Saturday, December 14, 2013

Alex Hesterberg / Welco Realty Party / OTR Readers Write Back

Alex Hesterberg

I heard the sad news this week that Alex Hesterberg passed away after a very long fight with cancer. My thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.

Alex and I met years ago at a dinner hosted by his long-time former employer Chase Manhattan Bank. We were randomly seated next to each other during an International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) convention in Las Vegas.  It was the start of a friendship that lasted, on and off, for almost 30 years. 

I remember years ago, right around this time of year, Alex said to me, “Steve, you need to have a hat.”  So he took me, protesting all the way, to this now long-gone legendary hat store on Madison Avenue and helped me pick out a dressy gray hat - like my grandfather used to wear.  I was never comfortable wearing hats or thought that I looked good in a hat but I went along with it as, to me, Alex was one of those people I just couldn’t say ‘no’ to.  And, I can tell you that I actually had some fun in the process. At some point, in all my moving around, that hat disappeared.  But for years, whenever I saw it at the top of my closet, I thought of Alex and fondly remembered that day. 

For many years, Alex and I had a Christmas tradition of getting together for a long lunch and a few cocktails.   It was something we both looked forward to.  If memory serves me well it was Alex that introduced me to the martini.   Tonight I will raise a glass, close my eyes, and toast my friend Alex Hesterberg who made a difference in the commercial real estate industry and in the lives of people he touched. Thanks for the memories, Alex.

The email below from Mary Walker Fleishman, President of The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE), is a wonderful testimonial to Alex.

“It is with sadness and admiration that I share with you the passing of Alex Hesterberg, a 23 year member of The Counselors of Real Estate, on Saturday morning, December 7, 2013, after a long and tenacious battle with cancer.

Alex served for many years as a Managing Director of Deutsche Bank, specializing in credit risk management and valuation, a practice, which was international in scope.

Alex was known for an intense personality and a penchant for bright colors, worn with flair and the ever-present matching pocket square. He was never reticent about expressing a point of view, which he did with regularity on issues involving politics, the profession, and life in general.  One always knew when Alex Hesterberg was in the room, and the world will be a quieter, far less interesting place without him.”

Alex Hesterberg

Welco Realty Party

During my career I’ve had the opportunity to work in several different ‘neighborhoods’ in the commercial real estate world.  One that I spent many years - the shopping center industry. This past Monday night I visited that ‘neighborhood’ again.  Welco Realty invited me to their holiday party hosted by partners Jerry Welkis, Allen Cooperman and David Sternchuss.  It was like a walk down memory ‘mall’. 

At the party were many of my old industry friends whom I hadn’t seen in years.  Several times, when I caught someone’s eye, I stood still - realizing they might need a brief moment to process who I was. When I approached, there were lots of hugs and kisses. In a few instances, being introduced to someone by a friend, the other person said, “I know your name…but can’t remember from where.”  The evening became an enjoyable game of ‘industry geography’ until we were able to connect the dots of our history.

It was a cozy feeling on a bitterly cold night to be amongst a group of retail real estate professionals that I had worked with - and next to -for so many years.  Many of my industry connections still thought I was living in California and hadn’t realized I moved back to New York.  Others, knowing I had reinvented myself a number of times were curious and asked, “What are you doing now?”  When I told them about Behavioral Presentation Coaching, the response from some was, “I know exactly what you mean.  I know groups who can use your help.”  That is always encouraging from a new business development standpoint and I left the evening with a number of follow-up calls and meetings to be scheduled.

I’m a very lucky boy to be part of the global commercial real estate community and be able to visit different ‘neighborhoods’ from time to time.  It’s very special to find those friendly faces, sincere handshakes and open arms bringing warmth to the holiday season.

OTR Readers Write Back

I received emails this week from OTR readers sharing their memories of Christmas in New York City. Here are two I want to share with you:

“I love the tree too. And you are right...this is what NYC is about! I came here in November 1985 from California with my job located at 1 Rockefeller Center. Can you imagine a California girl arriving in New York City, working at that address, watching all the skaters and seeing the lighting of the tree?? I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Still get chills thinking about it 28 years later.”


“I enjoyed your recent posting about New York at holiday time.  I have always loved going to the city at this time of year.  My first visit, right after grad school, was during early December.  I was like a kid in a candy shop as we rode in the cab to our luncheon meeting, turning one way and then the other to see all of the decorations.  I only wished I could stay and not zip back to the airport right after lunch for the trip home.

And my claim to fame, I have actually skated on the Rockefeller Ice Rink during one of my holiday visits.  My daughter and I got up early to be there when it opened so that we could actually skate and not be hemmed in by the crowds.  What a cool memory!”

I’d love to hear your story of spending the holiday season in New York.  Or let me know when you’ll be in town – we’ll create a new memory!

 On The Road...

Dec. 19: Real Capital Analytics (RCA) 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


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