year-old real estate investment trust leased 1.4 million square feet last year, exceeding its goal of 1 million. Paramount’s portfolio is now 95.3 percent leased, a 140-basis point increase from 2014, and beyond volume, the company managed to diversify its tenant base, according to Mr. Behler. (More than half of Paramount’s leasing volume took place at 1633 Broadway and 1301 Avenue of the Americas.)
“We remain focused on taking advantage of the substantial embedded rent growth opportunities within our portfolio through strategic leasing,” Mr. Behler said. “Additionally, we will work to strengthen our balance sheet through refinancings, advance our award-winning sustainability initiatives and maintain a disciplined acquisition and capital allocation approach to evaluate new investment opportunities.
“The significant progress we achieved in 2015 is a direct result of the high quality and intense focus of our talented team of professionals,” he said. “Together, we continue to work tirelessly towards advancing our internal goals and enhancing shareholder value.”—D.B.
68. Ken and Winston Fisher (New)
Partners at Fisher Brothers
Fisher Brothers is in the process of a $130 million asset renewal program to modernize three of its properties. There is the renovated lobby and plaza designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill at 1345 Avenue of the Americas, a David Rockwell-designed lobby nearing completion at 605 Third Avenue and the renovation of the arcade at Park Avenue Plaza, which is also almost done.
“Fisher Brothers is making terrific progress on our ongoing reinvention plan for our portfolio of trophy Midtown office properties, highlighted by the installation of an amazing, state-of-the-art lobby for 605 Third Avenue, which was designed by David Rockwell,” Ken Fisher said.
Fisher Brothers commenced construction last year on a 37-story, 372-unit rental building at 225 East 39th Street between Second and Third Avenues.
Construction has also started at 111 Murray Street in Tribeca, where Fisher Brothers has teamed with Witkoff Group and the Howard Lorber-led New Valley to develop a 157-unit condominium.
“With the successful launch of sales for 111 Murray and full-scale construction on our amenity-filled 225 East 39th Street rental project, Fisher Brothers has successfully returned to its roots as a developer of distinctive residential properties,” Winston Fisher said.
Fisher Brothers reached a deal in early January with the owners of Gotham Hall to create the Ziegfeld Ballroom to replace the Ziegfeld Theatre at 141 West 54th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue.
In 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Winston as chair of the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, which is tasked with developing strategic plans for economic growth in the region.
At the end of last year, Fisher Brothers became an early investor in Move Systems, a startup that builds food carts that use natural gas and solar power, and Winston joined its board.
Winston also agreed to underwrite the Middle Class Jobs Project, an initiative of the Center for an Urban Future designed to spur middle-class job creation in New York City.
Ken, who is co-chair of the Intrepid Museum and the Fisher House Foundation, is serving as chairman of the 2016 Invictus Games, to be held in Orlando, Fla., in May, a Paralympic-style, multinational event open to wounded, injured and ill military personnel and veterans.—L.E.S.
69. Joseph Moinian (73)
CEO of The Moinian Group
Seeds planted along 11th Avenue by The Moinian Group continue to bloom.
Joseph Moinian first started scooping up properties along the western street in the 1990s. Today, he said, the developer is nearing completion of the 1,175-unit Sky at 605 West 42nd Street at the corner of 11th Avenue. Five hundred of the rental apartments are already occupied, he added, and the building’s 70,000-square-foot fitness club will open this May.
The Moinian Group recently broke ground across the street at 572 11th Avenue between West 43rd and West 44th Streets. The 165-unit building should be completed in May 2018. Residents of that property will be able to enjoy the amenities offered across the street at Sky.
Down 11th Avenue at West 34th Street, The Moinian Group is gearing up to break ground on the 2-million-square-foot office and retail tower at 3 Hudson Boulevard. Mr. Moinian said the building, which has not yet secured an anchor tenant, offered some of the clearest views in town and would become the developer’s flagship property.
“The tenants that we are working with right now consist of media, finance and fashion,” Mr. Moinian said. “The building has a design that offers good floor plates and a variety of floor plates that are good for those types of tenants. And I must tell you that we stand not only tall, but we will have the best curb appeal due to open views from all directions.”
Speaking of flagships: The NBA’s three-level main store opened in 25,000 square feet in December 2015 at Mr. Moinian’s 535-545 Fifth Avenue between East 44th and East 45th Streets.—T.C.
70. Alicia Glen (20)
Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has made its signature policy to overcome the city’s housing crisis by preserving or building more than 200,000 affordable units by 2025. And Alicia Glen, the city’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, would be his first general on the front lines in charge of promoting this mission. But given the 421a debacle, which was out of Ms. Glen’s hands, her firepower to push more affordable housing in mega-developments has been substantially reduced.
Despite the troubles on the battlefields of affordable housing, Ms. Glen fought hard last year with other development and housing plans. She helped oversee NextGeneration NYCHA, a 15-point plan to reduce the city public housing agency’s projected $2.5 billion operating deficit for the next decade and generate revenue to pay for the nearly $17 billion in unmet renovations. The plan includes changes to management practices, such as increasing NYCHA parking lot rates and ramping up rent collection efforts, to reduce capital needs by $4.6 billion over 10 years and produce an operating surplus of over $200 million.
Another of Ms. Glen’s achievements was working with various Queens representatives and community leaders to announce the Jamaica Now Action Plan in April 2015, which will rejuvenate the emerging, but still under-the-radar west Queens community. The $153 million plan includes initiatives designed to promote job creation, events, change the perception of Jamaica and increase development. The city expects the plan to help bring 3,000 housing units, 500,000 square feet of retail and 800 hotel rooms to the neighborhood in five years.—L.L.G.
71. Wu Xiaohui (New)
Chairman and CEO of Anbang Insurance Group
If the last few months have proven anything, it’s that Anbang Insurance Group’s $1.95 billion acquisition of the Waldorf Astoria New York was not a one-off deal.
The Chinese insurance giant, led by Wu Xiaohui, has proven it’s here to stay—especially when it comes to high-end hospitality. What the draw is for the firm is not entirely apparent, as Anbang itself, as well as its internal structure, is shrouded in mystery.
Last month, the company signed a $6.5 billion agreement to scoop up 16 U.S. hotels and resorts from Blackstone Group, shortly after Blackstone purchased the portfolio for $6 billion. Then, Anbang started a bidding war with Marriott International over the purchase of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Anbang brought a fully financed offer to the table and continually upped its bid, though Starwood eventually struck the deal with its original suitor. Despite the failure to complete a merger with one of the U.S.’ largest hotels, the persistence is not something that went unnoticed.
Anbang’s play extends beyond the hotel market and beyond real estate. In November of last year, the insurer announced an agreement to buy Des Moines, Iowa-based Fidelity & Guaranty Life—a deal that will make Anbang one of the largest insurers by market share in fixed indexed annuity products in the U.S.
As for what’s next for Anbang, the crystal ball remains unclear, but if one thing is certain, it’s that the Chinese firm is here for the long run.—D.B.
72. Ian Schrager (93)
Founder of Ian Schrager Company
Ian Schrager has been making his mark on New York’s cultural landscape for four decades, and if 2015 is any indication, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
After purchasing the land at 215 Chrystie Street for $50 million in 2012, his 28-story Public Hotel on that site is on its way to completion. The 200,000-plus-square-foot hotel and residence, once described by Mr. Schrager as “tough luxe” for its gritty take on luxury, is being designed by Herzog and de Meuron, which also designed Mr. Schrager’s 40 Bond (the interiors will be designed by acclaimed British designer John Pawson), and will feature a 370-room hotel and 11 high-end (eight half-floor, three full-floor) condominium units with asks for the penthouses as high as $18.75 million. (Mr. Schrager announced early on that he’d be seeking up to $4,000 per square foot.) The menu for the location’s ground-floor restaurant, which is expected to serve over 240, will be dictated by Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Mr. Schrager is aiming even higher at curved-wall 160 Leroy Street, where the five-bedroom, 12,200-square-foot penthouse is asking between $75 million and $80 million. The 49-unit building, also a Herzog and de Meuron project described on Mr. Schrager’s website as “curvaceous, sensual, free-flowing, seductive and sexy,” offers 1,100-square-foot one-bedrooms, starting at $2.6 million, up to 6,000-square-foot five-bedrooms, begining at $25 million.
But Mr. Schrager’s grand achievement here is the penthouse, which he has previously told Commercial Observer was “the most spectacular penthouse in all of New York,” including a private pool and a 7,500-square-foot roof deck. Other amenities for the project include 11- to 13-foot-high ceilings with “floor-to-ceiling windows that reflect the sky and the water”; marble, which Mr. Schrager has called the same used in “Roman baths”; and selective amenities, including a 70-foot pool and sauna. Half of the building was sold only two weeks following the start of sales.
As if this wasn’t enough—since Mr. Schrager sounds like a man with lots of free time—he’s been hard at work expanding his Edition Hotel chain, currently working, he says, on over 20 of them.
In the year to come, he’ll continue working on the Public and Edition projects, including bringing the Public brand to Brooklyn, as well as a “new kind of secret resort” we’ll be hearing more about in the future.
Asked for a statement about his endeavors, Mr. Scharger simply said, “I’m just as hungry and ambitious and optimistic as ever.” If there were any doubters, the city’s luxury real estate landscape will be his proof.—L.G.
73. David Kramer (New)
President of Hudson Companies
Hudson Companies does not shy from projects with hair on them, like the redevelopment of the site of Brooklyn Heights Library at 280 Cadman Plaza West, which people complaining about the size of the replacement library at the site.
The developer has received Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, approvals for the $400 million project and is gearing up for construction to start this year. Upon completion, a 36-story residential condominium will rise at the location and will include a new library branch as well as a 9,000-square-foot STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lab administered by the New York City Department of Education.
Hudson Companies faced opposition, including a lawsuit to stop the project, at its 626 Flatbush Avenue site where it is near completion of an as-of-right 22-story 80/20 affordable housing rental building. It completed and leased up 22 Caton Place, a new 73-unit residential building in Windsor Terrace. And it’s in the midst of building a three-phase 700 unit, affordable housing project in Spring Creek, Brooklyn, called Gateway Estates, which features the most solar panels for multifamily buildings in the state. The solar panels provide 1,000 kilowatts, or 1 Megawatt.
This April, Hudson Companies and Related Companies nabbed a $105 million construction loan from Wells Fargo for a residential building on the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. The building, which has topped out, will be the largest and tallest building in the world built to Passive House standards.
“It’s been a great 15 months in terms of the sheer breadth and variety of our developments, from the largest passive house development in the world, to our ULURP success with the Brooklyn Public Library to 1 Megawatt of solar power in Spring Creek to our new rental buildings in Brooklyn,” Mr. Kramer said.—L.E.S.
74. Arthur W. and William Lie Zeckendorf (53)
Co-Chairmen of Terra Holdings and Zeckendorf Development
The Zeckendorf brothers don’t roll often, but when they do they always roll hard and with a purpose. The team behind 50 U.N. Plaza and the iconic 15 Central Park West is determined to withstand the headwinds and win over skeptics at its latest ultra-luxury project, 520 Park Avenue between East 60th and East 61st Streets. The Robert A.M. Stern-designed condominium tower, featuring 33 residences, is on course to debut in 2018 in a market that is increasingly wary that the upper echelon of elite real estate can maintain course.
“We are focused on building 520 Park Avenue on the Upper East Side and creating the finest new luxury building in Manhattan, as we did with 15 Central Park West,” the brothers said in a statement.
Zeckendorf Development, in partnership with Park Sixty and Global Holdings, has $450 million in financing on hand from the Children’s Investment Fund dating back to 2014. Now the real test will be in generating sales—and holding prices—at the 54-story tower in time for the grand opening.
In addition to Zeckendorf Development, Messrs. Zeckendorf co-chair Terra Holdings, the parent firm of Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property, along with David Burris and Kent Swig.—D.J.
75. Norman and David Sturner and David Greene (77)
Founding Principal and CEO, Principal and COO and President of Brokerage Services at MHP Real Estate Services
Fans of fried chicken sandwiches owe MHP Real Estate Services a debt of gratitude that they will never adequately repay; in January Chick-fil-A took a space in 1180 Avenue of the Americas, a building which MHP has a stake in—and it was MHP broker James Tamborlane who inked the deal.
But, of course, that was just one lease in one building. In the last four months MHP has been on a mad spree signing deals at its 1.2-million-square-foot Financial District building, 180 Maiden Lane, which the company purchased in 2014 and has been sprucing up ever since: The law firm Wade Clark Mulcahy took 17,702 square feet; Abt SRBI, the global research organization, snapped up 13,596 square feet and online jeweler Chloe + Isabel grabbed 30,000 square feet.
Sitting in his Midtown office last month, Norman Sturner summed up his business plan for MHP fairly neatly: “We do two buildings a year,” Mr. Sturner said. “Maybe a third if we can find it.”
The two to three buildings MHP goes after are highly specific: “It has to be an office building,” Mr. Sturner continued. “It has to be on the island of Manhattan. And it has to be off-market. Not an easy focus, which is why we only do two or three buildings a year.”
Simple—but in MHP’s case, effective.
In January, MHP picked up the 614,000-square-foot, 21-story 850 Third Avenue with HNA Group (which is also the owner of 1180 Avenue of the Americas) for more than $460 million from Shorenstein Properties. MHP had approached Shorenstein about nabbing the property last fall and turned the deal around at a breathless pace. And MHP just began raising money for its next round of buildings (the fund should raise $200 million.)—M.G.
76. Stephen Meringoff and Leslie Wohlman Himmel (78)
Co-Managing Partners of Himmel + Meringoff Properties
Leslie Wohlman Himmel and Stephen Meringoff are riding the crest of their third cycle in the real estate market together. And despite concerns about the market in the coming year, the co-founders of Himmel + Meringoff Properties are planning to double their current portfolio of 2 million square feet within the next decade, a time frame they disagree on. The bullish Ms. Wohlman Himmel leans toward five years, while the conservative Mr. Meringoff plays it safe by saying 10 years.
That all began last year with the company’s purchase of the controlling stake in 1460 Broadway between West 41st and West 42nd Streets. The duo went on to sign WeWork to the entire office portion of the building and Foot Locker to the 36,000-square-foot retail section. The deals were the seventh-largest office and seventh-largest retail leases in 2015, respectively, Mr. Meringoff said.
In total, Himmel + Meringoff leased 350,000 square feet across the 14 buildings it owns. “We have been reinvesting significantly in our properties,” Ms. Wohlman Himmel said.
The company is also preparing for its planned buying spree. Himmel + Meringoff Properties has done so, the co-founders said, by selling such properties as 88 University Place, which property records show fetched $70 million last summer. The partners said they’re also doing five refinancings right now to capitalize on lower interest rates as the firm looks to add to its existing portfolio. “We’re looking at this point in the market as a point of consolidation,” Mr. Meringoff said.—T.C.
77. Howard Lorber (44)
President and CEO of the Vector Group
Many people who follow New York real estate and hear the name “Howard Lorber” immediately associate it with the name “Douglas Elliman.”
It’s true, Mr. Lorber is the chairman of Douglas Elliman, the largest residential real estate firm in New York. And, Douglas Elliman had a banner year, raking in some $637 million and marketing some of the priciest apartments and townhouses of the city (including the highest price ever paid in Brooklyn for a 27-foot-wide, three-story townhouse in Cobble Hill for which photographer Jay Maisel paid $15.5 million.)
But Mr. Lorber has not just been marketing some of the best real estate in the city; he’s had a hand in developing it, too. For instance, along with Witkoff Group and Fisher Brothers, Mr. Lorber is putting up one of the most beautifully conceived new condominiums at 111 Murray Street, a sleek, glass, curvy, 800-foot tower designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, with interiors by David Mann and public space by David Rockwell. The building (which should be finished in 2018) is also asking some ambitious prices, like $18.9 million for a penthouse, according to StreetEasy.
This is hardly Mr. Lorber’s first dance—or even his first dance with Witkoff’s Steve Witkoff as a partner. In 2011, they rescued the International Toy Center out of bankruptcy and converted it to 10 Madison Square West. Listings at that building average $3,495 per foot, StreetEasy indicates.
Of course, if development didn’t work out for Mr. Lorber, he’s still the chairman of Nathan’s Famous, as well as the Liggett Group (the tobacco company). But we doubt that Mr. Lorber will need to fall back on hotdogs and cigarettes. As The Real Deal reported last month, he took home some $42.5 million in compensation for 2015.—L.G. and M.G.
78. Ron Moelis (89)
Co-Founder of L+M Development Partners
When everybody talks up the big new projects of the city—the One Vanderbilts, the Hudson Yards, the Manhattan Wests—a project that usually doesn’t get the attention it deserves is Essex Crossing.
At 1.9 million square feet, this is a residential and commercial atom bomb for the Lower East Side, a neighborhood which, aside from a few boutique condominiums and rentals, is ripe for the kind of game-changing project that Essex Crossing represents.
Ron Moelis, the head of L+M Development Partners, is one of the players making Essex Crossing happen, along with BFC Partners and Taconic Investment Partners.
“It’s the most visible project we’ve done,” Mr. Moelis told Commercial Observer last summer. “It’s also an enormous commitment of capital. In phase one alone we have $150 million of equity and $415 million in debt in the project. There’s going to be a lot of political visibility on how we do it. And there will be a lot of criticism as well as accolades. To me what’s most important is how these uses are integrated and how it’s perceived by the people who live there.”
But Essex Crossing is not the only big development on L+M’s horizon; last summer L+M broke ground on Greenpoint Landing, a 22-acre project where it is constructing 294 affordable apartments, and it is also at work on another 625 affordable units in Brownsville.—M.G.
79. Donald Capoccia, Joseph Ferrara and Brandon Baron (New)
Principals at BFC Partners
BFC Partners is responsible for developing (alone or as part of a joint venture) three of the city’s most neighborhood-changing projects and all in different boroughs. And “being involved in game-changer transformative development projects throughout New York City” is not a point that has gone unnoticed by Joseph Ferrara, who called it a “privilege” and a fact “that I hold dear.”
At Essex Crossing on the Lower East Side, BFC is developing 1,000 apartments, 600,000 square feet of retail and office space, a 15,000-square-foot park, a 98-space parking garage and a new 40,000-square-foot Essex Market. BFC is partnering with L+M Development Partners and Taconic Investment Partners to develop the 1.9-million-square-foot mixed-use site spanning nine long-neglected parcels. The first phase of the $1 billion project “comes online within the next 12 months and continues over the next several years,” Mr. Ferrara said.
BFC broke ground on the 340,000- square-foot retail complex Empire Outlets in Staten Island last April. Empire Outlets is part of BFC’s 1-million-square-foot development, which will include a 140,000-square-foot hotel with 200 keys, 12 restaurant concepts and a 1,250-space parking garage. The mall’s grand opening is slated for next year.
And at City Point, tenants have started moving into 7 DeKalb Avenue, formerly known as Tower 1, at the sprawling Downtown Brooklyn complex. The 230,000-square-foot building is comprised of 250 mixed-income rental units. BFC developed the structure along with Washington Square Partners and Acadia Realty Trust.
“Starting vertical construction on day one of 7 DeKalb Avenue, 100 feet in the air above the City Point complex in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn, was an unprecedented hit-the-ground-running experience for our entire team,” Brandon Baron said.
And those are just a few of the company’s projects, which also include renovating 1,900 residential units.
“Between Empire Outlets, Essex Crossing and our affordable preservation work, we broke ground on over $1 billion in new work,” Donald Capoccia said. “Although the impact of these investments won’t be felt for several years, each project has already been a catalyst for renewed market interest in the North Shore of Staten Island and the Lower East Side and East Village.”—L.E.S.
80. Timothy King (New)
Managing Partner of CPEX Real Estate
Timothy King is an expert on where Brooklyn has come from and often has a lot of ideas on where the borough is going.
He should know since he’s doing the transactions that keep putting his native county on the global map. CPEX Real Estate, the firm he co-founded with Brian Leary in 2008 in the dog days of the recession, did 22 leases last year that had an aggregate value of $1 billion. That includes December’s 30,000-square-foot deal at the 100-year-old Liberty View Industrial Complex in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, which Mr. King brokered. It is the first of the discount offshoots of Saks Fifth Avenue headed for the borough. Retail rents paid by Saks, as well as Bed, Bath & Beyond and other tenants, will subsidize the cheaper rents for light manufacturing tenants upstairs.
“That is a complete and total game-changer for the neighborhood,” Mr. King said.
CPEX also made a key hire in the last year on the advisory services side: Robert Walsh, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services during the entire 12-year Bloomberg administration. “We had a trophy hire with Rob Walsh,” he said. “He really has a tremendous grasp of every neighborhood. He has his finger on the pulse of a lot of retail districts.” —T.C.
81. Harry Macklowe (56)
Founder and Chairman of Macklowe Properties
After about a decade, Harry Macklowe is finally close to completing his residential condominium at 432 Park Avenue, which received its certificate of occupancy in November 2015—allowing wealthy condominium unit buyers to close contracts and move in.
The tower, which at 96 stories and 1,400 feet is the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere, is mostly owned by Los Angeles-based CIM Group. CIM purchased the debt on the property after Macklowe Properties defaulted on it during the recession. Mr. Macklowe remained on as a minority developing partner.
Nevertheless, Macklowe Properties owns 432 Park’s extremely valuable retail portion, a six-story office and retail building under construction on a site in front of the skyscraper.
Constructing 432 Park was an up-and-down adventure, but never one to let the cycles of the real estate market limit him. The 55-year real estate veteran filed permits with the New York City Department of Buildings for a $1.5 billion residential conversion of the 50-story Art Deco tower 1 Wall Street last year. Macklowe Properties purchased the building from Bank of New York Mellon for $585 million in 2014.
And Macklowe Properties began construction on yet another luxury residential building in Manhattan last year. A planned 35-story, 490-foot property will rise at 200 East 59th Street, the result of an assemblage that Macklowe Properties purchased from SL Green Realty Corp. in 2014 for $100 million. This property will have 14,861 square feet of retail and 67 residential condos.—L.L.G.
82. Michael Horodniceanu (New)
President of MTA Capital Construction
Michael Horodniceanu is digging up tunnels across Manhattan. As the president of MTA Capital Construction, the longtime engineer oversees new subway projects throughout the five boroughs.
Construction of the new West 34th Street Hudson Yards station finished up last summer, extending the 7 Train into the herd of all the development on the Far West Side. But that’s just part of the many capital projects Mr. Horodniceanu oversees.
He’s also working on the East Side Access project, which will eventually bring Long Island Railroad trains to Grand Central Terminal, as well as the Second Avenue subway—a nearly century-old proposal that only got underway in the last few years. In a July 2015 interview with Commercial Observer, Mr. Horodniceanu said bringing the LIRR to Grand Central will put 160,000 riders directly in Midtown East, as opposed to having to schlep up from Pennsylvania Station.
As the MTA has toiled in working out a five-year capital budget, Mr. Horodniceanu has been vocal about new ways to fund MTA construction. He has argued that since the industry is reliant on trains, getting people into its buildings, there should be a real estate tax directly tied to funding capital projects. “You have to maintain a [steady] source of dollars that comes in to maintain and expand our system,” he said in last year’s interview. “That needs to be done through a kind of taxation.”—T.C.
83. Dan Tishman and Jay Badame (New)
Chairman and CEO and President and COO of Tishman Construction of New York
To say that the past year has been a busy one for Dan Tishman and Jay Badame, together and separately, is an understatement.
Mr. Tishman has been serving as an informal adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, laying out a much-lauded plan for renovating LaGuardia Airport and currently working on a similar plan for John F. Kennedy International Airport.
AECOM and Tishman Construction of New York have five projects, each worth over $1 billion, currently underway in Manhattan: the 84-story 3 World Trade Center; a 65-story office tower, complete with spiraling terraced gardens, at Hudson Yards; the 63-story One Vanderbilt property; Citi’s Greenwich Street headquarters; and One Manhattan West. There is also the 550,000-square-foot Public Safety Answer Center II in the Bronx, which Tishman delivered ahead of schedule and under budget.
Dan Tishman also made waves with Tishman Realty—the real estate owner, developer and operator—including the acquisition of a $16 million parking garage in Union Square East for which the company is still weighing development options.
The many upcoming projects include its development of the retractable roof at the United States Tennis Center, home of the annual U.S. Open, in Flushing, Queens.
“The continued expansion of Tishman Realty’s portfolio gives us opportunities to create tremendous value,” Mr. Tishman said. “I am proud of the work Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo’s airport panel did on planning for LaGuardia, and the fact that we came up with a path forward to bring such a sorely neglected regional asset into the modern era. We’ve also successfully managed Tishman Construction’s, and more recently Hunt Construction Group’s, integration into AECOM and have maintained our status as the go-to builder for big complicated projects in New York and around the country. Whether we are building the retractable roof at the U.S. Tennis Center, or executing our work at the World Trade Center and Hudson Yards, no one is as good at managing complexity as we are.”—L.G.
84. Jason Pizer (65)
President and CEO of Trinity Real Estate
Jason Pizer, who runs Trinity Real Estate, the real estate arm of Trinity Church Wall Street, which entered some divine financial circles last year, when it formed a partnership with Norges Bank Investment Management, the sovereign-wealth fund of Norway.
The $830 billion fund is now a partner on the church’s 11-building portfolio in Hudson Square, which includes 1 Hudson Square, 100 Avenue of the Americas, 10 Hudson Square, 200 and 205 Hudson Street among others. The portfolio totals about 5 million square feet of space.
Trinity and Norges are now reportedly looking for a managing operator for the portfolio with RXR Realty, Tishman Speyer, Hines and Silverstein Properties reportedly among those making pitches on the deal.
Mr. Pizer was elected chairman of the board of the Hudson Square Connection, the local business improvement district, in 2014.—D.J.
85. K. Thomas and Frederick Elghanayan (86)
Chairman and President of TF Cornerstone
To a large extent, TF Cornerstone is synonymous with Long Island City; the Queens neighborhood wouldn’t exist without the developer (and Rockrose Development), another development company and arm of the Elghanayan family after the family split up its assets in 2009). The empire built along the banks of the East River is worth hundreds of millions of dollars—maybe more.
But K. Thomas (the “T” in TF Cornerstone) and Frederick Elghanayan (the “F”) seem intent on proving that LIC is too limiting for the company.
The brothers are now venturing into Downtown Brooklyn with 300 Livingston Street, aka 33 Bond Street, a 25-story, 714-unit colossus slated to open to residents in 2017. They’re also plugging away in Manhattan on 606 West 57th Street, a 1,000-unit rental, also midway through construction. And they’ve gone well beyond the borders of New York City, too; the company—which boasts a 10-million-square-foot residential, office and mixed-use portfolio—recently picked up a two-building, 200,000-square-foot office complex in Reston, Va.
But of course, they haven’t forgotten their roots: Hunters Point South, a 1,000-unit development (with a library!) in LIC, is set to begin construction this year.—M.G.
86. Aaron Jungreis (66)
President of Rosewood Realty Group
In what was a bustling year for building sales throughout New York overall, Aaron Jungreis’ Rosewood Realty had an impressively busy 2015 with the firm completing $3.2 billion in sales for the year.
“I was the most active broker in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx for 2015,” Mr. Jungreis told Commercial Observer, citing borough sales totaling $1.2 billion, $566 million and $745 million, respectively.
Among the deals keeping him so busy: the sale of 32 buildings across Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens from the Dermot Company to A&E Real Estate Holdings for just over $360 million; the $72.3 million sale of two elevator buildings in Astoria with 144 units total from Related Fund Management to E&M Associates; and the $89 million sale of an eight-building, 441-unit complex in the Bronx, totaling around 400,000 square feet, from Axelrod Management to A&E. (On all these deals he was on both sides.)
“That was great, because I was working on [the A&E deal] for so many years,” Mr. Jungreis said. “I worked on that on and off for four years.”
The year ahead promises to be just as active for Mr. Jungreis, who mentioned a building he’s selling for Yeshiva University, a “beautiful, iconic pre-war building, it’s got such character,” that will be asking close to $70 million at 13-15 East 11th Street.
Asked about his overall plan for 2016, Mr. Jungreis replied his initial thought had been toward “taking a rest,” but this answer changes within seconds. “I thought the market would slow down,” he said. “But it hasn’t. Gotta keep up the pace.”—L.G.
87. Jonathan Mechanic (76)
Chairman of the Real Estate Department of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson
When it comes to having a hand in real estate transactions, Jonathan Mechanic is as ubiquitous in New York City as taxis or street vendors.
Mr. Mechanic is the head the real estate department at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Working out of the firm’s Downtown and Midtown offices, the industry veteran has represented both landlord and tenant, and buyer and seller, from Manhattan’s Far West Side to the Financial District.
Some of his more significant deals have included representing CWCapital Asset Management in its $5.46 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village to Blackstone Group and Ivanhoé Cambridge, a deal that closed in December 2015. (He also negotiated the 2006 sale of the complexes for $5.4 billion.)
Mr. Mechanic has represented Related Companies in most of its leases at 10 Hudson Yards, which is now completely spoken for with tenants moving in over the rest of the year. He also provided legal counsel on what was almost one of the biggest deals of the year: News Corp. and 21st Century Fox’s negotiations to take 1.5 million square feet at 2 World Trade Center. The deal fell through this January after the media companies decided not to make the move. Mr. Mechanic said talks were pretty far along.
“This past year or so has been a great time for Fried, Frank and its real estate practice,” Mr. Mechanic said. “In fact our 2015 fiscal year, which ended in February, was the best year ever. We as a firm are having a real impact on the New York City skyline and are proud of our role.”—T.C.
88. David Von Spreckelsen (97)
President of Toll Brothers City Living
The Toll Brothers City Living division of Toll Brothers, which David Von Spreckelsen founded in 2004, has continued making impressive in-roads into the New York City luxury residential market.
The company’s high-end boutique condominium development The Touraine, in Lenox Hill, is completely sold out. Its 81-unit condo portion of 400 Park Avenue South, consisting of the top 18 of 40 floors (Equity Residential is handling the first 22 floors, which are rentals), is averaging $2,300 a square foot.
The boutique 1110 Park Avenue consists of nine high-end units each spanning at least one full floor, including a triplex with its own rooftop swimming pool complete with Central Park views. The units range in price from $10 million to $35 million. The building at 400 Park Avenue South, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc, consists of 81 condominium residences starting at $1.9 million. At 55 West 17th Street, designed by Morris Adjmi Architects, Toll offers 53 units in a 19-story building with prices starting at $1.8 million. There is also the company’s 33-unit, 12-story co-op at 100 Barrow Street, which will be a blend of condos and affordable rentals.
If the company has faced one major challenge this year, it’s been in pricing, having had to drop asking prices significantly in certain cases. A 2,800-square-foot three-bedroom unit at 400 Park Avenue South, for example, sold for $6.1 million, down from an initial asking price of $8.6 million. And one unit at 1110 Park sold for $18.25 million, after initially asking $22 million.—L.G.
89. Michael Lee and Sunny Chiu (New)
Chairman and CEO and President of F&T Group
F&T Groups founders Michael Lee and Sunny Chiu created the firm two decades ago with the mission of transforming Flushing into an Asian Times Square or Rockefeller Center. Today with nearly 5 million square feet of development activity in just Flushing alone, F&T Group is a major player in how Flushing has became a serious cultural hub.
This March 18, F&T Group topped out the first building at Flushing Commons, a 1.8-million-square-foot residential, office and retail complex, being built in tandem with Rockefeller Group and AECOM Capital. The project includes a 164,000-square-foot office condominium for which sales launched in September 2015 and have nearly completely sold out. There will also be 600 luxury residential condos, a 62,000-square-foot YMCA, retail space and a 1,600-spot garage. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in 2017.
A few blocks away, the firm completed its One Fulton Square development, a two-building, 330,000-square-foot retail, office and luxury residential project. The three-level retail portion of the property was 100 percent leased last year. And the project also consists of a 168-key Hyatt Place hotel at 133-42 39th Avenue, which has been open since 2014.
Also, F&T Group with partner SCG America broke ground in June 2015 for its newest project in the neighborhood—Tangram, a 1.2-million-square-foot, four-building complex, which will include a mall, a hotel, office and retail space and luxury residential housing units.—L.L.G.
90. Burton and Jonathan Resnick (83)
Chairman and CEO and President of Jack Resnick & Sons
Father and son Burton and Jonathan Resnick head up one of the oldest family real estate companies in the country, founded in 1922 by Jack Resnick.
Target will open its first Lower Manhattan store at 255 Greenwich Street, taking more than 48,242 square feet on the ground floor and lower level. Online home goods retailer One Kings Lane signed a three-year lease for 51,576 square feet, or the entire eighth floor, at 315 Hudson Street, where the company is in the process of upgrading the space into a technology, advertising, media and information services, or TAMI, type of building. The company also renewed a lease with the City of New York at 2322 Third Avenue.
Jack Resnick & Sons also completed a couple of long-term financing deals at 255 Greenwich and 401 East 80th Street. “We were able to fix our cost of capital, provide for future needs of the property and significantly reduce our debt service, an all-around win for us,” Burton said.
He said the company remains bullish on New York but is cautious on new investments right now given the current pricing environment in New York. “We think prices are frothy caused by the low-interest rate environment, which has driven down returns on alternative investment types, driving money to real estate and reducing cap rates to what we feel are unattractive levels as an entry point, so we have kept our powder dry,” Mr. Resnick said.—D.J.
91. Sam Chang (95)
President and CEO of McSam Hotel Group
Sam Chang hasn’t invested in any new projects in the last year.
From “last April 1 to [this April 1], I haven’t signed one contract to buy anything,” Mr. Chang said. This is a first in his 18 years of developing hotels in New York City. “Pricing [for land] is just too expensive right now.”
But the hotel titan had his hands full with a slew of hotels in various stages of development in Manhattan, like at 14 and 16 East 39th Street, two buildings he purchased for $31.6 million in February. There he is looking to build a 20-story Hyatt hotel.
In a dramatic move, Mr. Chang pulled out of the Flushing market last October, offloading his final development site in the Queens neighborhood for $44.5 million, as Commercial Observer reported at the time. He previously said, “I don’t believe in this market.”
On that last parcel, he recently said, “We bought it for $26 million. In the downturn of 2010, we tried to sell it for $20 [million] to pay off the money we owed the bank. [But] we were able to hold on to it and sold it for two and a half times what we were looking for it.”
Another big deal for McSam Hotel Group is that over the last year “Marriott approved our first five Marriott products in New York City,” the budget hotel maverick said, after having done deals with many other brands. One of those hotels includes a 350-room Marriott at John F. Kennedy International Airport.—L.E.S.
92. Henry and Justin Elghanayan (88)
Principals of Rockrose Development
The Rockrose branch of the Elghanayan family continued shaping the Long Island City residential landscape, as construction progressed on two projects in the area’s Court Square neighborhood: 43-25 Hunter Street, a 50-story, 974-unit, 970,000-square-foot rental building; and Eagle Lofts, a 54-story, 783-unit, 587,000-square-foot rental.
These new buildings, joining Rockrose’s existing Linc LIC property, a 709-unit rental that was fully leased in 2014, will be joined by a fourth rental project for which design is currently underway. Upon completion, these structures will add 2,500 new Rockrose rental units in Court Square. Rockrose also closed a $270 million construction loan for 43-25 Hunter Street in 2015.
Even though the company is busy in Long Island City, Rockrose hasn’t neglected the company’s Manhattan interests, as it announced plans to construct a “dramatic landscaped rooftop terrace with a film projection system” at 300 Park Avenue South, the company’s 15-story Beaux-Arts office building in Midtown South. Rockrose leased out over 41,000 square feet of office space in the building in 2015.
Rockrose also had a busy year in Washington, D.C., unveiling plans for Alexander Court, an office complex in the Central Business District designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli. According to the company, the development will “combine and expand two existing buildings—2001 K Street and 2000 L Street—into nearly a million square feet of office space connected by a 12-story glass-enclosed atrium. The complex will feature class-leading trophy amenities, such as a 7,500-square-foot fitness center and a rooftop conference center and a terrace featuring unobstructed views of the National Cathedral.”
The company also purchased 1140 L Street in 2015, a 70,648-square-foot boutique Class A office building in D.C.’s Golden Triangle area, and began upgrades at 555 11th Street, a 414,204-square-foot trophy office building in D.C.—L.G.
93. Richard Coles and Gary Tischler (New)
Managing Principals of Vanbarton Group
There’s a joke to be made about the fact that Richard Coles and Gary Tischler’s old firm was called Emmes Asset Management, which means “truth” in Yiddish—and their new firm is called the Vanbarton Group, which can be loosely translated to mean, “most goysche name you could possibly come up with.”
Messrs. Tischler and Coles have been working together in New York real estate for several decades now, and having had an impressive 2015 with their new boutique investment firm (founded in July), the Vanbarton Group has landed on the Power 100 list.
According to Vanbarton, over the past year the firm has “originated or acquired several hundred million dollars of credit, including lending into such transactions as 20 Broad Street and Monad Terrace in Miami.” On the equity side, the firm took pride in its early entry into the Financial District’s burgeoning multifamily rental market. It acquired the 553,000-square-foot office property at 180 Water Street, which is currently two-thirds finished with its conversion into 583 market-rate rental units. The company also acquired the adjoining property at 160 Water, a 598,000-square-foot office property, as well as the 18-story 31 Penn Plaza building in a deal worth about $265 million.
But Vanbarton is not limiting itself to Manhattan. Last February, the firm closed on Long Island City’s 51,200-square-foot Zipper Building at 47-16 Austell Place for $7.7 million. The Joffrey Ballet has since signed on for 15,500 square feet on the fourth floor of the space in a 10-year deal with asking rent in the $40s per square foot. In July, it signed co-working company WeWork for 60,000 square feet at Studio Square at 35-37 36th Street in Long Island City.
Other outer-borough activity for Vanbarton includes the purchases of The Kestrel, an eight-story, 138-rental-unit property in Prospect Park, for $76 million and Riverdale Crossing, a 225,000-square-foot retail center it purchased in October 2015 for $133 million.
As of last month, Vanbarton was also nearing the close for a fund in excess of $1 billion for the acquisition of commercial properties throughout the country.
On the horizon for Vanbarton in Manhattan is the completion of a $250 million conversion of 180 Water Street into 583 market-rate residential units.—L.G.
94. Earle Altman, Peter Burack, Gregg Schenker and Steven Hornstock (84)
Chairman, Co-Managing Partner, President and Co-Managing Partner and Co-Managing Partner and Director of Investment Sales at ABS Partners Real Estate
ABS Partners Real Estate has a lot of balls in the air as it does leasing, investment sales, property management, construction management and advisory—and its executives and brokers buy properties of their own.
In the last year, ABS purchased a 135,75-square-foot, three-building office campus just north of Charlotte, N.C., according to Gregg Schenker.
Another big deal was the restructuring of a 150,000-square-foot 75-year ground lease with William Macklowe Company at 110 University Place, formerly home to Bowlmor Lanes. Messrs. Hornstock and Schenker represented Benenson Investment, the property owner, in the October 2015 deal that allows for William Macklowe Company to develop a residential condominium building at the site.
At the beginning of this year, Mr. Hornstock finished relocating about 90 tenants for Gary Barnett’s Extell Development Company at 10 West 47th Street, a building he sold to Mr. Barnett for $74.4 million on behalf of Kenart Realties last August.
The executives are busy developing, too.
Along with Brause Realty and Gotham Organization, a group of investors led by Earle Altman and Mr. Schenker is constructing a 35-story luxury rental complex at 44-28 Purves Street in Long Island City, Queens. As CO reported at the end of last year, M&T Bank and Bank of New York Mellon provided the joint venture with $105 million in financing for the 272-unit development.
And ABS and Hudson Companies are erecting a 95-unit residential project on a three-site parcel in Williamsburg, as CO previously reported. The plan is for the two companies to erect two 80/20 rental apartment buildings at the vacant through-block site.—L.E.S.
95. Robert K. Futterman (New)
Founder, Chairman and CEO of RKF
Last year was RKF’s best ever since its founding in 1998. The firm, named for its founder and CEO Robert K. Futterman, leased almost 2 million square feet of space in 2015, up nearly 10 percent from the previous year. The New York City-based brokerage, which has 105 brokers and 46 staffers worldwide, is also currently leasing more than 2.7 million square feet of space in the metropolitan area and has more than 465 exclusive listings.
Among the notable deals that RKF completed last year were the Gap and Old Navy flagship stores, which are both brands of Gap Inc. in Times Square in June. The stores are taking 72,000 square feet of space that once housed Toys “R” Us’ flagship store at the Bow Tie Building at 1514 Broadway between West 44th and West 45th Streets. RKF’s Ariel Schuster and Justin Fantasia represented the tenants.
And then there was the Adidas trifecta of retail deals in 2015. RKF’s Jeremy Erza represented the sportswear and shoemaker in a 34,000-square-foot deal for its flagship store at 565 Fifth Avenue in December, a 5,218-square-foot transaction at 115 Spring Street in July and a 8,700-square-foot space at 454 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn in February.
RKF was also the tenant’s broker for Atlanta-based fast-food chain Chick-fil-A’s second New York City location, a 5,450-square-foot lease at 1180 Avenue of the Americas between West 46th and West 47th Streets.—L.L.G.
96. Steve Kaufman (New)
President of Kaufman Organization
The Kaufman Organization’s effect on New York’s real estate landscape has been vast ever since Samuel and Fanny Kaufman bought 45 East Broadway in 1909. Today, their grandson, Kaufman Organization President Steve Kaufman, is helping renovate the city with an expansiveness that would make his grandparents proud.
The last year has been a busy one for Kaufman’s operations and acquisitions teams, which took on massive renovations of four buildings leased to them by Extell Development Company. They were “in a state of complete disrepair, some having been uninhabited for over 10 years,” Mr. Kaufman said. The buildings have been reconfigured for the tech industry with open floor plans and updated wiring. These included 119 West 24th Street and 19 West 24th Street; 13 West 27th Street, leased for 99 years for $115 million; and the 65,000-square-foot 45 West 27th Street. The company also entered into a net lease for a former Ring property at 155 West 23rd Street.
All told, Kaufman’s team renovated 350,000 square feet of space, and the four buildings—all vacant upon acquisition—are now 70 percent rented out.
“As a result of Kaufman’s strategic rebranding efforts of the formerly neglected properties, we have seen robust interest for our office spaces at the repositioned Madison Square portfolio from a diverse group of companies,” Mr. Kaufman said.
With over 500,000 square feet repositioned in Manhattan over the past four years, the company looks forward to accomplishing something similar in Long Island City, Queens, and Brooklyn, as well as conducting a $20 million upgrade of the company’s flagship building at 450 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.
“Kaufman’s core buildings have never been in better shape, with occupancy rates close to 100 percent,” Mr. Kaufman said. “The real estate industry in New York City had one of its best years in recent history in 2015, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”—L.G.
97. Asher Abehsera (New)
Founder and CEO of LIVWRK
He started in real estate at 16 and is still not yet old enough to run for president, but LIVWRK’s Asher Abehsera is already having a substantial impact on the New York real estate market.
Since founding LIVWRK, a so-called “curated development” company (a fancy name for a developer) in 2013 after eight years with Two Trees Management Company, Mr. Abehsera’s gone all in on Brooklyn, navigating numerous major deals. Last July he sold 92 Third Street in Gowanus, an 80,000-square-foot commercial loft building, for $73 million. Mr. Abehsera bought the building in 2013 and repositioned it as a speculative office and retail property, taking on tenants including Genius Media and Cowork|rs. The building hit full occupancy in the summer of 2015.
LIVWRK also purchased the 98,650-square-foot former marine repair facility at 160 Van Brunt Street in Red Hook in 2014. The company undertook a comprehensive redevelopment program and, in February of this year, announced a deal with Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors for a 40,000-square-foot office and showroom space and repair facility.
Other properties in various stages of completion include the 350,000-square-foot Austin Nichols House at 184 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, purchased last year with the Kushner Companies (which is led by Commercial Observer Publisher Jared Kushner) and redeveloped as a premier condominium with 338 homes; and a mixed-use project at 175-225 3rd Street in Gowanus, purchased by LIVWRK, Kushner Companies and SL Green Realty Corp. in 2014.
The company’s first purchase, the 1.3-million-square-foot, six-building warehouse complex in Dumbo Heights that LIVWRK bought with Kushner Companies, Invesco and RFR Realty in 2013, has been redeveloped as an office and retail destination including, according to Mr. Abehsera, “newly renovated lobbies and roof decks, dark fiber pre-certified for Platinum Wired Certification, modernized elevators, updated heating and cooling systems, augmented security and life safety and state-of-the-art building management technology.” Office tenants to date include Etsy, WeWork, Frog Design, Alexis Bittar and Prolific Interactive and retailers Yoga Vida, Row House, Shadowboxing, Dig Inn, Untamed Sandwiches and Glaze Teriyaki. The campus’ retail area is scheduled to open in late spring.
While it’s easy to surmise that Mr. Abehsera, still in his early 30s, is just getting started, he already has much to be proud of in terms of his impact on Brooklyn’s ever-hot real estate market.
“It’s amazing to walk by 160 Van Brunt and see Tesla open in Red Hook, Brooklyn; to walk into 68-92 3rd Street and see hundreds of people creating and designing things in what used to be a forgotten derelict brick and timber building; to walk the Dumbo Heights campus and see the life and energy that has been infused into the former printing press factory buildings,” Mr. Abehsera said. “It’s very rewarding to be part of and to witness the transformation.”—L.G.
98. David Firestein and Chase Welles (New)
Partners at SCG Retail
David Firestein has the Starbucks side of SCG Retail’s business—Chase Welles has the Whole Foods side. Together, they’re representing two of the most high-profile national tenants locally.
This week, Starbucks will be opening its smallest store (450 square feet) in the city, at the new underground concourse TurnStyle at Columbus Circle. It will be an express store, providing a streamlined coffee experience.
But the coffee giant also recently announced plans for a 20,000-square-foot roasting plant in the Meatpacking District, which “will be the largest Starbucks on the planet,” Mr. Firestein said, adding, “2016 is off to a great start. “
Mr. Welles is busy working on behalf of Whole Foods in New York City and Northern New Jersey.
Last year, the grocer unveiled a value-focused brand for millennials, called 365 by Whole Foods Market.
“We are still seeking sites and are actively negotiating in the city,” Mr. Welles said.
Another client of his in the city and the Hudson Vallley, LA Fitness, signed a 38,000-square-foot deal in Queens last year and recently opened. It “has been well-received by the community,” Mr. Welles said.
The most exciting part of the last 15 months (from a real estate perspective, as he got married on Jan. 30) “is working on Industry City in Sunset Park,” Mr. Welles said. “Working with the unbelievably creative indigenous Brooklyn retailers has reminded me that retail is supposed to be fun—by the people for the people.”
Some tenants he signed on at IC in 2015 Taco Mix, Burger Joint, Moore Brothers Wine Company and furniture store Roche Bobois with a short-term lease.—L.E.S.
99. Héctor Figueroa (91)
President of 32BJ SEIU
As president of the 145,000-plus-member 32BJ Service Employees International Union, the largest property services union in the country, Héctor Figueroa spent much of 2015 fighting for 32BJ members and then celebrating some impressive victories.
First, there was the rise of wages for fast-food workers in New York City, then for workers across the state, to $15 an hour from $9. In addition, Mr. Figueroa’s leadership helped New York workers get paid family leave, and he’s also put his considerable clout behind Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing plan.
This was just the tip of the iceberg for his victories over the last year or so. Mr. Figueroa successfully negotiated new collective bargaining agreements for over 70,000 commercial office cleaners in New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia and led efforts to help over 1,400 commercial cleaners, residential building workers and security officers organize and join 32BJ in 2015. Seven-thousand airport workers were allowed to join the union thanks to his efforts and more than 1,000 New York City public school cleaners were able to negotiate new contracts and get long overdue back pay.
Mr. Figueroa looks forward to making more news on these fronts in the coming year. In May, 32BJ’s airport workers will, after a three-year fight, finally be able to bargain for a new contract, and he’s also negotiating new contracts for over 17,000 New York City security officers.
“Our victory in raising New York’s minimum wage will help millions of workers and their families across the state,” Mr. Figueroa said. “In the past year, we have seen thousands of our members stand up and win union recognition, win good contracts at the bargaining table and fight to create more affordable housing in our city. In 2016, we will keep fighting to lift up all working people in our city, in our state and across the country.”—L.G.
100. Bjarke Ingels (New)
Founding Partner of Bjarke Ingels Group
When a new development makes one stop and think, “What is that?” or “Is that really a building?” it’s probably a new design by Danish starchitect Bjarke Ingels.
Mr. Ingels’ Bjarke Ingels Group, which was launched only 11 years ago, has been known for projects that stand out—just ask New Jersey residents living on the waterfront across from Manhattan’s West Side, where Mr. Ingels designed a 21st century pyramid-like residential skyscraper for Durst Organization at 625 West 57th Street. Named Via 57 West, the property is currently under construction and set to be completed this year.
The tetrahedron rises 460 feet tall and includes 709 residential rental units and 45,000 square feet of retail space. It will also have a swimming pool, a fitness center, a basketball court, a golf simulator and a children’s playroom.
BIG is also behind the design of 2 World Trade Center, which features six dramatic setbacks that make the building look like a big staircase. The project hit a snag after Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and News Corp. dropped plans to anchor the proposed 1,270-foot, 2.8-million-square-foot tall tower, which will complete the World Trade Center site.
And even more recently, Mr. Ingels and Tishman Speyer announced a 65-story tower in Hudson Yards at 66 Hudson Boulevard. The building has terraces that cascade around the 2.9-million-square-foot office tower. —L.L.G.