Friday, December 14, 2012

Long Beach, NY Rebuilds / Don't like it? Change it! / RCA Holiday Party / Seize the Opportunity / LGT Clerestory

Dateline:  Long Beach, New York:  Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy is no longer news as far as the media goes.  But it is very much with the people of Long Beach, NY.  Wednesday I was allowed back in the building where I had been staying and retrieved my last few remaining belongings including my digital piano (Thanks Hal, for offering me the loan of yours).  The main commercial drag looked sort of normal.  That is until I took a closer look saw that many of the businesses and restaurants are still shut, some looking like they will never reopen. 

As I made my way to the beachfront where I had been living, the damage became more visible.  The boardwalk itself is devastated.  A number of buildings, including one for old, infirm people, have been condemned.  The facing of an apartment building had been torn off.  Piles of ripped out walls, floors, carpeting still dotted the sidewalks.  The encouraging image is of people rebuilding, their residences and their lives.  Piles of fresh plywood, new carpeting, new energy.  Yet, through all this tumult, I passed by the schoolyard of a grammar school and saw dozens of children, at recess, playing. Isn't the sound of children playing special?  In this case, it was a reminder of when things were normal.

If You Don't Like Something, Change It.
This week, 23 boxes of stuff from the house in California that had I lived in for the past 13 years were dropped off at a building in New Jersey.   My sincerest thanks to John Muscarelle of Jos. A. Muscarelle, Inc., who have been developing commercial buildings since 1926, for allowing me to use part of one of their buildings for my boxes and bicycle.  Psychologists point to certain events that can cause stress in one's life: starting a new business: check; relocating: check; selling your home: check; getting divorced: check.  Hey, why not do them all at one time? However, it did start to take it's toll.  Maybe you know the feeling.   But, as Taj Mahal sings in his classic, "Take A Giant Step," "Come with me. Leave your yesterday behind and take a giant step outside your mind." Thankfully, I have some terrific friends who have provided much-needed support and guidance during this time.  I love you guys ("Hoosiers.)"  In the waning days of 2012, I have this feeling that 2013 is going to be a great year...for all of us!

RCA Holiday Party
The Meatpacking District of Manhattan has become 'the' neighborhood of choice for commercial real estate parties.  There is so much energy on the cobblestone streets and in the bars, restaurants and clubs.  How did that area become so cool?  Well, cool people started hanging out there.  Of course, once that happens and everybody and their brother and the tourists find it, the cool people need to find the next cool place, which they keep to themselves for as look as a great secret can be kept!  RCA knows how to throw a party. They were also celebrating the launch of their new CPPI (Commercial Property Price Indices).  I was on their launch webinar the other day and  was blown away by what they have created.  These indices are incredible tools.  They allow you to slice and dice recurring sales data in a gazillion ways.  Hanging and dancing with a bunch of the RCAers and chatting with some people I hadn't seen in a while was very fun.  Everybody was smiling. Isn't that what this time of year is all about?  

Many years ago, perhaps 12, a real estate broker named Larry Ross leased RCA their first space.  It was big enough for three people as that was all RCA needed.  I had become an advisor to Larry's internet start-up Propertyrover.  He introduced me to Bob White, founder of RCA.  When Bob told me what they were doing I (a) knew the industry needed it and (b) had a good feeling about Bob.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I saw Larry last night for the first time in a number of years.  He and his partner, Christen Portelli run a commercial real estate investment sales firm called Highcap Group.  Larry is also into music and mentioned that he continues to listen to my son Brian's band, OM Trio's, first CD, "Clarified Butter".  Larry connecting Bob and I has made a huge difference in both our lives.  

Susan Hudson-Wilson Memorial Music Section
In a Youtube connecting the dots session early Wednesday morning led me to Richard Manuel, the late pianist and vocalist for The Band, singing  "Georgia on My Mind." This haunting and beautiful version is here

Some Opportunities Come Only Once, Seize Them
Joanne Douvas and Tommy Brown launched Clerestory Capital Partners in 2007.  They've raised money and have invested in other underlying funds.  When people try to figure out why a first time fund is able to raise money, Clerestory is an excellent example.  Both Joanne and Tommy had good track records and reputations.  Over the years, they had built trusted relationships with a number of the leading U.S. public pension funds.  A few years back, meeting with one of those pension funds that had invested in Clerestory's first fund I asked, "So, why did you choose to go with them?"  "I like them.  I trust them and I wanted to give them a chance to see what they could do."  So, there you have it. It's that simple, although it's not really.  There was a press release the other day that Clerestory had been acquired by LGT Capital Partners, a Swiss based alternative investment manager.  Without knowing all the details, it's likely that this will give them a bigger platform on which to grow their business.  I say, "Good for them."  They've worked hard at it and, in this case, an opportunity presented itself and they seized the moment.  

Career Coaching Tip of the Week
Last week, a friend wrote telling me he had received a job offer.  "What should I do?", he asked.  I wrote back, "Ask them if they can do any better."  The next day he wrote again.  "They did a little better.  They're sending me the contract."  Even with all the negotiating I've done in my career, many years ago I adopted this simple strategy and more often than not, it works.  Just a parting thought for today.

  • George Manthous who has joined Real Capital Analytics (RCA)
  • David Lynn on the launch of Lynn Capital Management
  • Joanne Douvas and Tommy Brown on the sale of their company, Clerestory to LGT Capital Partners.  The firm is now known as LGT Clerestory

On the road….
Dec. 15-Jan. 3, 2013:  Monrovia, Liberia (West Africa) to work with the students at the MacDella Cooper Foundation Academy and enjoy a special Christmas and New Year.
Jan. 7-9:  Dallas to provide a client with my one day self-improvement workshop series.
Jan. 21-26:  Southern California / LA for client meetings and to attend the IMN Forum on Opportunity and Private Real Estate Investing in Laguna Beach.
Apr. 28-May 1:  New York to attend the CRE (Counselors of Real Estate) mid-year meetings and possibly jam with the CRE band, "Sound Counsel."
June 4-5:  London to attend the PERE Summit-Europe

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Errors and Omissions

Sorry to intrude on your Sunday but several errors and omissions were pointed out to me and which deserve immediate attention:
  • Jon Dishell who was instrumental in organizing last weeks' NAREIM Capital Raising and Investor Relations Council Meeting works for American Real Estate Partners.  
  • Jeff Havsy, Director of Research at NCREIF was inadvertently omitted from the list of Hoyt Fellows.  
  • The location to find the sculptures of Bruno Catalano, my "Incredible Artist of the Week" had the wrong address.  The correct address is Galarie Élysées at 104 Central Park South, between 6th and 7th Avenues (closer to 6th) in Manhattan.
  • Happy Chanukah to everyone who celebrates  this holiday.

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