Paul Massey Taps SL Green Exec to Run de Blasio Challenge (Not That He’s Running)


While he has yet to officially announce his Republican candidacy for mayor, Paul Massey has selected his campaign manager: David Amsterdam from SL Green Realty Corp.

“Yes, Mr. Massey has had extensive discussions with David Amsterdam, whom he greatly trusts and admires,” Bill O’Reilly, a Republican political operative and spokesman for Massey (not the television commentator), told Commercial Observer. “And, yes, if Paul were to run for mayor, Mr. Amsterdam would be his number one choice to serve as campaign CEO. That’s all I can say for now.”

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Before coming to SL Green (SLG), Amsterdam was an associate director of global brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield (Massey’s current firm) where he did landlord and tenant representation work. Amsterdam left C&W for SL Green in April 2011 when he was 29 years old, an SL Green announcement at the time indicates, and joined as a vice president in the leasing department. He represented SL Green at the beginning of this year when Music Choice re-signed a lease for its 52,959-square-foot offices at his company’s 328 West 34th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, as CO previously reported.

“I hired Dave Amsterdam when he was 21 years old and he worked for Cushman for [seven] years,”said Augustus Field, a vice chairman of brokerage at Cushman & Wakefield. “Honestly, I can’t think of anybody better. If you knew Dave and you knew how focused and energized and driven he was—it’s just a natural fit.”

Field’s colleague, who was part of the team to hire Amsterdam at C&W, John Cefaly, an executive vice chairman, said of Amsterdam: “He comes from a bit of a political family. His mother was in politics in Philadelphia. David’s kind of a natural politician himself. I think he’s a fantastic human being. And he’s a great organizer.”

Amsterdam didn’t respond to a request for comment and a spokeswoman for SL Green declined to comment.

Massey, the 56-year-old president of C&W’s investment sales division, has been mulling a run for mayor for about a year, about six months after he and Robert Knakal sold their middle-market investment sales company, Massey Knakal Realty Services, to C&W for about $100 million. He told that to CO poolside at the Wynn Las Vegas while attending the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon at the end of last month.

Since being at C&W, Massey said he has been “pitching in.” That includes “helping the folks who are running our old business. And still rainmaking in a big way for the firm.” His clients include Mount Sinai Hospital, the Brodsky family and the Weatherly family, he said.

Early this year, Massey launched a social welfare political advocacy group, 1NY Together, which he has since shut down so he can focus his attention on a potential run for mayor in 2017. He has been floating his potential bid for mayor at events, like a gala the Tenement Museum on Tuesday night. “A decision would certainly be made by the end of the year, likely far sooner than that,” O’Reilly said.

Massey, who described himself as “socially liberal but fiscally conservative,” is routinely meeting with political and real estate figures. But Amsterdam is the first real estate professional that has been named as part of the campaign team.

In terms of a political platform, Massey is still hashing it out, but four of his main issues of concern are a safe city, better schools, affordable housing and infrastructure.

“What’s our infrastructure plan? And what’s our plan for new and growing infrastructure?” Massey said, “Like where’s the next High Line, where’s the next 7 train extension, [the next] Hudson Yards, where’s the next Cornell Tech? I think people want that vision but as we continue to move toward a campaign we are going to be talking to a lot of folks and a lot of different communities and we want to hear from them what they think is important.”

He added: “Everyone I meet with, I’m asking them [what issues they care about],” Massey said. “It’s kind of like Ed Koch with ‘How am I doing?’ ”

In order to run for mayor, Massey, who dwells in Larchmont, N.Y. with his wife, would need a New York City address. He took care of that issue in mid-October 2015, renting a unit on East 36th Street and Park Avenue, nearby where Knakal used to reside before he moved to the Upper East Side.

As for skeletons in his closet, Massey—the father of two daughters, 19 and 24, and a son, 26, who works at Brookfield Property Partners—said they only include paying his “taxes late during the recession when we were having a hard time” and getting kicked out of college “for not studying as hard as I should have.” That college would be Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., but “I fought my way back in and graduated with great grades my last few semesters.”

Field’s affection for Massey is obvious; the C&W vice chairman called the potential mayoral candidate “an extraordinary human being.”

He added: “I’m going to do anything in my power to help Paul. I think he would be the best thing that would ever happen to New York City.”