CO’s 30 Under 30: The Best and the Brightest of NYC Real Estate
The young leasing and sales professionals to watch in 2017—and beyond
“In real estate,” Ian McCarthy of Ten-X told Commercial Observer, “you gotta get punched.”
McCarthy might have taken this grain of wisdom a little too much to heart in that he has taken up a sideline as a boxer, but he’s right. Buying, selling, leasing, orchestrating a loan, investigating what goes wrong with a collapsed bridge or erecting a half-million-square-foot office tower comes with its own pain and struggle.
But it’s best to get in the blows while you’re young. It builds character and mettle.
That’s largely what we’re seeing in the men and women chosen for this year’s annual young professionals edition: grit.
From the world of sales and leasing we discovered brokers (under the age of 30) who prowled the farthest reaches of the tri-state area to close deals; who wended their way into their bosses’ good graces by stringing their tennis rackets; who oversaw and implemented environmental and sustainability programs for the biggest landlord in the city. And many more.
Likewise, from the debt and equity side, we found a collection of finance whizzes (all under the age of 35) who did their trading by the tens of millions. Wait. Scratch that. By the billions.
And as for the architecture, engineering and construction side of the business, the pros (under 35) have come up with master plans for massive city transit hubs; they have designed showroom spaces for Swarovski; and they have come up with the electrical systems for international hotels.
Now that most of them are finished with the first part of their career, one can only imagine what awaits them next.—Max Gross
Ariel Ball, 29Vice President, Consulting Group, CBRE
Ariel Ball just had a 2-million-square-foot year.
The CBRE vice president and New York native, who grew up in Peter Cooper Village, serves as a consultant on the tenant side of the business, focused on advising clients on office space. When News Corp. and Fox inked their combined 1.2-million-square-foot short-term renewal and expansion at 1211 Avenue of the Americas, she had a pair of leases under her belt that most real estate professionals can dine out on for a very long time.
“We went through kind of a crazy roller coaster of possible deals,” Ball said. She had been working with the sister companies for five years, well into the days when Rupert Murdoch was playing footsie with Larry Silverstein to serve as anchor tenant for 2 World Trade Center (the deal fell through in early 2016). But after the dust settled, Ball helped the companies find their bearings in Midtown.
“I’m 100 percent client-facing,” Ball said about her work. Her job entails “understanding [a tenant’s] workplace and occupancy, what they have today, what they need for the future…and ultimately what is the best result, whether it’s renewal or relocate.”
In addition to Fox and News Corp., she helped Estée Lauder renew two whopping leases in August—220,000 square feet at 767 Fifth Avenue and 170,000 square feet at 110 East 59th Street. Other clients have included L’Oreal, HarperCollins and ING, and she is currently working with IBM, the Consulate General of Japan and Ann Inc.
Ball has real estate in her blood; her mother, Mira Graetz-Ball, worked within MetLife’s real estate investment arm. And she has been involved in the business for a long time. When Ball was a student at Emory University, she started as a summer intern at CBRE in 2007, doing second and third stints in 2008 and 2010 before landing in the company’s Wheel Program—an 18-month immersion in commercial real estate for recent and soon-to-be graduates. At CBRE, she was immediately taken under the wing of Kyle Schoppmann.
In addition to everything else she’s got going, the Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, resident is vice chair of CBRE’s Tri-State Women’s Network. “I am most proud of our continued relationship with Bottomless Closet,” Ball said in an email, “a nonprofit organization that helps New York City women enter the workforce.”—M.G.
Brandon Berger, 28Director, RKF
In his first four years as a commercial real estate salesperson, Brandon Berger was a finely tuned real estate machine, working from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. But then he learned from his more senior colleagues, RKF’s Ross Berkowitz and Brandon Eisenman, that if he kicked it up a notch by working even longer hours, he would earn bigger dividends.
When he started working from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, his career as a retail specialist really took off, Berger said. That “overdrive,” Berger said, contributed to his landing two notable exclusive clients: Rumble Boxing and Cava.
Berger had been co-representing the landlord, law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, at 700 Broadway this January when Rumble Boxing showed interest in leasing space at the property. Berger and the chief executive officer of the fitness studio “had good chemistry,” and in the end, Berger worked on both sides of the deal. From there, Rumble Boxing tapped Berger to scout out locations for additional studios. This May, the retailer signed a 10,000-square-foot lease across an entire five-story building at 1495 Third Avenue on the Upper East Side.
He won over Cava—a Mediterranean fast-casual food chain—during a pitch. This March, he brokered a deal for the company’s third space in New York City, 2,880 square feet at 325 Park Avenue South. Cava opened this summer, and Berger is working on the company’s New York City rollout.
Berger’s work extends beyond tenants. Indeed, he said his time is split 50-50 between landlord and tenant representation. On the landlord side, he represented Rudin Management in Steve Madden’s 10,257-square-foot lease for an 18-month pop-up shop at 3 Times Square, a deal signed in May. And he represented Winter Properties in January in a 5,122-square-foot lease with Quality Eats at 3 East 28th Street.
It’s not a surprise that Berger landed in the retail real estate business. He was always interested in real estate, New York City (he grew up in Westchester, N.Y.), food, fitness and fashion. And his father was in the business at Berger’s age, at the defunct retail brokerage, Garrick-Aug Associates (RKF founder Robert Futterman worked at Garrick-Aug).
Berger interned at RKF over two summers while working toward his bachelor of arts in economics from Rollins College. After graduation, Berger worked for three years at Zelnick & Company, initially as a canvasser. He made the move to RKF in September 2013.—Lauren Elkies Schram
Anand Bhatia, 29Vice President, Bhatia Development Organization
After earning his bachelor’s in economics from Carnegie Mellon University (he has since also earned an MBA with a real estate concentration from Columbia Business School) Anand Bhatia spent four years in the Leadership Development rotation program at Tishman Speyer before joining the firm his father, Arun Bhatia, started in 1978.
With a real estate legacy all around him—his grandfather, Ishwardas Bhatia, was a prominent real estate developer in Bombay, India, and his mother, Asmita Bhatia, worked in real estate strategy for Citigroup—there was never any doubt that he would wind up in the business.
“Real estate was always a central part of my life,” Anand Bhatia said. “It was a daily part of my life growing up. I went to construction sites when I was very little, and some of the doormen from these buildings remember me from when I was a kid. As I did internships, I found that real estate was something I was passionate about.”
Since joining Bhatia Development Organization in 2014, Bhatia has been tasked with seeking out new investment opportunities and business ventures. His key achievements over the past year include the completion of over $160 million in financing transactions with institutions such as Helaba Bank, CIT, Wells Fargo and New York Community Bank; coordinating efforts in four separate lease transactions for the firm’s retail holdings in Soho, Noho and on the Upper East Side, including a lease extension for The North Face at 139 Wooster Street; and predevelopment of 10 West 17th Street, a $90 million, 15-unit luxury residential condominium in the Flatiron District.
Through it all, Bhatia maintains the same enthusiasm for real estate that he had all those years ago.
“I love that real estate combines finance, strategy, design and management, and every day is different,” he said. “Also, it’s tangible—I love the architecture. Whatever I’m working on, I love being able to see the final product on the streets of New York for a very long time.”—Larry Getlen
Lauren Calandriello, 26Director, JRT Realty Group
Lauren Calandriello never expected to go into real estate while growing up in Manasquan, a small beach town on the Jersey Shore. But while studying abroad in Rome during college, she happened to befriend Ryan Smith, whose mother, Jodi, is the chief executive officer of JRT Realty Group.
After graduating from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s in psychology and communication, Calandriello had a short stint at an IT staffing firm before landing at JRT. Jodi Pulice, who came up in the world of commercial real estate with few female colleagues, has set out to recruit more young women into the business. She hired Calandriello three-and-a-half years ago, and the now-26-year-old hasn’t looked back since.
As part of the team repping the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, Calandriello helped the city of New York lease a million square feet throughout the five boroughs this year. She’s also getting firsthand experience with up-and-coming office markets in the outer boroughs. Her team is working on leasing up two South Bronx warehouse-to-office conversions, the Bruckner Building at 2417 Third Avenue and Union Crossing at 825 East 141st Street. Across the river in Queens, she’s involved in finding tenants for the 16-story office tower at 24-01 44th Road (a.k.a. “Court Square Place”), as well as Kaufman Astoria Studios’ new ground-up commercial building under construction at 34-11 36th Street.
Ultimately, Calandriello is grateful she found her way to JRT, one of the few woman-owned brokerages in the city.
“There’s not a lot of women in the business, so it’s nice to work for a woman-owned company and have female mentors,” she said. “I didn’t even know commercial real estate was an option for anyone.”
In keeping with that ethos, she takes part in Cushman & Wakefield’s Women’s Integrated Network, which helps women network, cold-call and present better. She also volunteers with an organization called iMentor, where she helps guide a high school student in Harlem through the travails of preparing for college.—Rebecca Baird-Remba
Matthew Colantonio, 28Investment Sales Associate, Schuckman Realty
In 2013, when he was on a San Diego Padres’ minor league baseball team (and later in the season when he went to the Columbus Clippers), Matthew Colantonio would get to the ballpark at about 1 p.m. for practice. The games would start at 7 p.m. He’d get home at around midnight for a few hours of sleep, wake up and spend his mornings selling real estate for Massey Knakal.
“We decided there should be a way where I could work remotely,” Colantonio said. He had started working at Massey (the company has since been acquired by Cushman & Wakefield) in the offseason, and even though he was on the West Coast, he was involved in the office’s Soho, Nolita and Hudson Square business. But the career of a professional athlete is never a very long one. “I decided after the 2014 season that if I didn’t get promoted to the major league level for the 2015 season, I’d begin my real estate career fulltime.”
Even when he was a real estate rookie at Massey, however, he showed he had the chops to compete; as part of Robert Burton’s team, he was heavily involved in the $17.9 million sale of 37 Crosby Street, the $14 million sale of 62 Thomas Street and the $9.6 million sale of 19 Howard Street.
More than two years ago, Colantonio—a married, Brown University graduate who grew up on Long Island, N.Y.—left for Schuckman Realty.
“Ken [Schuckman], the president, had been wanting to get a dedicated investment sales team going,” Colantonio said of the decision to switch firms. And it would seem that Colantonio’s decision has paid off. He has closed millions in deals in the tri-state area.
“Downtown Yonkers [is a market] I’ve been heavily involved in,” Colantonio said. In January he closed the sale of a $17.5 million, 44-unit mixed-use property in the area. In addition, he has another two properties in contract, and he’s negotiating another five to 10 deals.
Of course, Westchester is not the only place Colantonio has homed in on. He recently leased a 2,100-square-foot ground-floor retail space to clothing store De Janeiro (asking rent was $225 per square foot) at the Mobil Building at 150 East 42nd Street. Since January, he’s closed $33 million in sales and has another $10 million in contract with another $10 million to $20 million currently under negotiation.
“I’m all over the place,” Colantonio said, “the outer boroughs, Westchester—wherever the best opportunities are.”—M.G.
Richard Corde, 27Associate Attorney, Rosenberg & Estis
If you read The New York Post, (or the New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times for that matter), you might have come across the story of Samuel and Irving Morano, two brothers who pleaded guilty this summer after selling and attempting to sell $4.5 million worth of illegal ivory in the back of their shop, Metropolitan Fine Arts and Antiques at 10 West 57th Street.
Richard Corde, of Rosenberg & Estis, is the guy who terminated their lease for illegal activity on behalf of the landlord and is currently trying to get back possession of the premises. (Corde declined to name the landlord, but records indicate it’s Sheldon Solow.)
It’s an interesting question whether a lawyer should really appear on a list of real estate leasing and sales professionals, but when you’ve got your hand so deep in the life or death of leases (as Corde does), it seems a little fussy to keep him off.
Real estate was clearly something that Corde had a hankering for well before becoming an attorney; after graduating from Union College with a degree in economics, Corde did a stint at the Durst Organization before enrolling in Brooklyn Law School.
“I grew up with the Dursts in South Salem,” Corde said when asked how he came to that particular job. Knowing that he was leaning toward a career in law, Corde worked in Durst’s legal department, helping manage the firm’s options for its commercial tenants.
After law school, Corde decided to continue in real estate, going to Rosenberg & Estis (with which Durst apparently does a lot of business).
Since then, Corde has gotten involved in the web of tenant-landlord litigation, as well as lease and contract negotiations. Sometimes, Corde has drafted complex contracts splitting up businesses; sometimes, he has served as the Ed McMahon of real estate, presenting rent-stabilized tenants with life-altering money to get them out of buildings that his clients want to redevelop. (The Ed McMahon analogy is “painting myself in a nice light,” Corde said and laughed.)
“I’ve had to negotiate with opposing counsel at sites,” Corde explained. One time, when he showed up to an apartment for a negotiation, he found that tenant’s cat had died and there was a service going on for it.
Corde is stalwart in keeping his clients (which include a number of national real estate investment trusts) hush without their consent, but at least one name would be recognizable: Michael Shah’s Delshah Capital. And Corde talked about some serious projects he has worked on, including delivering what is now a 300,000-square-foot Chelsea building currently in development (he can’t say which one). —M.G.
Evin Epstein, 25Sustainability Analyst, SL Green Realty Corp.
Over the past decade, the issue of sustainability in commercial real estate has gone from a novel, elective concern for many landlords to an imperative, economically prudent facet of property ownership. In her role overseeing and implementing the sustainability program for the city’s largest commercial landlord, SL Green Realty Corp., Evin Epstein is playing a larger role than most.
The Great Neck, Long Island, native initially joined SL Green as an intern while still a student at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. “It was actually my dad’s idea—he knew that Marc Holliday was a Lehigh alum,” Epstein recalled. So she wrote the SL Green chief executive officer expressing her interest, as an environmental studies major, to assist the real estate investment trust’s sustainability initiatives.
The rest is history: Epstein interned at SL Green both her junior and senior years as an undergraduate. After receiving a master’s in environmental policy design at Lehigh, she briefly worked for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Sustainability before rejoining SL Green in the fall of 2015. Today, she works with Elizabeth Majkowski, the real estate investment trust’s senior vice president of operations and director of sustainability, to implement its “all green” initiatives across a tri-state portfolio of 76 properties spanning a combined 33 million square feet.
That work includes everything from energy efficiency projects at buildings, to tenant engagement and community outreach, to industry leadership in the realm of sustainable practices. More recently, Epstein managed SL Green’s participation in the de Blasio administration’s “Carbon Challenge”—which sees the company targeting a 30 to 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions at eight of its properties over a 10-year period—as well its pursuit of the highest LEED and WELL certifications possible at its massive One Vanderbilt office development near Grand Central Terminal, which she noted “is projected to have one of the lowest carbon footprints [of a building its size] across New York City.”
When it comes to sustainability, real estate has become a boom market—and Epstein plans to see that market develop firsthand. “I definitely see myself staying put [at SL Green], seeing how quickly this sector of real estate is evolving.” —Rey Mashayekhi
Jonathan Franzel, 26Associate, Newmark Knight Frank
For Jonathan Franzel it was a case of being in the right place at the right time.
Over the summer of his sophomore year at Hamilton College, Franzel was stringing tennis rackets at Grand Central Racquets when he “had the good fortune” of stringing the racquets of Nick Berger.
Franzel and Berger, a managing director at Newmark Knight Frank, became friendly, and Berger introduced him to his boss, David Falk, for an “informational meeting.” Falk offered him an internship on the team, and Franzel has never left.
The former captain of the Hamilton tennis team (whose mother, Joanne Franzel, is in the real estate practice group at law firm Gibson Dunn) plays with some of the industry’s machers, and that has opened doors for him. “I developed my own network on the tennis court,” he said.
A year ago, he and the 11-person NKF team led by Falk were tapped to lease the south campus of the Hudson Square portfolio belonging to Norges Bank Investment Management, Trinity Church Wall Street and Hines, representing 3 million square feet. Within eight months, the NKF team leased 60,000 square feet to online men’s razor company Harry’s at One Hudson Square (in June) and 94,740 square feet to coworking giant WeWork (in March) at 205 Hudson Street.
The Harry’s deal, he noted, has been the most “impactful” one of his career.
“I just think it was such a big part of really transforming the portfolio and just from a branding perspective such a great deal to show the tenant and broker community that we’re able to get the most progressive tenants in Midtown South,” the 26-year-old said. “To be honest, these buildings need a lot of love and a lot of improvements. It was great to see a tenant that understood our thesis.”
He is proud to have worked on the “entire execution plan” for Caspi Development’s 161 Bowery and 135 Bowery, each 20,000 square feet. The NKF team leased a total of 13 floors between both buildings. Leasing finished at 135 Bowery this July and 161 Bowery in September 2016.
Franzel was the point person on the assignment.
“There were no almost no high-paying office users on the Bowery before we started marketing those buildings,” he said.
At 161 Bowery, the team signed leases with Kik Interactive and Tune. At 135 Bowery, they signed deals with TradeWind Markets and Bullish.—L.E.S.
Jason Gold, 29Director, Investment Sales, Ariel Property Advisors
Jason Gold was sitting shiva for a friend in the real estate business five years ago when he met Shimon Shkury, the founder and president of Ariel Property Advisors.
At the time, the Brookville, N.Y., native was doing office leasing at what today is called MHP Real Estate Services, after a short stint at a commercial brokerage firm, Winoker Realty, which became EVO Real Estate. (He’d scored the Winoker job, which was his first in real estate, by applying on LinkedIn.) Gold kept following up with Shkury, and eventually, the Ariel president told him that he seemed like a good fit for the firm’s Bronx investment division.
When he started at Ariel in the summer of 2012, he had only been to the Bronx twice to go to Yankees’ games. Then he started taking the train uptown to Morrisania, to Highbridge, to Tremont and reading as much as he could about the borough. Within a year, he was overseeing all of the brokerage’s sales in the Bronx. In the four years since, Gold has helped broker more than $600 million in sales throughout the borough, ranging from huge packages of multifamily buildings to sprawling industrial sites.
Two of his big-ticket deals happened in 2014 and 2015, when the investment market in New York City—and the Bronx in particular—was frothy. In June 2014, his team helped Two Trees Management Company unload an 18-building portfolio in Morrisania to Arker Companies for $85 million. The following year, he represented J.P. Morgan Chase and Continental Properties in the $90 million sale of a 13-building portfolio to Emerald Equity Group.
Then last year, he helped assemble a $21 million development site for Treetop Development at Gerard Avenue and East 144th Street in Mott Haven. Eventually, Treetop hopes to break ground on two 12-story residential towers spanning 360,000 square feet.
Although the Bronx is challenging and—at least to some investors—off the beaten path, Gold said he enjoys showing developers why they should put down stakes in the borough. He gives investors tours of the South Bronx and touts the fact that property values have risen dramatically in many of the borough’s neighborhoods over the past five years.
“It’s been kind of a fun test in the past couple years for me to show and explain why the Bronx should be the next place for people to invest,” he explained. “Not because the bricks are so cheap but because of the opportunity the borough offers and the yield you can achieve for your investment here.”—R.B.R.
Alexander Golod, 29Senior Associate, CBRE
The first deal where Alexander Golod really felt in the zone in real estate was something he came up with on laughing gas.
He was still a fairly unseasoned CBRE broker at that point when he went to his dentist’s office (with his parents escorting him, no less) to get his tonsils removed. The building, at 110 East 55th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues, had a number of doctor’s offices—“I saw a woman being wheeled out in a wheelchair when I came in,” Golod remembered—and one seemingly out-of-place financial company: Senvest.
Golod made a point of noting that a financial services company might want something a little more corporate.
A week later, when he had recovered and the effects of the anesthetic were long gone, he cold-called Senvest and asked them if they wanted to see some real estate. The end result was that Golod got the company a 10-year 7,000-square-foot lease at 540 Madison Avenue for $95 per square foot.
Even though the deal was inked a number of years ago, one senses that Golod still feels the charge of a great deal that he came up with on the fly. It’s the spirit of a competitor. “I have a sports background—I played lacrosse in college,” the Dickinson College graduate said. “I enjoy the competition aspect [of real estate].”
The engaged Upper East Sider, who grew up on Long Island, got an internship with CBRE when he was a junior in college and has remained with the company since graduating. While Golod represents both landlords and tenants, on the tenant rep side of the business he’s focused primarily on financial clients: hedge funds and private equity and asset management firms.
Just in the last year, he represented PGIM (Prudential’s global management investment arm) at 180 Madison Avenue, where the landlord leased 123,846 square feet to New York University; tenant iCapital Networks for 17,573 square feet at 60 East 42nd Street; and tenant Arxis Capital for 29,952 square feet at 623 Fifth Avenue.—M.G.
Mike Hernandez, 29Associate Vice President, TerraCRG
Mike Hernandez was working his first post-college job in the gym at Chelsea Piers when a customer introduced him to Ofer Cohen, the founder and president of TerraCRG. Cohen gave him an internship in July 2010, and over the past seven years, Hernandez has risen up through the ranks of the Brooklyn brokerage as an expert in industrial and commercial properties.
The Chelsea native has taken part in over half a billion dollars’ worth of sales so far and currently has $80 million worth of deals in contract.
When embattled owner Haysha Deitsch sold the controversial nursing home at 1 Prospect Park West to Sugar Hill Capital Partners for $84 million last October, Hernandez and his team were involved. In August 2016, he helped negotiate the $39.5 million sale of a warehouse-turned-residential building at 315 Seigel Street in East Williamsburg, from Acuity Capital Partners to Sugar Hill Capital Partners. (Coincidentally, this is another property with a history of troubled landlords, because it was owned by Menachem Stark, a Williamsburg developer who was murdered in 2014, before Acuity took it over a few years ago.)
Another big deal his team helped broker was the $48 million sale of a development site at 10 Nevins Street to Adam America and Slate Property Group in November 2015.
Even after all the sales, Hernandez said he’s still excited to see where the Brooklyn commercial market goes next.
“Industrial product has seen the greatest amount of evolution in the past five or so years,” he said. “And I’m excited to see that continue with all the new uses taking place in industrial Brooklyn. [TerraCRG] bought an industrial building and converted it to a cool creative office [for the brokerage].”—R.B.R.
Barak Jacobov, 28Senior Broker, Investment Sales, GFI Realty Services
Barak Jacobov got his start at GFI Realty Services through his brother, who worked as a broker at the firm for around seven years before leaving to pursue his own real estate investments. Unlike most people on this list, Jacobov didn’t go to college; but like all of the real estate players included here, he has impressively risen within the ranks at his firm in a relatively short time and is now one of GFI’s most active brokers.
The Rockland County, N.Y., native joined the firm in the fall of 2009, when the New York City investment sales market was stuck in the Great Recession-era doldrums. “Granted, times were tough and there weren’t a lot of transactions being done,” he recalled. “But it was good in terms of learning [the business]. Once the market started picking up, it just started happening.”
After taking time to learn the ropes, Jacobov closed his first deal in 2012—a mixed-use multifamily building in Hell’s Kitchen that traded for around $10 million. He followed that up with what remains the largest deal of his career in terms of dollar amount: Silverstone Property Group and RWN Real Estate Partners’ nearly $72 million acquisition of a seven-building package in Kips Bay from Icon Parking executives Darryl Mallah and Martin Major (he represented the sellers).
Today, Manhattan multifamily properties remain Jacobov’s bread and butter. Deals that he closed this year include former Extell Development Company executive Dov Hertz’s sale of three Tribeca properties to Benchmark Real Estate Group for almost $60 million (GFI represented both sides) and Olshan Properties and Millhouse Properties’ acquisition of two Washington Heights rental buildings from a family for more than $40 million (GFI represented both sides).
“Right now I plan on staying put [as an investment sales broker],” Jacobov said when asked where he sees his career going. “It’s a field that I enjoy. The market has slowed down, and prices are coming down a little bit, but at the same time, there are still properties trading at solid numbers.”—R.M.
Harrison Katzman, 24Business Development Associate, The Schoen Group at Savitt Partners
At just 24, Harrison Katzman has already showed impressive acuity at deal-making, working on 10 deals over the past year. His biggest, this past June, was for 29,171 square feet of space comprising the third and eighth floors of an eight-story, 125,000-square-foot property at 137 Varick Street, for startup office provider Knotel. The asking rent was $45 per square foot.
“They needed a larger presence in the Hudson Square, west Soho area,” Katzman said. “It was the perfect building for them at a great price.”
While earning his bachelor’s in finance at Baruch College, Katzman worked as an assistant to the financial director at retail holdings company FJ Benjamin and spent time at his father’s custom tailoring business, Alan Couture. He joined Savitt in December 2014.
He hadn’t initially planned a career in real estate, but given his family connections, it came to seem inevitable; Marc Schoen, Savitt’s executive managing director and the man who would become his boss at the firm, was a family friend.
“It wasn’t my first choice, but real estate was always on the horizon,” Katzman said. “I ran into my boss-to-be, Marc Schoen, at a friend’s engagement party. I started talking with his son Michael—who I also work with—and we hit it off. Then it turned out that Marc knew my mother well. He did a deal for the company she was working for at the time. He said, ‘You would be perfect for this industry. You have to come by and give it a shot.’ ”
He did, and Schoen was right, as Katzman spends his days reveling in the chance to make life better for his clients.
“For me, it’s all about finding the perfect space for my clients; the most satisfying and fulfilling thing is being able to connect my client and get them the space they need,” he said. “There’s no better feeling than when you’re on a tour with someone, and you get off the elevator, and their eyes open wide when they see the space.”—L.G.
Ben Khakshoor, 25Investment Sales Broker, Rosewood Realty Group
Ben Khakshoor had originally planned to be a dentist.
“I had Jewish parents who wanted a doctor in the family,” he explained. He had even completed the pre-med track at SUNY Binghamton, where he graduated with a bachelor’s in sociology.
However, “Once I looked into the field, I realized my drive and work ethic would work better in business. My heart wasn’t really in dentistry, which made me look toward real estate.”
Khakshoor spent a year as a mortgage broker at Silver Fin Capital, a small mortgage lender based in his hometown of Great Neck, N.Y., before he took the plunge and became a commercial broker.
During his year and a half as an investment sales broker at Rosewood Realty Group, he’s closed about $100 million in deals. His biggest was the $27.5 million sale of an eight-building portfolio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to Black Spruce Management in February. Along with his colleagues, Aaron Jungreis and Mike Kerwin, he represented seller SMK Properties, which was in danger of being foreclosed on by Madison Realty Capital before the sale.
He also helped sell a three-building package near Fordham University in the Bronx for $17 million.
“I liked that deal because it showed appreciation and growth that’s happening in the Bronx,” he said. “It’s not as gentrified an area yet.”
Outside of work, he’s proud that he co-founded the North Shore Sephardic Synagogue Youth Congregation. The organization, which has grown from 10 members to nearly 60 over the past several years, helps kids “receive a proper Jewish education,” Khakshoor said, in addition to organizing trips and other social activities.—R.B.R.
Greg Kuhlman, 26Director, Agency Consulting Group, Cushman & Wakefield
Having recently been promoted after four years with the firm, Greg Kuhlman, a North Carolina native, is the youngest director in the history of Cushman & Wakefield’s Agency Consulting Group. His rapid rise was fueled during his teen years.
“I started doing internships in high school. Real estate always was a huge interest of mine,” said Kuhlman, who graduated from High Point University’s Earl N. Phillips School of Business in High Point, N.C., earning a BBA with a concentration in finance. “I really like buildings—the process of them being developed from the ground up. It always intrigued me, and the more internships I did, the more exposure I got.”
After internships at local firms in Winston-Salem and Charlotte, Kuhlman moved to New York and interned with Prime NY and really started getting to know—and falling in love with—New York City, thinking, “What better place to do real estate than in New York?”
Joining C&W after graduation and going through its rotational Professional Real Estate Program, Kuhlman has worked on asset leasing in his time with the company.
Of late, he facilitated a 10-year lease for a full-floor, 26,964-square-foot space in The Pioneer Building at 41 Flatbush Avenue—owned by Quinlan Development Group and Building and Land Technology—to Gimlet Media, the converted former storage building’s first office tenant. He secured a series of full-floor tenants—including The Atlantic Group, Standard Register and Zeel Networks—for 45 West 45th Street after the building underwent a capital improvement program including a new entrance, lobby, retail facade, elevators and shared roof deck. He also secured 10 new leases at 295 Madison Avenue, owned by Eretz Group.
He’s currently working on leasing for 40 Tenth Avenue, a new 140,000-square-foot, 10-story office building from Aurora Capital Associates and William Gottlieb Real Estate offering 16-foot ceilings, private outdoor space on almost every floor and a 10,000-square-foot shared roof deck.
When asked what’s the most exciting thing about his job, Kuhlman’s reply is not one you hear every day. “It’s getting to work with landlords on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s really fun to be directly involved.”—L.G.
Michael Kook, 29First Vice President, Marcus & Millichap
Riverdale, Bronx native Michael Kook joined Marcus & Millichap in 2011, fresh out of Yeshiva University, and has carved a niche at the company as an investment sales broker specializing in the retail sector.
In addition to traditional commercial property transactions across the five boroughs and surrounding region, Kook also brokers sales of net-leased retail properties across the country—assets that are net-leased for the long term to operators like Walgreens and 7-Eleven and promise stable returns without the hassle or obligation of property management.
“The space is already net-leased to a Walgreens; [the investors] just buy it,” Kook explained. While Kook has facilitated such transactions in more than 20 states across the country, most of the buyers are “typically tri-state people” looking for opportunities in markets like Florida and Texas.
Having closed his first deal for Marcus & Millichap in 2012 (a Flushing, Queens, strip mall that sold for more than $4 million), Kook has steadily grown his deal flow over the past five years—and 2017 has represented something of a career year for the broker, who was promoted to the role of first vice president.
In the last 12 months, he closed $40 million in sales over four separate Brooklyn transactions, as well as a $23 million sale of a shopping center in Long Island. And nationally, where he has developed a presence in the net-leased retail market, Kook has sealed $75 million in deals in the past year alone.
“I cover a wide array of locations and property types,” Kook said when asked if there are any markets he’d like to move into as a broker. Then what’s next? “Just continuing to grow my team further and doing more transactions.” At the age of 29, you can’t ask for more than that.—R.M.
Alex Leopold, 29Associate, Newmark Knight Frank
Alex Leopold was seeking a career that was “challenging, competitive and dynamic.” And this was after retiring from a competitive alpine ski racing career. Leopold had great success as a world-ranked skier—he was selected to participate in the World University Games in Harbin, China, won a bronze medal in the Slovak National Championship and even competed as a Junior Olympian—until he suffered a back injury at age 19. But he has taken the lessons he learned into his real estate career.
“When you’re in high school and traveling the world and focusing on athletics and school work, you really develop a good work ethic,” said Leopold, whose father, grandfather and grandfather were developers in Montreal.
After graduating from Concordia University in Montreal with a bachelor’s in political science, Leopold began his career at Newark Knight Frank on the team of David Falk, the president of the New York tri-state region.
Last spring, Leopold and a team were tasked with advising HSR Corp. on how to build out the floors and market the space at 386 Park Avenue South.
“We were one of the first assets in Midtown South to take on the risk of building full floors of prebuilt progressive installations,” he said. The NKF team has leased 90,000 square feet of office space, or seven floors, in the 20-story, 260,000-square-foot building. Tenants include AwesomenessTV, a subsidiary of DreamWorks Animation, in 13,121 square feet, Orchard Platform, an analytics software company, in 26,242 square feet and advertising tech company AdRoll in 13,121 square feet.
Leopold is particularly excited about the team’s current assignment at the Warehouse at 520 West 20th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, where Elijah Equities hired Morris Adjmi Architects for the redevelopment of the four-story building with the addition of a three-story cantilevered glass box.
“We came up with a distinctive unique marketing campaign,” Leopold said. They sent out crates to top brokers with a bound coffee table book on the building. They have done virtual reality and 3-D walkthroughs. “I think our marketing material is some of the most unique in the city,” he added.
On the tenant side, Leopold has worked with high-growth startups like Alphaserve Technologies (at 104 West 40th Street), TrueFacet (at 530 Seventh Avenue), Intent Media (at 315 Hudson Street), FiveSky (at 1350 Broadway) and Komodo Health (at 401 Lafayette Street).—L.E.S.
Andrew Levine, 24Director, One Commercial Realty Services
For his entire real estate career, Andrew Levine has been working with Joshua Lipton, an executive managing director at One Commercial Realty Services. First it was at Massey Knakal (later acquired by Cushman & Wakefield). And now it’s at One Commercial Realty Services.
“I started [at Massey Knakal] as an intern when I was 19 years old, and ever since, we’ve been working together,” Levine said.
When Lipton left Cushman & Wakefield at the end of last year to work on One Commercial Realty Services’ Upper Manhattan team (One Commercial Realty Services applies the geographical territory system that made Massey Knakal successful), Levine was on board. “I wanted to continue working with Josh.”
Today, Levine said, “We’re basically building up a team together.”
That team comprises eight salespeople, and Levine is hopeful it will grow. He participates in the recruiting process and conducts various trainings for junior brokers at the firm.
The New York University graduate, who received a bachelor’s in economics and a minor in business studies, sold 246-248 West 125th Street, across the street from the Apollo Theater, twice in an 18-month period. In August 2015, he and Lipton did it on behalf of the seller, Harbor Group, to Largavista for $16.5 million. A year and a half later, they sold it for Largavista to Gene Fata of Fata Organization for $17.8 million “in a much softer market.”
He also helped GF Capital Management & Advisors assemble a Central Harlem site of two townhouses at 112-114 Edgecombe Avenue and a church at 116 Edgecombe Avenue, which the new owner is “redeveloping into a mixed-use project with commercial on the ground floor,” Levine said.
Levine and Lipton represented the seller of 114 Edgecombe Avenue, which traded in March for $2.2 million, and the buyer of 112 Edgecombe Avenue, which transacted in July for $2.1 million. In August, GF Capital bought 116 Edgecombe Avenue directly from the church for $7.5 million.
GF Capital was negotiating all three contracts at once. “[GF Capital] was willing to take the risk,” Levine said. “There was no certainty [of all the deals closing] at all.”
Levine said he has sold more single-room occupancy properties in Upper Manhattan over the last two years than anyone else. The most recent one was an off-market deal on behalf of The Doe Fund. The property, at 828 St. Nicholas Avenue, is a six-story 9,842-square-foot SRO building with 34 units. It was picked up in January for $3.5 million.—L.E.S.
Remy Liebersohn, 27Senior Associate, Cushman & Wakefield
After graduating from Lehigh University with a degree in finance, Remy Liebersohn had good reason to avoid real estate.
His father, Mitti Liebersohn, had served as vice chairman at both Cushman & Wakefield and JLL and is currently the president and managing director of Avison Young’s New York City office.
The senior Liebersohn told his son to go into another field.
“He warned me against getting into this industry more times than I can count,” Remy Liebersohn said. “He said it’s a tough industry to get into, particularly in brokerage. But, he said if I could stick it out for three to five years, it can be a really rewarding profession.”
That was four-and-a-half years ago. Now, Liebersohn said that while his father was not off the mark—“It was definitely a struggle to begin with,” he noted—he’s at the point where he’s starting to enjoy some success with an impressive array of clients.
Liebersohn represented Savanna and Hornig Capital Partners in the 158,150-square-foot, full-building, 20-year lease of 95 Evergreen Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The former home of the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company was leased to New York City, which will use it for offices for its Human Resources Administration. The rent will progress from $6.9 million in the first year to $8.7 million toward the end of the lease period.
Other deals he worked on include representing Rockrose Development in leasing three floors totaling 41,000 square feet at 300 Park Avenue South to three separate clients, one per floor, for asking rents averaging in the mid- to high $70s per square foot; and leasing 27,000 square feet at The Pioneer Building, at 41 Flatbush Avenue, to podcasting company Gimlet Media on behalf of Quinlan Development Group and Building and Land Technology.
Despite his father’s initial advice, Liebersohn said his achievements have convinced his dad that he went into the right business.
“He’s really proud of me,” Liebersohn said. “It took some time for me to really get traction in this business, and he was always there to support me. Now that I finally found my stride, he’s proud of me and happy I’m working in the industry.”—L.G.
Reid Longley, 29Vice President, JLL
Reid Longley spent a year post-college working in finance, as an analyst at Credit Suisse, before landing at JLL.
Real estate attracted him because of the “tangible nature of the business,” he said, and “the fact that you can actually touch an office building.” Being a broker is much more dynamic and entertaining than being stuck behind a desk, working with financial models. He also likes “the high-energy, fast-paced nature of the [real estate] business and the fact that it’s really entrepreneurial.”
After joining JLL in 2011, he struck his first deal, finalizing a 2,000-square-foot lease for a financial firm called Bostwick Capital. Since then, he’s helped a number of major clients relocate within New York or set up offices in Gotham. The biggest transaction he’s worked on so far is Twitter’s New York City headquarters, which spans 217,000 square feet and two buildings in Chelsea.
More recently, he helped Swiss mining company Glencore move its U.S. operations from Stamford, Conn., to 63,000 square feet at 330 Madison Avenue in Midtown. And he represented real estate investment trust Colony NorthStar in its 40,000-square-foot relocation to the IBM Building at 590 Madison Avenue.
Although people can feel lost at a big firm like JLL, Longley is grateful for his partner, Martin Horner.
“He’s the one who sort of taught me the business, and I feel very fortunate to have learned the business from him,” he said. “He’s been successful, and I’ve been able to learn how he operates and see how he treats clients. He actually does the right thing. Seeing how he operates from an ethical standpoint, there’s a lot to admire about that.”—R.B.R.
Ian McCarthy, 26Director, Ten-X
When you can’t get a job in the Central Intelligence Agency, the next logical thing is real estate.
Ian McCarthy had what one would presume were sterling credentials for a CIA operative or analyst: He had a bachelor of arts from Kenyon College in economics with a concentration in Islamic studies and Arabic. He spent about four months in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, and another eight months in Amman, Jordan. He spoke Levantine Arabic fluently.
“They told me I spent too much time living independently in the Middle East for them to trust me,” McCarthy said with a laugh. So he became a different kind of analyst—he went to the San Francisco office of Rockwood Real Estate.
“I knew I wanted to get into the financial sector that was inclusive of some kind of disruption—or a 21st century financial or investment firm that relied on the premise that technology would be groundbreaking,” McCarthy said.
And it would appear that he made an interesting choice with Rockwood, which was purchased by Auction.com and has since rebranded itself as Ten-X. Ten-X is an online platform for buying and selling real estate, and as disruptors go, it has proven itself a force to be reckoned with. (Ten-X sold Manhattan Towers in California for $96.1 million in 2015—which the Guinness Book of World Records said was the largest online real estate sale ever recorded.)
McCarthy moved from San Francisco to the New York office in 2015 and has overseen some 400 transactions worldwide since starting with the company; last year, he oversaw the $20.8 sale of Pittsfield Tower in Chicago to an unidentified Chinese investment group (his biggest sale to date).
But McCarthy has plenty of business in New York, too, like 1245 Fulton Street in Brooklyn, a 16,073-square-foot retail space (currently the home of a Planet Fitness) with 25,551 square feet of residential or commercial air rights that’s currently on Ten-X’s website (the recommended price is just under $13 million).
It is a tough business, but “in real estate, you gotta get punched,” McCarthy said—and he means that quite literally. The Ohio-born McCarthy—who swam in college—has since taken up boxing. In March of last year he even traveled to Ireland to fight against the Irish National Police Boxing Team.
“I lost,” McCarthy said, “by what I would say was a local-hero judgment call by the refs.”—M.G.
Emily Musilli, 27Associate, Retail, SL Green Realty Corp.
After graduating from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, SL Green Realty Corp.’s Emily Musilli knew she wanted to get into the world of retail real estate (her uncle works as a retail broker in her native Connecticut). The question was on what side of the business, exactly.
“I met with a broker, [RKF Vice Chairman] Ariel Schuster, and I met with someone [in real estate] at Gap, and I met with a landlord,” Musilli recalled. “And I decided to take the brokerage route.” Musilli ended up working at RKF for nearly three years under the guidance of Vice Chairs Karen Bellantoni and Robert Cohen, specializing in tenant representation as part of the brokerage’s national platform.
It wasn’t until a meeting with SL Green Managing Director Brett Herschenfeld, who heads the real estate investment trust’s sizable New York City-focused retail platform, that Musilli decided to make the switch into the realm of landlord representation. And not just any landlord: New York City’s largest commercial owner with more than 2 million square feet of Manhattan retail space. Musilli joined SL Green in the spring of 2015 and has gone on to help the company navigate today’s choppy retail waters through the leasing and re-tenanting of its portfolio.
“There are just a few of us on the retail team,” Musilli said. “We work with Brett to lease the portfolio but also focus on new development and the [retail] repositioning of some of our office assets.”
This year, Musilli helped SL Green re-tenant bankrupt clothing retailer Aeropostale’s former space at 1515 Broadway through new deals with media giant Viacom, Japanese tech firm Line Corp. and Italian cosmetics company Kiko Milano. She also worked on SL Green’s repositioning of the retail offerings at the Graybar Building at 420 Lexington Avenue, and helped the landlord secure renowned French chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud at its enormous One Vanderbilt office building, currently under construction next to Grand Central Terminal.
“I do see myself continuing to work with the SL Green portfolio—retail is definitely my niche,” Musilli said of her plans for the future. “People say that retail is challenging right now, but it’s really just evolving. You just have to think differently.”—R.M.
Victoria Oliva, 29Managing Director, Global Retail Services Group, Savills Studley
Savills Studley Managing Director Victoria Oliva has a somewhat different background from many of the young men and women on this list. Whereas some studied business or were guided into real estate through a family influence, Oliva graduated from Connecticut College with a major in human development—an interdisciplinary degree that blended the studies of psychology, anthropology and other subjects.
“It wasn’t a natural path,” the Cambridge, Mass., native admitted. “I’m interested in human behavior and how people interact with spaces and their communities. Real estate seemed like an interesting way to apply that.”
Oliva started her career as a research analyst for CBRE, where she found that retail, in particular, resonated with her academic background and interests. “It’s all about people; it’s about consumers and how they interact with products and retailers,” she said. She tracked retail and consumer trends for the firm before making her way over to the brokerage side of the business in 2012. Working alongside Susan Kurland, then an executive vice president at CBRE’s tri-state retail platform, Oliva played a part in several major deals—including H&M’s 63,000-square-foot flagship store at JEMB Realty’s Herald Center and American Girl’s 45,000-square-foot location at RXR Realty’s 75 Rockefeller Plaza.
She eventually made the jump to Savills Studley in the spring of 2016 alongside Kurland, who departed CBRE to become executive vice president and co-head of Savills Studley’s global retail services group. As an adviser and strategic consultant to tenants and landlords, Oliva now plays a major role in the ongoing development of Savills Studley’s retail operations, focusing on the New York City market as well as establishing the brokerage’s new global luxury retail group.
Recent clients include Verts Mediterranean Grill, the Austin, Texas-based fast-casual dining chain, which Oliva advised on its expansion into the New York City market earlier this year.
“I really love the advisory and strategy side,” Oliva said of her role at the firm. “I love helping retailers better understand their customer and how to pick and design sites that are going to present their product in a way that will help them draw customers in.”—R.M.
Tom Reynolds, 26Senior Associate, Bestreich Realty Group
When Tom Reynolds’ older brother Stephen departed Marcus & Millichap in January 2016 to found Bestreich Realty Group, Tom followed.
In some ways, it was inevitable that he would end up in real estate. His older brother took a job at Marcus & Millichap right out of college, and Tom followed the same path. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s in sociology in 2014 and was a member of the school’s Division 1 wrestling team.
The pair continues to work together at Bestreich Realty Group, where they handle a broad variety of commercial sales, from development sites to multifamily buildings. Tom Reynolds is part of a team that searches for sales from $1 million to $20 million, in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant and Ridgewood.
“It’s been an accomplishment to start on the ground at a firm and get the experience working hand in hand with partners that I wouldn’t get at another firm,” he said of his experience helping build Bestreich, which has doubled in size from seven to 14 brokers over the past year.
Since starting at Marcus & Millichap in mid-2014, the Montgomery, N.J., native has closed 30 sales worth $75 million. In 2015, Marcus & Millichap named him the top-producing associate, a title he carried over into Bestreich for 2016 as well.
His first-ever deal was one he set up himself: the $5.7 million sale of a development site at 581 Ocean Parkway to Solomon Schwimmer in 2015. It’s being developed into an eight-story, 60-unit residential project.
Recently, he’s been involved in several other small transactions in central Brooklyn, including the sale of an apartment building at 1500 Bushwick Avenue for $4.3 million, and the $3.2 million sale of a four-story walk-up at 100 Starr Street.—R.B.R.
Ian Rice, 28Associate, SCG Retail
After receiving a bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ian Rice worked in financial product sales and analytics, a.k.a. “high-end customer service,” at Bloomberg. He spent about 14 months there before leaving for SinglePlatform so he could learn direct sales.
Three years in at the online publishing network, Rice wanted to change his career path. A cousin who worked in real estate at Starbucks Coffee encouraged Rice to pursue a career in real estate and said he should meet SCG Retail’s David Firestein, who is the coffee giant’s broker, as well as Jeff Pandolfo, a leasing director at SCG.
Between quitting SinglePlatform and starting at SCG Retail as a retail salesperson, Rice did a brief research and growth internship at RedSky Capital. (Recently for RedSky, Rice found a tenant at 1008 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn—Brooklyn Whiskers bakery.)
In the beginning Rice focused on retail deals in Brooklyn, where he resided. Over the last year and a half, he has been covering Manhattan and Queens as well as Brooklyn.
Rice’s biggest accomplishment in the last 12 months is winning his first client—and an international one at that: Italian chocolate manufacturer Ferrero International S.A. (in the New York Metro area). Recent deals for the company are a 4,200-square-foot innovation outpost in the Bridge at Cornell University’s technology campus on Roosevelt Island and the world’s second-ever (and first on the East Coast) standalone Nutella Cafe, in 2,200 square feet at 116 University Place.
He is also proud to have represented SuitSupply in a 4,454-square-foot lease on the ground floor of The William Vale hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when the hotel was “not quite a proven concept,” Rice said.
In Queens, Rice’s landlord assignments include working on the leasing team for F&T Group and SCG America’s 225,000 square feet of retail (no tenants signed yet) at the 1.2-million-square-foot Tangram and 8,000 square feet in Queens Crossing (just F&T), two mixed-use developments in Flushing, Queens. At Queens Crossing, the entire 8,000 square feet was leased by STAT Urgent Care.
Rice loves his work.
“I love, compared to my past roles, every day is different,” the 28-year-old New York City native said. “I don’t know where I will be till that morning.”—L.E.S.
Jeremy Schwartz, 29Senior Associate, Avison Young
Closing sales and cold-calling prospects are no big deal to Jeremy Schwartz.
He learned how to do both of them after graduating from Yeshiva University with a bachelor of science in business management. He spent a year working for Office Depot, “setting up meetings and having customers get into the office purchasing program,” he said.
Though he enjoyed sales, the job was not fulfilling nor that lucrative.
So the New York native went into real estate, choosing retail brokerage because “it’s exciting,” he said. “The deals you do you can see, feel and touch when you walk down the street.”
Schwartz worked at Winick Realty Group for two years when Jedd Nero left CBRE to expand Avison Young’s New York City retail platform in mid-2014. Schwartz jumped at the opportunity to “work closely with [Nero] at a global level.”
He and Nero represented Hershey Company in its flagship relocation deal for double its square footage—7,100 square feet—at 20 Times Square, signed in July 2016.
“They were at their old location on 48th and Broadway,” Schwartz said. “They had a lease coming up, and we just had to start looking for other options, so we mapped out Times Square north to south, Broadway and Seventh Avenue and went through every single building, leaving no stone unturned.”
Also with Nero, Schwartz represented Walgreens Boots Alliance in its rollout of community pharmacies (no retail component) in the New York area. With four deals done (one in Harlem, one in Washington Heights, one in Elmhurst, Queens and one in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn), the rollout is “on a temporary hold” as the pharmacy giant closes a $4.38 billion deal to acquire nearly 2,000 Rite Aid Corp. stores.
“[Walgreens] came to us with just one requirement, which was Harlem,” Schwartz said. “I guess they just saw how thorough we were and opened up to us about opening several more and we did.”
Current assignments include representing JP Morgan Chase in the leasing of 89,192 square feet (although it could go up to 100,000 if a tenant required it) of retail space at 3 and 4 Metrotech in Downtown Brooklyn. Avison Young’s five-person retail team is working on this assignment along with CPEX Real Estate. It is space that the bank will redevelop and the brokerages will lease in phases.—L.E.S.
Thomas Shihadeh, 26Senior Associate, Marcus & Millichap
Thomas Shihadeh, a senior associate at Marcus & Millichap, got into real estate when he was an 18-year-old undergraduate at Boston University—renting and selling apartments as a residential broker to help with his tuition payments. “Sales was always something that was in my blood, and that opened up the doors to other possibilities,” Shihadeh recalled. “Real estate was something I thought I should try and pursue.”
An opportunity arose when members of Shihadeh’s fraternity told him about Shaun Riney, a BU alumnus and fellow brother, who since 2011 has become Marcus & Millichap’s top-producing Brooklyn investment sales broker. Shihadeh reached out to Riney and—after an internship at a major New York City property management firm made him realize his passion remained in sales—ended up landing a job at the brokerage fresh out of college in the fall of 2013.
“His understanding of real estate has been something I’ve really benefitted from and still do today on a daily basis,” Shihadeh said of working with Riney, as well as the more Manhattan-focused duo of Peter Von Der Ahe and Joe Koicim. “Between all of them, I think I’ve benefitted a lot from being exposed to all these guys who have been really successful in this business.”
Working alongside Riney and his team at Marcus & Millichap’s Brooklyn office, Shihadeh has played an increasingly integral role in the firm’s key market, multifamily investment sales. From his first deal in 2014—a six-unit apartment building in Ridgewood that traded for just over $1 million (“You never really forget your first one,” Shihadeh said)—he has gone on to work on larger deals, such as ZT Realty’s $73 million sale of a 17-building Brooklyn portfolio to Oak Tree Residential and Avanath Capital Management earlier this year. Over the past 12 months alone, Shihadeh has helped close 17 separate transactions valued at a combined $120 million.
“I’ll take a six-family listing and put the same amount of effort into it [as a 17-building transaction],” he said. “As things have gone on, the deals have gotten bigger, and that’s where we’re swimming now.”—R.M.
Elan Teichman, 24Sales Associate, Cignature Realty
Elan Teichman grew up listening to his father, a corporate mergers and acquisitions lawyer, talk about deals. So it’s only natural that he landed in real estate.
Over the course of his college career, he held internships at private equity firms, a venture capital fund and the U.N. He graduated in May of last year and searched for a job that married communication skills and business acumen.
“I was looking for something that would combine intellectual rigor and analysis with not being stuck behind a desk all day,” he explained. “This was the nexus of big business and dealing with people, and you’re out in the field a lot, looking at buildings.”
In August, less than a year after starting at Cignature Realty, he closed his first major deal. Together with his bosses Peter Vanderpool and Lazer Sternhell, Teichman sold a 95-unit apartment building at 200 Haven Avenue, just south of the George Washington Bridge in Washington Heights, for $41 million.
Cignature, which employs 15 brokers, is so small that he gets to be much more involved with clients and sales than he would at a big brokerage.
“It’s a relatively warm, intimate atmosphere in the office,” Teichman said. “I just turned 24, and I’m on calls with big clients, and I’m getting exposure to things at other places I wouldn’t get for years. It’s the kind of place where if you’re young and you’re hungry, you can do very well.”
Besides his professional mentors and his parents, Teichman, an Orthodox Jew, also credits God for his burgeoning real estate career. Religion is a major thread running through his life, from his observant upbringing in the Orthodox Jewish enclave of Monsey, N.Y., to his intensive Torah study at Yeshiva University, where he graduated with a history degree.
“My religious upbringing sticks with me—God controls the world; I really do believe that,” he said. “You can be the most successful, but ultimately it’s in God’s hands. Brokerage can be up and down, and in one minute it can fall apart. You have to go into the office, and you have to give a certain level of trust [to God].”—R.B.R.
Richard Velotta, 27Director, Meridian Investment Sales
“I used to have a coach who would say, ‘You can only control what you can control,’ ” said Richard Velotta, a director with Meridian Investment Sales. “It’s a lot like brokering.”
Velotta, who was an outfielder on his Bates College baseball team, has a calm, almost Zen-like attitude towards business. “You can do everything that I would deem [right], and the chips just don’t fall that way,” he said. But if you are a shrewd, intelligent person, the law of averages will break your way. (Sort of like batting averages.)
And Velotta seems to embody the sentiment: Over the past 12 months he has closed over $120 million in sales.
After a brief stint working at a hard cider brewery in Maine with college buddies, the Connecticut native started at Massey Knakal Realty Services (since absorbed by Cushman & Wakefield) working in central and southern Brooklyn. He “did about 30 or 40 deals with a colleague” before his first solo transaction: 760 Coney Island Avenue in Kensington, which housed an antiques distributor and which he sold for $850,000.
Since starting at Meridian last year, Velotta’s numbers on individual deals have jumped: His biggest solo deal of the year is two contiguous walk-up apartment buildings at 162-164 East 82nd Street on the Upper East Side, which he sold for $19.4 million to the Azrak family, for whom he had sold another property years earlier. (His biggest deal overall was at 35-01 36th Street in Queens, which he sold for $24 million.)
“It was really nice to be a part of this family’s transition from a building they no longer felt they wanted, into something that was more of a trophy asset,” Velotta said. “It was nice to do it in a way that they were all happy in the end.”—M.G.
Benjamin Zack, 27Associate, RKF
Benjamin Zack, who turns 27 this Wednesday, just scored a major coup. He is part of a RKF team picked by Forest City Ratner to market 6,600 square feet of retail at the Cornell Tech graduate school, which opened last month on Roosevelt Island.
Zack has had success working on high-profile assignments, like Howard Hughes’ 365,000-square-foot South Street Seaport redevelopment in Lower Manhattan. Tenants include Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which took a 53,396-square-foot space for an international market, a 40,000-square-foot iPic movie theater and restaurant and a 16,000-square-foot North American flagship store and restaurant for Milan-based retailer 10 Corso Como.
He also net leased 113 East 60th Street on behalf of the owner, a private investor, to California-based Ocean Recovery, which will be bringing an exclusive drug and eating disorder detox center to the Upper East Side. It was a tough deal because of the occupied residential units upstairs, the community opposition and it required city and state agency approvals, Zack said. (Two previous deals for the rehab fell through.) Ocean Recovery recently got possession of the space.
Throughout his tenure at George Washington University, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in American studies with a concentration in cultural politics, he knew he wanted to work in real estate. The question was, In what area? He said he decided on retail because he likes fashion, and “you really see what goes on in the street.” The deals one does, he added, “shape the neighborhood.”
His tenant roster spans fashion, technology, restaurants and cosmetics.
While about 90 percent of his business is in New York City, most recently Zack did a deal for swimsuit brand Orlebar Brown in The Setai in Miami. It’s only 300 square feet, but the hotel location is right for its customer base, and the space has two entrances—one on Collins Avenue and one in the hotel. Previously, Zack negotiated a lease for the brand at 451 Broome Street in Soho and one in East Hampton.
Last week, Commercial Observer reported that he co-represented retailer Scotch & Soda in 2,500 square feet at Two TreeManagement’s 76 Front Street. That came after deals for the clothing brand at 317 Bleecker Street in the West Village and at the South Street Seaport.—L.E.S.