The Real Deal New York

President Donald J. Trump: The industry weighs in

Louise Sunshine is ready for her first White House sleepover

November 09, 2016 06:19PM
By Kathryn Brenzel, Katherine Clarke and Will Parker

From left: Donald Trump, Jeff Greene, Louise Sunshine and Steven Levy

From left: Donald Trump, Jeff Greene, Louise Sunshine and Steven Levy

Louise Sunshine has her White House jammies ready.

Sunshine, who got her start in real estate working for Donald Trump, said she has a pair of Liberty-brand pajamas that she’s saved for when she visits her former boss’s new digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She calls them her “Lincoln bedroom” pajamas.

To those lamenting Trump’s shock victory, Sunshine had the following advice: “My message is to stop being upset,” she said. “I believe in Donald. I believe in everything that he can do.”

Trump’s TRData LogoTINY candidacy polarized New York’s real estate industry. Though he scored the support of some of the city’s biggest players, such as Richard LeFrak, Steven Roth and Howard Lorber, he also rubbed many the wrong way, including Aby Rosen and Douglas Durst.

Now, some industry professionals are rejoicing Trump’s ascendancy to the highest office in the land. Stephen Meister, a founding partner at law firm Meister, Seelig & Fein said Trump would not “tolerate any special interest group.”

“I think he’s going to play it straight down the middle, whether you’re a dairy farmer or an office building in New York,” he said.

Steven Levy, principal at investment firm Kamber Management, said that Trump will “easily” double the national gross domestic product. He acknowledged that there would be “some dislocation” for the next few weeks, but that global investors will soon get comfortable.

“We want a strong economy and that’s going to happen in a way that would not have happened in a Clinton administration,” said Levy. “Our friends will be heartened, our enemies will take notice and investors will see that there’s a brighter future, even more than there had been before. If they thought we were a safe haven yesterday, they’re going to see that we’re an even stronger bet now.”

Joe Cayre, founder and chairman of Midtown Equities, said he was with Trump until 3:30 a.m. at the New York Hilton, where “the electricity in the room was spectacular.” Trump, he said, would be a boon for business.

“We’re very, very high on what’s going to happen with New York real estate right now,” Cayre said. “I think he’ll get rid of all these bureaucracies that hold back business and all these laws that were put in in the last administration. I think you’re going to see this country take off.”

He added, “They told me that I was crazy, that he would never win. We just kept on going.”

Sources said he and other wealthy supporters, including Roth, LeFrak, Lorber and John Paulson all sat in the VIP room glued to the television. Gale International’s Stan Gale and Stan Gale Jr. were also seen at the party. Tal and Oren Alexander of Douglas Elliman posted pictures on Instagram showing them sporting “Make America Great Again Hats” and embracing Lorber and his son, Michael.

Others, however, are despondent.

Jason Haber, a broker with Warburg Realty and a member of the New York Democratic Committee, said breaking the news to his daughter was difficult. Trump, he fears, will prove a “man of his word,” when it comes to banning Muslims from entering the country, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and appointing ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices. He takes solace, however, in knowing that rhetoric doesn’t always become reality.

“I’m optimistic in knowing that campaigning is poetry and governing is prose,” he said. “There is a difference between the two. Perhaps we will see that in a Trump Administration.”

In an interview before the election, MaryAnne Gilmartin, CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, told TRD that she “cringe(s) at the thought that people would think that Donald Trump’s professional aura lines up with what being a developer in New York City is like.” She added, “As a mother of a daughter, as a woman, and as a professional, it’s just antithetical to what we’ve been fighting for.”

Olshan Realty’s Donna Olshan said she felt that something would happen to ruin Hillary Clinton’s chances.

“I was always looking for the black swan,” she said. “I always thought that some event would happen that would end up being Hillary’s downfall. And it did. It was [James] Comey,” she said, referring to the fact that the FBI director revived scrutiny over Clinton’s private emails 11 days before the election (and then cleared her the weekend before the election). When asked how she felt about the election, she would only say, “The rich are going to get very rich and the poor are going to suffer.”

In April, Sharif El-Gamal, the founder of development firm Soho Properties, said that it was “embarrassing” that “such a divisive conversation” about race and identity was defining the election. (Trump had once offered to buy out another investor’s stake in Park 51, the controversial Islamic museum project that was set to rise close to the former World Trade Center site.)

Today, however, El-Gamal said that “as an American, I am fully supportive of the president-elect.”

“I believe he will uphold our principles of democracy,” he added.

Jeff Greene, a Clinton supporter who’s been buying up large swaths of Palm Beach , said that while he was shocked by the tenor of the campaign, Trump had some qualities that could come in handy when running the country. He recounted sitting next to Trump at the Policemen’s Ball last year at Mar-A-Lago.

“I can tell you, when the shrimp cocktails are coming out for 500 people and there’s not enough cocktail sauce, he’s jumping right on it,” Greene said. “Is he in the kitchen making the shrimp cocktails? No. Is he yelling at waiters? Absolutely not. But he was paying attention to the details and making sure his team executed his vision, which was to get that shrimp cocktail right.”

Trump math
As the results of the election trickled in, U.S. stock futures plunged and the Mexican peso fell to a record low. Overnight, though, both seemed to bounce back. In fact, Carl Icahn told Bloomberg he was so confident that he bet roughly $1 billion on U.S. equities after leaving Trump’s victory party.

“I thought it was absurd that the market, the S&P was down 100 points on Trump getting elected,” Icahn said. “I tried to put a lot more to work, but I couldn’t put more than about a billion dollars to work.”

Heidi Learner, chief economist at Savills Studley, noted that the market had already recovered from its immediate post-result jitters.

“The very very sharp reversal in equities and foreign exchange and the fixed income market overnight to this morning reflect the fact that perhaps people want to take the wait and see approach until some of his policy priorities become more clear,” she said.

Greene said that while he doesn’t agree with all of Trump’s policies, his presidency will likely be a plus for the banking community.

“Even as a democrat, I know that there are a lot of regulations getting in the way of business,” he said. “Dodd Frank was a well-intended bill, but when I talk to Jamie Dimon and others in the banking industry and they tell me what they have to go through, it doesn’t make sense. Small businesses can’t get loans now, homebuyers can’t get a mortgage.”

I’m with her/him
Andrew Heiberger, head of Town Residential, said he wavered on his support for Trump when the candidate criticized a Gold Star Family.

“I originally was very excited about supporting Donald Trump as president, then I changed my mind mid-campaign after witnessing his reaction and insensitivity to the grieving families of one of our soldiers,” he said. “I was all but sure that Hillary was my choice until the most recent and second FBI investigation into her emails. So I voted for Donald Trump.”

Keeping mum on his preferred candidate, John Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said in a statement that the organization is poised to work with Trump to “keep New York on a path that will provide more opportunity and a better future.” But even some of Trump’s staunchest opponents agree that it’s time to look to the future.

“I think the country voted for change and although I am a liberal democrat, I think Donald will shake things up and hopefully break the gridlock,” said Jeff Gural, chairman of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.

Don Peebles, head of the Peebles Corporation, said rather than rue the result of the election, the country should band together.

“This is not the Trump Organization, he’s our president,” he said. “And as the American people we have a lot of influence. I encourage people not to say, ‘He’s not our president.’ We should hold him accountable as our president.”

Hiten Samtani, Rich Bockmann and Konrad Putzier contributed reporting.

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