Owners Magazine 2016



In 2016, a lot of Americans—including your mild-mannered Commercial Observer editor—have gone poll crazy.

We’ve got a national election weeks away, so it’s only natural to check FiveThirtyEight, The Upshot and Real Clear Politics poll trackers six or seven times a day, right?

For a busy person, this is unquestionably a waste of time. If you check the polls in the morning, you pretty much know where the race stands in the evening. And even if there are some devastating new numbers, does finding out about them at 3 p.m. on Monday really help your side more than if you found out at 9 a.m. on Tuesday?

But more than just keeping us apprised of the horse race, I think there’s another reason polling has been such a big topic this year: America has something on its mind. The polling data is the best way to try to piece it together.

CO’s Owners Magazine can be viewed as its own kind of polling of the real estate industry—but in an extremely targeted and unscientific way.

We asked the same questions to 38 of the biggest owners in New York City (many of whom own property well beyond the Empire State) and compiled what they had to say in these pages.

For the most part, we asked questions we felt owners could have enough room to opine on: Is there a bubble in the hotel sector? What underdeveloped markets excited them? What do they think the Brexit vote will do for New York real estate? And (naturally) who are they supporting for president?

Some of our questions proved to be duds. We were hoping for a provocative answer to “Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle?” but almost nobody took our bait. Terence Cullen attempted his own answer in his story on page 8.

But we also got a strong sense of the shift that has occurred in the market over the last 12 months. We asked whether they were buying, selling or holding, and the most common answer by far was “Hold!” Readers from all sectors of real estate should take note of that.

Of course, we didn’t intend to just regurgitate whatever the owners fed us. We tried to include stories about ownership, too. Lauren Elkies Schram reported on New York’s owners like the city, or NYU—whose business is not primarily real estate—and how they manage their portfolios. Liam La Guerre took a hard look at the city’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) program and where they’re falling short. Danielle Balbi culled the data from some of the biggest owners who didn’t fill out our survey and asked who was financing their projects (page 100).

All in all, we view this magazine as a valuable trove of data. This is what is on the minds of the city’s developers and landlords. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I haven’t refreshed FiveThirtyEight in a good 20 minutes…

Nicholas Bienstock


Managing Partner, Savanna

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) The development of the Far West Side. It is already shifting the gravity of New York westward.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? When you spin a globe and put your finger down anywhere—the world seems more unstable and dangerous than at any point in my lifetime. Pick a spot: the Middle East, China, Japan, Russia, Europe—everywhere is either in crisis, prolonged lingering malaise, economic retrenchment, actual war or political turmoil. In this fractured world, the United States is the tallest midget in the room. We have our problems, but our problems are nothing compared to everyone else’s problems. In the past when Savanna has met with international real estate investors, they have always said they invest first in London and then New York. As we move into years of uncertain negotiations around Brexit, I don’t think London is first anymore. That probably elevates New York to the most attractive city for international real estate investment.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? We don’t invest in hotels, but it feels like some air is coming out of the tires.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? In New York it will leave vacancy in a few buildings, but the denominator of space is so vast that it won’t have much of an effect on the market. Those buildings will need to re-lease the vacated space, which will be expensive since WeWork’s buildout is specific to their use and is not broadly reusable by other tenants.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? We like to invest in the deepest and most liquid markets and have focused on New York City. So, in addition to investing in Manhattan, “ground floor” for us means investing selectively in the most exciting emerging submarkets in New York. But we don’t want to be pioneers. We want others to be pioneers, and we want to invest once there is a critical mass and when the trends are clear. For that reason, we like sections of Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City. They are submarkets in the heart of the deepest and most liquid market in the world, with tremendous access to public transportation, but also benefit from being in the midst of transformative investments on an extraordinary scale from multiple institutional investors.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Some assets are highly political and are lightning rods for controversy. We try to stay away from controversy. If we owned those assets, we would operate them as “white knights,” operating carefully and responsibly within regulatory guidelines and improving them over time.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? We work hard to upgrade the systems of our buildings to make them more energy efficient. Wherever feasible, we shoot for LEED certification. Large, sophisticated tenants care, and that kind of focus on making greener buildings increasingly makes a positive difference as we lease our properties.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? We have always been lenders and debt investors, as well as equity investors. We continue to lend on a selective basis when we like an asset, a business plan and sponsorship. The best lenders for developers of complex projects are those that really understand the business. That is because you can count on the fact that things will often not go as planned, and the borrower on a complex repositioning or development deal will need to work with the lender through various anticipated and unanticipated changes. A lender that really understands the development side of the business is in a far better position to work constructively with the borrower, rather than just point to the documents and say “no” because the documents don’t anticipate the situation. So I would argue that a borrower who is financing a significant development [or] redevelopment project is better off working with a lender that has that expertise in-house.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? The next mayor should focus on both making sure that the streets are safe and address the increasingly visible issues of homelessness in the heart of primary commercial districts. I recently saw a semi-permanent cardboard shanty built on Fifth Avenue in the 40s. Homeless people appeared to be living behind the cardboard. The problems of homelessness are serious and need to be addressed. But the city should not permit semi-permanent shanty’s to be built on the streets in the heart of the city’s commercial districts. That is bad for New York in every way.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Write fiction, badly.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? taylor
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones
Hillary or Donald? Can you give me another option please?
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? JG
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? ESB. Classic. Iconic.
The New York Times or The New York Post? Post. and WSJ.
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? both
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Old Fashioned
Buy, sell or hold? Buy or sell—that is the pro and con of being in the real estate fund business

John Catsimatidis


Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Red Apple Group and United Metro Energy Corporation

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) I am excited about one of my projects that will transform the quality of life in Coney Island while improving real estate values and economic development in that community. I want to create a beautiful Coney Island boardwalk with my property that will resemble a skyline and shoreline like Miami Beach. This will attract middle-class and upscale residents who will be making a long-term commitment to Coney Island. It will attract outside tourists who spend money, thus creating job opportunities. (Hopefully, we do not encounter any impediments from the City of New York—in which case I would look to move forward with some pending out-of-state alternative investments, instead.)

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? New York City will remain the financial “capital of the world”—but it needs to work to maintain this rank. Great Britain is a great U.S. ally. At this point, it needs to convince investors it is not going to allow its politics and influence to be overtaken by outsiders. I would wait and see on any London investing, until the post-Brexit scenario plays out.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Government, including New York State and New York City for not effectively encouraging investors to make a commitment. For example, I am now starting to significantly invest in St. Petersburg, Fla., real estate. Real estate developers will become more aggressive in seeking alternative regions where more government incentives are being offered.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? I am not sure it has popped—but people cannot continue to spend crazy numbers and expect to receive crazy numbers! There are just so many $2,000-per-night rooms needed. More hotel and motel investment is needed for the middle-class market rather than the emperor level.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? There maybe a little pain, aggravation and inconvenience. However, real estate developers are resourceful enough to see an opportunity to service the needs of this sector. Someone with imagination and vision will create new options. If there is a true market here, someone will fulfill it.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? I am exploring ideas and concepts in Queens and the Bronx, which can only go up in value through development, especially in the Bronx, where a lot of transit is already in place. Development usually follows transit.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? I would make a slow financing transition building-by-building, trying not to hurt or disrupt anyone already there.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? These certification “excellence” programs are worthy initiatives. But they must be compatible with builders, developers and real estate interests. The challenge is to make their standards financially attainable so that their end goals do not make the properties (and the people living and working in them) unaffordable, with liabilities. And accomplishment of these standards must yield a proven economic value.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? The next mayor must be able to build the confidence of builders, developers and real estate interests to invest. The next mayor needs to have credibility and trust with this sector.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I would be an entrepreneur in projects with the ports of New York—which is one of the most vital economic assets our region possesses.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? I don’t follow them
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? I have some interest in both
Hillary or Donald? I know both of them quite well
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State Building
The New York Times or The New York Post? <I read both
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore, especially Coney Island with its potential for a great comeback
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? I don’t drink!
Buy, sell or hold? Buy—at the right price!

Isaac Chera


Principal, Crown Acquisitions

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) The World Trade Center site. It will bring a new sense of vibrancy to Downtown that has been lost for a very long time.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? Yes…foreign capital is seeking stability that London once shared with New York—and is no longer a contender.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? Tourism is down…

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Chinatown in Manhattan, Flushing, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? Cycles have seen this before...It doesn’t last very long. We are not lending [and] have not borrowed from a developer...[but we] would if terms were acceptable.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Quality of life issues—which have declined slightly during this administration.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Real estate.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? TS
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? JG
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 WTC
The New York Times or The New York Post? Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Jersey Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? All three!

Ric Clark


Senior Managing Partner and Chairman, Brookfield Property Partners

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Between Brookfield’s Manhattan West, the Hudson Yards and several smaller projects in the area, there is a dynamic, new city coming together on Manhattan’s West Side. With good transportation, cutting-edge technologies, the world’s most innovative thinking in sustainability and design, great public spaces, abundant retail shops and amenities, and fantastic views, there will be a new definition of what a modern, world-class, mixed-use community can be, not just for New York but for the world. Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? There will certainly be investors that will redirect capital to New York because of the uncertainty Brexit brings, but we remain high on London. Brookfield is already London’s largest commercial landlord, and we are looking to do more there, as we are in New York.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? If the time and energy spent on positioning around this question were spent on avoiding it, New York City would have more affordable housing units and more construction jobs. There are no winners.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? Given existing supply and development underway, some hotels will be under pressure. But the right hotels in the right New York City neighborhoods will be fine.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? The generation driving the world’s economy today works differently than its predecessors. Smart landlords are making adjustments to help employers attract, retain and motivate that workforce. Coworking entities are addressing this, and WeWork has certainly been a dynamic, global leader in this area. Could there be growing pains along the way? Sure, but coworking is not going away.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Berlin is an exciting, high-energy market driven by creative and technology tenants. We recently acquired—and are now repositioning—Potsdamer Platz, built in the 1980s on the site of the former Berlin Wall. I like this market.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? A great asset and a better question for its new owner.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? We could not be more focused on ensuring our properties remain at the forefront of sustainability and technology. Any successful owner today needs to be. We care about how our properties are rated of course but it’s best to let the raters focus on how to convey the most accurate information market-wide.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? Brookfield is in the business. Hard to beat a developer’s understanding of the underlying collateral. We have no issue borrowing from developer lenders.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Create programs and incentives to stimulate investment in New York City’s future: education, infrastructure, housing…

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? No idea.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Kanye
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Thrones
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Mission Chinese
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? I’m a Downtowner – 1 WTC
The New York Times or The New York Post? Post then Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Tough one. South Shore is growing on me.
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber, even if they weren’t a tenant
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Old fashioned
Buy, sell or hold? A bit of each

Charles S. Cohen


President and Chief Executive Officer, Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards. It creates an entire new mixed-use community in an area of New York that’s been fallow for decades.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? I’m a big fan of London, but it’s real estate tax laws aren’t as favorable as here. Brexit has helped solidify New York City as the world’s leading financial center.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Our elected officials, who should start figuring out how to team up to serve the best interests of our city and state.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? The loss of major hotel properties through residential conversions has helped pop the bubble. The city needs more grand hotels rather than boutique ones.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? I don’t think WeWork is in danger of going belly up. It serves a very important segment of the tenant market.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? South Florida and Southern California.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Keep it as a rental and invest heavily in its infrastructure.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? I think it’s very risky. I’m not a big fan of this trend.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Reinforce what makes New York great, improve our infrastructure and our traffic flow.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Already doing it—active in both real and intellectual properties.

Tommy Craig


Senior Managing Director, Hines

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) One Vanderbilt, with its direct connection to Grand Central Terminal, open space at grade and aspirational architecture, will have a catalytic effect on transforming Midtown Manhattan into the 21st century.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? Brexit is a symptom of those forces around the world resisting further globalization. That will not help New York in the near term. As for London, the English have 1,000 years of history as a nation state with a long and distinguished commitment to liberty and self-rule. They are of but not in Europe and will, like Switzerland, present an alternative to the European political project whose reform is long overdue. So now is a good time from a relative value perspective to go long on London with the right capital structure.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? There appears to be more than enough blame to be shared by many parties.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? More than anything else, New York’s 60 million tourists a year have helped offset job losses in the financial services sector. The combination of new supply and new platforms, such as Airbnb.com, may limit future opportunities in the hotel sector.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? Hopefully, to reorganize with less debt as shared and flexible workspace is a winning idea.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? I think there will be good mixed-use infill projects with access to public transportation in New York City’s close-in suburbs. These developments will take advantage of the millennials’ cohort as their children require better quality schools—something New York City has not successfully addressed yet.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Respect its heritage as a model for well-designed middle-class housing but find a better way than rent control and rent stabilization to maintain its affordability to middle-class families.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? I would make LEED a more dynamic system that reduces the emphasis on tabulating points (which leads to a lot of copycat strategies) and allows a larger subjective score for innovative initiatives.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? SL Green has had great success in this space. Hines as a global firm is focusing its long-term growth around having expertise in all the major sectors—office, residential, retail, etc.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? If the next mayor could help roll back Dodd-Frank so that the finance sector was better than a regulated utility, the country would have better capital formation. With better capital formation, New York City might (dare we wish) put momentum back into infrastructure spending so we could rely less on the visionary planning of the 19th century and more on our own actions in the 21st century.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I would miss [being in real estate]—it’s too late to change now, though.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones
Hillary of Donald? Welcome the challenge to the status quo—time for a third party
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Neither
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 WTC
The New York Times or The New York Post? WSJ
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Neither
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Neither
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Douglas Durst


Chairman, Durst Organization

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) The World Trade Center site. The connections have all been made, and while there is still work going on at the site, the master plan has been realized, and it is more successful than imagined.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? In the short term, there will be some capital flight to New York from London. But in general, Brexit is bad for Britain, Europe and the world—and that means it is bad for New York City as well.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Ultimately, it is New York City’s property tax system that is responsible for the 421a debacle. Property taxes on rental housing in New York City are 30 percent of gross revenue, about three times higher than other cities. The taxes make the development of rental housing cost prohibitive, and therefore we need 421a to not just create affordable housing but to build rental housing. If the tax system was fixed, we wouldn’t need 421a.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? The concept of your tenants checking out each morning terrifies me. I like to stay in hotels, not own them.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? Doubtful, but people and companies can rent directly from landlords in a worst-case scenario.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? The 1970s.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? We tried and got outbid by a couple billion dollars. Sometimes losing is winning.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? These national standards are frequently problematic for urban builders, long-term owners and skyscraper developers. We get too much credit for our proximity to public transportation; often buildings are judged on how they perform day one and not over the life of the project and large buildings with lots of people in them doing energy intensive jobs (like trading) are penalized. The standards are helpful for those who are new to sustainable development, but for us they are not always useful.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? We haven’t gotten there yet, but we have started acquiring debt as a means to acquisition.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? We need to realign our property tax system to encourage the type of housing we want built. We subsidize low-density single-family homes in affluent neighborhoods at the expense of large multifamily rentals in developing neighborhoods. For a city whose growth is pivotal to its success, it is madness.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I’d be a spokesmodel.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Who?
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? I prefer bridge
Hillary or Donald? We would be thrilled to have Donald rejoin the ranks of New York City developers after the election. Of course, he would actually need to build a building.
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Mission Chinese
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? One World Trade Center
The New York Times or The New York Post? I read them all with equitable frustration
South Shore or Jersey Shore? I haven’t been to either since I was a kid.
iPhone or Android? Android
Uber or yellow cab? I take the subway
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? I like martinis without vermouth
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Justin Elghanayan


President, Rockrose Development

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards will completely transform West Midtown within the next two years and will create Manhattan’s most exciting new neighborhood.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? London hasn’t been a focus of investment for us. If financial tenants decide to relocate their headquarters to New York, we’ll be ready.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Political relationships and the number of construction projects started last year before the last 421a expired have delayed serious negotiations between the parties.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? Cycles will come and go, but I think the long-term outlook for hospitality in New York City is very bright.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? The demand for commercial space in New York City for the near term, and the long term is clear.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Getting in before everyone else has been Rockrose’s specialty for 45 years.

If you were to take over Stuy Town / Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Upgrade the buildings to Rockrose standards and improve the quality of life for existing tenants.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? Programs such as LEED need to be evaluated to determine whether they result in reduced energy use and smaller carbon footprints, or whether they are more of a marketing tool.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? We haven’t had the need to utilize any developer-turned-lenders and haven’t considered doing so ourselves.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Ensure that New York City’s economy and cultural vitality continue to attract the best and brightest, and that we have the housing to accommodate all New Yorkers.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Probably public interest work.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones
Hillary of Donald? Hillary
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Mission Chinese
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 World Trade Center
The New York Times or The New York Post? The New York Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Book of Mormon
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

K. Thomas Elghanayan


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

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Our project at 606 West 57th Street is currently one of the largest residential buildings rising in the city. As long-term investors in the Far West Side of Manhattan—we completed 455 West 37th Street over eight years ago—we’ve been able to experience the evolution of the area firsthand, and buildings like 606 West 57th and Durst’s Via 57 West will transform not only the skyline but the retail landscape. These buildings will meet the demand for modern apartments in the neighborhood and set the standard for residential buildings.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? From a competitive, relative perspective, New York has been enhanced by Brexit, as will [be] Paris, Brussels and other financial centers in Europe. We have no plans to invest in London.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? I don’t think we should play the blame game. What’s most important is that we do what’s best for our city and its residents. The issue is, if there’s no incentive program, then it’s impossible to build any affordable housing moving forward. In New York City, the real estate tax on an apartment building is around 33 percent of the gross rent. Just to put this into perspective, in the next highest city—Boston—it lingers around 10 percent. If a developer is paying 33 percent out of the gate, it’s impossible to profit and therefore a challenge to produce new housing.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? I don’t think the hotel bubble has necessarily popped; however, Airbnb has definitely had a negative impact on the industry as a whole, as millennials, Gen X and other frequent travelers are looking for more affordable options. This has led to quite an oversupply of hotel rooms.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? I don’t foresee WeWork going belly up in the near future. It’s a viable business model, and it’s a great alternative for starter companies looking to get their foot in the door in New York City. Ultimately, it’s been beneficial to our economy and a good thing for New York City.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Outside of New York. There are a lot of depressed downtown areas that are ripe for development. TFC has always thrived on pioneering new neighborhoods and there are a lot of opportunities to do this in a variety of areas across the country.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? I would’ve sold it to the residents and turned it into a condo. I also would introduce vital retail and amenities to the open spaces.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? TFC always strives to meet the requirements for these types of certifications, especially in our new developments. However, these programs ideally would offer more cost-saving subsidies to developers—as of right now, the payback period is so long that there’s no incentive to partake.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? I think it’s an interesting concept—we’re planning to lend and have looked into a few deals. What’s challenging is that developers are wary of doing this type of business with other developers because they think that the lender is just interested in “loaning to own,” which is far from the truth. We want to use our expertise in the industry to make smart judgment calls as to the economic viability of a project. I think you’ll see more of these transactions as the market gets tighter. And we haven’t borrowed.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Be fiscally responsible so that the city is able to operate on a very strong financial footing.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I’d probably be involved in some sort of financial/private equity business.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary of Donald? Hillary
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State Building
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Yellow cab
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Ziel Feldman


Chairman and Founder, HFZ Capital Group

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Seventy-six 11th Avenue—the only 900,000- square-foot full-block development site in West Chelsea, flanked by the High Line and the Hudson River. Currently under construction as a “neighborhood within a neighborhood,” it will feature all the offerings of a mixed-use development including restaurants, retail and a five-star hotel, while maintaining a level of intimacy that can sometimes be lost on a larger-scale project.

The Eleventh, as we’ve named the project, features two soaring towers between the High Line and Hudson River designed by award-winning architecture firm, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group). Connected by a podium, a series of bridges, gardens and a motor court, the towers will be the tallest buildings in West Chelsea at approximately 300 and 400 feet tall and feature 360-degree expansive views. In addition to bringing a visionary five-star hotel to Downtown Manhattan, The Eleventh offers a new strata of residential product to Downtown, with an unprecedented combination of location, architecture, interior design, views, services and lifestyle. Additionally, one of the project’s most exciting aspects is a partnership with Friends of the High Line, which is collaborating with us on a public open-air pedestrian promenade on the site that will run adjacent to the High Line.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? In the short term New York has already benefitted as London is currently not as attractive to invest in on a risk reward basis. There is a flight to “safety” taking place, and that plays very favorably for the U.S. and New York City real estate in particular.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Cyclical political winds.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? New room absorption especially at the three-star level will take 18 to 24 months to be absorbed, which will drive RevPAR down. However, there is not an over supply of five-star product Downtown, for example, where we are building The Eleventh. Reverse should happen afterwards.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Manhattan in 1994, 2009; Detroit and Philadelphia two years ago.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? It would depend on the price.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? It can be opportune in the right scenario and potentially extremely profitable.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Reinforce broken-window policing policies and reinvigorate friendly business regulations.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Lower my golf handicap.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 World Trade Center
The New York Times or The New York Post? The New York Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? Buy and Sell

Ken Fisher


Partner, Fisher Brothers

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) The World Trade Center, with its new office towers, iconic transportation hub, parks and shopping has completely transformed Lower Manhattan. In addition to its tremendous symbolic significance, the rebuilding has helped create a far more dynamic and vibrant Downtown.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? The Brexit deal won’t hurt New York City, but I’m not so sure how much it helps. That is yet to be determined. I personally wouldn’t rule out investing in London. Like anywhere else, if the deal makes sense, I go.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? There’s plenty of blame to go around, but at the end of the day it all comes down to economics. You can devise a plan around any number of parameters, but if the numbers don’t pencil out for developers, then nothing is getting built. You aren’t going to do a deal that is likely to lose money, no matter how civic-minded you are.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? Fisher Brothers is focused primarily on office and residential, so I’m not the foremost authority on the hotel market. I will say that all of the hotel development you’ve seen recently is an absolute testament to the city’s unrivaled popularity as a tourist and business destination.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? WeWork deserves a lot of credit for pioneering the coworking concept, and I admire what they have built. I’m not making any predictions about their future, but hypothetically, if a major space user like WeWork disappeared tomorrow, it would throw a whole lot of space on the market at an already uncertain time. That said, this market certainly has proved its resiliency time and again—most recently in 2008, when it withstood the rapid-fire losses of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? That’s easy. New York City. There’s no other town like it.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? I will give these programs credit for raising the bar. LEED, in particular, really forced owners to consider and ultimately embrace the concept of sustainability. At this stage, however, we really need to toughen the criteria. The top designations should be reserved for those who truly go above and beyond.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? We like it. We’ve been lending in a modest way for a number of years, and we’re currently looking at opportunities to expand smartly. We haven’t borrowed from another developer to date, but we’d consider it if the numbers worked.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Every mayor’s first duty is to promote New York City as a fantastic place to work, live and play. We’re the epicenter of just about everything—business, culture, tourism, media, you name it. We need to continue spreading the word, and that starts with the mayor.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Well, “run for president” has already been taken…I would devote my energies full time to my work with fisher house, the intrepid and the other foundations that already take up a big chunk of my time. As much as I love the work we do at Fisher Brothers, nothing is more rewarding to me than seeing the positive impact we have on people’s lives, especially America’s current soldiers and veterans and their families.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State Building
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore (that’s where I live)
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Book of Mormon
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Ira Z. Fishman


Chief Executive Officer, EVO Real Estate Group

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Clearly, Hudson Yards is the most important development in the last 50 years. This development will transform the city as we now know it. It is essentially creating an entire new neighborhood of office and residential buildings, parks and boulevards. These buildings will be the buildings of the future, built to meet the needs of the tenants of the future.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? I do not think there will be a significant effect on the Manhattan real estate market. I prefer to invest close to home.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? New York City continues to attract international and domestic visitors at record numbers. I believe the hospitality industry will continue to thrive long term.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? I do not see a long-term plan if WeWork goes belly up. It will be up to the individual owners to find replacement tenants.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? The question is, Where and what is the ground floor? Twenty to 25 years ago it was clear that Midtown West and the Printing District were beginning to attract office tenants for the first time. In retrospect, that was the ground floor for those markets. I believe Hudson Yards is at the ground floor stage now.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? I think people should stay with what they know. Leave lending to the banks, the funds and Wall Street.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? There are two major issues facing the city as I see it: terrorism and the growing homeless population. The mayor needs to work in partnership with Albany and the federal government to address these issues.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Not sure. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do when I graduated college, and I wouldn’t be sure now.

Lightning Round

Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State Building
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? I don’t drink
Buy, sell or hold? Definitely hold

Scott Galin


Partner, President and Chief Executive Officer, Handler Real Estate Organization

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards, upon completion, will become the most significant project in my lifetime, while One Vanderbilt will stand at the epicenter of the East Side rezoning.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? At this stage, it’s far too early to determine the mid- or long-term effects. Brexit is a complex scenario with multiple elements that still need to play out. We (meaning Handler) have several interests in European real estate funds that include trophy assets in the U.K. We continue to feel positive about these investments, and despite any potential short-term disruptions from Brexit, we anticipate that, longer term, London will stand among the world’s strongest real estate markets.

Has the hotel bubble popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? Hotels are location-centric, but RevPAR and ADRs are both down, so there appears to be a trend indicating the hotel market is entering the soft side of the cycle.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? I’ll be happy to share that information once we lock up the best properties there!

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? LEED served its purpose, especially in its early days, raising the level of conversation about social responsibility in real estate, when there was greater overall reluctance to accept that buildings can (and should be) run as efficiently as possible, within economic and logistical reason. Today, the market now demands a much higher baseline level of efficiency than ever before, so I’m not sure that LEED means as much as it once did. Tenants today are equally, if not more, focused on connectivity, so as a property owner it will be very difficult to attract tenants, and especially into the future, if buildings don’t make the necessary investments to provide that infrastructure.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? I’ve seen much more of this lately. We have not borrowed from a developer-lender, but we have been part of lending groups on select occasions. Lending is a subspecialty that requires its own level of expertise.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? The next mayor needs to continue to be vigilant in regards to crime and safety, which I consider to be New York City’s number one issue. I would also like to see a healthy relationship with the governor and MTA, working in unison to complete the ongoing improvements and additions in mass transit, developments and infrastructure, such as the Second Avenue subway, LaGuardia Airport expansion and others.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Teach.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Hillary Clinton
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Mission Chinese
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Hmmm...both
The New York Times or The New York Post? NY Times in the a.m., NY Post in the p.m.
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Beach
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Both
Hamilton or Book of Mormon?? Both
Martini or Old Fashioned? Chivas 18
Buy, sell or hold? Property specific

MaryAnne Gilmartin


President and Chief Executive Officer, Forest City Ratner Companies

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Rikers Island, while not currently under development but under study by the Lippman Commission, could be the most transformative place-making initiative of this decade. An ominous dreaded facility set upon 410 acres of land, the site has tremendous potential for generating economic value for the city, the state and the region. It promises to be one of the most provocative and promising land use discussions in recent history.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? I’m making the ultimate investment in London—my son just started his freshman year studying there.

The impact of Brexit on the global economy remains unclear. The market dreads uncertainty, and that is the near-term challenge with understanding Brexit’s impacts. No matter, London is a 21st century, global city and will remain such. Also, the U.K. will continue to prosper and people from around the globe will continue to look at London as a place in which to invest and live. I do think New York will benefit from London’s short-term crisis of confidence and come out ahead. But in my view, New York was always the front-runner anyway.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? I know better than to comment on that!

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? I don’t think it has popped. I think there are some readjustments that will take place. Increased supply will impact ADRs, but the city remains a magnet for tourism and business travel. As such, the hotel sector will continue to be a major economic driver for our city.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? WeWork is the most disruptive thing that has happened in real estate in a generation. I think there’s a market for the WeWork model, and it’s not the only game in town. It may be on the brink of becoming a commoditized product in a space that demands authenticity. That just means that others will cannibalize its market share, not that the business concept is flawed. The office market today is fundamentally different. There’s a creative community across many industries looking for places to work in a flexible and collaborative way. In the untethered, innovation economy, the coworking model has a lasting place (both boom and bust times) in New York City’s real estate market.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? New York City is expensive but still the strongest, most resilient U.S. market, generating the highest quality income and returns available to investors. We are witnesses of a broad, far-reaching, urban renaissance that holds promise for places like Detroit and Pittsburgh along with other formerly industrial cities. I think interest in cities with access to transportation and a wide range of diverse activities will continue. It is where people want to be.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? We have to protect the affordable part of Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village. I applaud the city for its work in that area. But we could also look at redevelopment in a way that allows for greater density and affordability. It would be a political hot potato, but it could be an extraordinary project that could create newer, cleaner housing, open space and true mixed-income housing.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? For us, it is not about reforming them. It is about building to the greatest sustainable level possible. Scorecards don’t substitute for intention. It’s the substance of the sustainability that matters.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? It is driven by a quest for yield, and I am not sure it is sustainable. We don’t plan on lending or borrowing from a developer-lender because a developer’s motivations are different than a bank’s.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Continued focus on quality of life and safety. A safe and livable city drives a healthy real estate market.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I am admittedly a hopeless developer. That said, I could see myself doing many other things—running a start up, investing in new ideas, teaching and writing—all at once.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Kanye because I have teenage boys who love him
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Hopelessly addicted to HOC
Hillary or Donald? Really?
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Love both
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? An icon is an icon—nothing beats the ESB.
The New York Times or The New York Post? NYT:Gray Lady rules
South Shore or Jersey Shore? How about the North Fork
iPhone or Android? And BlackBerry! Proud user of iPhone, iPad Pro and BlackBerry—talk, read docs and email—all simultaneously.
Uber or yellow cab? Uber (except in London)
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Must be in the room where it happens!
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? Depends upon the asset, the location and the moment

Francis Greenburger


Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Time Equities

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) I think the World Trade Center, West Street retail and Battery Park developments will have the most impact on this city. They’re at the forefront of transforming Downtown from a business community to a high-end mixed-use destination, supported by an amazing transportation infrastructure.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? The Post-Brexit era has not yet begun and chances are, the impact will be less jarring than people think. London is a great city, and if competitive returns can be found, I would certainly be a confident buyer about London’s future.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Aggressive union wage expectations.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? While the hotel bubble hasn’t necessarily popped, tourism is certainly off because of the currency valuations making New York City more expensive for most travelers and increased competition from apartment rentals.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? We don’t have any exposure to WeWork but clearly demand for this kind of coworking space is real, even if WeWork’s current financial model does not work.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Markets that are fundamentally sound but going through cyclical times would be most appealing to me.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? It should be converted to condominium ownership.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? Narrow the scope of their requirements so more people are inclined to buy in.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? I don’t have a lender mentality, as it’s a much different business from owning property. And no, I am not lending.

Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? No.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? I’d like to see the next mayor set more realistic rent-regulation policies and stop raising real estate taxes.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I’d probably get involved with other types of investing while pursuing my socialpreneurship passions in art, education and criminal justice reform.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Hillary
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 World Trade Center
The New York Times or The New York Post? The New York Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Yellow cab
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Neither—I only drink wine
Buy, sell or hold? Depends on what, where, when and how much. For the most part, I like to hold.

Jeffrey Gural


Chairman, Newmark Holdings

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards is a spectacular project. When you tie it in with the High Line and the view of the river, I just think it’s magnificent. There will be a lot of residential there also—all of this development really takes the West Side and makes it a very viable location.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? The thing that New York has going for it is stability. Brexit caught everyone off guard, but it only helps New York. At my age, I’m not really interested in investing in foreign countries. I’ve learned that it’s best to stick to what you know, which for me is the tri-state region.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? There is plenty of blame to go around, and it’s hard to pick one person. I’m not in the residential development business, but I think affordable housing is very important, and I think it’s in everyone’s best interest that they resolve this issue as soon as possible.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? I’m not really in that business but I do worry that Airbnb is a threat, and in general I see so many hotels being built. We’ve owned real estate in the Garment District forever, and I remember when there were streets that you would be afraid to walk down—West 39th between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, for example—and now there are around six hotels on that block. It’s amazing to me how many hotels have gone up. Like anything else it comes down to supply and demand, and when you’re throwing Airbnb into the mix—it’s certainly not a business that I would want to be in right now.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? I have no idea! Every time I visit a WeWork facility, it looks very busy, but on the other hand we haven’t gone through a recession yet. It’s certainly possible that when you have a business expand as quickly as they have, they may suffer if we hit a downturn in the economy. But I don’t have them as a tenant anywhere.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? I still think there is opportunity in Long Island City and also in Jersey City. We own some property in Jersey City. The PATH train is just like the subway and residential rents are half of what they are in New York. So, I wouldn’t say it’s the “ground floor,” but at the end of the day, there’s a limit to what people can pay in rent. My son and my nephew have bought some properties in Long Island City, which is three stops away on the subway, and one of my sons lives in Red Hook—it’s really challenged because of transportation, but again it’s a great area and there are beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? That’s not my area of expertise. I’ll leave it to those who know what they’re doing when it comes to that, but it’s a prime piece of real estate.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? My nephew handles that for me. At my age, I’m just happy when I turn the light switch on and the lights go on! Having said that, President Obama said something last week that should concern all of us—that it’s an absolute certainty in 20 years that South Beach will be underwater, and we can expect Superstorm Sandy-type events as a common occurrence. So that really does concern me. How many Superstorm Sandys do we want to go through? A lot of New York is on the waterfront. If the president is correct, that is something that we really have to address here.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? No, I haven’t. We aren’t in that game.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? We have to continue to address the income-inequality issue, and try to create as much affordable housing as possible. We also have to make sure that the police department continues to do a terrific job. [Former Police Commissioner] Bill Bratton was terrific, and there’s nothing more important than people feeling safe. We have to continue to improve race relations, but by and large I think New York is a melting point, so I think it’s something we do a pretty good job at.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I own a couple of racetracks and horse farms, but my first love was really construction. I have a degree in civil engineering, and if I wasn’t in real estate, I would be in construction.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Hillary
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Mission Chinese
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State Building
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Jersey Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Yellow cab
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton, I’ve seen it twice—great show
Martini or Old Fashioned? Old fashioned
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Marc Holliday


Chief Executive Officer, SL Green Realty Corp.

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) While the Hudson Yards and World Trade Center projects are certainly noteworthy, we have chosen to stake our claim at Grand Central with the One Vanderbilt project. The potential strategic location value of Grand Central Terminal is incredible, and yet for many years this submarket was overlooked as its office stock failed to keep up with the rest of the city. One Vanderbilt, which is in the earliest stages of construction, will be the catalyst for the resurgence of the area. Already we are fielding calls every week from world-class companies and their representatives who are planning ahead and want to be part of what is destined to be a remarkable transformation.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? Given the longstanding cross-Atlantic rivalry between London and New York City as the world’s leading financial centers, it’s only natural that any disruption for one will likely benefit the other. So, yes, New York stands to gain. But London should come out fine and will still be a compelling investment play compared to some of the financial centers on the European continent. The extent will be dependent on the details of Brexit that are still not clear. That said, New York City is our sole focus at SL Green, and we have no current plans to invest in London.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? New York City. Of course, we’re already here, and it’s our 100 percent focus as we continue to take advantage of the best market opportunities. We simply don’t know of any other market that’s stronger, deeper and shows more growth potential.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? Debt investment is great for those who know what they are doing—and could be treacherous for those who don’t. We have been involved in the debt business for nearly 20 years. Over that time we have developed an unsurpassed franchise specializing in debt and preferred equity investments that takes advantage of our deep knowledge of the New York market. SL Green has emerged as the lender of choice for many real estate owners with whom we have long-standing relationships.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Peel back unnecessary regulations, which seem to be proliferating at an alarming rate, along with overly burdensome corporate taxes.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I would train thoroughbred horses. Apart from my role at SL Green, I am a horse owner, breeder and a big fan of racing.

Lightning Round

South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
Buy, sell or hold? All of the above. Always.

Jonathan Iger


Chief Executive Officer, William Kaufman Organization/Sage Realty Corporation

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards. Between the master planning behind it and the underlying technology, it’s truly going to be the world’s first “smart city” within a city. Related and their strategic partners are going to be able to track everything from waste usage to greywater runoff to energy demand—you name it. Once complete, it’s going to teach us how to build better buildings.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? A lot of it depends on what happens with Scotland and Northern Ireland and whether they secede from the United Kingdom. If that plays out, the effect on trade is going to be devastating, and that will have an enormous impact on London’s economy. At the same time, this can only help New York. Uncertainty in the U.K. may drive foreign investors to the perceived safety of New York City real estate. Outside of New York City, London is one of three or four stable international cities where there’s a flight to safety for capital, but for some investors, they might not view London as safe any longer, particularly for investors with longer-term outlooks.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? I don’t believe we’re in a bubble. New York City’s record tourism numbers are only continuing to increase, and growing neighborhoods like Hudson Yards and Lower Manhattan are going to require additional hospitality to address the changing demographics in those areas. Some of the challenges that hotels have to deal with relate to how they respond to the increase in supply from new hotels plus the shadow inventory supplied by Airbnb as well as to how they go about creating a unique experience that distinguishes their product from the competition. This couldn’t be more in line with commercial real estate today. The boutique hotels today create synergies between their communal public spaces, restaurants and hotel rooms, which enhances the overall experience for the guest. Through our amenity spaces, renovated common areas and lobbies, and other shared hospitality-type services, we strive to create a similar unique experience for our tenants.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? I don’t see the core concept of WeWork going away. I can’t speak directly to their growth strategy, but what they’ve done is popularized the coworking space model, which is here to stay. In fact, WKO recently launched a short-form leasing program at 767 Third Avenue that provides space users of various sizes with shorter lease term options, flexible floor plans and full access to all shared building amenities and workspaces. Our goal is to bridge the transition from coworking to a traditional office environment. I plan to roll it out across our entire portfolio.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Right here in New York City. My family’s been in the Manhattan real estate market since post-World War II. We are long-term investors and long-term holders. That’s our core competency. There is no better market.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? I would engage residents and the community at large by hosting events and bringing in retail pop-ups, similar to what we do with our plazas and our office buildings. There’s a great workforce down there, but it needs a sense of community.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? I understand and agree with the importance of WiredScore and programs like LEED and EnergyStar, but I don’t believe that you need to pay for a score to be defined by that. We offer the same level of connectivity and telecom services that these organizations use to create the score without paying to be certified. We make all the information about building specifications available on our website.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? Developers understand the market and the requirements of other developers better than any other lender, and overall, I think it’s a good thing. WKO is not currently lending, but I do see the upside in it. I have not borrowed from a developer-turned-lender because it doesn’t fit in with our portfolio strategy. We currently manage six buildings totaling 3 million square feet of core/core-plus assets in Manhattan, and we are borrowing from commercial banks or insurance companies.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Reinstate 421a, expand the Midtown East rezoning plan and reduce regulation across the board.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I’d be a tech investor.

Lightning Round

House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Jersey Shore

Steve Kaufman


President, The Kaufman Organization

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards: A whole new city is being built on the West Side of Manhattan (close to a number of existing Kaufman Organization properties). With the extension of the 7 subway line and the amount of retail and residential coming up, this is a transformative project for that part of the city.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? I agree that New York will come out ahead and don’t see a significant effect on New York City’s commercial real estate market.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? From casual observation as someone who walks around the city, due to the huge number of upcoming hotels, I wouldn’t be surprised if the bubble has popped.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? There’s plenty of room for expansion in the coworking area, as the percentage of office space that’s being used for this area is still relatively small.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? The Bronx, which is the only area that would have ground floor at this point; certain sections are showing signs of gentrification.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Keep it as a middle-class housing enclave in Manhattan—which we need more of.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? Kaufman has not borrowed from a developer-turned-lender, though would consider if it was a competitive deal. Kaufman is not considering getting into the business ourselves.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Lower real estate taxes (but that won’t happen)…

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Be Bruce Springsteen.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Neither
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Hillary
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Mission Chinese
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State Building
The New York Times or The New York Post? The New York Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Use both, no preference
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? They’re both great
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini, extra dry
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

David Kramer


President, Hudson Companies

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? Second Avenue subway and the BQX Connector.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? I never leave the five boroughs, but post-Brexit, it figures that more international money will flow into New York City over London.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Albany, obviously.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Southern Brooklyn, Queens along the 7 train and South Bronx.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? I wouldn’t change much; it’s the perfect market rental.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? Don’t know, but I will say that there’s going to be a lot more Passive House in our future.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? We’re not in the lending game, but we’re talking to a few. I think it makes a lot of sense—developers who are strong underwriters will make good lenders.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Mayor de Blasio will be reelected, and he should keep doing what he’s been doing—working to improve [the New York City Department of Buildings], investing in housing, investing in long-term infrastructure improvements like the BQX, keep crime down and try his best in Albany.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Broadway producer.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? TS
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? BoJack Horseman
Hillary or Donald? Hill
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? ESB
The New York Times or The New York Post? NYT
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Berkshires
iPhone or Android? BlackBerry
Uber or yellow cab? Tie
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? BOM
Martini or Old Fashioned? Wheat beer
Buy, sell or hold? Tricky

Jared Kushner


Chief Executive Officer, Kushner Companies

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) The Watchtower properties. The project will provide the best opportunity for creative companies in New York City and set a new standard for office space.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? New York City will come out ahead as a safe place to invest capital. London will be fine in the long run.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Politics.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? Tourism in New York City will continue to increase over the long run, so I’m bullish.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? Self-operating locations.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? New York City.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Own it for a very long time.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? Anything that gets us on a path toward more sustainable buildings.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? Yes, [I lend] and yes, it’s smart. Owners have a good sense for the risk that comes with lending.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Make it easier to build so both office and housing demand can be met.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Chef.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones
Hillary or Donald? Family first
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Second Avenue Deli
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State Building
The New York Times or The New York Post? Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Jersey Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Yellow cab
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Old fashioned
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Robert Lapidus


President and Chief Investment Officer, L&L Holding Company

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) 425 Park Avenue, which will be the first new block-front office building on Park Avenue in almost 50 years. It will redefine the trophy office property in New York.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? There will be a temporary influx of capital to New York City, but London is a global gateway city, and long term, it will remain one of the best cities to invest in.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? There is a near term oversupply of hotel rooms, which has been exacerbated by Airbnb, but they will all get absorbed over time.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? Of course, there is potential for risk when you are obligated on long-term leases and your income stream is based upon short-term tenancies, but the coworking concept is here to stay. There are sophisticated investors behind WeWork, and our exposure to them is minimal.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? New York City.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? I would maintain it as multifamily housing and improve the buildings gradually over time.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? I’m not enough of an expert to say how, or even if, these individual programs should be reformed. We are actually working to achieve a new standard—the WELL Building designation—at 425 Park Avenue. The WELL system takes sustainability to a whole new level because it requires steps to improve the overall health, wellbeing and productivity of the tower’s future residents.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? We are not currently lending, but we would consider it. I think it’s a very smart place for developers to go; the returns are good, and if a problem arises, they can take over the project.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help New York City? The next mayor should continue the quality of life initiatives started by Giuliani and Bloomberg.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I would most likely work in the music business as an agent, promoter or venue operator.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 World Trade Center
The New York Times or The New York Post? NY Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Tequila
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Richard LeFrak


Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, LeFrak

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards. It brings major commercial activity further west and south in the city.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? People are overestimating its negative impact. It won’t make a difference to New York. The strength or weakness of the pound will be the key to London investments.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Politics is 100 percent to blame.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? It’s popping right now, which means more competition and lower returns.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? There’s nothing to stop spaceusers from creating their own WeWork culture.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? New York, LA, Seattle and Miami.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Keep it as a rental property. That was my plan when I bid on it.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? Change its criteria. Make it more amenable.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? I borrow conservative first mortgages from institutional lenders. That’s it!

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Be more business-friendly.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Never thought about it. Being a developer is my whole life.

Lightning Round

Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Jeff Levine


Chairman, Douglaston Development

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) I cannot point to one specific project; however, I do think that one of the most transformative initiatives has been the reexamination of our waterfront here in the city. There has been a major push to reimagine these once manufacturing zones; they were long vacant and inaccessible but are now being rezoned for a different use. It has been extremely transformative watching new residential and public areas come to life from Long Island City to Greenpoint to our master development in Williamsburg. I am very proud of our Edge master development site in Williamsburg, as it has activated and completely transformed the community from an industrial park to an active and vibrant destination residential community with ferry landing, public pier, park and retail.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? The immediate effect of Brexit is the softening of the pound sterling, which will bode well for tourism and hospitality, and we hope it will benefit our soon-to-be completed hotel, The Curtain in Shoreditch. Brexit may benefit the New York City metro area because it will be seen as a safe harbor for investors.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? It is very clear that this has turned into a debacle. Elected officials are hesitant to change the underlying residential tax structure; assigning blame is not the solution for us at this time. There needs to be a consensus to come up with a program that adjusts or restructures taxation on new developments to where a tax incentive like 421a is not needed. Currently, the underlying tax code does not support new development, and that has to change if we want to continue to build housing for New Yorkers of all income brackets.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? There is no question that both leisure and business travel are economy dependent. There is also no question that the economy has and continues to have an anemic recovery. The effect of this, coupled with progressive agenda that is increasing the cost of operations through increased health care and wage costs, has already had a negative impact and will continue to have a negative impact on the industry.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? I am not in the commercial office space and therefore have no horse in the race, but if WeWork should in fact fail, it might present an opportunity to buy buildings in which they are principal tenants and reposition them as appropriate.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? I believe the largest market in the next decade will be created by the need for independent and assisted living resulting in the coming of age of the baby-boomer generation. These opportunities exist in lower cost and warmer locations such as the Carolinas and Arizona.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village could very intelligently be reconfigured through tenant relocation and selective demolition to permit new construction of high-rise residential buildings that would take advantage of the location’s retail amenities and transportation. With a well thought out plan, this area could create more affordable housing units than what exists now to meet the mayor’s affordable housing goals.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? LEED would benefit from a more streamlined documentation process, as well as lowering the certification fees to incentivize developers to use the green and sustainability building initiatives that are good for a building, its residents and the environment. StarEnergy is straightforward as it is.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? I prefer to have your money in my pocket than you having mine in yours.

Are you lending? No.

Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Never.

Would you? Yes.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Focus on reducing crime, improving education, building affordable housing and creating an employment-friendly environment.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Rabbi.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? The Beatles
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? I’m with her!
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Corner Bistro
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 WTC
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Coney Island
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Yellow cab
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Do I hve to choose?
Martini or Old Fashioned? Scotch
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Anthony E. Malkin


Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Empire State Realty Trust

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? Special purpose installs like theirs are made for one thing, and that is probably to what purpose they will be put. Or else scrape it clean and start again.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? LEED is really behind the times, bloated overhead which offers a scavenger hunt for points for high-priced real estate, which really does not move the sustainability needle. They are lost. They should adopt a program of investment- and return-based sustainability steps, for instance what we have pioneered and which is encompassed in Tenant Star. Progress is leaving them behind.

WiredScore is excellent, simple and straightforward…you either have it or you don’t.

EnergyStar will be greatly enhanced with the EPA’s new TenantStar program, rolling out soon. By offering recognition to tenants who participate in energy-efficient design and construction of their spaces, TenantStar will be a game-changer.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? A lot of people in real estate investment are in a strange Pirandello play right now…Instead of six characters in search of an author, they are investors in search of investments, and mission creep hits from time to time. Our leverage is very low, our sources of capital are traditional, and we are focused on our embedded, derisked growth right now.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? No regrets, no “would have, should have, could have” here.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? ESB!!!
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Post
iPhone or Android? BlackBerry
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Book of Mormon
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini

Sandeep Mathrani


Chief Executive Officer, General Growth Properties

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards. It’ll transform the West Side—development of a city within a city.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? Yes, New York is attracting more foreign capital.

Has the hotel bubble already popped? Yes.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Fifty-second to 57th Streets on Fifth Avenue.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? Should only be done if one wants to own the asset.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Doctor.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Kanye
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 World Trade Center
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Yellow cab
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? Sell

Ron Moelis


Chief Executive Officer, L+M Development Partners

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? Essex Crossing.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? New York will come out ahead because we are a well-governed city with progressive views, which draws international investment.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Donald Trump.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? There are a lot of new hotels, but I’m not in a position to say whether it’s a bubble or because tourism is up.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? With or without WeWork, the concept will live on. Creative coworking space is great and is something millennials are excited about.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Newark is an up-and-coming market with a lot of positive energy.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? I would continue to operate it as it is.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? New strategies and more implementation of Passive House standards.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? I am not a proponent of “lend-to-own.” If we loan, it’s usually to a partner as part of a development strategy.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Focus on quality affordable housing as a preventative health strategy and how we can further integrate wellness with housing, education and more usable open space.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I would be in a socially impactful area of venture capital.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Kanye
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Hillary
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Red Rooster
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State Building
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Westchester
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Joseph Moinian


President and Chief Executive Officer, The Moinian Group

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) New York City is too large of a place for one single development to have a transformative impact on the city at large. That being said, I think that the completion of the series of buildings rising on the Far West Side has the potential to not only transform the city’s skyline but redefine the way that cities within cities are developed throughout the world.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? We’ve always been strong believers in the continued strength and resiliency of the New York City marketplace; therefore we always like to think that New York will come out ahead, no matter the circumstance. Additionally, since Brexit will basically be a negotiation over the next two years, New York has the opportunity during this time to gain some momentum and pull ahead of the U.K.

As for investing in London, we currently don’t have any plans to do so, but never say never.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Placing blame doesn’t matter at this point. It’s important for the local government to gather around one table and come up with a quick solution that satisfies all parties.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? It hasn’t popped. Occupancy has stabilized and there have been a growing number of tourists taking flights to our local airports. It’s only a matter of time before New York City hotels regain their ADR.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? It’s premature at this point to begin the speculation of WeWork’s demise. It’s safe to say that coworking is here to stay, and WeWork will certainly be competing with a growing pool of similar companies.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? The Far West Side.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Sell it to Jonathan Gray.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? There needs to be more knowledge and awareness surrounding these three programs. I would recommend a more extensive marketing program to promote them as much as possible because they’re an integral part to the smart growth of our city.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? I think it’s a smart play. If a developer is lending, they have a deeper understanding of the back-of-the-house operations in real estate and would be more sympathetic to the needs of the entity they’re lending to versus a regulated banking entity.

I would consider lending, but only in the markets that I’m very familiar with and active in.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? The next mayor should be sympathetic to the needs of the industry and put a curb on real estate tax and real estate tax increases—this would deter companies from moving out to neighboring cities across New York.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I would be in some type of finance role and play the drums during my free time.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Hillary
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 World Trade Center
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? Android
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Toby Moskovitz


Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Heritage Equity Partners

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Transportation is key. Between the Long Island Railroad expansion to Grand Central, the Second Avenue subway extension, upcoming L train repairs and expansion and upgrades at LaGuardia Airport, New York City is being positioned to better service the growing population and increasing desire for millennials to work, live and play in urban centers. New York is arguably the greatest city in the world, but the transportation needs another boost to match the incredible development going on here. Especially as we become a center for the technology, innovation and maker markets, these infrastructure projects are all critical for the present and future success of New York.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? New York is seen as a “safe haven” for international investors. Brexit will likely enhance that sentiment, because we are a stable market with a diverse economy, with growing opportunities for development and investment as new markets emerge throughout the boroughs. Real estate values have historically risen in New York. I expect that to continue.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? The benefits of 421a were so strong that I think as a whole we took them for granted, and when the time came to renew, we were not as prepared as we needed to be. It may take a little time, but my sense is that we’ll get this issue straightened out. There’s simply too much at stake.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? There’s always a danger in talking about an overall market, especially one as big as New York. Over the past several years we have seen a huge shift from the last hotel cycle, where mega hotels were the norm, replaced this time with boutique offerings. Many keys have been added to the inventory, but I see demand for new hotels, especially as emerging neighborhoods continue to change market dynamics. Sophisticated travelers who have been to New York many times want to stay in great neighborhoods out of the city, including Williamsburg, Bushwick and Brooklyn Heights.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? The coworking industry is a crucial part of the ecosystem of an entrepreneurial economy, and I am optimistic that this trend will continue. What will continue to be very interesting is the influence of the coworking culture on traditional office buildings and how owners design, build out and lease their space.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? Tenants across all sectors want to know that their office space provides them with the ability to access the web with speed, scope, and reliability in a manner that supports their existing and emerging technologies and platforms. Tenants are also committed to responsible citizenship, and LEED certification and clean energy standards are a crucial part of that. Both LEED and WiredScore are important parts of our development at 25 Kent Avenue.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? I am looking at a number of growing markets on the East Coast and look forward to building great mixed-use projects outside of New York as the urban movement continues to expand throughout the country.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Ensure that it is well run and that it receives appropriate upgrades to keep up with modern times. There will likely never be a project quite like it again in New York City. The scale is far too difficult to replicate, although, I would love to see a project of this scope come to Brooklyn one day.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? I have borrowed from many real estate owners and operators and believe that this form of lending is crucial for the market to maintain the liquidity necessary to support the growing needs of the population in New York. Banking regulation continues to discourage construction lending and private real estate families are a critical pocket that can help bridge that gap in the market.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Work in concert with the governor so that they speak with more of a collective voice, with a focus on safety, security and continuing the advancement of the city’s infrastructure.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Become a storyteller.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Anyone opening a kosher restaurant
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State Building
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Fifty-state road trip with the kids
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Jason Muss


Principal, Muss Development

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards is still the most significant project, but the expansion and upgrades at LaGuardia Airport are huge for New York. Bringing in tourists and business travelers is the lifeblood of a world-class city, and the way we had been doing it there was not great. I think Vice President Biden agrees with me on this one.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? New York will come out ahead if it continues to pursue common sense policies that welcome businesses, keeps crime low and produces enough housing to meet the demand. I don’t think it has anything to do with London or anywhere else. Brexit has probably been overhyped as it pertains to impacting the U.S.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? The problem is that 421a has been turned into a class issue when it is really an issue of what is good for the city and state. 421a translates into deals that make sense for developers and thus more desperately needed housing. We shouldn’t treat 421a’s profitability as a problem. It’s a prerequisite.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? The idea that the hospitality industry is in a bubble is ludicrous. When more than 50 million people a year visit a single city and that city is the most famous city in the world, how can that be a bubble? Especially when the number of visitors has been gradually rising for the last 20 years. RevPAR and occupancy levels have actually held firm, even in the wake of additional supply and Airbnb taking some of the lower-end business. The financing market will probably prevent some of the supply that has been proposed from actually happening; historically the market has done a good job of regulating supply.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? The plan should be that those subtenants make direct deals with the landlords, who will then have more leases to write and more handholding and TI work to deal with.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? If I didn’t have family and business ties to New York City, I would find a democratic country in South America or Asia with strong population growth, a fair regulatory environment and reasonable taxes. I would then look for the largest city there—one that is hopefully as geographically constrained as Manhattan or Boston—and buy multifamily properties. That would involve a lot of travel and a steep learning curve but would pay off. Bogota, Colombia or Bangkok all come to mind.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Run it conservatively and hold it in the family forever. Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village is a blue chip property, and I am sure the new owners know what they are doing. It is impossible to recreate that kind of community in New York.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? I love doing business with fellow developers, but I wouldn’t want to be their borrower or lender, unless there is some kind of special circumstance. We enjoy longstanding relationships with some of the best and oldest banks in the country and look to continue that.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? I would ask him or her, as we have of previous mayors for many years, to keep in mind the needs of employers in this city. Don’t overregulate mom-and-pop retailers and businesses; don’t force them to pay above-market wages or make it difficult to wade through mazes of regulations. Don’t overfine them. We hear stories from our tenants, from the far reaches of Staten Island up through Queens and Brooklyn through Midtown. Some are suffering quietly, but don’t ignore them! As far as landlords like us, who have been operating in New York City for more than 100 years. There aren’t many of us left. While we can’t take our real estate out of New York, we can invest our new dollars into other cities, and many have been doing that. We choose to do new deals here and expect to continue to do so.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Teach or go into politics.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Game of Thrones
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? No clue
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? ESB
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore!
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Yellow cab
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton, but both are great
Martini or Old Fashioned? Neither
Buy, sell or hold? Buy and hold

Michael Phillips


President, Jamestown

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? Hudson Yards.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? Yes, New York will come out ahead post-Brexit.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? There is always an ebb and flow, but I think tourist demand will remain strong in New York.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? The new workforce is dependent on flexible office space, so regardless of WeWork’s future, I think there will be need for creative coworking space in the long run.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? LEED has served as a good roadmap for green innovation, but it’s flawed and WiredScore and others fill in the gaps.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? It’s an interesting time, and we’re in the lending game on a selective basis.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Continued improvement at the New York City Department of Buildings to improve street management and better control construction and road closures.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I’d circumnavigate by sail before it’s too late.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Bloomberg
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Industry City
The New York Times or The New York Post? The New York Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Maine
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Driver
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? All of the above

Eran Polack


Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of HAP Investments

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) I don’t think there is one project that is transforming the city. Instead I see several projects continuing the trend of revitalizing different areas of the city. The Hudson Yard project is creating a new center for businesses and residents in Midtown West. Also, the World Trade Center is showing strength and the ability to bounce back from a crisis. Lastly, all the new projects in the Bronx are showing the endless demand for real estate in New York City.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? London is a tax “safe heaven” for foreigners who moved there. New York City is definitely not like that, so the fact that prices for real estate are declining in London and that New York City is not a tax shelter for foreigners, leads me to believe that the Brexit won’t have a big influence on New York City.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? Everyone and no one. 421a is a very important program for the city supply of affordable apartments and jobs in New York City. Also, it makes it easier and more profitable for investors, both domestic and international, and developers to participate in real estate.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? I think that I can only answer that question for the long run. New York City is the easiest city to be a tourist in since everybody speaks English—not like Paris where most of the people speak French. The signs in the street are in English and not in Chinese as they are in Shanghai; the menus in restaurants are written in English and not Italian as in Italy. Countries around the world are going through major changes, and I think that in a few years everyone will shift to a four-day workweek giving people more free time to travel, and New York City will keep on being one of the top sites for tourists. So in the long run the hotel and hospitality business will continue to be strong and successful.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? I think WeWork is a very innovative company that has a creative, sustainable business model. If something goes wrong, landlords will find alternative methods and platforms to find tenants for their office space.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? London.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? The Stuy Town project is huge and has so much potential but has failed in the past. In order to be profitable, the business model must be balanced. I would wait for the J-51 to expire, and then I will preserve one-third of the units as affordable, maintain one-third as market rate rentals and sell one-third as condos.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? Attainable sustainability goals are a must for all project types—a responsibility for all types of developers.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? I am not lending. I do believe that this is a positive thing because the developers that are lending money have a vast understanding and knowledge of the real estate industry. On the other hand, the developers will always have a big appetite to own the property.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? I hope that the next mayor will be able to work with the governor, as well as New York City developers to bring back the 421a program in a similar way or create a new program that offers similar benefits for developers.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I would be a teacher. I place a tremendous value on education and continued learning for everyone. I think that you’re never too old to learn something new.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Middle Eastern music
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? I don’t have time to watch TV, so I haven’t watched any
Hillary or Donald? I can’t vote
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 World Trade Center
The New York Times or The New York Post? Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Miami Beach
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Book of Mormon
Martini or Old Fashioned? Martini
Buy, sell or hold? Buy, sell and hold

Dan Rashin


Co-President and Chief Executive Officer, Rockefeller Group

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) The biggest impact will come from infrastructure projects, not real estate developments. The extension of the Long Island Railroad into Grand Central is one and the extension of the Second Avenue subway is another. Getting people more efficiently to business districts is key to the real estate industry.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? Brexit hasn’t yet happened and, more importantly, the terms of a Brexit haven’t even been proposed, let alone negotiated. As such, it is impossible to predict what will happen in New York or London. However, what we know is that the Brexit vote has created uncertainty and a lot of market noise. Property prices in London have reacted and some players have jumped in. London will survive as a financial capital. The real question is what happens to Europe. I can’t see that New York comes out any worse, but I don’t foresee a dramatic shift toward New York as a result of Brexit.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? At this point it doesn’t really matter. Finding a solution matters.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? The demand for hotel rooms will continue to increase over time. Supply may have jumped a bit ahead but in the medium to longer term, it will be absorbed, and the market will continue to expand.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? If there is demand for this type of space, the market will figure out how to supply it and price it.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? I’d focus on overlooked infill markets with superior access to public transportation.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? I believe that benchmarks and well-defined goals are important. It is always helpful, when pushing owners and developers to adopt practices, that benefits are identified and, in some cases, quantified. Two challenges with programs like these are to avoid becoming stale and to keep up with and encourage innovation.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? Sometimes developers better understand the risks of complex projects; other times you are just inviting the fox into the hen house. While I wouldn’t rule it out, we are not in that business at this time.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Focus on 1) safety of our residents, commuters and visitors, 2) infrastructure and 3) striking the right balance between the needs of our communities and the businesses that create jobs and revenues that support them.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I’d probably have found a branch of law to explore, other than being a litigator, which is what I was doing in 1984 before I entered the real estate business.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? At my age, Led Zeppelin
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Can I buy a vowel
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State for New York. 1 World Trade Center for the United States.
The New York Times or The New York Post? The Times in the morning, the Post in the evening
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Coastal Connecticut
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Yellow cab all day long
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Can’t answer until I get a ticket to Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Old fashioned
Buy, sell or hold? Buy, sell and hold

Gregg Schenker


President and Co-Managing Partner, ABS Partners Real Estate

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) The Midtown East rezoning will change New York City for the next 100 years if passed, with sufficient density to encourage new development. Calatrava’s World Trade Center complex and the Fulton Center transportation hubs, along with new Lower Manhattan hotels, apartments and retail shops, have dramatically changed Downtown Manhattan into a “live, work, play, shop” destination with first-class modern office buildings. However, Hudson Yards is the active project that will most transform New York City, due to its extraordinary scale. This former low-density industrial and semi-industrial area had long been obsolete and will now be an integral part of the city’s future.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? London will come out ahead. I admire the courage of the people of England to stand up for what is best against the urging of their politicians, who are often compromised of shorter-term views and/or special interests. Independence will lead to economically viable trade deals and freedom.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? We have seen a lack of governmental leadership at the local level; political maneuvering between city and state officials; and the transmission of inaccurate information to the public for political posture. The 421a program has been extraordinarily important for many decades to enhance the economic viability of new multifamily development in New York. Ultimately, I am confident that the political powers entrusted with the good will of the people of New York will extend the program, along with 80/20.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? Significant new hotel inventory has been added to New York City, and it was widely anticipated that absorption would take time and RevPAR would be affected. Owners that are not well capitalized could be impacted. My concern is the deterioration of the quality of life standards in this city, which Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg worked to enhance. Their accomplishments are at risk of further deterioration, absent intervention. This problem could easily cast a shadow over economic activity, business and residential development, and tourism growth.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? The high-quality modern work environment created by WeWork is transformational. If it’s ahead of its time, a successor will likely follow.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Brooklyn and Queens. The opportunity for growth there is extraordinary, particularly in low-density areas near substantial infrastructure, which is part of the mass transit system. We should not underestimate the inherent value of mass transit.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? I would maintain it as middle-income affordable housing, as originally intended. This would benefit the families presently living there and the future generations of New York City residents. An additional focus might be related to housing for teachers, firefighters and police.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? The WiredScore system has been influential in the ABS team’s efforts to maintain the highest level of service available for our tenants, at the most competitive pricing. Standardized specific benchmarks with line-item detail and a comparison matrix would add value.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? Given the present low-interest rate environment, we have been borrowing, not lending. ABS has not borrowed from developers.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help New York City? The No. 1 priority is keeping the city and its residents, visitors and workers safe; hire more police, encourage them to serve and support them in a steadfast manner. Given the large budgetary allocation for education, it’s also important to continue being vigilant in providing the best possible education for young people. Then, clear policy initiatives, a thoughtful budget, balanced incentives for new commercial and residential development, and a substantial affordable housing initiative to provide a platform for the future of diversity, sustainability, workforce housing, and business attraction and retention.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Work to help others.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? Not familiar with either
Hillary or Donald? Change—overturn Citizens United vs FEC
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 World Trade Center
The New York Times or The New York Post? The New York Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Southampton
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Yellow cab
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Neither—club soda
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Larry Silverstein


Chairman, Silverstein Properties

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) I have great difficulty in giving you any objectivity here, because of the fact that I spent 15 years of my life rebuilding the World Trade Center. How could I focus on anybody else’s development? The residential population has tripled in the last 15 years. No other part of the city has grown to the same degree. You put it all together, it’s a great place to work. It’s a great place to live. It’s a great place to visit.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? I think New York comes out ahead in the short term, not in the long term. Brexit long term is bad for Europe. It’s bad for the European Union. It’s bad for the common market. I think the European Union will come apart. That’s not good for London; that’s not good for the European Union; that’s not good for New York either, because uncertainty doesn’t work well for anybody. That’s my concern.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? I don’t know. I think there’s no purpose served in trying to access blame. What’s needed, however, is a much more affirmative attitude, and that is getting back together again—getting back to operations. So whatever has to be done, whoever has to do it, needs to get on it and move forward with it. We need 421a if we’re going to have rental housing in New York.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? Well we’ve got plenty of hotel rooms. But the truth is that for the first time Lower Manhattan will have a five-star Four Seasons hotel. It’s happening. From that point on, we’ll have a five-star hotel a block north of the Trade Center, which will be another dimension for everything else that’s gone on around here.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? Oh graces. I don’t know. WeWork is doing very well. They’re in a number of locations with significant investment in each of those locations. I can’t see any reason why they should go belly up. I hope they don’t.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? I would probably go to the submarkets of New York City. I would look seriously at the South Bronx. I would look seriously at waterfront property in Brooklyn or anywhere in the metropolitan area. I find it very exciting. Of course, anything that comes up in the city is hard to resist not looking seriously at.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? We are the first LEED-certified office building in New York here at 7 World Trade Center. It’s done very well. People are now enormously energy conscious, efficiency conscious and environmentally conscious. Any new initiative that’s out there that can help all of us we have to look at seriously. I think we’ve done that with LEED certification, and it’s gone very well.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? I think it’s a subset of much of what we do. Have we gotten into it? No. What will happen tomorrow? Just don’t know. Like anything else in life you need to keep your eyes open. You need to be flexible in thought and you need to look at the opportunities and decide as to whether or not they’re for you. What will happen in the future? Who knows? Don’t know. But anything is possible.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Whoever is in office should work diligently to keeping New York safe, keep the economy strong, making sure that we have a top-flight educational system, a top-flight mass transit system and quality of life has to be maintained at a very high level. Because these are the benefits of New York, and we under no circumstance want those benefits to diminish in any sense.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Well, since I’ve only been at it for 60 years, it’s hard for me to think of any other alternative.

Lightning Round

Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? It’s hard for me to resist not taking 1 World Trade Center
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? I thought both shows were fascinating and very interesting. The more exciting, to me, of the two was Hamilton
Buy, sell or hold? Do I like to by? Yes. Do I like to sell? No. Am I a holder? Very much so.

Jonathan Simon


Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Simon Baron

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards. It’s the next great New York City neighborhood.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? I do think New York will come out ahead. It’s more stable, and there’s only one New York. London in the short run will be scary, but that’s usually the time to buy.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? There’s a lot of blame to go around and a lot of politics at work. The unfortunate reality is that the middle class will end up paying for this because there will end up being a lack of new rental housing, which in the long run will drive up rental rates.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? There’s a lot of new supply coming into the market, but New York City is and will continue to be a global city that attracts people from all over the world. Long term I believe well-conceived projects will do fine.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? I don’t see them going belly up. They provide a very unique product. They may be overvalued in the short run, but the model should continue to work. I wouldn’t be surprised if the valuation goes from $16 billion down to $4 billion overnight.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? I would continue to focus on urban markets where demand drivers are consistent. At the end of the day, it’s all about basis, but being on the right side of the demand equation is also important. We are very active in a few emerging submarkets that we are excited about including Long Island City, North Williamsburg/Greenpoint and Downtown Los Angeles to name a few.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Rental apartments.

How would you like to reform LEED, WiredScore and StarEnergy? We look for opportunities where it makes financial sense to implement industry best practices. I think it is important to be conscious of the greater issues and our role in being the progress we want to see. With issues such as climate change and urbanization becoming hot points in today’s greater conversation, I think certifications like these continue to be useful guiding metrics for developers to measure themselves against and help drive a collective effort to respond to these enormously important issues.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? It’s a natural extension of the business, especially if you are vertically integrated and comfortable taking over the real estate. We have not yet as we have been able to create the most value through creative repositioning and development, but it is certainly something we would consider down the line.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? He or she should work toward pragmatic solutions to solve issues such as homelessness and affordable housing and should focus on public transportation as a tool to connect the outer boroughs to create a better quality of life for all New Yorkers.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? I have always been fascinated with being a trader. I like the action.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Kanye
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Donald (my wife wants to kill me)
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Mission Chinese
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? 1 World Trade Center
The New York Times or The New York Post? The New York Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Hamilton
Martini or Old Fashioned? Old fashioned
Buy, sell or hold? Hold

Norman Sturner


President and Chief Executive Officer, MHP Real Estate Services

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? Related’s West Side Project.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? London was supposed to compete with NYSE…not!

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? It’s a cycle; it will return in another two to three years.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? Why would anyone mention “WeWork” and “belly up” in the same sentence?

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? Manhattan in the 1970s.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? We would not acquire—it’s not our business.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? More middle-class housing, better inner-city transportation, more cops on the streets.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? Teach.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Hillary!
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Neither
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? ESB
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Times
South Shore or Jersey Shore? Jersey Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Yellow cab
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Neither
Martini or Old Fashioned? Beer
Buy, sell or hold? Buy and sell

David Zar


Principal, Zar Properties

What project currently under development will most transform New York City? (And why?) Hudson Yards—it is more than just a neighborhood: It’s a city within a city. Most importantly, the participation from the largest developers in the city and commitment from signed powerhouse commercial tenants like BCG (Boston Consulting Group) and retailers such as Neiman Marcus solidifies that.

Post-Brexit, will New York come out ahead? And what are your thoughts on investing in London? There are still many uncertainties from Brexit, so it’s too early to tell. London remains a financial and cultural capital, and the world’s most visited city, so while it’s personally not part of our investment criteria, it will continue to attract the world’s top individual and institutional investors.

Who’s to blame for the 421a debacle? De Blasio and nobody else. His policies are a detriment to New York City.

Has the hotel bubble already popped, and what does that mean for hospitality? No. Our city continues to attract tens of millions of tourists annually from all over the world, and those numbers continue to increase. Limited-service hotels are the largest segment to enter the market and those rooms appeal the most to tourists.

What’s the plan (or should be the plan) if WeWork goes belly up? The coworking concept continues to be popular, so I find it to be unlikely. WeWork also happens to be one of our tenants, so I hope that is not the case. However, the worst-case scenario for us and other landlords is that we would be left with a beautiful, all-glass, office-intensive installation.

If you were going to get in on the ground floor in any market, where would you go? An affluent location within close proximity to New York City—Greenwich, Conn.; East Hampton, N.Y. We generally are long-term holders, and past experience has indicated that those areas can withstand all stages of the real estate cycle, specifically a downturn in the market.

If you were to take over Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village, what would you do with it? Keep those units affordable and find alternate ways to maximize IRR and remain profitable. Maybe work with the city for incentives or air rights? I also feel like the residents are underserved on the retail side so maybe develop and create a retail component within.

What do you think about developers getting into the lending game? Are you lending? Have you borrowed from a developer-turned-lender? Would you? In such a competitive market, developers need to try new unconventional ways to generate a return and build relationships. At the same time investors have an alternate way of obtaining capital in a market when lenders are becoming cautious and tightening their standards. If it works, it works.

Looking to the 2017 election, what should the next mayor do to help NYC? Come up with an intelligent, long-term plan to alleviate the growing homeless population. Housing them in scattered hotels is a convenient Band-Aid, but it’s not solving the underlying problem. Secondly and simply, be unbiased and fair to every resident, commuter and constituent—from the landlords who cover a considerable portion of the city’s revenue to safeguarding the working class that our city most heavily relies on.

If you weren’t in real estate, what would you do? My hobbies are music and rock concerts, so it would likely be a combination of those in the music industry. It’s still not too late—when our portfolio reaches 100 percent occupancy I’ll take a summer off and intern at Live Nation.

Lightning Round

Kanye or Taylor Swift? Taylor
House of Cards or Game of Thrones? House of Cards
Hillary or Donald? Donald
Mission Chinese or Jean-Georges? Jean-Georges
Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center? Empire State Building
The New York Times or The New York Post? New York Post
South Shore or Jersey Shore? South Shore
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Uber or yellow cab? Uber
Hamilton or Book of Mormon? Book of Mormon
Martini or Old Fashioned? Old fashioned
Buy, sell or hold? Hold