Editor’s note: They go with their gut

Oct.October 01, 2014 07:00 AM

014 Edit note se FINAL.inddIn 20 years, will condo buyers say, “I want to live in a Shvo building?”

That is the hope of real estate bad-boy Michael Shvo, who embodied the excess of the last real estate boom as a broker and, after a hiatus during the recession, has re-emerged as a developer with ambitious plans for three new condo projects amid a much-hyped luxury market. They include what will likely be one of the tallest buildings in Lower Manhattan, rising near the World Trade Center site.

It’s easy to say that Shvo — who burst back onto the scene only last year, paying a record price for a development site in Chelsea — only makes his appearance at market peaks, like some sea creature rising from the depths (or rather, emerging from his condo in the Time Warner Center). His appearance as things get frothy may herald the market’s downturn. Or Shvo might be timing it exactly right and we’ll all know what living in a “Shvo” building means two decades from now.

Either way, you’ve got to admit he’s got guts and a good dose of chutzpah, too. As he tells us in this month’s Closing interview, it’s not worth doing something to gain mass approval (see page 170).

“I would hope I have critics,” he said. “If everyone thinks it’s OK, then there’s truly no value to the creation.”

Not listening to critics, or at least putting criticisms in their proper place, is a lesson that’s been offered in other Closing interviews, along with a lot of wisdom shared by top real estate pros in our regular back-page feature spanning nearly a decade.

After 100 interviews with industry titans on topics both personal and professional, we are publishing all the interviews as a coffee table book. We have an excerpt of some favorite pieces starting on page 93, so check it out.

Being comfortable taking risks is a common attribute of those we’ve profiled over the years. And back to our most recent Closing, while there may be egg on his face if the market turns, the much-criticized Shvo will still have more homes and artwork than all but a few 1 percenters, I’m sure. It seems taking a leap of faith in the first place is probably the greatest predictor of success.

The upcoming book is chock full of details about what New York’s real estate elite do when they are not in the office too. Which billionaire investor had Mike Tyson as the best man at his wedding? Which developer raises chickens on the roof of his Upper West Side home? You’ll have to read the book, which is available later this month, to find out. Stay tuned to the website for ordering information.

This issue also features an in-depth profile of another bad boy of real estate, Gary Barnett of Extell Development. This long-time developer (prolific where Shvo is merely fledgling), who has built the current tallest residential tower in New York, among countless other projects, is what one industry observer called a “magician and one of the smartest guys that I’ve met in my three decades in NYC real estate.”

But lately, as reporter Hiten Samtani writes, Barnett seems to have become the poster boy for controversial industry issues ranging from the “poor-door” debate to the Moreland Commission.

In many ways, his luxury projects run counter to Mayor de Blasio’s real estate agenda. At the same time, he’s battled many of Manhattan’s other behemoth developers. Check out the story on page 88.

Inside, we also take a look at the huge number of new towers rising on New Jersey’s Gold Coast right across from Manhattan (page 58) as well as examine building sales activity in Brooklyn and Queens, which is poised to shatter records this year as more institutional money gets comfortable investing there (page 83).

Elsewhere, we tally up at the priciest leases in Midtown South, Manhattan’s strongest office market, where tech companies are proliferating. And finally, while many in real estate are fixated on high land costs impeding development, construction costs — the other big piece of the development equation — are also on the rise (see page 40). Whether this will play a factor in preventing developers from reaching for the stars remains to be seen.

Enjoy the issue.


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