At the desk of: Joel Breitkopf

The Alchemy principal on Mariah Carey’s soap, union strikes and adding music studios to company projects

Jan.January 01, 2019 10:00 AM

Joel Breitkopf (Photos by Michael McWeeney)

Joel Breitkopf is a principal at Alchemy Properties — the real estate firm best known for its conversion of the upper floors of the famed Woolworth Building to condos.

Breitkopf joined Alchemy in 1993 and has since been involved in virtually every aspect of its business, from development to marketing to acquisitions. The company — which is currently attempting to sell a Woolworth penthouse for $110 million — has developed 2 million-plus square feet of real estate. Its other New York properties include the 55-unit condo dubbed the NOMA at 50 West 30th Street and the Robert A.M. Stern-designed 250 West 81st Street.

Breitkopf started his real estate career as an analyst at national real estate advisor LaSalle Partners and went on to Chemical Bank Realty, where he was a loan officer. He later jumped to Himmel + Meringoff Properties as vice president of acquisitions and finance and then to the Commercial Bank of New York. During his roughly 30 years in the industry, Breitkopf has been involved in the acquisition of roughly 3.5 million square feet of real estate.

Breitkopf’s corner office, which is perched on the 22nd floor of 800 Third Avenue, is filled with several large and boldly colored paintings and music paraphernalia. The University of Pennsylvania graduate, who plays guitar, founded a music therapy program for veterans with PTSD, dubbed Healing for Heroes, at the Music Conservatory of Westchester. He lives in Westchester with his wife and daughters, 16-year-old Olivia and 18-year-old Natalie.

Collage of musicians

This large collage was commissioned by an artist in Copenhagen and features Breitkopf’s favorite musicians — the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. Breitkopf tracked down the artist after seeing his work in a hotel during a family vacation.

Mariah’s soap

In 2008, Alchemy bought the former Sony Music recording studio in Hell’s Kitchen and razed it to build a 95-unit condo project known as Griffin Court. Before the demolition, Breitkopf toured the property and found Mariah Carey’s studio. He discovered this bar of soap in her bathroom. A friend then had it set in a display case. Breitkopf now jokes he can use it to “improve my singing.”

Newspaper photo

In 1951, Breitkopf’s grandfather Rubin Silverman — a union worker and a machinist — saw a fight break out with police during a wildcat strike at a manufacturing plant. Silverman intervened, “trying to calm things down,” Breitkopf said. A photo of the altercation landed in the Chicago Daily News. “I’m proud that he was standing up for what he believed in, which was workers’ rights at the time,” Breitkopf said.

Pink yarmulke

Breitkopf acquired this satin yarmulke in 2007 while in Las Vegas for the ICSC retail mega-convention. Brian Ray — now a managing partner at Alchemy — snagged it from a bar mitzvah taking place at the venue. “I felt compelled to put it on,” Breitkopf said. “And it made me slightly better at dancing.”

Mini guitar

The mini Fender is a replica of the real guitar Breitkopf has — and the one he played on the Intrepid on Veterans Day in 2013. Breitkopf’s passion for music also led him include a unique amenity at Alchemy’s 31-unit West 81st Street project: a music and recording studio. Sales launched at the project in beginning of 2018, and occupancy is expected early this year.

Veterans collage

This photo collage features jazz musician Stanley Jordan, who performed at Healing for Heroes a few years ago. Breitkopf started the organization back in 2013 after reading about music therapy on Jordan’s website. “Vets have not been treated well historically,” he said. “This has been a lifesaving program for some of them.”

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