Schrager, Tishman, Blau and other real estate pros talk shop

October 22, 2010 01:00PM

Hotelier Ian Schrager, CEO of the Ian Schrager Company; Daniel Tishman, chairman & CEO of Tishman Construction; Jeff Blau, president of Related Companies; Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services; Howard Lorber, chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman, and Diane Ramirez, president of Halstead Property, batted around market issues in a panel discussion at The Real Deal’s sixth annual forum last week.

The residential market is recovering, Ramirez said (see video below). “We are seeing movement across the board now.” She noted later: “We are absolutely in a perfect storm… and yet I am seeing no urgency in the market right now.” For the first eight months of this year, Lorber said, his firm saw record volume and prices. On the commercial side, Knakal said, “we believe that we are past the bottom” from a volume perspective. The market, he added, “is trying to find it’s footing but it’s really not quite there yet.” Tishman said he is seeing private developers start to talk about restarting stalled projects. Blau said he wouldn’t start developing outside of Washington D.C. or New York at this point while Schrager said he is trying to do a deal in London.

“You can get financing if you’re the right developer,” Tishman said, adding that he is bullish on the West Side by the Javits Center, the railyards, by Related’s project at 440 West 42nd Street and the area where his company has developed at 44th Street and Eight Avenue (see video below). Blau said that the opportunity in the market right now is to act as a building operator. When Fox Business News anchor and panel moderator Brian Sullivan asked Blau if he is a deal-maker because of access to capital, raw brain power, or “cojones,” Blau noted that there is also the timing factor. Looking forward, Knakal predicted that the distressed component of the market will be sticking around for two to three years.

See the second installment, in which Sharif El-Gamal, chairman and CEO of Manhattan-based real estate investment firm Soho Properties, fielded questions from The Real Deal’s Amir Korangy, about his proposed Park51 mosque and community center near Ground Zero, below.

See the first installment, in which The Real Deal interviews real estate pros on what they are seeing on the streets, below.