The hustling started at the coat check. Cards were exchanged, deals boasted about, and agreements were struck to cut the impossibly long line at the Top of the Standard. Equal parts glamor, braggadocio, and dealmaking, it was time again for one of the marquee events on the real estate holiday party circuit: Madison Realty Capital’s annual bash.
Early in the evening, it was nearly impossible to move through the mass of people gathered in the gold-hued Boom Boom Room. The hosts, Madison Realty’s Joshua Zegen, Adam Tantleff and Brian Shatz, took the divide-and-schmooze approach, positioning themselves in different parts of the room and chatting with hundreds of developers, brokers, lawyers and hangers-on.
Zegen spoke about his company’s largest debt deal to date in New York: $215 million in new construction financing to Yoel Goldman’s All Year Management for a massive rental project on the former Rheingold Brewery site in Bushwick.
“We have the deal flow now to make it happen,” he said.
Paul Massey, president of New York investment sales at Cushman & Wakefield, was surrounded by people asking him about his mayoral run. Massey, who is running as a Republican, is in the midst of a fundraising push for his campaign. There was a rare appearance from a top executive at one of the city’s most secretive multifamily landlords: Elie Gabay, son-in-law of Peter Rebenwurzel, and managing director at Coney Realty Group, which purchased the $236 million “Kings and Queens” portfolio in late 2014.
The crowd was a networking hive. Simon Ziff was jokingly playing shadchan for an interior designer in attendance. By 10 p.m., an executive at a boutique investment bank flaunted a hefty collection of business cards that he struggled to organize and tuck into his jacket. He said he didn’t have his own cards to hand out, however — he’d only joined the company recently. Also spotted: MHP Real Estate Services’ David Sturner; Westwood Realty Associates’ Steven Vegh; Nest Seekers International’s Ryan Serhant; Citi Habitats’ Gary Malin and David Maundrell; Corcoran Group’s Tamir Shemesh; Empire Capital Holdings’ Josh Rahmani and Ebi Khalili; Eastern Consolidated’s Adelaide Polsinelli; HPNY’s Ivan Hakimian; and HFF’s Eric Anton.
Though many seemed in an exuberant mood — the party went well past midnight and guests went upstairs to enjoy hand-rolled cigars and hookah — there was an undercurrent of concern about where things stand in the market.
Michael Bushkanets, a broker with Prince Realty Advisors, said that with land prices where they are and interest rates bound to rise, the market “is at a stalemate.” All the buyers out there are chasing deals with stricter parameters.
“Everyone’s looking for a needle in a haystack,” he said.
Robin Schneiderman, director of business development at Halstead Property Development Marketing, said that the residential buyers who were waiting for the election to pass will now make a move and take advantage of mortgage rates while they’re low. It’s yet to be seen, however, how the prospect of lower taxes under the Trump administration will affect the market.
“I think a lot of the buyers who were waiting on the sidelines are going to jump in over the next six months,” he said. “The question is, what happens after six months?”
Serhant said everyone’s putting on a good face, “but they’re complaining to each other [about their deals] behind closed doors.”
Alan Miller of Aldo Advisors surveyed the scene around him in the darkened nightclub section of the space and said, “people are partying like it’s 1999,” but that they’d have to deal with the hangover sooner or later.
“Some people are getting crushed,” he said. “You’re not seeing it now, because the banks aren’t selling the debt yet. But they will, watch.”
Rich Bockmann, Mark Maurer, Chava Gourarie, Kathryn Brenzel, Miriam Hall, Katherine Clarke and Konrad Putzier contributed reporting.