CEO at Silverstein Properties
In 2021, will you buy or sell any real estate? What kind?
We are buyers, investors and long-term thinkers, but not sellers. I think 2021 will be very similar to what we did this year and last year, where we bought some trophy office buildings in great markets, like U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles and 1735 Market Street in Philadelphia. We’re looking for quality office buildings or multifamily properties in good markets around the country. On the debt side, we’ll either originate or purchase debt in certain projects, similar to what we did in two transactions in New York City this year.
How f@*$ed is retail?
We are not deep players in retail — although, we control some retail at the base of our buildings so, fortunately, it didn’t impact us greatly.
Retail was already starting to evolve, and COVID-19 sped up that evolution. Inevitably, certain forms of retail are going to be hurting for a long time, but then, it’ll evolve into something new. Retail at the base of a residential building is different than retail at the base of a commercial building. Depending on the market it’s in, residential-based retail can cater to tenants in that building, as well as the larger market that it’s in.
How flexible are you with negotiating rents?
Fortunately, we didn’t have to unless it was absolutely necessary. We only did it with tenants who showed that they really had a financial hardship; even then, it was only a deferral of rent, where they will make it up down the road.
Has your “dead to me” list grown?
I don’t have a “dead to me” list. Life is too short, and I firmly believe that what goes around, comes around.
Are you in the market for financing?
Yes. We’re in the process of financing or refinancing many different projects. Rates are low. I believe they’re going to remain low. The markets are coming back, and lenders are looking for stuff to do. It may not be the most ideal time to refinance, due to lack of liquidity. But we just happen to be at that time of the cycle where a lot of our previous financings are coming due, and rates are low. So, we’re taking advantage of it.
What would be the signs that things are NOT going to improve in 2021?
I don’t think there are signs that show that things are not going to improve in 2021. We’re already seeing that things are improving in 2020. So, I think things can only get better from here. I don’t think they can get worse.
What do you think will NOT go back to normal?
I just think the way we do business is not going to go back to normal. I think that the office market will change and evolve. The current office environment has put us in the hospitality business, and our tenants are our guests.
Who do you like for mayor in 2021?
It’s a wide field that’s going to continue to get wider. I’m hoping for candidates that will bring together the entire community. I’m not looking for candidates that are going to turn their back on the business community or the police. New York City needs a candidate who’s going to work with everybody.
What do you think the city and/or state should do to help both real estate and the city?
Figure out a way to create more affordable housing. Create more public-private partnerships. We want to collaborate.
How do you think the November election will affect real estate? How do you see a Trump win? How do you see a Biden win?
How could it not? I think it will. More than anything, we need certainty and we need leadership.
Where’s your apocalypse bunker?
My apartment in New York City
Favorite at-home quarantine foods?
Pizza from Serafina
Did you gain or lose weight during quarantine? Lose. Exercise and diet. And, I have a SoulCycle bike at home.
Sourdough bread, banana bread, other? None
Which TV show have you binged? “Succession,” and I’m watching a
show called “Banshee.”
What restaurant did you go to when restaurants reopened? We go to Amaranth, which is right in our backyard.
Mayor de Blasio: Best Mayor or Best Mayor EVER? No comment
Best work-from-home hack?
Where did you quarantine? I quarantined in my apartment, in my Hamptons house, and I was in and out of the office all summer.
Biden, Trump or Kanye? I can’t win if I answer that one, so I’m not answering.