Managing Director and Head of Real Estate Banking at JP Morgan Chase
What’s been the biggest market lesson learned during COVID?
I already believed this, but COVID-19 reinforced the fact that real estate is cyclical, and, to support and be there for our clients, we must be thoughtful on our approach at every point of the cycle. Past strategic decisions have led to us being more conservative around certain asset classes and geographies, which is paying dividends today. Also, I am very pleased with how our investments in technology have yielded benefits in staying connected to our clients, managing our portfolio, and driving value as we switched to a remote work environment.
Are you bullish on New York City? If so, why?
I would not bet against New York City. NYC has overcome so much adversity over time, and I am bullish on the city long term. I believe that NYC will continue to be the financial, arts and education capital of the world. There is no question that the city has been hit hard by the pandemic, but cities are dynamic and the demand to live, work, and experience NYC will never go away. The rapid growth of technology firms has also transformed Manhattan into a vibrant tech hub. Large technology companies have all expanded their footprints in the city, cementing NYC as a global tech corridor.
What’s key to New York’s rebound and recovery?
As the most-dense city in the United States, the key to New York City’s recovery is effective COVID-19 management. NYC businesses have been under a lot of stress, with foot traffic plunging. In order to rebound, NYC’s arts and culture, tourism and education sectors need to come back to life.
How are you winning deals?
Every deal is different, but it is always about providing our clients with incredible value and unbeatable service. Our team has been closely connected with clients through these challenging times to let them know we’re here for them and prepared to support them through the cycle.
How has your loan portfolio fared through the pandemic? Any surprises during asset management in the early days?
We entered the pandemic with a cycle-resistant portfolio focused on multifamily, investment grade, build-to-suit and best-in-class office. We continue to lend to clients as they navigate the challenges of the pandemic.
Which closed deal, post-COVID, are you most proud of and why?
I’m proud of many deals, but one that comes to mind is the redevelopment of St. John’s Terminal (former terminus for the High Line) in NYC into a 1.3 million-square-foot, 12-story, Class A office building. Working with our clients and two other joint lead arrangers, we were able to transact an almost $1 billion construction loan at the height of the pandemic.
How has your underwriting changed post-COVID?
Given that our portfolio is performing well, there is more of an emphasis on underwriting than asset management. We continue to keep an eye on the market and as expected, we’re underwriting with more caution given uncertainty around the pandemic.
Do you feel urban living is dissipating as a result of COVID-19? Why or why not?
While there may be temporary acceleration of the net outflow of families, who would have likely moved out of urban areas regardless of the pandemic, we believe long term that urban core demand is still strong. Individuals and empty nesters may see opportunities to move into cities as rental prices dip, and the fundamentals of urban living that have been increasing over the past few years (such as re-designed living spaces, amenities, shorter commutes) are not going away.
“When I’m not doing deals while working from home, you’ll find me…”
“…enjoying family game night with my wife and kids.”
Favorite TV show you binged during quarantine?
Many shows on HDTV
Have you eaten inside a restaurant post-COVID, and if so, which one?
Amis in Westport, Conn.
Any new hobbies taken up during COVID?
Where is your COVID hideaway? (i.e., Hamptons or New York City or other?)
At home in Connecticut
Number of haircuts in past six months —family trim or professional?
Every two weeks, family trim.
Home office or actual office?
Home office, for now.
Have you been on a plane post-COVID?
If not, where will you fly first?
To Chicago, to visit my parents.
Best book you read during COVID?
“The Rabbit Effect” by Kelli Harding, MD
Which will rebound first: retail or hospitality?
Favorite post-COVID secondary market from a lending perspective?