Principal and senior vice president at TF Cornerstone
In 2021, will you buy or sell any real estate? What kind?
We have a long-term perspective, so this is the part of the real estate cycle that TF Cornerstone has historically been quite active. Most of the action, so far, has been secondary sales of debt, but we expect the investment sales market to loosen up further in 2021. We’ve also found the last six months to be a good time to buy the stock of some of our publicly traded industry colleagues.
How f@*$ed is retail?
It’s a bit messy right now, but I expect the market to stabilize eventually. In New York, retail prices had gotten very high, which leaves room for a correction in rental rates, and creates opportunities for new small businesses, digital brands looking to break into brick-and-mortar, and new experiential concepts.
How flexible are you with negotiating rents?
Small retailers have had a very difficult time, so we’ve been using a combination of security deposits and percentage rent periods to keep them open and in place.
Has your “dead to me” list grown?
Not really. It’s a challenging time for a lot of people and businesses; in this atmosphere, I think it’s important to approach even the difficult conversations with patience and a level of understanding.
Are you in the market for financing?
Despite the market disruption, we recently completed a financing of several retail assets in New York City, and another for our trophy Washington, D.C., office building, 901 F Street NW. Fortunately, we have a breadth and depth of lending relationships, which enable us to access capital, even in more challenging moments in the cycle.
What would be the signs that things are NOT going to improve in 2021?
Crime is top of mind for me. The city will bounce back well from the other challenges of COVID-19 once a vaccine is widely available, if we can maintain safety and social cohesion.
What do you think will NOT go back to normal?
Business travel seems like one area that may never return to 2019 levels.
What do you think the city and/or state should do to help both real estate and the city?
The job loss and general economic damage to the city is extraordinary; the city and state should make efforts to spur economic activity, but the scale also requires federal support.
The city and state should use the crisis brought on by COVID-19 to rethink quality-of-life issues that were accentuated this past year. For example, the drop in car traffic created new opportunities for sidewalk cafes and other street life — we should push forward with congestion pricing and expand micromobility solutions.
Another example: The hotel industry is struggling, and we likely have too many hotel rooms. We need a program for the conversion of hotels to housing, with a set-aside for affordable housing in return for a tax abatement. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create new affordable housing in neighborhoods in Manhattan that rarely see any new supply of affordable units.
Where’s your apocalypse bunker?
I stayed in Manhattan throughout all of
last spring and early summer,
so no bunkers for me.
Favorite at-home quarantine foods?
Pasta with tomato/fish sauce.
Did you gain or lose weight during quarantine? Even
Sourdough bread, banana bread, other? Banana
Which TV show have you binged?
Mayor de Blasio: Best Mayor or Best Mayor EVER? I give the mayor credit for reopening schools in the face of a lot of opposition.
Best work-from-home hack? Avoiding more than four hours of Zoom in a day.
Where did you quarantine? NYC
Biden, Trump or Kanye? Biden