The 2020 Real Estate Power 100: 51-100
The 2020 Real Estate Power 100: 51-100
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When Doug Harmon and Adam Spies joined Cushman & Wakefield in 2016, it was a major move in the investment sales world. The team, which had handled the 2015 sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for $5.3 billion, had to regain their footing after the shift while falling behind their competitors at CBRE. But they’ve returned to top form, leading city investment sales with $10.9 billion in deals last year.
Darcy Stacom and William Shanahan teamed up years ago. Stacom made her mark at CBRE in 2006 while representing Metropolitan Life in the $5.4 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to Tishman Speyer. Shanahan left Cushman & Wakefield in 2002 to join CBRE, where the two have completed a number of major deals, including Google’s 2018 acquisition of Chelsea Market for $2.4 billion.
Although the company is headquartered in Atlanta and Cologne, Germany, Jamestown has iconic projects in New York City as well, with its largest move being the $2.4 billion sale of Chelsea Market to Google. Jamestown, which is led by Michael Phillips, owns a stake in nine different buildings or developments in New York City, including One Times Square and Industry City, located on Brooklyn’s waterfront.
Albert Behler leads a $3 billion company with a portfolio of more than 10 million square feet, and whose 2014 initial public offering was the largest ever for a real estate investment trust. The Paramount Group owns Class A office properties in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, but its New York portfolio, which includes skyscrapers on Wall Street and Fifth Avenue, generates the bulk of the company's net operating income.
It may not be among the best-known developers in New York, but Hines is certainly among the most highly regarded. Under Tommy Craig’s leadership, the firm has earned a reputation for its commitment to design. Thirty-five years ago, the Houston-based firm’s first major project in the city was the Lipstick Building on Third Avenue. More recently, Craig led the development of 7 Bryant Park.
Although it’s now one of the largest U.S. real estate brokerages, Compass was launched by co-founders Robert Refkin and Ori Allon in 2012 to disrupt the real estate industry with a tech-driven strategy. Their aim was to provide better information to brokers and buyers, an approach they’ve taken into other major cities. Allon was once director of engineering at Twitter, and Refkin previously worked at Mckinsey and Goldman Sachs.
A man of many trades, Doug Steiner is a real estate developer at Steiner Equities Group and Steiner NYC, while also owning and operating Steiner Studios, the largest film and television production studio in the U.S. outside Los Angeles. Combining his two fields of work, Steiner is currently in the process of expanding his Brooklyn-based production studio, which is expected to be completed in the mid-2020s.
Although headquartered in New York City, the Lightstone Group has a national presence, with activity in 21 states and a $2 billion portfolio. As founder and CEO, David Lichtenstein has been a prominent donor to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a point that was raised when Lichtenstein was able to obtain city approval to tear down five historic buildings and erect the Moxy Hotel in their place near Manhattan’s Union Square.
The Manhattan-based, privately controlled real estate company RFR was co-founded by Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs in 1991. The company owns or manages such properties as the Seagram Building and, as of last year, the Chrysler Building. Rosen has been active politically, forging a relationship with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Last year, as de Blasio was gearing up for a presidential run, Rosen hosted a fundraiser for him that cost $5,000 a plate.
Since joining Hudson in 1995, David Kramer has played a role in many of the company’s significant achievements over the years, including the redevelopment of the Brooklyn Heights Public Library into a luxury condo project, One Clinton. Today, Hudson is one of the city’s largest affordable housing developers, although it has its share of market-rate developments as well. Kramer is known as an ally of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
As executive chairman at one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms, Howard Lorber has a significant presence in New York and beyond. But, in 2019, the company’s sales were relatively flat, which Lorber blamed on weakness in the New York City market. Leading into the 2016 general election, Lorber served as an adviser to Donald Trump. Once elected, Trump appointed Lorber to head the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.
Over the past few decades, no one has built more hotels in New York than Sam Chang, who in the 1990s pioneered a new class of hotel in the city geared toward budget-minded travelers. Despite reports that he would soon retire, Chang, who has opened more than 70 hotels in the five boroughs, recently submitted plans for a new 974-room project near Times Square, which would be the largest hotel to open in the city since 1985.
Since taking the helm of the American Institute of Architects New York in 2015, Benjamin Prosky has shed light on the intersection of architecture and public policy, using his platform to look at ways that building design can reduce waste and the role that design plays in creating more equitable cities. Prosky has been named to the MTA's Major Construction Review Unit as well as an advisory panel on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway rehabilitation.
Greenland USA was founded in 2013 and is a subsidiary of Greenland Holding Group, a Chinese real estate developer. Overseeing the company’s U.S. operations, Hu Gang is responsible for managing Greenland USA’s majority stake in the ambitious Pacific Park megaproject, a 22-acre development formerly known as Atlantic Yards. The Downtown Brooklyn project, which includes the Barclays Center, may not be completed until 2035 and is one of the largest ongoing developments in New York City.
As the leaders of a landlord group with 25,000 members, Joseph Strasburg and Aaron Sirulnick had their hands full after a difficult year last year. In July 2019, the Rent Stabilization Association and Community Housing Improvement Program filed a long-shot lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of last year’s sweeping rent regulation laws. This year, the association will have to fight emboldened tenant rights activists looking to eliminate major capital improvement rent hikes.
As the head of a trade group representing 4,000 property owners and managers, Jay Martin is one of rent control’s most outspoken opponents – though his bipartisan approach gives him more credibility than some industry advocates. He is now fighting the pro-tenant “good cause” eviction bill in the state Legislature. Martin recently proposed a five-year freeze on property taxes for owners of some rent-stabilized buildings and a tax credit to help landlords reduce carbon emissions.
While Simon Property Group is an Indianapolis-based real estate firm, it is one of the largest real estate investment trusts in New York, based on square footage owned. Led by David Simon, the firm owns five shopping malls in New York. Outside of the U.S., Simon Property Group’s biggest market is Japan, followed by Korea and Canada. The Harvard Business Review has recognized Simon as one of the world’s best performing CEOs.
MaryAnne Gilmartin announced at the end of last year that she would split off from L+L MAG, which she helped found nearly two years ago. Her new company, MAG Partners, is in its preliminary stages, but includes 12 former L+L MAG employees. Gilmartin also served as CEO of Forest City Ratner, playing a key role in the development of the Barclays Center and the Pacific Park megadevelopment in Brooklyn.
Home to over 400 businesses employing more than 10,000 people and generating over $2 billion in economic activity per year, the Brooklyn Navy Yard is an industrial park that is managed by the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp., and its president and CEO, David Ehrenberg. The waterfront property is still expanding, with the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s employment office reporting at the end of 2019 that it had hired almost 600 people during the year.
The 35-acre former industrial space that has been reborn as the $450 million Industry City has created thousands of jobs since 2013. Andrew Kimball, the CEO of Industry City, oversees the project’s development. The latest challenge for Kimball is contending with New York City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who has held up Industry City’s plans for a land use review and an eventual rezoning and expansion along Brooklyn’s waterfront.
As Airbnb eyes a public offering this year, New York City’s regulatory environment remains a thorn in its side. With $5 billion in annual global revenue, the short-term rental platform has deep pockets, but Josh Meltzer, the company’s chief lobbyist in New York, has been unable to overcome opposition to lifting the New York City’s 30-day minimum rental policy from the Hotel Trades Council, the Hotel Association of New York City, REBNY and affordable housing activists.
Stuart Saft, a partner and real estate practice group leader, joined the international law firm Holland & Knight in 2012. He has represented a laundry list of developers of resorts, condominiums and housing complexes over the years. Saft also chairs the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums, which advocates for co-op and condo owners in the city. He has represented high-profile clients like Harry Macklowe, Soho Properties, the Moinian Group and Extell Development Co.
Founded in 1997, Kasirer has consistently ranked as one of the top lobbying firms in New York City, representing clients across many industries, including real estate. Among Suri Kasirer’s most recent projects are managing all New York City government relations in regard to Delta’s terminal renovations at JFK and Laguardia, in addition to leading Cornell University through the land use approval process for the development of its Cornell Tech campus.
James Capalino perennially ranks among the top-earning lobbyists in New York City. Known for expertise in real estate and land use matters, Capalino and his firm were involved in the development of the High Line, Hudson Yards and Chelsea Market, as well as the Inwood rezoning. The de Blasio ally’s clients include some of the biggest names in the business: Blackstone, Silverstein Properties, Related Cos. and Rudin Management.
Founded in the 1990s by Joseph Chetrit and his three brothers, the privately held Chetrit Group is best known for its acquisition and failed redevelopment of the Chelsea Hotel, beginning with its purchase in 2011 and sale in 2013, in addition to the company’s pre-recession real estate buying spree. Outside of New York City, the real estate group also owned a stake in Chicago’s Willis Tower.
Having been named executive director in January after serving as acting executive director since August of 2019, Robert Wessels is bringing his 30 years of experience in the construction industry to advocate for the unionized heavy civil construction industry. Members of the organization have contributed to major infrastructure projects, like the expansion of the Second Avenue subway line and the replacement of the Tappan Zee bridge.
A former New York City councilman and chief of staff to then-Council President Carol Bellamy, few insiders know New York’s political and regulatory terrain better than Edward Wallace. A top land use expert, Wallace has represented academic institutions like Columbia and New York University, as well as major real estate companies. Amazon recently turned to the high-powered lobbyist to try to salvage its plan to build a headquarters in Queens.
As one of the leading public relations companies representing organizations within the real estate industry in New York City, Marino has represented such major clients as the Real Estate Board of New York, New York University and TF Cornerstone, and currently represents The Moinian Group, Jamestown, Industry City and Douglaston Development. The father-son duo of Frank and John Marino lead the organization, which also has deep expertise in land use matters. The firm was founded in 1993 and has a presence in New York, Los Angeles and Boston.
As senior partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, Howard Weiss chairs the firm’s New York City land use practice, advising clients on zoning and land use matters. Weiss had previously gained industry experience in city government, having served as senior project coordinator for the Office of the Chairman of the City Planning Commission, as well as special assistant to the deputy mayor for policy and planning in former New York City Mayor Ed Koch’s administration.
In his role as managing principal at BFC Partners, Donald Capoccia leads the company’s affordable housing initiatives in emerging neighborhoods throughout New York City. Aside from his role at the company, Capoccia was a founding member of the New York State Affordable Housing Association in 1998. With this background, it was under Capoccia’s guidance that BFC Partners became the first developer in New York City to mix low- and middle-income restricted apartments with market-rate rentals.
Jeffrey Levine founded Douglaston Development in 1979 and has since overseen the construction and rehabilitation of thousands of residential units and millions of square feet of real estate space, including affordable and luxury housing, senior housing, retail and office space. He is a founding member of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing as well as a member of the Real Estate Board of New York’s executive committee.
A former member of the New York City Council and former chairman of the New York City Bar Association’s Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee, Kenneth Fisher is a go-to real estate attorney, lobbyist and influential voice in the media on issues concerning the industry. He has worked on rezonings across the city and is an expert on the rent stabilization system, which underwent an overhaul last year.
Known for her expertise in land use matters, Michele de Milly’s firm represents large property owners in the health care and education sectors as well as other major corporations. She has been involved in the rezoning of Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood by working with the community and area civic organizations. Consistently ranked among the top lobbyists in New York City, de Milly was a major bundler for Corey Johnson during the City Council speaker’s 2017 campaign.
The scion of a prominent real estate family, Charles Cohen owns and manages more than 12 million square feet of property across the country, including a portfolio of skyscrapers in Manhattan. A film producer on the side, Cohen purchased a movie theater chain from Mark Cuban in 2018. Steven Cherniak is the chair of the Midtown East Partnership, which played an active role in that area’s recent rezoning.
Co-owners Simon Dushinsky and Isaac Rabinowitz founded the real estate development firm Rabsky Group in the early 1990s, focusing on the development of condominiums for the Hasidic Jewish community in New York City, and specifically in Brooklyn. Dushinsky and Rabinowitz, who combined their names to come up with Rabsky, are notably quiet and private. One ongoing project involves building a 73,000-square-foot mixed use building in Williamsburg.
A fast-growing developer that has already built more than two million square feet of real estate, BRP focuses largely on affordable housing in and around New York City, including ongoing projects in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. The company should receive a boost to its business once the federal Opportunity Zones program, which provides tax incentives to invest in underserved communities, is up and running.
Joseph Sitt serves as chairman of Thor Equities Group, CEO of Thor Retail Advisors, chairman of Thor Urbana and chairman and managing principal of Thor Urban Property Funds. While the company’s scope is global, with 160 properties worldwide, in New York City Sitt is known for his waterfront projects in Coney Island. He’s also chairman and founder of Global Gateway Alliance, a nonprofit established to push for investments in the city’s aging airports.
Famed for its affiliation with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Kushner Companies, led by Laurent Morali since 2016, reported significant growth in 2019, expanding its portfolio by 6,500 apartments and estimating its total growth to be at $3 billion. Although its stake in New York City is relatively small, Kushner Companies has recently turned its focus to the South Florida market, investing $1 billion into its expansion into the area.
Having co-founded Halstead in 1984, Diane Ramirez has been a prominent figure in the New York real estate market for over 30 years and has expanded her company into Connecticut and New Jersey. During that time, she has served on several committees within the Real Estate Board of New York, and as an appointee to the state Board of Real Estate. Last year, she received the Real Estate Board of New York’s Lifetime Leadership Award.
Starting as an agent at The Corcoran Group at the age of 23, Pam Liebman quickly climbed the ranks, founding the Corcoran Group Marketing division along the way in 1995, before becoming Corcoran’s president and CEO in 2000. The residential real estate brokerage firm has been expanding nationwide, recently opening a new affiliate in Chicago. Apart from business, Liebman was outspoken in her dislike of former Queens district attorney candidate Tiffany Cabán.
Tapped to be president of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group at just 32 years old, Kelly Kennedy Mack has led the company to where it is today as New York’s market share leader, having closed $45 billion in new sales. At the moment, some of the marketing group’s most significant development clients include 35 Hudson Yards and 25 Park Row in Manhattan, and The Greenpoint in Brooklyn.
Operating in New York City since 1906, Muss Development, now headed by father and son Joshua and Jason Muss, owns 38 real estate properties across Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and Queens and is one of New York City’s oldest commercial real estate dynasties. Joshua Muss stepped into the role of chairman in January 2019, and at the same time Jason was named president of the company.
Ross Moskowitz serves as a strategic adviser to Stroock & Stroock & Lavan’s real estate development clients, working with private companies as they interact with various government agencies regarding real estate development. Since joining the real estate practice group in 1998, Moskowitz has frequently been recognized as one of the country’s leading real estate lawyers. He has previously served as chairman of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Land Use Planning and Zoning.
Much of Vijay Dandapani’s tenure leading New York City’s powerful hotel association has been spent combating Airbnb, whether lobbying politicians or funding studies showing the abuses of the platform. With the New York City comptroller recently forecasting that hotels will run at 20% capacity through the end of the fiscal year, Dandapani’s focus has already turned to tax relief and other government aid for a sector that will be hit hard by the coronavirus.
The former general counsel to the New York City Department of City Planning, David Karnovsky has been a partner since 2014 at the international law firm Fried Frank, where he specializes in land use, zoning and real estate development. Karnovsky has worked on several high-profile zoning and land use projects in the Hudson Yards area, lower Manhattan and Brooklyn for clients like JPMorgan Chase, Tishman Speyer and Related Companies.
Founded in 1912, the Gotham Organization has remained in the family for over a century. David Picket, the current president and CEO, is the fourth generation to run the business while his father, Joel, serves as chairman. Though the company started in construction, it later entered the development business. Last year, it submitted plans to build a pair of towers in Long Island City, Queens, and this year filed to build a 30-story on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Controlling more than 345 buildings, most of them in Manhattan, Solil Management is one of the largest landlords in New York City. The $6 billion company was founded by Jane Goldman’s father Sol Goldman, who at the time of his death in 1987 had built the largest privately held real estate company in the city. It remains privately owned today. Outside of her business, Goldman and her family are known to be quiet and private.
Founded during the 2008 financial crisis, Heritage Equity Partners has played a significant role in the development of both residential and commercial buildings throughout Williamsburg, Clinton Hill and Bushwick in Brooklyn, including the trendy Williamsburg Hotel. CEO Toby Moskovitz and President Michael Lichtenstein are currently facing a few crises, however, battling the foreclosure of one of their development properties in Bushwick, while the Williamsburg Hotel is in receivership.
Having launched Toll Brothers City Living, the urban development division of Toll Brothers, in 2003, David von Spreckelsen now handles the luxury residential living developer’s portfolio of buildings throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The company has multiple ongoing projects in New York City. Von Spreckelsen has also been a longtime supporter of Mayor Bill de Blasio, having been an early fundraiser since de Blasio was a city councilman.
Following the unexpected death of Héctor Figueroa, Kyle Bragg had big shoes to fill. He also has deep roots in the union and labor movement. With a membership of around 175,000, 32BJ is one of the largest property service unions in the country. Even if Bragg doesn’t ultimately achieve his predecessor’s stature in the labor movement, the city’s building owners could be dealing with him for years to come.