President at Lightstone
How much longer can this go on?
I don’t think this will end in a traditional sense. We are in the process of transitioning to a new normal, and some impacts of the pandemic will be everlasting.
At the same time, COVID’s tentacles are far-reaching, and, from a business perspective, the supply chain shows no signs of normalcy. Everything from microchips to sports schedules are completely off-kilter. If we’re pegging a date, I think distribution channels for goods need until at least 2023 to sort themselves out.
What does normal look like?
Much of what we have gotten accustomed to over the course of this pandemic will persist indefinitely, but with waning intensity. Masks, vaccine cards and Zooms are normal; extreme self-isolation is abnormal. The proliferation of outdoor dining is normal; shivering through outdoor dining in the middle of winter is abnormal.
At the end of the day, I don’t see this pandemic as fundamentally transformative. Human beings are social animals — it’s in our DNA. The implication is that while hybrid work might be more prevalent, the desire for collaboration will ultimately cause us to gravitate back to the office. And, while travelers may be more thoughtful about their destinations, we have already seen that the desire for exploration and social interaction is inevitable.
If you could go back in time to March of 2020, what’s the first thing you would do?
Get a haircut. Stock up on sweatpants. Go on a diet. And buy Marriott stock.
What do you do now that you never did before 2020?
I now know what everyone on my team and all my business associates’ living rooms and bedrooms look like.
What’s the biggest threat to the return to normal?
I’ve been continually surprised over the last year and a half by two contradictory themes: on the one hand, how adaptable people can be; and, on the other, how stupid they can be. The former has gotten us through this pandemic so far. The latter is what will prevent us from full recovery, so long as individuals perpetuate and strengthen the virus variants by not getting the safe, readily available vaccines and complying with mask requirements.
Is now the time to buy or sell?
Buy. I think we’ve turned a corner, and almost every asset class is poised to benefit from broad societal resurgence, particularly in New York, where we’re long-term investors. The inflationary environment also presents attractive opportunities to buy at a discount to replacement cost around the country. This is all subject to Washington not screwing it up.
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?
I think the emergency measures that were put into effect during the pandemic were a useful tool but no longer warranted — we’re long past due to start a phaseout of the moratorium.
Eric Adams or Curtis Sliwa?
Only France would elect a beret-wearing mayor.
Last time you got on an airplane, what was your destination?
Los Angeles to visit construction of our new development, dual-branded Marriott Moxy and AC hotels in Downtown L.A.
What vax did you get?
Your go-to takeout?
Where does your patience wear thinnest — evictions or anti-vaxxers?