On the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, CBRE tri-state CEO Mary Ann Tighe had a chance encounter with landlord and developer Larry Silverstein.
“I ran into him — he was about to go into a place to have dinner, and I ran into him on the street on the Upper East Side,” Tighe told The Real Deal’s Hiten Samtani during a wide-ranging video interview. “We were standing in front of each other and I began to cry. And he put his arms around me and said, ‘Sweetheart, gonna rebuild.’ This is 6 o’clock on the night of 9/11. I like to think that so much of my positive response to it has been as a consequence of that moment.”
Since the terrorist attack, Lower Manhattan has marked its resurgence with the opening of several high-profile projects, including One World Trade Center, the Oculus and most recently, Three World Trade Center.
This transformation hasn’t been without its growing pains, however. The neighborhood faces stiff competition from new office stock in Hudson Yards and Manhattan West. The World Trade Center Mall did not get off to a smooth start, and the yet-to-be-built Two World Trade Center lost its anchor tenant when 21st Century Fox and News Corp. decided to keep their headquarters in Midtown,
“I always say that [Rupert Murdoch] has the business equivalent of perfect hand-eye coordination, and he had some sense that it just wasn’t right,” Tighe said. “Look what’s happened then — the decision he’s made to sell, not all by the way, but a significant chunk of 21st Century Fox. Whatever intuition he had … that this is what got him to where he is, and whatever his instincts are, they proved to be right.”
Beyond the Financial District’s office resurgence, Tighe also talked about coming up in an industry dominated by men, and whether real estate is ready for its #MeToo reckoning.
“No one could be clearer on this than I am, that it’s something that the industry needs to correct,” Tighe said. “I want us to be in a world where we’re conversing with one another and that we’re not on a hunt. But if someone steps over the line or you feel that they have, that you feel empowered enough to confront it, and if that’s not enough, you feel also that you’ve got a firm that has your back.””
Watch the above video to see Tighe talk more about how her experience in government helped shape her career in real estate, whether commercial brokerages need to go public in order to survive and more.
Produced by Jhila Farzaneh. Interview conducted by Hiten Samtani.