2023 Young Professionals

By December 5, 2023 6:00 AM
Young Professionals (from left): Zach Kraft, Jenny Ni Zhan, Reality Curry, and Una O'Brien-Taubman  - Photo: Emily Assiran/for Commercial Observer

Young Professionals (from left): Zach Kraft, Jenny Ni Zhan, Reality Curry, and Una O’Brien-Taubman – Photo: Emily Assiran/for Commercial Observer

Commercial real estate’s leasing and sales practices this past year have seen cuts that would humble many a Ginsu salesman. 

In debt and equity, deals have slowed and become a more complex puzzle to solve than a rubik’s cube while blindfolded. 

SEE ALSO: 2023 Young Professionals

For those on the design, engineering and construction side of the industry, the conundrums only mount. Out have gone densely packed open offices where square foot per employee was the sacrosanct measure for design, and in have come more creative collaborative spaces that still left room for privacy for heads-down work. Meanwhile, the demand for environmental sustainability only seems to increase — along with material and labor costs.

In short, this seems like a particularly dicey time to be just starting one’s career in commercial real estate.

But the one good thing we will say about this is that the young professionals who survived the past two years have experienced a career’s worth of crises. And the 75 brokers, lenders, architects, engineers and contractors who we’re showcasing here have shown their mettle.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Zach Kraft, for example, has been pounding the mean streets of Manhattan each day, testing the temperature of financing sources, and getting not only the best intel but also the best deals for his clients. 

Anyone who says that retail is a trainwreck should have a word with Una O’Brien-Taubman of Capricorn whose client roster runs from the boutique, like the jeweler Catbird, to the global, like Steve Madden.

Jenny Ni Zhan at Bromley Companies has been selecting contractors and architects, fine-tuning designs, overseeing construction and managing budgets on a sprawling, 1.8 million-square-foot residential and commercial project in Tampa called Midtown Square, as well as Microsoft’s New York City offices at 122 Fifth Avenue. 

Hill West Architects’ Reality Curry has projects like The Delson, a seven-story, 44-unit affordable and supportive housing project in Jamaica, Queens, under his belt along with 201 Seventh Avenue, a nine-story, 26-unit affordable co-op building in Chelsea. 

There are a lot more stories like these. Yes, Commercial Observer’s 2023 crop of Young Professionals are not afraid to get their hands dirty — and, while that might sound like an unbearable cliche, we mean it quite literally in the case of Bailey Caliban. (No more spoilers. You’ll just have to read Caliban’s entry.)

Finally, while 2023 has undoubtedly been a year of transition and in a lot of cases disappointment, this list is always a reason for good cheer. These are the people who will be taking over the business one day. As we look at them, the future looks much brighter.

Nima Shahi, 32

Turner Construction

Matthew Sullivan, 34

Core Four Construction

Preston Welker, 32

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Jenny Ni Zhan, 34

Bromley Companies

Steven Bernstein, 32

Harbor Group International

Emma Berry, 31

Goldman Sachs