Saturday, October 26, 2013

PERE Summit / Wrong way turns out right / NAREIM Job Fair

PERE Summit          

More than 250 delegates attended this week’s Private Equity Real Estate Summit in New York City.   The audience was sprinkled with a healthy cross-section of commercial and institutional real estate professionals. 

The size of the group and setup at the Convene Conference Center allowed participants to network and have substantive conversations with one another. Clearly, bigger is not always better when it comes to industry events.

When the audience was asked to vote on which property bubble would burst first, New York and London luxury residential were the leaders.  Later, a panelist commented that while there’s a lot of foreign money being ‘parked’ in New York via really, really expensive apartments (one building now approaching $6,000 per square foot!) he didn’t see that this insane pricing trend could continue for much longer…but, then again, who really knows?

The panel I moderated included Jeff Blau of Related, Marty Burger of Silverstein Properties and Kevin Davis of Taconic Investment Partners.  Related is the developer of Hudson Yards, which may be the largest real estate development ever undertaken in the United States.  Silverstein was the owner of the World Trade Center at the time of the September 11 terrorist attack in 2001.  Silverstein is getting very close to opening their new building at 4 World Trade Center.

Taconic Investment Partners is housed in the Google building at 111 Eighth Avenue, which they formerly owned and continue to manage.  Kevin said the atmosphere in some ways is like a large, multi-storied college campus. Very cool…as you would expect from Google!

Audience curiosity was spirited regarding the Hudson Yards and WTC developments. Efficiency of space was mentioned as one of the most important criteria in attracting large office tenants. Both projects will have significant retail and restaurant components.  When completed, Hudson Yards will have 30,000 people working and 10,000 people living in its neighborhood from 10 to 12 Avenues between 30 and 33 streets. It is being developed on a 26-acre parcel, the largest single piece of undeveloped land in Manhattan with 14 acres allocated to open space and parks. The scale of this project is mind-boggling, even for someone from New York!

Those of us who have developed or redeveloped a property know the courage, stamina and resources needed to take the project from start to finish.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  But there’s nothing like the experience of visiting a site where construction is taking place and feeling the energy and seeing its progress.   Not to mention the satisfaction from visiting the finished building and watching the tenants move in. 

When I was a kid my grandfather took me to a construction site in Manhattan.  Peep-through holes had been created in the wooden barricade walls surrounding the site at varying heights to allow kids and adults to view what was going on.  I was a ‘Sidewalk Superintendent’ - a term introduced in the 1940’s to describe pedestrians stopping to watch construction or demolition work. Possibly due to insurance risk, those holes in the walls are no longer part of the construction landscape.  But I’ll never forget my grandfather holding my hand and taking me to see that building under construction.  Just one of those fond childhood memories that never disappear. 

Grandpa was a furrier most of his career.  After retirement age he started working in an admin role for a real estate company.  He told me a mysterious real estate related story about his father, my great-great grandfather, Simon Silverman.  The legend goes that Simon owned a number of small apartment buildings on upper Park Avenue in Manhattan.  Somehow, the ownership of these buildings was taken from him.  It was never clear if this was the result of a partnership dispute, unpaid taxes or a foreclosure. It seems that no one will ever know the real truth as all who might have known have since passed on.  But isn’t that sometimes what hand-me-down family stories are all about??

Wrong way turns out right      

My friend and I were getting on the #7 train at Grand Central heading to Times Square to catch the #1 uptown.  We were talking and obviously weren’t paying attention.  When the train made the next stop it was clear we had gone in the wrong direction.

Vernon Boulevard was the stop. Neither of us had ever been there.  It was one of those annoying stations that require you to exit and repay to go in the other direction. Once at street level we noticed there were restaurants on three of the four corners.  We were both famished so they all looked good.  “You pick one,” I was told.  I looked at each from a distance and said, “That one…Chez Henri.”

We walked into the quaint little cafĂ© - one that might be found in a small French village.  It was lunchtime and, while we were shown to an empty table, the hostess warned us that it may take a while to get our food.  We liked the place  and decided to stay.

I’ve learned over the years that not everyone is a ‘sharing’ type eater but my dining companion and I have this in common.  First we shared a crepe…mushrooms, leek and goat cheese.  Tres bonne!  We then shared a sandwich…grilled chicken, swiss cheese and ratatouille on a wonderful Ciabatta.  Equally excellent!! 

Cafe Henri is named after a sweet dog whose picture is both on their business card and in a photo that hung behind our table.  This place is worth checking out at 1010 50th Ave, Long Island City. They actually have another location in Manhattan, at 27 Bedford St (between Downing St & Houston St) which we now also plan to try!

The piece de resistance at lunch was when “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” started playing as we were leaving.  My favorite song.  Magnifique!  Moments like these – they just happen.  Enjoy them.  Relish them.  No food pun intended!


The National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers is holding their first job fair. 

Students attending the Urban Land Institute (ULI) fall meeting in Chicago have the opportunity to spend time meeting with a number of leading investment management firms at the NAREIM headquarters located in the Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River.

Register here for the job fair.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 / 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

410 N. Michigan Ave.
Suite N330
Chicago, IL 60611



Elaine Philis who has joined TGM.
Monica Khalid now with Sentinel Real Estate.
Lindsey Sugar joined Triton Pacific.

On the Road...

Oct. 28 - 30:  PREA (Pension Real Estate Association) Annual Investor Real Estate Conference, Chicago, IL

Nov. 20 - 21:  Johns Hopkins University, Carey Business School, Edward St. John Real Estate Program; Conducting a workshop for students: Careers in Real Estate / Interview Skills, Drills & Thrills, Washington, DC

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