S2 | E3 | Dave Maundrell

Dave Maundrell:              
Hey BK with Ofer Cohen: The crazy part about it was it didn't stop. It just kept on going and getting bigger and better. It's very similar to like today in Brooklyn, people are like is Brooklyn tapped out? And I'm like nope. I get a little upset when people kind of knock what's happened over the past 20 something years because folks, I don't think you really understand what it was like.

Ofer Cohen:                      
On today's episode, I spoke to a good friend, a hipster before there were even hipsters in Williamsburg and a true visionary, Dave Maundrell.

Dave Maundrell:              
How are you?

Ofer Cohen:                      
Doing amazing.

Dave Maundrell:              
Thanks for having me.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Absolutely. Dave and I talked in our TerraCRG studio in prospect heights on what happened to be the third anniversary of the sale of his real estate firm apartments and lofts. That's kind of a big deal. We didn't really plan it.

Dave Maundrell:              
No.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Happy Anniversary.

Dave Maundrell:              
Thank you.

Ofer Cohen:                      
I remember how emotional that moment was for you.

Dave Maundrell:              
When you have a vision and you really truly have a dream and you're able to make it happen, you know, to see over those 13 years the company growing. And I really didn't, you know, when you're so immersed in this, in your business or with anything you do, sometimes you really don't know how well you're doing in terms of like, you know, touching people and your impact on, on an industry or in our case, our marketplace. And then, I would say maybe like 2012 ish, some really big players started saying, wow, you're killing it. I was like, where have you been, man, I've been killing it for a long time. But um, and that was just like kind of like mind blowing a little bit for me.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Right.

Dave Maundrell:              
And some of the people who have been on your, on the podcast, I've said this to me

Ofer Cohen:                      
After the sale, Dave took a new role at Citi Habitats as executive vice president of Brooklyn and Queens, Dave launched Apartments and Lofts back in 2002. It was the early days of Williamsburg transformation. Apartments and Lofts quickly grew, becoming one of the most successful privately owned brokerage firms throughout New York City. Dave was early in using the web and social media to compliment what is really a face to face business. Eventually he made his mark designing and building new developments.

Dave Maundrell:              
My mission was to buck the trend of the shady real estate broker and people really, really kind of started to attract to the brand I was building.

Ofer Cohen:                      
When Dave started the company, he was working for his uncle selling insurance in Queens. He became a real estate broker on the side in his home turf in Williamsburg.

Dave Maundrell:              
I would cold call people from the Village Voice and for apartments that had apartments for rent by owner, and then I would meet them after work, like at 6:00 - 7:00, get the listing and just persistence kept going, going, going.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Before the Williamsburg rezoning, this was a mostly loft conversion and somewhat illegal.

Dave Maundrell:              
I don't think Apple, I don't think iPhone was out yet. I don't think there was any podcasts at that time, you know, but yeah, it was a different world. I mean, Williamsburg at that time the waterfront was still undeveloped. And there was still the devil worshipers and the graffiti artists and the prostitutes and all that trash down in the waterfront that's now the edge where Smorgasburg is and 184 Kent is and all those projects are. So it was a different time. We had to, you know, watch your back going to your car at night, you know, at times, and you know, it was a different world, but I was used to it. I was accustomed to it because that's where I grew up so it really didn't phase me much.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Dave first noticed a change in the late nineties, artists and hipsters ventured across the river to Bedford Avenue on the L train from Manhattan. They started moving in, renting lofts and old factory buildings.

Dave Maundrell:              
Yeah I'd come home from work, go to school, come home, head to the city and go to work, get there 2:00 or 3:00, work till 9:00 at night and then take the L train back home and you know, back then, you know, everyone stayed at the back of the L train. I lived on the second stop on the L at the Lorimer stop. And the reason why everyone congregated in the last car was because that's where the 24-hour entrances were in the last car. One and two, everyone stayed together because it was dangerous. But so what would happen is I'd be on the train at 9:00, 9:30, 10:00 at night coming back home from work and I started seeing people from the East village out in Williamsburg. Started seeing people with purple hair and pink hair and leather jackets coming out of the city into Brooklyn at that time. And I'm like, what the heck is going on? So eventually what started happening was, places started opening up in Williamsburg. There was Planet Thailand, those, the original Galapagos that was veracruise. Which is a Mexican place. You know, Planet Thai used to be this small little storefront on Bedford and north seventh. I think it's Uniqlo now. That's crazy. And they made the best spicy basil chicken. Oh, it was like fire, you know, and it was like my introduction to Thai food at that time. And I started just hanging out in Williamsburg and seeing change, then what would happen is many times we'd go out and hang out in the East Village. And then we'd finish the night in Williamsburg because I still lived there at the time. And then we'd be, you know, at a punk band dive bar. It was called a sweet water on North Sixth Street, you know, at three in the morning, drinking shots of Jameson with have a bunch of people who look like the Ramones from the seventies, and I was like, this is really happening here man. And the crazy part about it was it didn't stop. It just kept on going and getting bigger and better, it's very, it's very similar to like today in Brooklyn, like people like is, you know, is Brooklyn tapped out? And I'm like, nope, just keeps growing and pushing deeper in and you know, it's, you know, there's all different opinions on happened to Brooklyn, but you know, I get a little upset when when people kind of knock what's happened over the past 20 something years because folks, I don't think you really understand what it was like in Brooklyn, in the eighties. And, and you know, even in the nineties, but like, you know, when I was growing up here at 85, 86, I mean no one, first of all, no one knew where Williamsburg was and the only time people in high school knew where Williamsburg was when I told them, You ever hear of Peter Luger? And they be like yes, and I'd go, you ever hear of the Williamsburg Bridge and they'd go, yeah and I'd go, right there. Everyone figured, everyone thought that Brooklyn was Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst. And that went through its own transformation, you know, turning the demographics as well. I feel like, you know, I'm glad I was able to see the neighborhood I grew up in, which I promise you no one knew what the Heck Williamsburg was in, you know, if you knew Williamsburg you thought about burning cars on the streets and gangs and heavy drugs and I'm serious about the burning cars on the street on Bedford Avenue and south side and such, and I was able to kind of live through that and as a kid and then participate in the transformation of the neighborhood while finding a career somehow. So kind of like, you know, I look back at all right now and I'm like, how did I get to where I am today as a person and as a businessman? It's like everything. Everything has made me who I am today so I'm, proud of, you know, being able to kind of make it through all that. Finding my niche in an industry that I love that I just stumbled across it just because of living.

Ofer Cohen:                      
What are the things that you miss the most in Williamsburg of the old days?

Dave Maundrell:              
Oh man...I just love seeing my grandfather on the corner with his quote-unquote boys hanging out, you know, in front of the pizzeria and these guys are 90, they're not getting pizza, these old guys, they were getting coffee, espresso and then little do you know, these pizzerias, they have a little secret sauce lets say, you know, for the people in the know that they put into those coffees. But you know, when your kid, you have no idea. And then when you get little older and it gets offered to you go woah!

Ofer Cohen:                      
Just give us the geographic.

Dave Maundrell:              
So I grew up on Conselyea or you know, in today's world to Con-sileyea, but we all called it Conselyea and Lorimer street. So Lorimer and Metro was a hub because the L train was there. Second stop Lorimer, you know, remember. No one ever got off at Bedford. Bedford was a ghost town. I miss a really good, authentic Brooklyn Slice of pizza. None of this thin crust.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Right there's no more slice, I was just talking about it with someone.

Dave Maundrell:              
Come on know, like, you know, I, I miss it all.

Ofer Cohen:                      
It's all thin crust with arugula on it, at best.

Dave Maundrell:              
Listen it's good. But it's, you know, if you told me if you put that fancy $46 pizza with truffle on the right side and you put a plain, regular slice, from San Marco pizzeria in Williamsburg. I'll take the San Marcos slice all day every day. I miss that. I miss graffiti on the trains.

Ofer Cohen:                      
While he's proud of his work converting lofts. Dave describes the emotions in the early days. It was the end of an era. Mom and pop factories were becoming obsolete.

Dave Maundrell:              
Can't tell you how many of those folks I met with and you saw the tears they were holding back talking to me because what a lot of them were doing was keeping, whatever's left of their business on the ground floor. And then slowly moving people in above. It was quote-unquote work live, you know, in, AIR was that you know, with some buildings, but not a lot. And it was just really kind of like, I remember those, remember one folks, that guy was on themes and having seen his eyes welling up because it's businesses, his family business, all he knew is as a person is dying and he has to make this move. And it's also extremely risky because one, the financial investment. They were using whatever they had to do it. That's how it started. I mean these people were doing it for survival at the end it became a real business.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Dave Maundrell soon took his knack for marketing and began developing and designing new buildings in Brooklyn. He was introduced to Louis Sillerman who bought the waterfront for his family's truck leasing company.

Dave Maundrell:              
Not just a piece of the waterfront, all of the waterfront.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Before the rezoning.

Dave Maundrell:              

Before the rezoning than selling a piece back to the state. I mean a masterful deal. And Louis eventually became, you know, he, he's one of my mentors, personally and professionally and I love that guy. And he called me up one day. He goes, listen, I'm thinking about developing one of my properties on Broadway. It was 20 Broadway, he saw I was a hustler and worker, I had no experience doing this. He goes okay, send me a proposal. Then I was like, oh man. I don't have a proposal. So I actually took weeks and looked at other firms proposals and I came up with my own spin to it at the time, my wife was a graphic designer and I said, I'm going to go now I'm going a wow this guy. So I go into the ultimate pitch after he's meeting with other companies and I go to me a favor, can you type into your computer Broadwayriverview.com and he looks at me and he does it and his jaw drops, he turns around and goes, what is this? I go, that's what I'm going to do for you. So basically I went, bought the domain, created a website with a logo and everything for him, which eventually that logo actually was the one that was chosen.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Right. So, but this was the first time you did it and then you developed some kind of, kind of a model around it.

Dave Maundrell:              
Yeah, kind of, you know, people were because we were so entrenched in that marketplace, we really learned what people wanted. I was still very young in my career. I had to learn a lot. I learned from all different sources, from architects, from listening at meetings and not pretending to know something, learning and I was lucky to be around some really, really smart people and I absorbed it all and then you know, and you just keep building and building upon it and, but at the end of the day I always knew who the demographic was and then I became hell bent on not being known as just a Williamsburg broker after that. And, and branching out to other marketplaces which, we've been able to do.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Dave has since worked in new development projects from Mott Haven to Staten Island as the so-called Brooklyn brand expands, Dave says he's tried to respect the history and the people in the neighborhoods.

Dave Maundrell:              
I think one thing that I'm very proud of is being able to respect the folks who are there, who were there and conveyed at messaging when we're in the design process regarding facades and, and some of these buildings are very loud and kind of really like, you know, people's, you know, trophies to themselves, developers or architects and such like that. And I've learned that you need to be a little more contextual and kind of respectful. In a lot of places, not everywhere, like across the street here in this neighborhood. It was an open, it was a blank canvas and you have a lot of marketplaces that, a white canvas and as much conflict. But what happens is, it starts out as a blank canvas and a bunch of developers are doing their own thing and then when you go back and look at it 20 years later, this is ugly, a building is green, this building's orange. Like, what the heck is going on here? You know, so it's not as cool anymore. I think the Brooklyn, you know, it's everywhere, like, you know, it's done and so to speak, it's like what's, but we've been and it's been done for a long time and we've been trying to do different spins to that and kind of use that as a base, but it comes down to style. People will pay for style, people will pay for amenities that are practical, but style sells and we've taken that philosophy, I've applied it to Long Island City and where we've done it we've done off the charts, what do people want? And then there's that balancing act between what the people want and what we can afford because we have to make it has to make money or we're not going anywhere. I want, what we can build. Let's put something there that makes sense. And I also tell clients, I'm going to guide you not to make decisions where you tell me I have to raise the rents higher than I think I can achieve.

Ofer Cohen:                      
One last question is, tell me something nobody knows about a Dave Maundrell?

Dave Maundrell:              
Personally or professionally or either?

Ofer Cohen:                      
Personally.

Dave Maundrell:              
I'm super loyal, super loyal, loyal to a fault.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Really?

Dave Maundrell:              
You know, there's been too many times that I've said to myself over the past five years, oh man, I'm in the wrong business. This business you know, real estate, it's not just brokerage. Brokerage is another beast. Real estate businesses really cutthroat and tough and people are really out for themselves and when you have a good heart and a good soul, you have to protect yourself from this. Because I've been, I guess I'm going through my fifth market swing, six market swing potentially since being in this business. I've seen the good, the bad, the ugly, the downright wrong that people do.

Ofer Cohen:                      
You know, I can completely relate to that notion. I mean, I've been struggling myself with this idea of you know, how to continue to be kind with so much hostility around me because the real estate business can bring a lot of raw behaviors from people because there's a lot of money.

Dave Maundrell:              
You know you just gotta keep true to your own ideals and family helps. Us having kids changes your perspective on things. You have a great girlfriend who was also in the business, understands kind of how works and who's very supportive and surrounding yourself with people who are supportive of you know, who you are and your core values is the only way to really do anything.

Ofer Cohen:                      
Dave Maundrell, thank you so much.

Dave Maundrell:              
Thank you. You've gotten good at this dude.

Ofer Cohen:                      
You're listening to Hey BK a podcast about the people behind Brooklyn's transformation. You can find us at heybk.nyc or wherever you get your podcasts. Please download and subscribe to all our episodes. I'm Ofer Cohen. Thanks for listening.

 

S1 | E3 | Toby Moskovits

Toby Moskovits:              

I've thought a lot about the Jewish experience in America, and certainly in New York a lot of very successful entrepreneurs' are Holocaust survivors and I think that there's sort of an old survival of the fittest, call it the personal evolution. I'm the daughter of an immigrant, my grandfather was born in Poland. My father was born in a German displaced persons camp. My grandfather came to America. Grandma used to always say he never made any money because by the time he was successful they were in their sixties. He started one business after another and I think that as an immigrant and being in an immigrant city, you're an outsider. You know, there's a great study I saw recently from the Wall Street Journal just about this. How many businesses started in this city are, are done by immigrants. I think that when you're part of the old boys network, which women are never. You don't have that luxury and that's why I call it surviving as a man in a woman's world. You know, the things that I did. I don't think I would have been in the place to get them done had I been going into an office every day with people that were just sort of spitting back to me what the general consensus was, you know, everybody was running into residential and I shifted to commercial, everybody was running to commercial so I shifted to residential. You can't make money when you're following the herd. You have to have a vision, but then you also have to have the fortitude to be able to execute on it.

Ofer Cohen:                      

That's Toby Moskovits. Toby got into development business only a few years ago when we met at the conference, one of our first Brooklyn Real Estate Summits in 2011. Toby is a firm believer that an outsider status is giving her an edge. You haven't done a real estate deal in your life before. You never raised money, you never built a building. Where did you get the drive, tenacity, conviction that you actually going to do this?

Toby Moskovits:              

So yeah, I was lucky. My first boss in business was a guy by the name of Michael Eisenberg, who people in real estate might know today. Um, at the time he was a young venture capitalist and I was a younger venture capitalist analyst. Today, of course, Michael was the original investor in WeWork, and I spent the form of my formative years after business school working for Michael and another gentleman named Jonathan Medved. And I think that when you come into the world of business in that environment, you think about transformation and the entirety of the Israeli tech industry. And that's where I was sitting in Bocca in this little office. Now they have these fancy digs and we were meeting these companies and it was pretty early in the Israeli tech industry there. They had an idea and our job as investors was to help them crack the US market. So as a venture capitalist coming in where I was forced to take bets on companies where it was binary, it was something or nothing, there was nothing material, there was nothing substantive. I'm looking in real estate. The risks were of very measured, with regard to the things I had done as a venture capitalist. So for example, in the first deal that I did where I came in with a little bit of my money in a residential building on the corner of Grand and Driggs, the numbers were just, you didn't need a financial calculator to do the math, you know, sub $200 a square foot purchase price. All you needed was cash. And I went ahead and mind my network, found myself a couple of very wealthy real estate owners who were stepping into that hole in lending. It was obvious that the value was there coming in as an outsider, and I give a lot of talks now. Ofer now that you opened up by public speaking career to young professionals how to break in. You know, you see that even in the model of WeWork, which people have said is not sustainable and that certainly they're going out now and they're starting to buy their real estate. But there's a moment in time the employee base, and there was this great conference I was at about a week ago on the future of work. The retail's changing. The office uses changing the expectation of a consumer and the expectation of an employee is different. As a consumer, we want to be able to get everything immediately. Amazon prime, send it to my house. There's an impact on real estate and I think on the, on the office side, you're seeing the same. So I had that luxury of being an outsider.

Ofer Cohen:                      

I understand the idea of, you felt in their bones that there was a structive moment in the history of Brooklyn and you want it to take advantage of it, but let's be honest, right? So being a woman in our business is being a minority to begin with. How do you get people to take you seriously? Unfortunately, that's true. Coming from a religious orthodox background and a woman going into the driving sort of shoes of this sort of business is completely unusual. Tell me about this. Like how again, where did you get that, that the ability to power through, but how hard was that journey?

Toby Moskovits:              

I remember one of the first deals I bought, one in the ownership group, there was this nasty guy who couldn't deal with the fact that I was a buyer and every time we would come, Michael and I would go meet with him. He would say like, where's the, where's the buyer, where's the buyer? And even to the end, like two years later, I moderated a panel he was on. He was like still looking at me like he couldn't wrap his head around. So I think that you know, it's difficult in the beginning, people underestimate you as a novice, certainly as a woman having really no experience in real estate. I remember early on sitting next to a professional at a large brokerage firm who asked me about my hotel and I'm explaining to him how I'm doing the non branded hotel. That point the Wythe hadn't opened. He asked me how I was going to finance. I said, well, you know, I'm getting a land loan. And then eventually I'll figure out how to finance the rest. He looked at me, he goes, are you, are you serious? Like, you're going to go ahead now, you know, in 2009, 10, 11 if I waited till I had all my money. So a lot of people with a lot more experience than I express things that questioned the approaches that I took and as a venture capitalist thinking, thinking and really having learned to trust my gut, I just went with it. But I think ultimately I proved myself and everything from vision I came to city planning with for rezoning they were beyond skeptical, you know, the council and the said to me, they've never seen something move that quickly from certification to funding to approval. So I think that women have to work a little harder.

Ofer Cohen:                      

I remember there's another moment that I want to take you back to, I believe it was 2012. I texted you, are you the crazy person that's paying a 30 to $32,000,000? 25 Kent. Okay. Here's what 25 Kent is and why i thought she was crazy. 25 Kent is now known as the first spec office, new construction spec office building in Brooklyn since probably over 50 years. It's located in Williamsburg and the value that she was willing to pay the price that she was willing to pay for the property back then looked ridiculous. She went through a rezoning process that made the property much more valuable. And now the project is under construction.

Toby Moskovits:              

So far I've repeated this story to many people. I even remember where I was standing. I was, I had just moved into a new house and I was standing in the bathroom and I remember this, you texted me and I laughed. And I think that that's sort of a great moment because part of what I was able to do as an outsider was. I basically looked at what was happening outside of the construct that had been created. So yes, there were no comps. You couldn't get bank financing. A lot of people after the fact came and said, wow, it was obvious, you know, Kent Avenue, people were living right nearby, but I was in a position through sheer force of energy, you know, willpower. And then having come into it as a Newbie to say, wow, the people paying $55 or $60 a square foot at this building we owned were the former American Apparel.

Ofer Cohen:                      

But again, this was a moment where you saw, you know, the best moments in the entrepreneur's life is when you see something that nobody else sees. And everybody else laughing at you. And thinking you're crazy.

Toby Moskovits:              

I get that pretty often.

Ofer Cohen:                      

You get that pretty often. But I mean, okay, so now how, so you have those moments. So obviously in the third or fourth time that that happens, you're already kind of like, okay, you watch and see. Right? But the first time that happened, which I think the biggest one was that moment you sign a contract for 25 Kent, I believe there was a story behind how you put together the money to actually sign that contract. And it wasn't like, you know, Toby is a billionaire. And like, okay, I need to sign this contract.

Toby Moskovits:              

I actually went to my dad who believed enough in me that he didn't put the time into, you know, to analyze. And I told him, I said, dad, you know, I have this opportunity. And like, you know, it may, it sound crazy now. It happens to have been that my family had a business literally across the street or two blocks away, during the 80s. So my father knew the area. I came and I said, dad, this other investor who I knew who had lent me money on deposits in the past, he's given me half a million. Could you give me another? Could you lend me another half? Which I ultimately paid them back. So I borrowed that first billion dollars and having no idea where the balance would come from. Ultimately we managed to finagle myself, Michael and Joel another million for the deposit. But people thought we were crazy. They thought the price was not justified. Nothing had traded there for quite some time.

Ofer Cohen:                      

So that must have been very, very stressful?

Toby Moskovits:              

It was very stressful. There was a moment where I might've lost $2,000,000, which is money I didn't have to lose or the three of us. But I had a plan that made sense. I managed to juggle three lenders because we had an issue with our inability in a timely fashion to terminate the lease on the site. I put a lot of time and I went in myself through third parties to try to buy that lease to be certain that I wouldn't get screwed, that someone else would buy it. Um, and ultimately closed with a private family who even till today I'm sort of still flabbergasted that I managed to convince them to come into the deal, right? It made sense, but a lot of our, friends and investors and lenders in this industry look backwards because that's where the money flows and they don't have the ability to have an insight really commit to it and then pursue it. So I think it was four to two and then a lot of luck sprinkled in.

Ofer Cohen:                      

You know, you part through it, you establish yourself, people take you very seriously right now and people know who you are and what you can accomplish. What do you do with that ability to kinda make sure that, that the next generation of women entrepreneurs and women in the real estate industry actually have, I want to say an easier time just because for the sake of easy, just like, a level playing field with men, you know, I know personally that it's so hard to hire women in our industry because it's being perceived as a very male-centric, you know, filled.

Toby Moskovits:              

So I've given a great talk which I wrote first for a commercial real estate accrue event and titled how to survive as a man in a woman's world. And then I was invited to give it to a group of Sullivan, Cromwell lawyers. Basically, the idea is I think that we're in the moment of female entrepreneurs, you know, they talk about the side hustle and the need to keep reinventing yourself and women have that talent more naturally. Um, and I think so, you know, I got it was asked this question by the real deal. They're doing a big event feature on women. You know how to get more women in real estate. I think that there are a lot of hostile environments. You know, somebody texted me last night, there was an unnamed holiday party with strippers. She's like, I can't believe it in 2017 with this environment. But it, it is what it is. You know, you got to create an environment where women feel comfortable. I think I've been in your office Ofer, I know you have a lot of women working for you. Women need flexibility. I became an entrepreneur because when I used to walk into an office sometimes at 10:00 because my kid had a holiday party or a birthday, they'd give me the steer and you know, in the environment that I've created, I have, my CFO comes in from long island. He rolls in at 10:00, he works till nine, 10:00 at night. So I think that there's a shift happening in the work environment that helps women, that helps women break in and we have to work together to create a healthy environment.

Ofer Cohen:                      

What do you tell a 22-year-old woman straight out of college and wanting to get into the real estate industry?

Toby Moskovits:              

So after I tell them to go come work for me or Ofer. First find a female-friendly environment is my first piece of advice. The second is find a mentor. I think it's critical to learn the industry from somebody. I cobbled, you know, I have a mentor, a woman in business by the name of Amy Millman. She runs a very successful nonprofit that has helped female businesses raise over 5 billion in capital in the real estate business. I sort of cobbled together, you know, a network and I think the third thing is find something where no one else's is chasing it.

Toby Moskovits:              

So what's next for Toby Moskovits?

Toby Moskovits:              

I'm a huge fan of New York City, and the growth that comes next, I think that we're really only in the first or second inning of commercial opportunity in commercial development and I do believe that there will continue to be amazing opportunities in New York. I'm a single mom. I like to stay close to home. My kids hate it when I travel, so we're going to continue focusing on the greatest city in New York.

Ofer Cohen:                      

So we're not gonna lose your focus to another market?

Toby Moskovits:              

Maybe not even to Queens, I'm looking a little bit in Queens, you know, I think Brooklyn is, is still only 50 percent of the way there and coming as the city that it can be.

Ofer Cohen:                      

How do you see the next sort of decade in terms of growing your operation with everything you've learned in the last five, seven years?

Toby Moskovits:              

Sure. So, you know, there are other players in the market with the size of business that I have, it fluctuates between 40 and 50 employees that have triple the number of projects that I do. Um, I've always been focused on using my own money, so putting, you know, doubling down and trying to keep as much of the projects as I can. So we're going to continue to grow. I don't know necessarily if I grow my operation but pursue very specific projects. They're not that many developers in my position who can take down a half a million to a million square foot project. Thankfully with the credibility I built, I can, so it's going to continue to be about one to two projects a year in large projects that really help move forward the path of evolution of neighborhood and very, very central. So as you, you know, we've gone in neighborhood specific, you know, almost too focused in single neighborhoods, really helping move the pace of how a neighborhood evolves. Transformation took place for the people who live there in the past and then while continuing to be respectful to the past and helping new entrance come in to move in, whether it be into the residential buildings or the commercial spaces that we're bringing on board. And Bushwick is a great example of it. It's a great history of economic transformation, and working with other owners, the community board and the counseling and to really bring the neighborhood forward.

Ofer Cohen:                      

You think now that Toby is established, may start playing by different playbook or looking at our locations, but there's the big opportunity for Toby still in that 50 percent of Brooklyn because she keeps holding onto her outside her standing and plans to keep disrupting

Toby Moskovits:              

My competitors in the market still look for one plus one equals two when they do deals. You know, looking at situations where maybe there's a rezoning play looking at situations where there's some sort of a less than clear path to move forward. I had a lot of success working with the city, going into areas and using approaches that others haven't tried before and I think I have a lot of credibility with owners in the marketplace. You know, I don't think I've ever held a contract that I haven't closed on and this is still a relationship based business. So I think that money's going to. The flow of money is going to be affected by changes coming out of Washington. It's still a challenging market to finance ground-up construction and that what separates between the boys and the men or the women and the girls will continue to keep building those great buildings all over Brooklyn and into Queens. I'm going to stay away from Staten Island for now.

Ofer Cohen:                      

Great. So tell us, just to finish up, tell something nobody knows about you or at least nobody in our industry and knows about.

Toby Moskovits:              

Okay. So, I'm a poet. I actually write a lot of, not every day, but I write a lot of poetry. I love reading poetry and I wanted to be a journalist, but I might've shared that in the past and I actually think that to be a great developer, you're constantly telling stories. That's, you know, to answer your earlier question, I think that the residential commercial and the retail experience is changing and that's part of where I'm focusing to conceptualize what does it mean to rent the rental unit? What does it mean to live in a building? There's been a lot of focus on the physical space and not enough focus on the experience of whether it be hotel or office or such, and I think that as a, as a writer and as a poet, that's a big part of my how I communicate with my clientele, how I communicate with the marketplace that wants to be in my building.

Ofer Cohen:                      

Toby Moskovitz to be continued. Thank you so much.

Toby Moskovits:              

Thank you.

Ofer Cohen:                      

This concludes another episode of Hey BK. Thanks so much for listening. For more information, you can visit heybk.nyc. You can also email me at ocohen@terracrg.com

 

S1 | E2 | MaryAnne Gilmartin

Announcer:                       

Hey BK, with Ofer Cohen.

MAG:                                   

I've always said that I couldn't feel accomplished as a parent, I'd be useless in the boardroom and so it starts there and it ends there just like it starts in the morning at my house and it ends up at the house with my children, so they're my life source and they're everything, so I have a lot of energy. Sleep is basically overrated in my book and I wake up in the morning and it's all about my kids and when I come home at night, that's where I sort of find my peace and my sanctuary and you know, I'm powerless at home. I can't even get the remote control. I think children are very grounding.

Ofer Cohen:                      

The woman's struggling with the remote is Maryanne Gilmartin, one of the most powerful woman in the real estate business in New York City. Maryanne Gilmartin was until very recently, the president and chief executive officer for City New York. Earlier this month, she announced that she will be leaving her post and start a new venture, L&L mag. This interview was recorded a few weeks before her announcement. Today we're mostly going to focus on how she became such a Rockstar, developing the New York Times building Gehry's tower and leading the effort on the development of the Barclays Center, but first I want you to get a sense of what her job really means to her.

MAG:                                   

I begin by saying that I make places and I have the best job in the world because I can create places in the greatest city in the world. People are pushing paper and pushing buttons for a living. Think about how we get to point to concrete, literally concrete representations of our toiling and you can throw your children on a hoist and take them to the top of New York by Gehry. This is a great blessing,

Ofer Cohen:                      

But when she started her career, people did not have the same romantic view of the industry as we all have today.

MAG:                                   

When I started in the business in the eighties, being a real estate developer was one step above a car salesman. This was not real estate development as we know it today, where people are clamoring to get into the industry. In my generation, people flock to the Internet and so it was by pure serendipity that I became a real estate developer. I was given an urban fellowship when I graduated from university. It was an opportunity for me to pick the agency of my choosing inside of city government. Mayor Koch use this as his only recruitment tool for young individuals to try public service before going out into the private sector. I landed two fellowships. The first was for summer, the second was for an academic year. That summer was hot. New York was a dump and I was touring and meeting with every commissioner in every aspect of city government.

Ofer Cohen:                      

This is in the nineties?

MAG:                                   

It's in the eighties, 86. And I remember interviewing with the police commissioner with the head of the city's department of juvenile justice. This is where I thought my passion, would take me and I stopped in economic development and they had air conditioning, carpet, they had a president and they had a board of directors and I thought, wow, this is so grown up. I'm going to hang out here for the summer. And then after that, I'll get serious about my career now I was an urban fellow and it was just after the fiscal crisis, the agency didn't have to fund the position so everybody wanted an urban fellow. So I was welcomed with open arms and it was there in that agency in the course of the first three months of the business that I realized I had real estate in my veins and I would not have known it had I not had an open mind. And I tell young people that it's great to have a plan. And as project managers we plan for a living, one must always be open to the possibility that what's looking for you and what you're looking for may just come along the way and in a sort of accidental fashion

Ofer Cohen:                      

And being open for this accident led to this amazing opportunity.

MAG:                                   

I quickly realized that at that agency they would literally sit down with a map of the city and they'd say, so what do you think we should do with the west side? And I'm thinking, I'm 20 years old. I don't know anything. And they're asking for our views and it was this unbelievable collaborative spirit, but at the same time, every major developer in New York City would come through the corridors of the Public Development Corporation. So I met a lot of powerful individuals including Bruce Ratner. I negotiated the relocation of Bear Stearns to Brooklyn. And I negotiated the tax incentives as well as the job retention program that Bear Stearns was required to adhere to. And Bruce was part of that negotiation. That's where I met Bruce.

Ofer Cohen:                          

Bruce is Bruce Ratner, the founder of Forest City Ratner New York, and one of the most established real estate developers Of New York City. When they met he was the CEO of the company that was already involved in developing millions of square feet of retail.

MAG:                                   

And yes, I found myself sitting across from Bruce Ratner, which was intimidating, but I never got that memo that said, you should feel intimidated when sitting across from very powerful, New York City developers. And I just did my job, but I also realized this is amazing. I could do public development on a large scale in the greatest city in the world and I could turn that into a private job and just be on the other side of the equation. Do everything I love in government and make some money, and so Bruce called me in to interview for a position about 10 years after I first met him and that was 22 years ago.

Ofer Cohen:                      

And that was a development job?

MAG:                                   

Yes, I've been a hopeless developer since I realized that real estate was in my veins.

Ofer Cohen:                      

And this rise to being a major developer with Bruce, of course, came with additional challenge. We all know the real estate development world is highly dominated by men, so it's no secret that being the only woman in the room is an extra hurdle.

MAG:                                   

I have a lot of stories. I would say that those are for another podcast, but suffice it to say that I was the beneficiary of a meritocracy. Bruce Ratner believed it was the best man or woman for the job, and I clearly benefited from that premise. Bruce has two daughters himself, neither of whom wanted to be in the business. Clearly, I benefited from that reality as well, but I didn't ever have to really worry about the fact that I was a woman inside of the organization and I never got that message in my inbox. That said, you are a woman and you should feel intimidated. You should worry about taking your place at the table. I felt I had a rightful place at the table.

Ofer Cohen:                      

Does it have to do anything with the way you grew up though?

MAG:                                   

It might, so I came from a home that was chaotic. We functioned through dysfunction. My real father left when I was two. I was abandoned. My mother raised three girls and I think she taught us one super important principle, which is you make your own way. You find your own happiness and nobody else does that for you. I'll also say when you talk about the business and you talk about being a woman, women by their very nature collaborate and you talk about being a mom. If you can't rely on others as a working mom, you're finished and women can take a lot of disparate parts, manage those parts just like they might manage a household and do it effectively. This is not to say that men can't, but women are by their nature, very good developers. It's a Rubik's cube. It's problem-solving and it's bringing others into the fold and doing it in a collaborative way.

Ofer Cohen:                      

And Maryanne has certainly proved that her sensibility and temperament are a great asset, she's proven it in a consistent trajectory of the high profile project she has been spearheading.

MAG:                                   

So as a developer, you build one great building in your career and you feel fortunate. For me, I have a Trifecta of three of the most astonishingly beautiful buildings that the city seen, that I had a small part in creating. I just consider myself to be blessed.

Ofer Cohen:                      

Of course, she's being humble here. Take a listen through the roles she played.

MAG:                                   

So like children, there are no favorites. However, the New York Times building was my breakout project. It was a project I wanted to chase when we were in Brooklyn. We had just finished a big project in Time Square. We got invited to participate in a bid to be their partner and their developer, Bruce Ratner said to me, Maryanne, we're never going to win, my portraits, not in the Metropolitan Museum next to Arthur Sulzberger. We do not build buildings on Park Avenue. It's hopeless, and I said, Bruce, if it's hopeless, I'd ask that you indulge me and I'm sure I'll learn a lot along the way. Can I please chase it? He said that I would waste a lot of his time and his money, but that that's what I needed to do. Then so be it, and Lo and behold, a February 14th year, 2000, we were selected to be the partner and developer for the New York Times and invariably within the course of one single day, Bruce Ratner would say, you're going to take this company to the next level and then by evening he'd say, you're going to take this company down the risk profile is just too intense. We can't do it. When you finish a building like that, as a developer, you say, what could I possibly do that could compare, and I was given the opportunity to go downtown and build Gehry's Tower, which is the tallest building Frank Gehry has ever built and I did it down in lower Manhattan and really contributed to a new postcard image of lower Manhattan.

Ofer Cohen:                      

Let's not understate that these were huge accomplishments filled with hurdles and huge amounts of risk. Probably the biggest professional challenge, and Marianne was the heat around the Barclays Center development.

MAG:                                   

It was no doubt overwhelming when I took over the project because in 2007 the project had been already ongoing for four years because it really started in 2003 when we bought the basketball team to control the move to Brooklyn. There was a community divided, there were politics Galore and it was the advent of the great recession, so many factors contributing to what made that project difficult and we also were running down the clock because the arena and needed to get into the ground. By the end of 2009, the bonds were using to build that arena, which are the same, structural bonds that were used to build Citi Field, Yankee stadium and Jets and Giants. The IRS was closing the loophole on that, that form of financing and the opposition knew that, so they literally were running down the clock and we had 99 point nine, nine, nine percent of the possession under our control. It didn't much matter because the final hold outlived on central court. So when I came into the project, we were just about in control of the site, but the part we didn't have control of was the most problematic because it meant that we couldn't begin construction on the arena, which was always the cornerstone of the project.

Ofer Cohen:                      

Just to clarify, here's what was going on with politics around the Barclays center development. There was a strong community opposition for the entire project for over a decade. And Maryanne walked into the middle of a huge controversial project while also having her own private life with small children at home.

MAG:                                   

Yes. I had a very, very young daughter and a four years old and two older boys, but young children, very hard to reckon with what was being said, personalized, and otherwise, someone gave me the advice I should never read the blogs. It's not healthy and so you have to be purposeful. You have to believe in what you're doing. You need to listen and you need to solve problems. And that's where I kept my focus. We had $500,000,000 of investment of our equity in the dirt when the recession hit and not a single vertical building to show for it. I had a lot to keep me busy, so I decided to stay super focused on what was important,

Ofer Cohen:                      

MaryAnne, tributes here chaotic childhood on her success. She was comfortable making decisions and staying focused without all of the pieces being in place because that's what she did while growing up they were able to get things done but solving one issue meant facing another issue, and this was true right up until the end.

MAG:                                   

The drama leading up to it. The fact that the subway, for example, wasn't complete, the arena was, and we started them in exactly the same time, but we had this provision in our transaction that said if the subway entrance was not open, we couldn't open the arena and I had nightmares. I would wake up in a cold sweat thinking I'd have to walk into Bruce's office and say

Ofer Cohen:                      

And this is a subway entrance that the project paid for?

MAG:                                   

It was a subway entrance that we were required to Redo or bring back into play. It was a dormant entrance that closed in the sixties, in the original pro forma we had it in for something like $6 million dollars. It ended up costing $72 million dollars. So this subway entrance, we didn't rebuild the subway system. We just fixed the entrance, was a complicated matter. Involved a lot of public coordination. And it took a long time. And so we just finished in time. It was the week that Jay-z's concert opened that we got substantial completion sign off of that entrance. And there was a period where we were worried because the government, given the high profile nature of the project, was not going to let us open that arena if we did not have a subway verse and I would say that waking up in addition to this amazing evening where we opened the building for me, the far more glorious moment was the next day when Brooklyn was not swallowed whole by a traffic jam, when the quality of life and traffic enforcement agents that were placed around the arena that we obsessed over for a year and a half, did the work that we wanted them to do. And it was an all-around positive experience. And rather than, you know, getting chest bumps for the, for the job, I would say that it's the deafening silence that tells you that you nailed it because people stopped rallying against the arena. So opening the arena and having it be a beautiful building, a friendly neighbor.

Ofer Cohen:                      

And the year after that a year after the Barclays Center opened while she was moving to Brooklyn, settling in a new home and getting kids in school. She became the CEO. Right? So when, when was it that you actually took over as the president/CEO?

MAG:                                   

So we had a two-year lead up, but in April of 2013, I was at once selling my home, buying home in Brooklyn, finding three seats for my children in a Brooklyn school and ascending to the role of president and CEO of Forest City Ratner companies.

Ofer Cohen:                      

That's amazing. That was a year after Barclays Center opened approximately?

MAG:                                   

We opened in September of 2012 and I became the CEO in 2013.

Ofer Cohen:                      

You might think that building the Barclays Center and becoming CEO on top of the move and all that encompasses for a family. The high might of peak. But becoming CEO, building the arena were not even the main goal. The goal was building one of the largest housing projects in the city with a very large affordable housing component.

MAG:                                   

There were 6,430 units of housing that we really were interested in. The arena was the way to get to the housing. So building 2,250 units of affordable housing, which is amongst really the most abundant affordable housing mandate in a project that's being led by a developer that really the city has seen. It had lots of dimensions to it and I think that I set my sights on how are we going to build this housing, and really finish what we started because there were many questions as you know, around our ability and our intention to build out the full project and I just turned all my focus and my team is focused on getting that job done. And today, as you know, there's over a thousand units of housing being built, of those thousand close to 900 are affordable.

Ofer Cohen:                      

So we all know now that she just started her own new development venture. Here's what she told us just a few weeks before announcement about her vision for the future.

MAG:                                   

My next focus is how do we create great buildings that embraced technology, push the bounds of what we do in New York, which is pretty typical, pretty forgettable, pretty uninspired. Real estate's not been disrupted yet. So I want to be part of, or at least witness the disruption, it's the last frontier, real estates, the last great frontier where the disruption's coming and I want to be part of it. I want to push for it and I want to build around it,

Ofer Cohen:                      

And so you feel like, because you were able to bring a basketball team to Brooklyn, you could probably bring a tenant like Amazon to Brooklyn at some point.

MAG:                                   

It's time. It's time for us to provide some of the great companies in this economy, a place in Brooklyn to call home. That's a super sophisticated office building. That's the best of the best because let's be frank, the talent is the best of the best, the cities, the best of the best. We need now a place for the companies to call home and that's what I want to be part of.

Ofer Cohen:                      

That's amazing. I'm Ofer Cohen. Thanks for listening. For more information, you can visit heybk.nyc and also email me at ocohen@terracrg.com

 

S1 | E1 | David Kramer

Announcer: 00:02

Hey BK, with Ofer Cohen .

Ofer Cohen: 00:07

So David, how'd you get here this morning? Because, you know, it was kind of interesting. I invited David at 9:30 AM, and at 9:27, I got an email that, you know, one of David's biggest weakness, is that he's always late and so I figured, let's get it out of the way and kind of clear the air on that one and this so we can Kinda...

David Kramer: 00:30

Let's just deal with my weaknesses just for first off, let's just deal with all my stuff and then we can only go up from here. Exactly, you know, I, I tend to be a little distracted, and I tend to run a little late and I scream at my kids time management and it's become enough of a thing that they have now shortened it to TM.

Ofer Cohen: 00:30

TM.

David Kramer: 00:52

But it could easily be out right back at me. I'm certainly when there's a commute in the morning, I need a 10 minute, I did it need a 10 minute grace period.

Ofer Cohen: 01:01

That makes sense. So I think we're going to start the shows and I'm going to say, Hey David,

David Kramer: 01:06

And we say, “hey Ofer?”

Ofer Cohen: 01:09

Yes, and I'm going to say, welcome to Hey BK. Welcome to Hey BK, the show that lets you get to know the people behind the Brooklyn transformation. So for our first episode, I talked to David Kramer, David is the president of Hudson companies, which he joined in 1995. Hudson, in my opinion, is one of the most community-minded developers in New York City they've developed over 10,000 apartments in New York. In my conversation with David, we explored what made David Wright for Hudson, what made Hudson right for David and throughout you'll hear his love for the city. I'm so happy to be hosting this show and bringing voices like David's to you. Each episode, Hopefully, we'll teach you a little bit about how this great city functions and how the type of personalities behind these projects is really what makes a difference. And with everyone I talked to, it starts for love for what they do. Even though what a developer does isn't always easy to explain.

David Kramer: 02:09

You know, I have different levels of what I do. So the first is, I build apartment buildings in New York City that's sort of like the one-liner. And then if you want to peel back the onion a little bit, I'll say that we build five different types of housing in New York City, primarily ground up, primarily the four boroughs. And within those constraints we build affordable housing, that's one, workforce housing that's two, housing for institutions is three, market-rate rentals and market-rate condos.

Ofer Cohen: 02:42

Right, but that's sort of like a very dry sort of very basic technical answer.

David Kramer: 02:48

Wait, but then what I was going to say is that, so then people want to know what is a developer do, right? There's nobody knows what a developer does. And I say it's kind of like the film producer and then people don't know what a film producer does either. And what I like to say is that we buy a parking lot and then four years later, this is an apartment building standing there. And in that four-year journey, maybe a thousand decisions were made. And somebody guided the journey from deciding everything from whether the brick is yellow or red to how wide the hallways are, to basic decisions about is it a rental or a condo? Is it studios or three bedroom apartments.

Ofer Cohen: 03:25

So what do you like about that work?

David Kramer: 03:28

I think I liked the variety. Every day is different and every hour is different because at any one time, let's say we have seven or eight projects going on at different phases. So we are strategizing and negotiating how to find the site. And then 20 minutes later we're talking about a subcontractor that filed for bankruptcy. And then 45 minutes later we're dealing with a closing with HPD on an affordable job and two hours later we're looking at funds to pick for the new marketing campaign of a project.

Ofer Cohen: 04:03

Sounds very horrible to me. Why wouldn't you like that variety? I mean there's a lot of other variety that can have in your life.

David Kramer: 04:10

Can you? I mean to deal with architects and contractors and lenders and lawyers.

Ofer Cohen: 04:15

Yeah. But, so what is the work really that you like out of the entire Enchilada here?

David Kramer: 04:21

What's the melted cheese in development?

Ofer Cohen: 04:23

Yes.

David Kramer: 04:24

You know, we have a bell at Hudson, and we ring it on occasion when there's a victory and I encourage as much bell ringing as possible because the development process over a four year period is at the most exciting, a very tiny victory, you know, in one day, like you finally gotten the Department of Buildings to issue a C of O, a certificate of occupancy. You finally have a closing with your construction lender. You finally leased up the last apartment. And so there are benchmark moments that are very exciting and it is a thousand steps to that moment where it's very exciting when you've leased up your last apartment, but it was a seven-month journey to lease up every apartment.

Ofer Cohen: 05:09

So is it like celebrating small victories? The real satisfaction is at the end or throughout the process or?

David Kramer: 05:17

I think you have to really enjoy the journey. Because, it's a little bit of an anticlimax when the job is finally done, that's not when it was exciting. It was exciting when you finally signed the deal and got control of the site, it's exciting when you see the building coming out of the ground. It's exciting when you see the brick and the window is that you've picked or the limestone from Portugal on the facade of the building

Ofer Cohen: 05:42

And David's enjoyment of the small victories. It's within the whole company and they and he love what they do and to do what he does and be so great at it. You need it. So I have this theory that no kid growing up thinking I want to be a real estate developer. Uh, you know, you know, when I grow up.

David Kramer: 06:01

I think that's pretty accurate of everybody at the Hudson companies. I once sorta gave a little pep talk where I said none of us came from affluent families. None of us came from real estate families, but we are hardworking and scrappy and, I don't think anybody says, certainly from my generation, the seventies, "I want to grow up to be in real estates." And most of the people at Hudson started from the civic side of real estate working for nonprofits in affordable housing, working for city governments. Me, personally, I wasn't thinking real estate. I was thinking homelessness. I got into housing in the eighties as a save the world, Do Gooder.

Ofer Cohen: 06:43

I'm sure there's a whole generation of you guys, but don't you think you stand out this way in our industry?

David Kramer: 06:50

No, I don't. Every industry has a wide variety of people coming to what I think real estate is really the big tent and that you have parts of the real estate industry that never meet each other. An office broker who is the king of midtown office leasing may never in 50 years bump into the king of affordable housing who is hanging at 100 gold street at HPD. And so there are a lot of different nooks and crannies and real estate. And I think there is always going to be the group that's interested in the life of the city who maybe wasn't an urban studies major. In the eighties, people were much more focused on homeless issues. And then 20 years later people were much more focused on sustainable issues, and so now you have a whole generation of people in this business who care a lot about sustainability, energy efficiency that didn't exist 20 years ago.

Ofer Cohen: 07:45

Right and it's also affordability, right? I mean in every step in every sort of a segment of our industry, there's the idea of affordability, especially in our city. So how do you, you know, how do you come from, you know, being an affordable mission-driven developer which you still do affordable housing into developing probably one of the most luxurious buildings in Brooklyn Heights or in Brooklyn.

David Kramer: 08:10

Or New York City

Ofer Cohen: 08:10

Or New York City

David Kramer: 08:11

or the United States, you know, it's nice to have a mix. I mean, a lot of it is the same skill set working with architects and lenders and understanding a site and figuring it out and putting the pieces of the puzzle together. You know, one of the things the people at Hudson like is the fact that we do both types of projects and they're both exciting in their own way. I mean, we're closing on a huge affordable job in the Bronx in the next two weeks called "La central", which is going to be seeing a 700 affordable housing units and a new space for Bronx Net TV and a lot of other nonprofit uses. And that's a fun thing to work on as well.

Ofer Cohen: 08:52

And this mix of interest makes Hudson, such a unique place and that means team that reflect their values.

David Kramer: 08:59

What makes the right culture, what makes a fun work environment? I've sort of been running the show at Hudson now, let's say the last probably six or seven years after what had been very much been a partnership and been at a minimum three people running the company. And then it somehow became just me. And so it occurred to me that like, oh, I can suggest all sorts of things. And so we have a bring your dog to work day and we have a Sushi and massage day. And it's nice to be able to say like, Hey, let's try and experiment. And you know, I try and emphasize that I really don't care when people come in or when they leave, it's sort of results-oriented and that we can have fun at the same time that we are developing the projects and we have high standards for ourselves. But that doesn't mean we can have fun with bring our dogs to work.

Ofer Cohen: 09:51

The Flexibility David brings into being a boss. It was with him through his career, a willingness to embrace new kinds of challenges and curiosity worth beyond know. He began his career in LA, wanting to fight the homelessness and then he moved back to New York and was ready for a new challenge.

David Kramer: 10:10

And then I wanted to tweak it a little bit. I wanted to make more money. I moved back to New York and I enjoyed being a housing developer, but I didn't feel like I had to devote myself exclusively to affordable housing. And it's interesting at the same time I interviewed at the Hudson companies in 1995. So did Shaun Donovan who eventually came on to be, went on to be HPD commissioner and Hud Secretary. And as I understand it, Sean wasn't interested in considering a job at Hudson because they were hiring a project manager to work on an 80/20 in the east village.

Ofer Cohen: 10:45

Pardon my interruption. 80/20 is a government incentive to make 20 percent of the units affordable.

David Kramer: 10:51

And I understand Sean's feedback was that he just wanted to focus on exclusively on affordability. So I think my one sort of pivot moment was realizing I didn't want to just do affordable housing. I enjoyed housing development, but I also wanted to make money and I had seen the world of the nonprofit salaries in LA. So when I moved back to New York, I had made certain promises to my wife, that I would make money because we had been in la where she was more the breadwinner working in the film industry. And then coming back to New York, I said I would step up.

Ofer Cohen: 11:24

It's unusual because usually, a real estate developer would be the breadwinner. And the film producer would be the one supported by the real estate developer.

David Kramer: 11:33

Well, for our courtship, she made, I think at least double what I do,

Ofer Cohen: 11:36

And of course along the way there were challenges, what we call the "holy shit moment".

David Kramer: 11:42

My Holy Shit moment? I think it was pretty scary when I moved back to New York and I was concerned about whether I was hireable and marketable because I had a non-profit background and I took some part time work, but there was a lot of stress about whether this was going to make any sense. So I would say that was one good moment. You know, I think the hardest part of Hudson was that the partnership that had primarily been around since 1986 when Hudson started, began to fray right around the time that the great recession was hitting. And that ended with sort of my, sort of taking over Hudson. So that was..

Ofer Cohen: 12:28

That was a trial.

David Kramer: 12:30

I was going to say it was a dicey moment in time in terms of, you know, real estate, condo projects that didn't do particularly well

Ofer Cohen: 12:36

During this period, did you have the ability to see, to feel like this is temporary, I'm going to get through it or with some moments like where are we going with this?

David Kramer: 12:47

No, I think that is a big challenge. I think in life, in real estate, I once a reality TV show about poker and poker player was saying that the problem and poker is that when you. win you just think that you're always going to win and you get overconfident. When you lose, you get down on yourself and you make reckless decisions because you were afraid you're always going to lose. And hearing that, I thought that had a lot to do with real estate that when times are good, you just sort of expect that rents are always going to go up three, four percent. That it's always going to be good. And then on the flip side, when times are bad, you can't really see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Ofer Cohen: 13:22

Now seasoned and knowing that time changed, this made David and Hudson know that they really care about the property to win out and want it bad enough to take the risk, for instance, the way they won the public library in Brooklyn Heights process. So the Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn Heights was one of those. They decided that this one is monumental iconic worth the brain damage and potential risk.

David Kramer: 13:49

Yeah. You know, I mean if I knew then what I know now, not sure I would've been so bullish because it's been a fun, exciting, complicated journey. At the time I thought, yeah if you're going to be aggressive on any site, it might as well be the best site in Brooklyn. And I was, you know, I asked for feedback because you always want to sort of filter as many opinions as possible. I asked the guy who runs the corporate office in Brooklyn, what do you think of this site at the end of Clinton next to one Pierpont Plaza. And he said, without hesitation, best site in Brooklyn,

Ofer Cohen: 14:20

That's great. And so when did you decide that you're going to run five marathons?

David Kramer: 14:26

Well, that's a whole story. So I ran a marathon in 1996 because that's, you know, if you're in New York, have to have you run a marathon?

Ofer Cohen: 14:34

I'm dying to but my ankle is screwed up.

David Kramer: 14:36

But yeah, I mean it's not healthy to run a marathon, but it's a, especially as an urbanist to spend the day in all five boroughs seeing all the different neighborhoods. It really is dramatic going from neighborhood to neighborhood. So I did that and I walked about a 15-minute pace and I finished about six and a half hours. And my last marathon I decided I wanted to be one of those people who had a gimmick because you see people who are walking in the marathon in a clown outfit or they're juggling and the crowd goes crazy. So I like, I want to do that. I want to gimmick. So I decided that one of the great joys in life is the pure joy of throwing and catching and Nerf football. So I encouraged my brother and we did the marathon together. And over six and a half hours we threw a Nerf football back and forth to each other while we walk the marathon.

Ofer Cohen: 15:23

Wow. So I sent you the list of questions last night. And so you know, what's coming. Tell me something that nobody knows about you.

David Kramer: 15:36

I did see that. My father's background is, is pretty interesting. I don't know if you even know this, but my father would get from a seriously orthodox Jewish family in Bensonhurst. In fact, his family was the one most responsible for setting the Lubavitch up on Eastern Parkway. I'm his father and uncles bought, oh, seven, seven Eastern Parkway and, but he was a bit of a rebel and did not want to continue going onto yeshiva and continuing to Orthodox Judaism. And so we went to Brooklyn College knowing he'd be drafted and he went off to World War II was an 18 year old. And got seriously injured and lost his arms in world war two. So the father I grew up with is somebody who was a bilateral arm amputee, which was completely normal for me because that's the father I knew and I'm actually putting together a bunch of archival work about him now, so he's on my mind more now.

Ofer Cohen: 16:32

Thank you so much, David.

David Kramer: 16:35

Hey BK, good to be here.

Ofer Cohen: 16:38

Thanks for listening. For more information, visit heybk.nyc or you can email me at ocohen@terracrg.com.