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Young Jewish Professionals: Dealmakers Summit

admin | November 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

The Young Jewish Professionals hosted their annual Real Estate Deal Makers Summit at Herrick’s offices on November 4th. The YJP is a non-profit based in New York and focuses on providing business and networking opportunities for the new generation of Jewish Business leaders. The Real Estate Dealmakers Summit brought together high-profile panelists and industry luminaries at exclusive roundtable events which allowed attendees to gain direct access to leaders in the industry.

Belinda Schwartz, Chair of Herrick’s Real Estate department, held a “fireside chat” with Ziel Feldman, Chairman and Founder of HFZ Capital Group. Ms. Schwartz and Mr. Feldman were keynote speakers at the event.

YPJ Belinda and Ziel Feldman

Ziel Feldman and Belinda Schwartz

Ms. Schwartz asked, “What important skill, or set of skills, should a real estate professional have in order to be successful?” Mr. Ziel responded, “You have to know the trends, nationally and internationally. You also have to know your customer, whether it’s a tenant or buyer, it’s important to know the goals of your customer for every transaction.”

In response to the question about how to handle a busy schedule and extensive network, Mr. Ziel said, “I am lucky. I have two sons who entered the business. I think the main thing is to know when to delegate. You need to have good partners you can rely on which means you need to know how to surround yourself with people you can trust. There has to be a balance. Work isn’t everything. There should be a healthy balance of family, charity and work.”

When asked to discuss one of the most exciting deals he has ever worked on, Mr. Feldman said, “The Rock & Roll amusement park in Myrtle Beach. It was a great concept but it failed. We opened in the summer of ’08 and, because it was in Myrtle Beach, people would drive to the park. That summer, gas prices were insane so we were doomed from the start. Thus my point of knowing the market, studying trends and knowing your customers!”

“What do you worry about?” asked Ms. Schwartz. “Supply and demand mostly,” commented Mr. Feldman, “Places like San Francisco and Miami are economically as healthy as they have ever been. New York’s population continues to grow. There is a huge demand for housing. I am concerned about the aggressive underwriting that leads to downward pressure on pricing. It can become a self-prophesizing cycle. Real estate like art is a commodity.”

“With all this taken into account, how does one become Ziel Feldman?” enquired Ms. Schwartz. Laughing, Mr. Feldman replied: “You have to do it for as long as I have! But on a serious note, it is way more challenging to create wealth in the tri-state than in used to be in the past. You have to be a student of global economics, currencies, demographics and movements in other countries. What happens in China could affect a deal you are working on here, right down to affecting the cost of the drywall you are putting into your building. All these factors come into play.”

In closing, Ms. Schwartz asked what it takes to be a good leader. Mr. Ziel responded: “A leader has to be likeable and have the ability to delegate to people who are capable of carrying out your vision. You cannot create a successful development company and run it as a one-man show. It’s also a lot about luck. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference.”

Bisnow’s State of the Market: How are Deals Getting Done? An Investment and Finance Outlook

admin | October 27, 2015 in Bronx,Development,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Bisnow hosted the annual “State of the Market” real estate event at 4 Times Square on October 22, 2015. Panelists focused on capital markets, growth across asset classes and New York’s new development pipeline.  Herrick’s Real Estate Chair, Belinda Schwartz, moderated the panel entitled: “How are deals getting done? An investment and finance outlook.”

Panelists included:

  • Ralph Herzka, Chairman & CEO, Meridian Capital Group, LLC
  • Michael Nash, Global Head, Real Estate Debt Strategies, Blackstone Group
  • Bob Knakal, Chairman, NY Investment Sales, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.
  • Abraham Hidary, CEO, Hidrock Realty, Inc.

Belinda opened the discussion with the statement: “Real estate is one of the hottest investment food groups!” Turning to her panelists, she solicited their insights on deals in the market, how to unlock value in properties and how the capital stack has changed over the years. The panel also explored the pipeline of deals that have yet to hit the market, whether the pace of these deals will stay steady for 2016 and what the factors are in creating this exuberant market.

Abraham Hidary commented, “Debt markets are strong. The market was just exceptional in 2014 but up to now we have been doing really well.” Mike Nash added, “Our largest year for business has been 2015. Real estate as an investment is an excellent vehicle.” Ralph Herzka explained, “Real estate has outperformed everything else. Yields keep going down. It is just a solid investment.”

Mr. Nash pointed out that international investors will go offshore to London, Paris or New York where the market is transparent. He noted, “Real estate is a cyclical business but it pays off. It may be a slow burn but it always pays off.” He also said, “Alternative investment forms are not great. There are so many factors spurring on real estate. Where else can you put money down at 0%?”

Mr. Knakal said, “The reason there is so much activity in the market is because capital is thirsty and makes transactions easy to do. In the boom cycles of the 80’s and early 2000’s, lenders were generous with financing. Geopolitical risk around the world is pushing people to invest in NYC real estate to protect their assets. This is what creates demand for the marketplace.” Mr. Herzka added, “Smart money is what we are seeing in the capital stack. The capital stack can get aggressive but we don’t see a lot of risk in our deals. The key is to manage our clients’ expectations.” Mr. Hidary said, “We are in an efficient marketplace. We have to know the right deals and know exactly what we are looking for. Once we find what we want, we bring in brokers like Ralph. Simplicity is key when riding out a downturn.”

On the subject of what neighborhoods might be the “next big thing,” Mr. Knakal explained: “I am kind of bullish about Jamaica, Queens. It’s a remarkable place. The transport in the area is of the best in the city. Retail does well in this area. The affordable housing agenda is perfect for this part of the city. Creating the right incentives in Jamaica will make this area a diamond in the rough.” Mr. Herzka was a bit broader in his response in saying, “Just like San Francisco or even Ohio, people want the ability to walk to work. People do not want to spend their lives in commuter traffic. If we can make jobs more accessible, any neighborhood can be the next big thing. I saw a development in Delaware recently that had beautiful luxury housing. The housing and development phenomenon is not in New York only and technology is big driver in all of this.” Mr. Hidary said, “Ten years ago I would have told you the Garment District was the next big thing but right now West Chelsea is hot. This area has shown tremendous growth and has gone through 50% gentrification already. There are lifestyle hubs, gyms and restaurants. The area around Barclays in Brooklyn has also shown tremendous growth.”

Mr. Nash concluded the discussion by saying, “Formation of neighborhoods, creating cool spaces, converting something old into something new — these are things that drive growth. Areas like Brooklyn and Queens have already shown how successful doing this can be.”

Community and Business Leaders Discuss LIC’s Future at Bisnow’s Recent Panel

admin | August 20, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Bisnow’s Future of Long Island City was held at Water’s Edge Restaurant, with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the 59th Street Bridge as a backdrop to the event. Mitch Korbey moderated the first panel of the day entitled, “Creating a Community,” and panelists included:

  • Sheila Lewandowski, Co-Founder, The Chocolate Factory Theater
  • David Maundrell, Founder,
  • Jenni Kim, COO, MoMA PS1
  • Joshua Schneps, President, LIC Flea & Food
  • Jodi Stein, VP, Lightstone Group

The discussion kicked off with Jenni Kim speaking about the impact MoMA PS1 has had on the LIC community and how MoMA PS1 has steadily been drawing a growing art audience into Queens. “People are starting to realize it’s more than just two stops on a train,” Jenni said. “An entire world of art that they have not experienced yet is just really, really close.” Sheila Lewandowski spoke about how big box stores seem to be stifling some of the charm of the neighborhood, and while she is an advocate of progress, the ability to grow and create a community should be more than brand name stores, pharmacies and banks. She said, “Long Island City’s charm comes from the mom and pop stores we have around here.”

Jodi Stein mentioned that she didn’t believe that Long Island City was “up and coming” but rather that it has already arrived and said: “I am really excited for what lies ahead here. There is so much opportunity in Long Island City and the opportunities will continue at the current growth rate.” David Maundrell echoed Jodi and Sheila’s sentiments in that, in order to create a community and promote growth, the charm of home-grown stores and development needs to be encouraged. He also said: “I do believe that while Long Island City has ‘arrived’ we still don’t have the infrastructure, as far as schools, to support the out-of-staters and families who are now skipping Manhattan, and swarming to live here.” Josh Schneps said that he has been seeing a wide demographic range frequenting the LIC Flea & Food market on weekends because there is a genuine curiosity for people to try something different. “The streets are really quiet around here on the weekend. So, the LIC Flea has been a nice oasis for people in and outside the community to go spend some time outdoors and try a great variety of foods and goods. We have many visitors from Brooklyn and Manhattan as people are starting to realize that we are a short train ride away and we have so much to offer here.”

Mitch Korbey kept a lively discussion going and concluded the panel by reminding the audience that development and investor opportunities are welcome in Long Island City, with hopeful fingers crossed that retaining the charm and personality of the neighborhood will be high on the priority list!

For Bisnow’s recap of the full event, click here.


An Air Rights Plan to Help Hudson River Park

admin | April 4, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments (4)


You may have heard about an innovative and ambitious plan being developed by the Hudson River Park Trust, intended as a way to finance (in part) the ongoing construction and continued maintenance of the group’s namesake, five-mile-long open space, which stretches from the Battery to 59th Street in Manhattan, encompassing a “500-acre footprint” including over a dozen piers extending into the Hudson.

The group is currently in the planning stages for a proposal that would effectively transfer unused development rights tied to a certain number of the existing piers (quoted in recent press coverage as the equivalent of approximately 1.6 million square feet), to an area defined as a special “transfer district” (similar to the underlying framework along the High Line and other delineated areas in the City), covering roughly one City block’s width in from the shoreline, for the full length of the Park.


How did it get so late so soon?*

admin | January 31, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments (5)


Last week, David Greenfield (44th District, Brooklyn) was selected to chair the City Council’s Land Use Committee, but a number of key agency appointments in the de Blasio administration remain vacant or unconfirmed.  With turnover being widely reported at the top of City Planning, Landmarks, the BSA and HPD (to name just some) we, along with many others with an interest in land use and real estate, eagerly await word on those and other appointments. (more…)

A Little Off the Top? – “Illegal” Addition to be Removed

Eldad Gothelf, LEED AP Urban Planner, Herrick's Land Use Group | May 6, 2010 in Department of Buildings,Landmarks,Uncategorized | Comments (14)

Image Courtesy of Landmark West!

Image Courtesy of Landmark West!

As reported this week in the Wall Street Journal, an Upper West Side townhouse will have to demolish a top-floor addition (see shaded portion in above image) due to a lack of approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

In 2005, the owners (at that time) of the townhouse, 12-14 W. 68th St.,  received a permit from the Department of Buildings (DOB) to construct a 6th-floor penthouse addition.  15 years earlier, however, the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District was created.  The Historic District covers this portion of West 68th St.  Being in a Historic District, of course, requires approval from the LPC for any alterations to the façade of the building.  No such approval was obtained from the LPC. (more…)