On an unseasonably mild morning in October, the roughly 50 people who showed up for a press conference at Stuyvesant Town witnessed a strange spectacle: Bill de Blasio, New York’s progressive mayor and self-declared fighter for the working class, chumming it up with Jonathan Gray, the head of global real estate at The Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm.
The two men were there to announce Blackstone’s $5.3 billion deal to buy Manhattan’s biggest apartment complex, which included a commitment by the company to preserve 5,000 units of affordable housing. “I know that [Gray] understood from the beginning that there was an opportunity to do something good and lasting here, and he put his heart into it,” de Blasio said.
Gray, in turn, had his own flattering assessment of City Hall.
“It felt like working with a very skilled deal team, almost like another investment firm,” Gray recently told The Real Deal. “The most impressive thing was the 24/7 nature of the transaction over more than a week and just how committed they were to doing this.”