Power in Memoriam: Remembering the Power Players Who Passed Away
New York City’s real estate world lost three heavy hitters in the past year.
Faith Hope Consolo, the iconic force in the retail market, Howard Michaels, the short-tempered but prolific capital markets broker, and Karl Fischer, the often-criticized architect behind hundreds of residential buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn, passed away, but all left their enduring mark on the city.
Faith Hope Consolo
The self-proclaimed “Queen of Retail,” Faith Hope Consolo, known for her deal-making and public relations acumen, died on Dec. 23, 2018, after suffering from a heart attack in her Fifth Avenue home. She was 73.
“My style is total immersion,” Consolo told the now-defunct New York Sun in 2005. “I’m not just 24/7, I’m 24/24. I am always accessible to retailers and landlords.”
As the chair of Douglas Elliman’s retail division, Consolo was known for plastering her slogan “You Need Faith” in her signature baby pink on anything she could find, from empty storefront windows to nail files.
“Faith was the best PR person I’ve ever met,” Linda Alexander of Alexander Marketing, Consolo’s publicist from 2008 to 2016, previously told Commercial Observer.
But past the marketing, designer dresses and perfectly coiffed blonde hair, Consolo was credited with helping pave the way for women in the male-dominated real estate industry.
Consolo acted as a mentor to a lot of female brokers and reminded them to not “ ‘let the fact that you’re a woman get in your way,’ ” Nikki Field, an associate residential broker at Sotheby’s International Realty, told CO immediately after Consolo’s death. “She gave many of us permission to take off the silk gloves and put on the boxing gloves.”
Consolo was born on July 25, 1945, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and moved to Westport, Conn., at a young age, The New York Times reported. She was mostly raised by her grandmother after her father John, who ran a real estate business, died when she was 2 and her child psychiatrist mother Jill passed when she was 12, according to the Times.
She made her way to the city and studied art history at New York University, but decamped to Malibu, Calif., in the 1970s after she got married. She started a business decorating movie studios and film stars’ homes, but returned to New York in the 1980s when she got divorced, according to the Sun.
“In fact, I felt like a pariah,” Consolo told the Sun. “I had a failed marriage behind me. I had been good in design, but not good enough to be in the top tier. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do.”
She met Lloyd Putter in 1985, founder of 2001 Real Estate, and nabbed a part-time job making cold calls to landlords and retailers, according to the Sun. She was eventually recruited by Garrick-Aug Worldwide where she rose to vice chairwoman. She left to join Douglas Elliman in 2005.
While at Douglas Elliman, Consolo’s clients included Cartier, Versace, Zara, Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Yves Saint Laurent on the tenant side along with landlords like Donald Trump, Charles Cohen and Larry Silverstein.
Howard Michaels, the chairman of real estate investment firm Carlton Group, died at 62 on Sept. 21, 2018, after a battle with cancer.
Michael was known for completing high-profile deals around Manhattan—Carlton sealed more than $140 billion of real estate transactions since Michaels founded it in 1991—and his short temper and strict work ethic.
“Carlton is not for the fainthearted,” Michaels told The Real Deal in a 2011 profile. “If you’re not serious about work, this is probably not a good place. But if it’s someone who’s motivated and wants to do well, this is a great place to work.”
And with Michaels at the helm, Carlton was involved in some monster deals. The company arranged the $1 billion financing for the condo and hotel project at 76 11th Avenue, the $2 billion construction loan for the Edition Hotel at 20 Times Square and $100 million for the land acquisition to build the Lower East Side’s Public hotel.
“His intelligence, tenacity and dedication were great assets to Carlton and helped expand the company from a single office on Park Avenue South to now having multiple offices across the globe,” Michael Campbell, a partner at Carlton who succeeded Michaels as the head of the company, said in a statement after Michaels’ death.
Michaels was born in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and spent his youth helping out his father in a carpet store in the borough, TRD reported. He graduated from American University in 1977 and landed a sales job at 3M.
Michaels got his start in the real estate world when he took a gig as a syndicator at Island Planning and later became a partner at Long Island-based Carlton Brokerage, according to TRD. He eventually decided to shift his focus to capital markets and spun off his own firm, Carlton Group.
Michaels is survived by his wife, Jennifer; his daughters, Reese and Alex, and his sons, David, Josh and Sam.
The prolific designer The New York Post once called the city’s “most loathed architect,” Karl Fischer, died on March 12 at the age of 70 in his Vermont country home. The cause of death was not clear, but he had been fighting pancreatic cancer for several years, Fariba Makooi, an architect and principal at his New York City firm, previously told CO.
Fischer was behind more than 200 residential buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn and became the favored architect for developers looking for economical designs during the early 2000s and the recession.
While popular with some developers, Fischer was criticized by the Post for creating uninspired, Cold War-era looking buildings described as “glass-curtained boxes flecked with grim brick or concrete.”
“You get positive criticism and you get negative criticism, and the truth is, I’m my own worst critic,” Fisher told The New York Times in 2010.
The Hungarian-born Fischer fled the country with his family when he was 7 during the Hungarian Revolution and was raised in Montreal, according to his obituary posted online by Goss Funeral Service.
Fischer earned two architecture degrees from McGill University and set up his eponymous firm in Montreal in 1984. He expanded to New York City in 1999 and was well known for his work in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, including 101 Bedford Avenue, Schaefer Landing at 440 Kent Avenue and the collection of rental buildings at 20, 30 and 50 Bayard Street.
“A lot of times good design and practical field measures don’t always align, but with Karl they aligned very well,” BFC Partners’ Don Capoccia, who hired Fisher to design the 350-unit Schaefer Landing, told the Times in 2010.
In recent years, Fischer’s firm split and merged with others to become Fischer Rasmussen Whitefield Architects in Montreal and Fischer + Makooi Architect in New York City.
Fischer is survived by his wife, Pamela; his children, Alison and Daniel; his brother, George; his sister, Kathy, and his mother, Elizabeth.