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Paul Darrah Joins Citadel to Lead Real Estate Operations After 7 Years at Google

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Google (GOOGL)’s Paul Darrah is taking his talents to investment firm Citadel after an almost seven-year stint as head of New York City real estate at the tech giant, Commercial Observer has learned.

Darrah will take over as chief workplace officer of Citadel, starting at the end of the month, and will manage the firm’s global real estate footprint, which includes 19 offices worldwide, a Citadel spokesperson confirmed.

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“He’s got an excellent eye,” CBRE (CBRE)’s Darcy Stacom, an investment sales broker who worked with Darrah on a number of deals, told CO. “When you’re looking at what you can do physically with an asset … I always found him to be very strategic.”

Darrah will take on a role previously held by Scott Hazard, who is leaving Citadel after two years and also spent almost five years in real estate roles at Google from 2013 to 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile.

In 2010, before Darrah’s time at Google, the company had spent $1.77 billion acquiring 111 Eighth Avenue in the Meatpacking District. But in 2018, Darrah piled on by helping Google buy Chelsea Market across the street for $2.4 billion. 

The Real Deal reported that Darrah was a key part of Google’s decision to acquire Chelsea Market. This raised Google’s footprint in the neighborhood to around 4.1 million square feet.

Stacom, who recently launched her own firm, worked with Darrah on the Chelsea Market as well as acquisition of 550 Washington Street for $1.97 billion by Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

“He just has this personality that pulls a room together and things are getting tense, he can back it back down. He’s quite funny,” Stacom said. “He has a very broad set of knowledge, but also the ability to go deep on any particular point.”

But Google’s real estate ambitions, with Darrah front and center, did not end there. The search giant turned its attention to Hudson Square where it leased 1.3 million square feet at St. John’s Terminal in 2019 to start another campus. Google wasn’t content just leasing the space at 550 Washington Street, and in 2021 dropped $2.1 billion for the property.

Prior to his time at Google, Darrah was head of real estate for Connecticut-based Bridgewater Associates, a senior vice president at Lehman Brothers from 2006 to 2008, global director of real estate for Bloomberg LP from 1997 to 2006, and a senior associate at Brennan Beer Gorman Architects from 1985 to 1994, according to his LinkedIn page.

Darrah, a Virginia Tech graduate, was featured on Commercial Observer’s 2022 Power 100 list.

While at Bloomberg, Darrah helped the company build its 750,000-square-foot headquarters at 731 Lexington Avenue, and his team convinced Vornado Realty Trust to alter its plan for the property away from just residential and hotel, TRD reported.

The Citadel spokesperson did not provide more details about Darrah’s role, but Ken Griffin’s hedge fund has plenty of real estate in the works.

Since announcing in 2022 that it would move its headquarters from Chicago to Miami, Citadel has been investing heavily in South Florida with the $363 million acquisition of 1201 Brickell Bay Drive, a vacant waterfront property.

The sale was considered one of Miami’s biggest real estate deals ever. The parcel could become the location of an office tower to serve as Citadel’s headquarters, but it’s unclear where construction lies after Citadel split with its developer, Sterling Bay, in April 2023.

In August 2022, Citadel signed a five-year lease for 90,000 square feet of temporary office space at 830 Brickell.

Later on in 2022, Citadel signed major deals in New York City such as a 585,000-square-foot master lease with Vornado Realty Trust for 350 Park Avenue and another master lease for Rudin’s adjacent 390,000-square-foot 40 East 52nd Street, CO reported at the time.

Eventually it could lease 850,000 square feet at 39 East 51st Street, an office tower being developed by Vornado and Rudin.

A spokesperson for Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.