Former NYCEDC Head Rachel Loeb Joins Benenson Capital Partners as CIO

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When longtime Benenson Capital Partners Chief Operating Officer Richard Kessler first met Rachel Loeb in the mid-2000s, he had his eyes on one day bringing her to the Benenson family’s real estate investment firm.

Nearly two decades later Kessler got his wish when Benenson named Loeb, the former New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) president and CEO, as the 118-year old firm’s new chief investment officer, as Commercial Observer can first report. 

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“I was extremely impressed by her, and in the back of my mind I was always thinking if there’s ever an opportunity to recruit Rachel to the Benenson organization I would love to do it,” said Kessler of his first meeting with Loeb when the two were involved with the Urban Land Institute. “I was impressed by her professionalism, her dedication, her intellect, creativity and vision.”

At NYCEDC, Loeb ran a more than 60 million-square-foot portfolio and managed a budget that topped $10 billion. Her tenure at the agency involved launching New York City’s post-pandemic economic recovery plan and negotiating the retention of JetBlue’s Long Island City headquarters. 

Loeb said she hopes to take her experience gained at NYCEDC into a commercial real estate firm like Benenson, given the overlap involved with tackling important infrastructure projects. 

“Everything that you do in the built environment is a public-private partnership,” Loeb said. “Recognizing that the built environment and the work that we do and the properties that we own are part of people’s community, and how do we transform them for the next 50 years and really make sure that we can be of and with the people where our investments are made, is I think an important mindset.”

Prior to her time in the public sector, Loeb spent a lengthy period as a commercial real estate developer, which involved acquiring or creating more than $1.5 billion of mixed-use properties across the Northeast with in excess of 3,000 apartment units. She spent seven years as senior director in development at AvalonBay Communities, a public real estate investment trust and one of the largest multifamily owners in the country. 

After graduating from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in history, Loeb began her real estate career when she lived in Vietnam for nearly five years and worked on an urban development project outside Ho Chi Minh City. The Kansas City, Mo., native then returned to the U.S. to attend graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she earned a Master of City Planning degree in urban design and development.

Loeb will now be tasked with spearheading Benenson’s CRE portfolio, which consists of about 70 percent single-tenant net leases, largely in the retail space acquired from the 1950s until the early 2000s. Kessler noted that many of these long-term leases in markets like Boston, New York, Denver and Bellevue, Wash., are now reaching maturity. 

“We have the opportunity to take those properties and reposition, redevelop and reimagine them, and this is why Rachel is so important to this team,” Kessler said. “These properties were bought a long, long time ago, and rather than going out and buying new land or new properties we are looking internally at our portfolio and seeing where we have opportunities for new development.”

Andrew Coen can be reached at acoen@commercialobserver.com