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David Rockwell is Taking on NYC’s Restaurants, Theater and Airports

the new Union Square Cafe

When David Rockwell was 12 he crossed the Hudson River with his family, ate at Schrafft’s, saw Fiddler on the Roof at the Majestic and fell in love with New York City—all in one day. Today, so many of us who share the sentiment have Rockwell himself to thank.

The designer’s handprint is everywhere from The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx to JetBlue’s JFK Terminal 5 marketplace in Queens to Imagination Playground at Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn to FAO Schwarz to Broadway (did you know he won a Tony?) to, most recently, the new Union Square Cafe.

Read complete story on CommercialObserver.comDavid Rockwell is Taking on NYC’s Restaurants, Theater and Airports

Alfa Development’s Michael Namer On History, Architecture and Sustainability

IMG_4205Many artists conceal changes to their work. Process is not always appreciated, and can be misconstrued as flaw. The appearance of an early layer—whether imperfectly erased or deliberate—is called pentimento (see Hellman, Lillian) and some artists hate it. Others revel in the study of development, the steps taken from beginning to end. Michael Namer, the chief executive officer and founder of Alfa Development Group, is among the latter.

Istanbul-born, Havana-escaped, Los Angeles-raised, New York-formed, the 61-year-old West Village resident is today, in his words, a painter by avocation, a developer-builder by vocation. Each layer of his life, his work, his building is as integral as the next.

We’re sitting in a muted model guest room on the seventh floor of the HGU New York, formerly known as the Grand Union Hotel. At 34 East 32nd Street in Manhattan, which should be ready for guests sometime in 2016. Earthy grays, blues and khakis inside deliberately negate the flashing brightness of the city. Mr. Namer, in navy sports coat and tie, stretches his khaki-clad legs, flashing the bright orange soles of his brown suede wingtips.

With seemingly little effort he’s inserted himself in every aspect of his current project. He draws himself in, deriving pleasure from everyone and everything around. On the 10th floor, the top, he found newspapers stuffed into the plaster spread during the 1915 expansion of the 1905 original building. Slowly, he extracted the pages from the wall.

“I’ll show you downstairs,” he said, delighted, describing Vanderbilt headlines and local postcards and art that will fill the 40,000-square-foot hotel, reminding or teaching guests that this place, like the city around it, is rich with history, culture and life. Mr. Namer hopes guests of the hotel and the not-yet-named, recognizable-chef-headed restaurant will be aware of their surroundings. This is New York and nowhere else.

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The Family Business: NYC Water Towers

Commercial Observer image

From most everywhere in New York City an upward tilt of the head offers an appealing view, a sight you cannot replicate anywhere else. Not the skyscrapers and spires—even though, yes, they are standouts indeed—but something more uniquely New York City: rooftop water towers.

Their likenesses and silhouettes appear in countless works of art and the towers themselves—also called tanks—have even served as canvases, too (check out The Water Tank Project, a global clean water awareness campaign supported by more than a dozen members of the real estate industry). That said, visual stimulation is just a byproduct when it comes to these structures so vital to New York City life.

“A lot of people think they are out of service or abandoned, but they serve a vital need,” said Henry Rosenwach, the 26-year-old scion of the Rosenwach family whose name is synonymous with this New York phenomenon. “Until water is gone people don’t care. It’s such a simple thing.”

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When Larry Met Bjarke…

image from
Bjarke Ingels and Larry Silverstein at 7 WTC

“It’s like in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,” said Bjarke Ingels, scrolling through images of gorgeous, multi-masted wooden sailboats on his phone, about to agree with Larry Silverstein who’d just extolled the fjords of Norway.

“Come here,” said Mr. Silverstein, gently interrupting, reaching out his arm, guiding Mr. Ingels away from the reception area and into his office at 7 World Trade Center.

“Can we come?” asked those who remained: a reporter, a photographer and two publicists (one each for Messers. Silverstein and Ingels).

“No,” said Mr. Silverstein. This was to be a private moment for the city’s newest power couple: developer and architect, honeymooning after their engagement was announced.

Last week BIG, the Bjarke Ingels Group, a New York-based design firm birthed in Copenhagen, unveiled its design for a (probably) 80-story, 1,340-foot building at 200 Greenwich Street, the fourth and final skyscraper at the 16-acre World Trade Center site. That’s 2 World Trade Center, the one that was maybe to open in 2016, the one where construction was halted at street level in 2010. The Liberty Bonds and insurance money funding 3 and 4 World Trade Center was not enough for building 2, too. It’s also the one that was originally designed by Lord Norman Foster in 2005.

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Ask For Janice: Cushman & Wakefield’s International Woman of Mystery

image from 2:00 a.m. online grocery shopping; 3:00 a.m. unexpected call from India; 4:30 a.m. board meeting call; 5:30 a.m. wake up; 6:00 a.m. family yoga; breakfast; school drop-off; arrive at office.

Just another day in the life of global real estate investment market advisor Janice Stanton, when she’s not traveling to Asia, the Middle East or some world capital.

These off-hour events may not all happen daily, but after 25 years in the real estate business, Ms. Stanton is ready for anything. Especially the new world order: “Capital doesn’t sleep now,” said the newly promoted executive managing director of capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield in a meeting at the firm’s 1290 Avenue of the Americas headquarters. “Investment strategy plans used to be three or four years out, now they could be adjusted later in the week. Capital turns rapidly.”

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Barbara Fox: The Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award Recipient

Barbara Fox. (Illustration by Russ Tudor)A political science undergrad who “sort of” had an eye toward law school, Barbara Fox started her career in New York City at Doubleday & Company. She survived about three months in publishing before making her way into her true and lasting professional home—residential real estate—at one of the historically worst times in the market.

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(Illustration by Russ Tudor)

William Rudin: The Bernard H. Mendik Lifetime Leadership in Real Estate Award Recipient

William Rudin. (Illustration by Russ Tudor) Life in the real estate industry started at birth for William Rudin, who grew up in one of his family’s buildings on the Upper East Side. The Rudins have owned properties in New York for more than a century. “It is part of my DNA,” said the chief executive officer and vice chairman of Rudin Management Company. “I was intrigued at an early age watching my grandfather, father and uncle influence the landscape of the city we love.”

Fittingly, Mr. Rudin is the recipient of this year’s Real Estate Board of New York Bernard H. Mendik Lifetime Leadership in Real Estate Award.

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(Illustration by Russ Tudor)

Peter Hauspurg: Louis Smadbeck Broker Recognition Award Winner

Peter-1Peter Hauspurg, who founded Eastern Consolidated in 1981 with his partner and wife Daun Paris, has a law degree from Fordham University. Admittedly “not a natural at practicing law,” his background has been invaluable in commercial real estate.

“It’s helpful to speak the same language as the people putting the deals together,” he said, referring to the back and forth of contract negotiations.“It’s like being the only non-Russian speaker in a room. As soon as you learn Russian you realize, ‘Jesus, you don’t know any more than I do.’ ”Always intrigued by numbers, Mr. Hauspurg specialized in tax law. But the minutiae of the year-to-year changing provisions was unappealing. Now he employs experts to, say, find ways for a C-Corp selling a property to avoid double-taxation.

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Daniel Kindbergh: George M. Brooker Management Executive of the Year Award Winner

A certified public accountant since 1982, Daniel Kindbergh was in the audit world for about four years before he joined E. F. Hutton as an accountant administering real estate limited partnerships. He moved to the operations side of real estate in 1996, around the time Olympia (his then-employer) was purchased by Brookfield Property Partners.

In those days—with no legal team (just one lawyer), no marketing team, and so forth—everyone did everything, like writing and negotiating contracts. And there wasn’t the software available today. Every task was completed manually and fortunately Mr. Kindbergh has the ability to talk to anyone and everyone: senior executives in the business world, engineers and mechanics. 

“I always had that inclination,” he said. “As a kid I worked on cars with my dad. I’m not the most technical guy around but I know enough not to get fooled.”

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Glen Weiss: REBNY Young Man/Woman of the Year Award Winner

GlenWhen Glen Weiss first walked into 11 Penn Plaza as a porter he had no idea he was starting his career. His dad was a property manager for a client of the Mendik Company, who operated the building and sought help in the summers to give vacation time to their regular porters and engineers. To the 16-year-old aspiring sportscaster this was simply a way to make money. Mr. Weiss commuted from Old Bridge, N.J., by bus with his dad, leaving around 6 a.m. “It was always in the dark,” he laughed. That was 1986. And much is still the same.

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