Principal at BFC Partners
Tell us about a deal that did NOT go through this year and why it didn’t happen?
Unfortunately, the repercussions of COVID-related delays have continued to hinder our industry. Our closings that were scheduled to close in 2021 closed earlier this year, and our deals that were scheduled to follow were pushed a year due to the lack of bandwidth available from what I would say is an in-office ethic that followed the new norm in a post-pandemic world. The resources available to close highly subsidized affordable housing stock were significantly reduced due to health and safety concerns.I do see light at the end of the tunnel as things have now finally begun to tran- sition back to a steady flow of forward-moving progress.
Have you refinanced anything in 2022? How difficult/easy was it?
We refinanced a portion of Essex Crossing in 2022. It was straightforward.
There’s a lot of Class B and C office in NYC. If you could lay your hands on them at a really great price, what would you do with them?
We’re not in the tenancy market, as we specialize instead in affordable housing. At Essex Crossing, however, we did have some office spaces, and after COVID we converted some of the larger spaces to smaller, more boutique work environments.
What market outside of NYC do you like and why?
We like Buffalo. As a company, we are passionate about both quality and affordability of housing, and Buffalo is a city with wide swaths of neighborhoods with populations that don’t have access to grocery stores or other amenities. With all of our projects, in Buffalo or New York City, we believe that diversity and inclusivity are the recipe for success in creating neighborhoods.
There’s a midterm election this year. How closely are you following, and do you think the national political climate will have an effect in New York?
I think that the political climate nationally is tumultuous. That said, New York will always stand above with its widespread inclusivity and diversity. The local electeds in New York City really care about their constituents and have the drive to continuously make living here better.
How many days per week are you in the office?
Six days a week.
How many days per week are your tenants in the office?
Our tenants are in the office every day. Given the option to go into work, most people do, as humans crave being social.
NYC apartment rents have reached never seen levels. How much further can it go? How does the housing squeeze play out?
Our newest development, located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, is seeing rents in excess of what we underwrote the deal at only 12 months ago. I do believe we still have room for growth in rents that will only be affected by the rate of inflation. Rising interest rates in the homeownership arena in my mind is forcing the rental market to become stronger.
ESG: fad or fixture?
Fixture! We have had cogeneration plants in our buildings for over a decade and, in Crown Heights, we’ve installed the largest cogeneration plant in New York City at the Major R. Owens Health & Wellness Community Center (formerly the Bedford Union Armory).