Winston Fisher

Winston Fisher

Partner and CEO at Fisher Brothers and AREA15

Winston Fisher
By November 2, 2020 9:00 AM

In 2021, will you buy or sell any real estate? What kind?

Regarding AREA15, we are looking for opportunities to expand in 2021 and beyond. For Fisher Brothers, we are always interested in land — at the right price — that we can add to our portfolio. As entrepreneurs, we are actively seeking out unique opportunities that are worthwhile, long-term investments.

How f@*$ed is retail?

Four-letter words cannot describe how f@*$ed traditional brick-and-mortar retail truly is right now. There is simply too much available retail space in New York and around the country. As an industry, we must figure out how to repurpose spaces that are no longer of value and determine how experiential retail plays a role in enhancing the consumer experience.

With that said, there will be opportunities for brands, consumers and developers to consider alternative space usage, such as distribution centers, or investing in creative destinations like AREA15, that lean into dynamic experiences.

Has your “dead to me” list grown?

One of the problems that we are facing right now is that this type of statement solves nothing. Connection is vital during this time — even if you disagree with the individual.

Are you in the market for financing?

Yes, we are in the market for financing. Current rates are very attractive, and we are exploring refinancing opportunities given the current market condition.

What would be the signs that things are NOT going to improve in 2021?

There are several things that will impact New York City’s ability to improve in 2021. A powerful second and possible third wave of COVID-19 will set us back tremendously. If office occupancy rates do not return anywhere near pre-COVID-19 [shutdown] numbers, we can expect a continued negative effect to the city’s economy and workforce.

State and local budgets are hurting right now. Real estate is a major source of tax dollars for the city and state; but without federal assistance, we’re in real trouble, and I think it’s safe to assume there will be a significant reduction in services for all.

In addition, one of the driving factors to all of this is the country’s perception that New York is unsafe. If New Yorkers and visitors do not feel safe or believe the city is unsafe, this notion will hold us back in bringing the city back.

What do you think will NOT go back to normal?

The concept of working-from-home will likely have the same appeal as it did prior to the pandemic; however, we must not forget the value of being in an office format.

In addition, online retail is growing rapidly, so traditional retail is going to have to become more of a value proposition to justify its existence.

Who do you like for mayor in 2021?

I am reserving my judgement for now. New York City must thread the needle of selecting a mayor who is progressive, pro-business and pro-growth. If we move too far to the political left in our leadership, I believe that companies and individuals will leave the city.

There’s no question the next mayor faces immense challenges. We must address issues like affordable housing and systemic racism. These issues will not be easy to solve, but it’s vital to our city’s future to have someone who will listen and actually get things done.

What do you think the city and/or state should do to help both real estate and the city?

Large-scale progress in New York City seems to have died. We need to encourage more responsible growth and the ULURP [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] process needs to be re-thought.

On a more macro level, we need to encourage people to live here and have second homes here. We need to encourage tourists to come here and shop here.

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?

A Trump win is a continued assault on cities, especially New York City. I believe former Vice President Biden will be much more helpful to state and local budgets, and will help grow the economy responsibly. I’m hopeful that pro-growth and equitable Democratic policies will emerge from a Biden administration that will make up for much of what we’ve lost the past few years.

 

LIGHTNING ROUND

Where’s your apocalypse bunker? AREA15

Favorite at-home quarantine foods? Jellybeans

Did you gain or lose weight during quarantine? Gain

Sourdough bread, banana bread, other? Sourdough

Which TV show have you binged? “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV

What restaurant did you go to when restaurants reopened? Sushi Yasuda; Casa Lever

Best work-from-home hack? Go to the office.

Where did you quarantine? New York and Las Vegas

Biden, Trump or Kanye? Biden

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