Aside from some sushi and a few much-deserved drinks, it was almost exclusively business last night at the Young Jewish Professionals’ real estate summit, where eager young brokers and other real estate pros gathered to hear New York’s top property dogs talk about the reliably inconsistent market (see photos above).
Vantage Properties CEO Neil Rubler, Extell Development President Gary Barnett, Jamestown Properties President Matt Bronfman and Angelo Gordon & Co.’s Adam Schwartz sat on the panel, fielding questions from the evening’s moderator Bruce Cybul, a partner at the law firm of Schulte Roth & Zabel.
It all turned strangely philosophical at points, as the team of property moguls doled out advice to young pups in the audience trying to make it in the business. “When the going gets good,” Barnett exclaimed, “get going. When the going gets very good, get out!” Others, such as Rubler, pointed to the importance of surrounding oneself with the right kinds of people.
Turning to more serious news, Bronfman predicted that Jamestown, made somewhat famous for selling off 70 percent of its portfolio at the height of the market, said the company, which recently closed on the Chelsea Market building on Ninth Avenue, will not be putting any further assets on the market this year. In fact, Bronfman indicated that he may be regretting some of his previous sales. “If you’d asked me [back when I sold], I would have said I was selling at the height of the market,” he said. “Now, I’m not so sure.”
Having profited off the $1.8 billion purchase of 111 Eighth Avenue by Google in December last year, Jamestown has some money to spend, Bronfman confirmed, but is finding it difficult to source good deals. The company is finding its way into various capital stacks, he said, by seeing recapitalization opportunities and working with existing owners.
Schwartz said that Angelo Gordon & Co. is actively seeking out and buying up distressed notes and is attracted in particular to off-market deals. The company will buy all asset classes, he said, but is looking for something that’s a little bit “broken.”
In one of the most touching moments of the evening, Rubler even picked out Harry Macklowe as his comeback hero and someone that inspires him. “He just keeps coming back,” Rubler said. — Katherine Clarke