Saturday, December 7, 2013

Historic Real Estate In New York City / Commercial Real Estate 101

Historic Real Estate In New York City

This week I had the opportunity to celebrate the holidays at two historic real estate landmarks.  On Tuesday night it was the Apollo Theatre in Harlem - a legendary music and cultural venue.  Former Doobie Brother pianist and lead singer Michael McDonald brought his “Evening of Holiday & Hits” to New York City. 

The Apollo theatre is in beautiful condition and the sound was exceptional. The staff couldn’t have been friendlier.  McDonald and his band played holiday songs as well as a number of big Doobie Brothers hits.  The audience was on their feet dancing! It was so much fun!! His message of peace and understanding was punctuated in the final encore song, ‘Takin’ It To The Streets.’ 

But this was only the appetizer.  On Wednesday night I had the privilege of attending the Rockefeller Center Tree lighting ceremony with my business partner, Liz Weiner.  Thanks to the generosity of Steve Wechsler of Tishman Speyer, we were in attendance at the 81st Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.  It was a beautiful night in New York.  Thousands of people had lined the streets by late afternoon hoping to get close enough to see that special moment when the tree lights are turned on.

Having an invitation allows you direct access to the party held in the Sea Grill restaurant.  Interestingly enough, once inside, you find yourself wanting to go back outside and be closer to the tree! When we got out and worked our way up to one of the observation areas it was truly a site to behold – in addition to the thousands in the street, there were hundreds of people standing in the windows of the office buildings that look down on the tree; their silhouettes looked somewhat surreal.  As the time for the tree lighting drew closer, the windows filled up, as did the carpet-covered ice skating rink. 

While I have previously attended this festive event, this was the first time I was able to find a spot outside, right in front of the tree, and be there when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Tishman Speyer’s Jerry Speyer flicked the switch that lit the 45,000 colored lights on the 76-foot tree.  

All major cities of the world have architectural wonders. For me, New York’s Rockefeller Center always brings back fond memories during the holiday season.  I remember the tradition of driving my sons in from New Jersey when they were young, on a random Sunday evening, just so they could see the tree. 

But it’s more than the ‘tree’…it’s the people ice skating, the flags blowing in the wind, the lightshow of snowflakes on the skyscrapers and the confluence of a global community. It’s the feeling and the energy created by the season and the enjoyment that fills us up during this time. Many tourists seeing the tree for the first time, and others - New Yorkers like me - who take every opportunity to walk the promenade (I especially like to see the statue 0f Prometheus on that promenade overlooking the ice) smiling to themselves with the thought, “This is what New York City is all about.”  

Come visit New York City this holiday season.  It’s magical!  

Commercial Real Estate 101

During a breakfast meeting this week the talk turned to the number of college students in university real estate programs and their plans after graduation.  Both my breakfast partner and I agreed on a recommendation for these students: learn the business from the ground up!

We talked about the life cycle of income-producing real estate and all the disciplines and jobs necessary to create or re-create profit from real estate.

I’m not certain but it feels like the real estate industry is different than others.  Maybe not.  If there is a difference, perhaps it’s that developed real estate – office buildings, apartments, shopping centers, manufacturing facilities, hotels – is part of our everyday existence… we live, work and play in real estate.  Could that be what attracted me to real estate more than 30 years ago - and what still attracts young people today?

When a college student asks you about the type of summer internship that might be most useful to them, share the concept of getting in on the ground floor and the value of gaining experience on the way up. Come to think of it, taking an internship, or even a part time job, where you carry bricks on a construction site could help build the foundation of a career in real estate.

Commercial real estate is a great industry.  No matter whether you have dreams of owning and operating - or investing - in real estate, you should know everything about what makes a property tick and how to make money for yourself and your investors.  Observe those that have been successful.  Learn what they did.  Talk with people in all different types of jobs connected to the property – leasing agents, building managers, the maintenance team and even the mailman – you can gain more knowledge, as well as a fresh perspective, from everyone you speak to. Learn how to manage costs, increase income, attract and retain tenants and be financially and environmentally responsible. And, when it comes to decision making, the ‘gut’ instinct (Is this a good location?  Is this a good investment?) should not be ignored.

On The Road...

Dec. 9:  Welco Real Estate Holiday Party, New York, NY

Jan. 22 - 24, 2014:  IMN (Information Management Network) Winter Forum on Opportunity and Private Fund Investing, Laguna Beach, CA

Mar. 11 - 14: MIPIM, Cannes, France

May 4 - 7:  CRE (Counselors of Real Estate) Mid-year meetings, Austin, TX

May 16:  Annual meeting of The Hoyt Fellows, North Palm Beach, FL

Rockefeller Center Tree 2014

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