The Real Deal New York

Jason Pizer out at Trinity Real Estate

Shake-up follows $1.6B deal with Norway’s sovereign wealth fund

June 03, 2016 02:00PM
By E.B. Solomont

JasonPizer1Hudson

From left: Jason Pizer, the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer and 1 Hudson Square

Months after selling a chunk of its massive Hudson Square portfolio to Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, Trinity Real Estate has parted ways with president Jason Pizer.

Pizer, who was tapped to lead the real estate arm of Trinity Wall Street in 2010, left his post last month, sources told The Real Deal. As Trinity’s longtime leasing director, he succeeded Carl Weisbrod six years ago in overseeing the church’s vast and extremely valuable real estate portfolio.

The Episcopal church controls one of the largest commercial portfolios in the city, spanning 5 million square feet of commercial real estate in Hudson Square that can be traced to 1705, when Queen Anne of England bequeathed 215 acres to the Episcopal parish. The portfolio was valued at $3.55 billion last year after Trinity’s mega deal with Norges Bank Investment Management, which paid $1.56 billion for a 44 percent share in a 75-year ownership of 11 office buildings.

In April, a joint venture between Trinity and Norges tapped Houston-based Hines to manage the 11-building portfolio.

“Jason Pizer has done a superb job in leading Trinity Real Estate and managing Trinity’s premier portfolio of Hudson Square properties,” the church said in a statement. “As we have been for more than 300 years, Trinity continues to be fully committed to the growth of Hudson Square through our new partnership with Norges Bank Investment Management and Hines.”

Pizer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

People familiar with the matter dismissed any characterization of Pizer’s departure as a “bad break-up.”

Rather, the church vestry and the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer have been working to monetize Trinity’s real estate portfolio for close to two years following the 2013 rezoning of Hudson Square, which has paved the way for residential, retail and hotel development.

For Trinity, the long-term planning culminated in its deal with Norges and Hines – although the involvement of those partners also altered the kind of day-to-day leadership required by Pizer. “It’s a long-term decision for what’s best for the portfolio. It’s not about one person,” said one source.

The deal with Norges and Hines also casts doubt on the future role of Trinity Real Estate itself. While the church remains the majority property owner, the real estate arm is in transition, sources said, since the majority of Trinity’s holdings were folded into its joint-venture partnership with Norges.

Of course, that deal saw several twists and turns along the way.

Initially, Trinity shopped ground leases at four buildings, but that offer was later upped to 11 properties in Hudson Square. Meanwhile, CBRE’s Darcy Stacom took over the marketing process from colleague Michael Laginestra, who represented Viacom when it leased 400,000 square feet from Trinity at 345 Hudson in 2007. Pizer played a key role in landing the Viacom deal.

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