The Real Deal New York

Day in the Life Of: Aaron Appel

The JLL loan broker on Olympic weightlifting, clubbing with clients and brokering mega loans

September 01, 2016
By Mark Maurer

Aaron Appel- JOnes Lang LaSalle   Finance

Aaron Appel (credit: Catherine Gibbons)

Aaron Appel is a managing director in JLL’s real estate investment banking division, where he brokers some of the largest commercial real estate loans in New York City. In 2015 alone, he handled $3 billion in loan transactions — the largest being a $725 million construction loan for JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group’s supertall tower at 111 West 57th Street from AIG and Apollo Global Management. So far in 2016, Appel — who works largely in the tri-state area, but also handles deals in Miami and other cities — said he has done $1.8 billion in closed financings. The 34-year-old Long Island native moved to Manhattan with his father at the age of 10 after his parents divorced. He studied finance at Baruch College, and between 2005 and 2014, climbed the real estate lending ladder, jumping from Cooper-Horowitz to CBRE to Meridian Capital Group to JLL. His first large loan deal came in 2010 when, at 29, he handled the $80 million refinancing of Crown Acquisitions and partners’ 600 Broadway in Soho. 

6:30 a.m. I have a double espresso and a protein shake. My trainer shows up at my Upper East Side condo building and we go to the gym. I hired a personal trainer a couple years ago who specializes in CrossFit. The workout consists of Olympic weightlifting and some cardio. It’s absolutely miserable. But if I didn’t do it, I’d be 300 pounds.

8 a.m. I then go back to my apartment. I reply to emails and make a few phone calls to clients, banks and investors. I say hello to my Shih Tzu named Kirby, talk to my wife and make the 20-minute walk to work.

Appel has been touring lenders through Harry Macklowe’s 1 Wall Street.

1 Wall Street.

9 a.m. When I get to the office, I drink another coffee — either a regular coffee or an iced skim cappuccino, depending on how many interns are around to go get it for me. I follow up with my team of five, and put out fires on any transactions that have any issues.

10 a.m. I may have a couple meetings or calls with clients like JDS or Slate Property Group to discuss any financing we’re arranging.  

11 a.m. Right now, we’re touring lenders through JDS’ American Copper Buildings for a refinancing. The project will be entering its first phase of completion in the fall. I try to tour fewer assets with lenders and instead spend that time with clients, because touring is very time-consuming.

12 p.m. I have a lunch every weekday with a client, equity investor or lender. I’m either at Cipriani 42nd Street or Sushi Yasuda [on 43rd], and have tuna tartare and a salad — or veal.

2 p.m. After lunch, I typically go see a client or have a meeting with an investor like Magnum Real Estate Group’s Ben Shaoul or a lender like Bank of America. We’re out of the office most of the day. I’m in a car nonstop — being driven around in an Escalade from meeting to meeting. I’m always aboveground because I need to be on my cell phone.

3 p.m. I could have to pitch a client on a new piece of business. We typically have pitches once or twice a week.

The Bowery Hotel is a regular spot for meeting clients.

The Bowery Hotel is a regular spot for meeting clients.

4:30 p.m. I may have a site tour. Recently, we’ve been touring lenders through Harry Macklowe’s luxury residential conversion at 1 Wall Street. The development-oriented side of our business is moving at a much slower pace. There’s less capital available, and there’s more diligence being done by lenders. It just requires more effort on our end to put together a more detailed story. Probably our biggest advantage at JLL is our ability to aggregate information and turn it into something palatable, paint a proper picture, and give them enough information to make an educated decision. At a lot of the other firms I’ve been at during my career, I haven’t had the resources or the capability to do that.

6 p.m. I’m back in my office wrapping up the day. Then I meet a client or an equity investor for drinks. We go Downtown a lot — to Vandal [on the Bowery] or the Bowery Hotel.

7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, my team and I do dinners with clients. Right now we’re doing a lot of dinners at Shuko [on East 12th] or Carbone [on Thompson]. At Shuko, I’m having sushi and a lot of cooked Japanese food. I think it’s the best restaurant in New York right now. We recently had a closing dinner with NorthStar Realty Finance after closing a portfolio of East Coast loans for them. Once a month, I go to a club. I used to go to a club every night of the week, from the now-defunct Pangaea Lounge to Marquee. That changed when I met my wife.

Aaron-Appel-house-of-cards

“House of Cards” is one of Appel’s favorite shows.

9 p.m. The dinners can end anywhere between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. I take an Uber home. Dinner at home during the week is a rare occasion. My wife was working as an event planner, but is now focusing on trying to become a mother. Her father is Richard Weidman, a top real estate attorney at Herrick Feinstein.

12 a.m. I walk the dog and get into bed with my wife. At night and on the weekends, the dog is my responsibility. We will typically watch a TV show like “House of Cards” or “The Walking Dead,” or something like CNN or Fox News. My wife and I talk and go to sleep.

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