The Closing: Mitch Rudin on basketball and Occupy Wall Street

Aug.August 01, 2013 07:00 AM
Mitch Rudin

Mitch Rudin (Photo by STUDIO SCRIVO)

Mitch Rudin is president and CEO of U.S. commercial operations at Brookfield Office Properties. He joined Brookfield in 2011 from the brokerage CBRE, where he’d been president of U.S. Transaction Services. Currently, Rudin is overseeing Brookfield’s $250 million renovation of the World Financial Center and the construction of Manhattan West, a 5.4 million-square-foot office, residential and hotel development near Hudson Yards in Manhattan. Rudin attended Franklin & Marshall College and Boston College Law School.

What is your full name?

Mitchell Eliot Rudin.

Any relation to Bill Rudin, CEO of Rudin Management?

No, but I get that almost daily. They’re a wonderful family.

Date of birth?

April 25, 1953.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in New York City, but grew up in Atlantic Beach, on the south shore of Long Island.

What were you like as a kid?

I was probably fairly serious. I was committed to school, sports and the friendships that came with them.

What did your parents do?

My father owned and ran a hosiery company — stockings and men’s socks. My brother and I worked with him on weekends when we were young. I learned the importance of hard work and ethical behavior from him.

You now live in Scarsdale?

Yes, I commute every day [by car]. It takes about 45 minutes.

Do you have any other homes?

We just completed construction on a house in Amagansett. We converted an old beach house into a modern beach house. We’ll be out there probably 12 to 15 weekends a year.

How long have you been married?

Thirty-three years. We met in Amagansett. Bonnie was coming off the tennis court, I was coming off the basketball court, and we met at the water fountain. We ended up going to the same singles party, followed by a club, and we’ve been together since that night.

How many kids do you have?

We have two children, Scott and Ben. Scott is 28. He’s a senior [fashion] designer at Ralph Lauren. Our younger son Ben is 26. He’s living in Israel.

Does a passion for fashion run in the family?

Scott has a wonderful sense of design and style. I think it skipped a generation. My father was always considered a very dapper dresser; I just try to keep up.

You were previously an attorney. How did you get into real estate?

I was practicing law at [Manhattan firm] David & Gilbert. I’d been doing a deal with Saatchi and Saatchi at 375 Hudson Street. After the deal, the people at Tishman Speyer [the owner of 375 Hudson] asked me if I’d ever thought of making the switch [to real estate]. We had a series of discussions, and I ended up going over to the business side with them.

You left CBRE for Brookfield after being there for 21 years. Was it a tough decision?

It was an opportunity to be part of two projects that would be redefining New York City: the renovation of Brookfield Place and the West Side project. It was only an opportunity of that nature — which I was not looking for — which would have led me to make the change. [CBRE] could not have been more gracious when I left.

What is the status of Manhattan West?

We’ve been in construction since October. We’re currently talking to a couple of major tenants.

You used to host an annual basketball tournament at your house for CBRE people. Do you still do that?

Yes, a number of CBRE and Brookfield people come to the house. The moment I stop playing is the moment I’ll stop hosting.

Are you competitive?

Quite.

“Occupy Wall Street” protesters spent months camped out in Brookfield’s Zuccotti Park last year. What did you make of the movement?

We were concerned about crime, and harm coming to individuals. There were some really bad elements mixed in among that group. … Regardless of your view of the politics, it was a terrible missed opportunity. … Their message was entirely unclear and their decision-making was dysfunctional. They could have converted [their efforts] into political influence, but they didn’t. If you look back now, what was really accomplished?

How do you size people up when you first meet them?

I listen very carefully. Start with the fundamental decision: Is the person a good or a bad person? If the person is good, have tolerance for some of the things they do that might not be so perfect. If the person is a bad person, have no tolerance. … When I’ve been involved in recruiting people, I often want to know about their significant other. I want to meet that person.

What other hobbies do you have?

I stand-up paddle board [in the Hamptons] and play tennis. We also collect Modern American art. At the moment, our favorites are Reginald Marsh, Charles Burchfield and other artists of that generation.

Do you view art as an investment?

I view it as a passion, not as an investment. Still, the passion won’t lead me to buy something that isn’t a prudent investment.


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