James Patchett

James Patchett

CEO at A&E Real Estate

James Patchett
By November 15, 2021 10:00 AM

How much longer can this go on?

I think we’ll continue to see lingering effects of the pandemic for some time. That said, we are in a far better place than we were six months, a year and certainly 18 months ago. We own and manage buildings throughout the city, and occupancy throughout our portfolio is back to pre-pandemic levels. Local neighborhoods are alive and well. Broadway, restaurants, and museums are up and running. The economy has recovered remarkably well, and will get an additional jolt once international tourists and office workers return in full force.

What does normal look like?

Normal looks like me dropping my kids off at school every day, then heading to work — and that’s what I’m doing right now. Yes, the children are wearing masks now, but it still feels awfully normal. 

If you could go back in time to March of 2020, what’s the first thing you would do?

Take my kids to see “The Lion King” on Broadway. They’ve never been to a show, and they’re finally old enough to enjoy it, but too young to get a vaccine.

What do you do now that you never did before 2020?

Get a seat on the subway — though I’ve been standing more and more since Labor Day.

What’s the biggest threat to the return to normal?

The biggest threat every city faces is a sudden spike in cases due to some new COVID variant. But that threat is dwindling by the day. New Yorkers deserve a ton of credit. Our vaccination rates keep going up, and we’re all making adjustments when necessary.

Is now the time to buy or sell?

At A&E, we are buyers. We just made our first acquisition from the fund we launched in April. Not too many people were launching New York City-focused real estate funds at that time. Yet, we have always believed that the fundamental traits that have made New York City great for the last 100 years are still present today — and will be for the next 100 years. These past six months have only bolstered our conviction. 

The pricing we see out in the market reflects a continued and compelling discount across New York City, including Manhattan south of 96th Street. If you want to buy property in Florida or Arizona right now, you need to accept a sub-3 percent cap rate. In prime Manhattan, we are currently able to acquire properties sometimes north of 4 percent. To me, that’s a “buy” all day long.

Suddenly, there’s a big change to the New York state constitution and you’re now named the 58th governor of the Empire State — what do you do about the eviction moratorium?

The first thing I would do is make sure that the [Emergency] Rental Assistance Program is well-funded and properly functioning. It shouldn’t take 10 hours and tons of frustration just to fill out the forms, which is what we’ve encountered in helping our residents navigate the process. I would also take a hard look at how we better support those New Yorkers who remain unemployed. These are issues you need to address for a moratorium to be successful.

Lightning round

Eric Adams or Curtis Sliwa? 

Is this a serious question? Eric, obviously.

Last time you got on an airplane, what was your destination?

The Grand Canyon with my family. Prior to that, I flew to California to meet with some of our investors.

What vax did you get? 

I’m a proud recipient of two Moderna jabs.

Your go-to takeout?

Taqueria Milear in Crown Heights. Amazing burritos.

Where does your patience wear thinnest — evictions or anti-vaxxers?


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