A Day in the Life of Keith Kurland

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JLL’s Keith Kurland doesn’t get $1.2 billion in deals done over 12 months without having jam-packed days.

The 32-year-old starts his mornings at 6 a.m., coffee in hand. He answers emails and readies himself for the gym, a swim in his building’s pool, or a cycling class at Flywheel Sports. By 8 o’clock, he starts heading up to Midtown East from his Tribeca apartment (by train or car, depending on the day), often for breakfast with a client or lender before getting to the office. Those relationships are critical, and Kurland is in constant contact with the borrowing and lending communities from both inside and outside the office. Indeed, he spends good chunks of his day on the phone and going on property tours or client meetings. “We are always walking deals through with a client, so we can walk the lenders through why [a project] needs a specific kind of capital,” he said.

The day stretches beyond 9-to-5 work hours, and three to four nights of the week, Kurland will head out for cocktails or dinner with his clients—some of his top restaurant picks include Chuko Ramen and ZZ’s Clam Bar.

When it comes down to numbers, Kurland has a busy fourth quarter: He has $750 million in financing applications underway and a pipeline of nearly $2 billion in deals. JLL’s New York capital markets team as a whole negotiated $9.4 billion in transactions in 2015 and has reached $8 billion this year, so far. While Kurland’s book of business is primarily comprised of New York-based developers and owners, he follows them and their deals around the country. In the last year, Kurland negotiated a $240 million construction loan for a Miami condominium project. He has also done a fair amount of mixed-use development deals, including a $75 million construction loan for a creative office space in Williamsburg. He has even acted as a direct lender on deals, when working through JLL’s multifamily lending platform.

Last week, Commercial Observer had the chance to tag along with Kurland to see what it’s like to work on one of New York City’s busiest debt brokerage teams.

Photos by Andrea Chu.

8:30 a.m.

With the exception of heading to a client breakfast—Pershing Square across the street from Grand Central Terminal is a favorite, or his local spot Sarabeth’s in Tribeca—Kurland is usually in the office by 8:30 a.m. to start his day.

9:15 a.m.

Calls to clients and lenders take up a good chunk of the day—and they start as soon as Kurland gets to JLL’s offices at 330 Madison Avenue.

11:45 a.m.

Kurland grabs a car to head to lunch with a lender. “It’s not just about having a strong relationship with our clients,” he said. “Having deep relationships within the lending and equity community makes us
more effective for the borrower.”

12:00 p.m.

Sushi restaurant Hatsuhana in Midtown East, along with Sushi Yasuda, are two of Kurland’s favorite spots for lunch meetings. He heads inside to meet someone from NorthStar Realty Finance.

2:00 p.m.

Kurland talks over borrowers’ project plans with longtime friends and colleagues (from left) Aaron Appel, Mike Diaz and Jonathan Schwartz. The quartet previously worked together at Meridian Capital Group, and Kurland says that they’ve created a niche doing more creative and structured deals. “Candidly, it’s just more interesting,” he said. JLL’s New York City capital markets team alone has completed $8 billion in deals so far this year, which is “more than entire companies.”

4:00 p.m.

Kurland says that with the exception of twice a week, the JLL capital markets team relies more on constant interaction about deals and clients than having formal meetings. Here, Kurland and a colleague are looking over a project proposal for a client.

6:30 p.m.

Kurland ends the night by attending private lender ACORE Captial’s one year anniversary party at the Refinery Rooftop in Midtown. ACORE was launched in mid-2015 by former Countrywide Financial and Starwood Property Trust execs Warren de Haan, Boyd Fellows, Chris Tokarski and Stew Ward.

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