Douglas Steiner is the president of Steiner Equities Group, a development, management and leasing firm based in Roseland, N.J., specializing in office, industrial and retail development nationwide. He is also head of Steiner NYC, the development firm behind the 50-unit condominium at 58 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg and an upcoming 52-story, 720-unit rental building in Downtown Brooklyn. Steiner also wears another professional hat. He’s chairman of Brooklyn-based Steiner Studios, the largest film and TV production complex on the East Coast. He is currently working on expanding the 300,000-square-foot facility by 328,000 square feet to bring new stages, media offices and classrooms for Brooklyn College students studying film and entertainment. “Spider-Man,” “Sex and the City” and “Boardwalk Empire” are just a few of the productions that have filmed there.
What is your full name?
Douglas Steiner. My middle name is Craig.
What’s your date of birth?
1960. I don’t want to give you my date of birth. Then you’re going to ask me for my passwords. I’m paranoid.
Where did you grow up?
South Orange, N.J.
Do you still live in New Jersey?
I raised my kids in New Jersey, so I used to split my time between Short Hills, N.J., and New York City. My kids have moved on now, so I’m fully in New York.
Where in the city do you live?
I’m moving to Williamsburg in six to nine months. I’m going to get rid of [my place in the East Village]. I’m also getting ready to sell my home in Short Hills. I’m looking forward to living in one place. I want all my kids to have a room and feel like they have a home.
Do you have any other homes?
I have a place in Cape Cod. I’ve been going to the same town there for 24 years, and I finally bought a house there in the fall.
What were you like as a kid?
Painfully shy. I always felt — and still sort of feel — like an outsider.
Where did you go to college?
Stanford. My degree is in English and creative writing. I didn’t give much thought to picking a major, but there were a lot of books I thought I had to read to feel educated. In hindsight, I probably should have majored in something else; I don’t like literary criticism and that’s most of what being an English major is.
Steiner NYC was founded by your father in 1996. Did you go straight into the family business after college?
When I graduated, I moved to Paris to become a novelist, but I figured out that I like reading a lot more than writing. I was living a trustafarian’s life, supported by my father. After about six months, I was just dying to start working. I came back and started to work [in the family business] the next day.
Do you still use your French from time to time?
Pas du tout [not at all].
Have you ever had a job outside of the family business?
I worked as a gardener in college for a while, and I was the editor of [Stanford’s] humor magazine, the Stanford Chaparral. It’s like the Harvard Lampoon, but very funny. I also worked for Cushman & Wakefield in Oakland one summer.
What’s it like to work so closely with your dad?
When it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, it’s really bad. We got along fantastically for many years, and there was a little rough spot with Steiner Studios opening and me dividing my attention between the real estate and the studios. [The studios] were really my baby. But we’ve gotten back to our old thing, and I can rely on him for anything, and he can rely on me for anything.
You got divorced in 2000. Do you still have a friendly relationship with your ex-wife?
I got married in ’88 and separated in ’99. It was a five-and-a-half-year divorce. It was grueling, [but] I get along fine with my ex.
How old are your kids?
My kids are 22, 18 and almost 17. Two boys and a girl. My son George, the 22-year-old, started his own business called TheHockeyNetwork.com. My son Neil just started at Middlebury College and my daughter Isabel is at boarding school. We named the commissary [at Steiner Studios] after her, Café Isabel.
Are you dating anyone?
What are your hobbies?
Photography. I like [taking pictures of] the urban, industrial landscape. I also play poker once a month with my high school friends. It ranges from Indian No Peekie to Seven Card Stud to Guts. I don’t know if you’ve played Indian No Peekie — you don’t look at your cards, you just hold them up like a headdress and you’re laughing at everyone else.
Are you a film buff?
I like a great film like I like a good novel. My dream some day would be to write a novel and make it into a movie and direct it.
I heard you also collect art.
I like weird, disturbing or strange art. I have art by Gary Panter, Suzan Pitt and Jane Dickson. I get a lot of pleasure from looking at it. But I don’t spend [a lot of money on art]. I’m cheap.
Do you still get starstruck when you run into celebrities at Steiner Studios?
Rarely. [But] I recently saw Paul Simon at a political function and I was totally starstruck. I left him alone. I try to stay out of [celebrities’] way — they come to Steiner Studios so they don’t have to meet people like me.
You’re well-known in the industry for dressing casually. Do you not like suits?
I try to avoid wearing suits or blazers. I like to be comfortable. Sometimes I go for a big real estate meeting in a Midtown building and they think I’m the bike messenger, which is totally okay with me.