Day in the life of: Dustin Stolly

The Newmark debt broker on $15B in deals, running into real estate execs at SoulCycle, and sneaking onto rooftops

Sep.September 01, 2017 11:00 AM

Dustin Stolly (Photo by Emily Assiran)

Dustin Stolly is the vice chair and co-head of Newmark Knight Frank’s debt and structured finance group for the New York tri-state region. The 38-year-old debt broker jumped to Newmark in July after nearly a decade at JLL, and said he has participated in about $30 billion in deals over his 14-year career. When The Real Deal last ranked mortgage brokerages by their $50 million-plus deals, in May 2016, JLL took sixth place while Newmark didn’t crack the top 15. But Newmark, which said it arranged $4 billion in financings in New York City last year, has been expanding its debt business as it prepares to launch an initial public offering this year.

Stolly grew up in Bellefontaine, Ohio, one of four boys in a working-class family — his father was a carpet cleaner, and his mother was a homemaker. He graduated from University of Cincinnati in 2003 and moved to Manhattan that year to work at German real estate bank Eurohypo and then Swiss financial giant UBS. In 2007, he joined JLL as a managing director in the real estate investment banking practice, carving out a niche negotiating hotel and office building financings in New York and Miami. Before he left the firm, he was on the team handling Harry Macklowe’s $850 million loan for the condominium conversion of One Wall Street. One of Stolly’s largest deals outside of the city was the $500 million refinancing of Starwood Capital Group’s national portfolio of 85 hotels in 2015. He has also represented other megafirms such as Vornado Realty Trust, Madison Equities and Novel Property Ventures.

5:21 a.m. My alarm goes off in my co-op in Soho. That’s the exact time it’s set for on my cell phone. My 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Brian, climbs out from under the covers and demands I walk him before I do anything else. The guy has way more energy than I do.

5:50 a.m. I walk to the gym in Noho every day — either boot camp or SoulCycle. The boot camp workouts are different every day, but I try to avoid leg day. It’s extremely tough, and I can’t walk the next day. Occasionally at SoulCycle, I see people I know, like Niraj Shah [a managing director at] Rockwood Capital. But I don’t have my contacts in, and I keep my head down and try not to talk to anyone.

7 a.m. I spend quality time at the apartment with my 5-month-old princess and daughter, Georgie. I call her George. I pretty much just laugh at her. She smiles and wiggles around. This is the one time during the day I turn my phone off and resist work.

7:45 a.m. I fire off emails on active deals or pitches before heading into the office. For breakfast, I may have a smoothie, an iced coffee and watermelon. I never cook. My refrigerator is embarrassing. The watermelon is as fresh as you can get, from the bodega downstairs in my building.

9 a.m. I head to work via the 6 train and hop off at Grand Central. I don’t go a day without a fresh shoeshine inside the station. Emails and texts begin early, but calls start coming in and going out around this time. I feel my immediate responsiveness gives me an edge in the business. Clients and colleagues know that I’m always accessible.

11 a.m. I’m at our office at 125 Park Avenue. I may meet with Newmark CEO Barry Gosin to discuss new hires. A big part of my job is hiring smart people. There are seven people on the debt team, including myself. The intent is to at least double the debt business’ staff as soon as possible. I’m going to grow this business, [but] we’re going to be very selective about the construction loan assignments we take on.

12:30 p.m. I typically have three to four lunches per week with either lenders or developers, possibly from Starwood or Vornado. I keep it light, with sushi at Hatsuhana [on East 48th Street] or fish at Kellari Taverna [on West 44th Street]. Most of the restaurants around here are pretty crummy.

2 p.m. In addition to adding to the team, my focus is client outreach. I recently met with Travis Feehan and Gavin Evans of Normandy Real Estate Partners and several lenders at a building they’re redeveloping to discuss the terms of an acquisition and bridge loan. Normandy is contemplating a roof deck amenity, so we snuck through an emergency entrance to access it. Don’t tell anyone.

3 p.m. My afternoons are a combination of working with my team on the execution of existing deals and listening to new business pitches from our managing directors and brokers. I may also juggle calls while taking a walk along Fifth or Park avenues.

4:45 p.m. Back in the office, I always find a few minutes to check the news about my beloved Chicago Bears and Ohio State Buckeye football teams. This is what rabid sports fans do. I’m a fantasy football team owner, and my brother, a lawyer in Ohio, is the general manager of that team. My entire family still lives in Ohio.

6 p.m. I take an UberX home to see George again before that little nugget goes to bed. My partner, Theodora Livadiotis, is home on maternity leave with her. She works as a leasing broker at Cushman & Wakefield. We actually met at JLL many years ago. If I’m slammed and can’t make it home, I will FaceTime with them both.

7 p.m. I head back out to meet clients or lenders, some of whom have grown into good personal friends, such as Citigroup’s Joe Dyckman. I like to go to the Public hotel at 215 Chrystie Street for cocktails and dinner — in May, my team at JLL handled the $173 million refinancing [of the hotel for developers Witkoff Group and Ian Schrager]. I eat at a different place almost every night.

8 p.m. I’m usually still out. Events are how I’ve fostered a lot of my relationships, but they’re not the end-all, be-all. I recently went to a Phish concert at Madison Square Garden with 15 real estate folks. Though I didn’t think I would be a fan, I really enjoyed it. But I think it’s all just one song — one long jam.

10:30 p.m. I get back home and walk Brian one last time. He has a dog walker during the day.

11 p.m. I either go right to sleep or read the news on my cell phone. I may catch up on shows like “Better Call Saul” or “Fargo,” but I usually don’t watch TV any other day than Sunday. My days are fairly hectic. I’m usually pretty worn out by the time Friday rolls around. 

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