The Real Deal New York

Day in the Life of: Sam Sidhu

The Megalith CEO on lunch with Barnett, clubbing in Chelsea and wooing money
from the Middle East
By Mark Maurer | November 01, 2015 11:44AM
Sam-Sidhu

Sam Sidhu

In the roughly two years since Megalith Capital Management moved its headquarters to New York City from Philadelphia, the development firm has come closer to embodying the “mega” in its name. The Midtown East-based firm, which is run by Sam Sidhu, has about 1 million square feet of mostly residential real estate under development in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Westchester County, with about $1.2 billion in total assets. Among the firm’s projects are the construction of an Upper West Side residential condo tower with Extell Development, a 105-unit rental in Dumbo and a 15-unit condo in the same Brooklyn neighborhood. The 32-year-old company founder and CEO graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to earn an MBA from Harvard Business School. Last year, his eight-member firm sold all its assets in California and Texas to focus on the New York area. Sidhu, who worked at Goldman Sachs and Providence Equity, lives with his wife in a condo at 101 Warren Street in Tribeca, above Whole Foods. These days, his life is marked by luxury development, investing in the nightclub scene, and lunch with Gary Barnett.

6:30 A.M. I wake up and make a smoothie with banana, strawberry, blueberry and protein in a blender. I never change it up.

6:45 A.M. I meet my personal trainer at the gym in my building. I practice posturology, which is a combination of yoga and strength training. It involves a lot of isometric and muscle range exercises with ropes and chains.

Sam-Sidhu-dog8:15 A.M. Either my wife or I drop off my dog Simba, a Shiba Inu breed, at a day care. He’s in a room with a dozen other dogs and gets two walks a day. When I come back, Simba sees me through the glass and jumps on his hind legs. On the way out, he pulls me to the treat bowl near the door for a well-deserved treat.

8:45 A.M. Before heading to the office, I visit some of our projects and meet with our development,  property management, construction and sales or leasing teams. My jaw dropped recently when I saw how large and grand our windows at 200 Water Street were in person.

10:30 A.M. By mid-morning, I reach the office at One Grand Central Place, a 55-story tower across from Grand Central Terminal. Morning meetings and calls are generally centered around current and future projects, with the in-house team as well as some investors looking for updates on what we’re actively working on. We are looking to hire a value-add office team and a new head of in-house construction. That process involves meeting in our office, but usually it starts off with getting drinks.

12 P.M. I have lunch meetings three to four times a week with investors, brokers and, in some cases, sellers. Zuma [the Japanese chain] has become my new favorite spot because it’s steps from the office. I order sushi or a spinach salad. Recently, I dined with Adam Doneger from Eastdil Secured and a retailer from Israel looking to expand in the U.S., separately. Once a month, I meet with Gary Barnett on the Upper West Side. The only place he will go is the Prime Grill, a kosher steakhouse.

1:30 P.M. We’re looking to bring a new investor in on a new development project downtown. Before it’s too late in Qatar, I try to speak with investors there on the phone. I often travel to Asia and the Middle East. Last year, I went to the Middle East for two weeks and laid the groundwork for the investment we have right now.

2 P.M. We either meet with or call Halstead Property to discuss the marketing of 200 Water Street, which recently launched sales in Dumbo. I’ve also been fielding calls from brokers looking to bring in clients — and friends and family who are asking if they can get a place. Last month, we filed with the Attorney General’s office for our third price increase [at the Water Street project]. We have released three of the 15 condo units, which range in price from $2.9 million to more than $5 million.

3 P.M. My partner Phil [Watkins] and I hold a pipeline meeting with our acquisitions team, in which we review properties we’re bidding on or deals we are underwriting internally.

4 P.M. I tour one of these potential pipeline assets. Recently, I went up to 125th Street [in Harlem] and walked around the neighborhood to understand the submarket. We take the subway, walk into coffee shops and meet office tenants. We try to find neighborhoods that are on the cusp of transition into more prime areas. Park Slope and Dumbo had already been perceived as prime, but they were out of favor. We caught them when they came back in favor and entered the new phase of their growth.

6 P.M. I check in on an investment I made in a nightclub in Chelsea called Flash Factory, which is hopefully opening in November or December. I’m friendly with the owners of Provocateur. They came to me with a proposal for a 10,000-square-foot live independent music venue with a stage and a general admission concept —something Manhattan is really lacking right now. We will cater toward independent performers and the more prominent DJs. The post-opening lineup has not been finalized yet. Our partners are good operators but need some handholding when it comes to development. I am managing the budget
and timeline.

7:30 P.M. For dinner, my wife and I either pick up from Whole Foods, order from Maple or do Kitchensurfing, where a chef comes to your house and cooks for you in under 30 minutes. You can tell we’re a typical New York couple in that we’re not really using the kitchen.

8:30 P.M. I’m on the couch. I’m currently enjoying “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” I really like his takedowns. He’s extremely clever.

10:30 P.M. Before going to sleep, it’s time to read a book. Right now, I’m reading the biography of Elon Musk [the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX]. He’s been able to mesh the engineering and entrepreneurial sides — and be business-minded enough to pitch himself and raise capital along the way.