The Real Deal New York

Will Paul Massey stay with Cushman for the long run? He’s not sure

"I thought I was going to be mayor up until a week ago.”
By Rich Bockmann | June 28, 2017 05:16PM

Paul Massey and John Santora

When Paul Massey decided to make a run at the city’s top job, he was a leading executive at Cushman & Wakefield. But now that his 10-month journey on the campaign trail has come to an end, he’s not sure if he wants to go back.

“I have no idea what’s next for me,” Massey told The Real Deal during an interview at his Flatiron District campaign office Wednesday, just hours after he dropped out of the race. “I’m certainly going to have long conversations with John Santora at Cushman & Wakefield about that.”

Santora took over late last year as president of the New York tri-state region at Cushman, which acquired Massey’s brokerage Massey Knakal Realty Services at the end of 2014 for $100 million.

But it was only 15 months after the sale that rumors started to swirl around about Massey’s political aspirations. Late last year, his partner Bob Knakal shortened his contract with Cushman by two years, another indication that the self-made businessmen were at least considering life outside the firm.

Massey said that he was “assessing all options” when he made the decision to run and that Cushman was supportive of his political aspirations, calling Santora a “guiding, big brother figure to me.” And he indicated that he might not be done with politics yet.

“I’m not ruling out running again. I don’t know what exactly,” he said. “I’m going to reassess everything, really. I thought I was going to be mayor up until a week ago.”

The campaign office was abuzz with activity, and the former candidate was fielding calls on his cellphone from friends and supporters.

Ultimately, Massey said he made the decision to end the campaign when realized that he wouldn’t be able to raise enough funds to take City Hall.

“I just think that the fundraising headwinds were building,” he said. “And part of it was the independent polling. Part of it was not getting lift. Part of it was the summer,” he said. “That could have been a big thing. Everyone leaves. A lot of donors aren’t here.”

It also remains to be seen where two real estate insiders Massey hired for the campaign will end up. David Amsterdam, the former vice president of leasing for SL Green Realty, and former Massey Knakal chief financial officer Michael Wlody were working full-time on the campaign.

Massey said his time on the campaign trail helped him understand some of the city’s more serious structural problems, such as the fate of public schools.

“Now I’ve got the New York public school system on my radar and I’m going to see what I can do to help that,” he said.

Another thing he picked up on the trail was how to soften the stiff persona he was criticized for early on.

“That’s another area where I’ve learned a lot: how to get my message out personally,” he explained. “I’ve improved. People have said I’ve improved. I’m not just patting myself on the back.”

And when asked about the time and personal finances he invested into the campaign, Massey smiled widely and said, “Well worth it.”