The Real Deal New York

The Closing with Steven Pozycki

The SJP Properties’ CEO talks about living down the hall from Bruce Springsteen, lifeguarding at Jones Beach and forging his firm deeper into New York City

September 01, 2014
By E.B. Solomont

Steven Pozycki (credit: STUDIO SCRIVO)

Steven Pozycki (credit: STUDIO SCRIVO)

Steven Pozycki is founder and CEO of Parsippany, N.J.–based SJP Properties, which has developed over 25 million square feet of office space as well as residential condos and rentals since 1981. SJP made a bold move into the New York market several years ago, when it built 11 Times Square, a 40-story, 1.2-million-square-foot speculative glass office-and-retail tower. This year, SJP moved its corporate offices into the building, which hit the market in the midst of the recession but is now 85 percent leased. The firm is looking to push deeper into the city: It’s already developed two Manhattan condos, the 220-unit Platinum on West 46th Street and the 105-unit 45 Park Avenue. Across the Hudson, SJP completed Panasonic Corp.’s 340,000-square-foot North American headquarters in Newark last year and is now building a 500,000-square-foot office-and-retail tower in Hoboken, and the Modern, a pair of 47-story glass residential buildings in Fort Lee.

Name: Steven Joseph Pozycki
Born: 11/25/49
Hometown: Middlesex County, N.J.
Marital status: Married 28 years
Children: 1

Where do you live?

In Far Hills, N.J. But I’m moving into a [condo] on the Upper West Side in September.

Why are you moving?

My daughter [Kate, who’s married to SJP vice president Enrique Alonso] and granddaughter are here. This is also a strategic move professionally. It gives me the opportunity to be closer to the action in New York City, while still being close to New Jersey.

Do you have other homes?

We have a house at the beach on the East End [of Long Island]. During the summer of freshman year of college, my coach got me a job as a Jones Beach lifeguard. I was from New Jersey, I didn’t really know where Jones Beach was, but I wound up enjoying the island.

Was that your first job?

I delivered newspapers when I was a real little kid, and I had a roofing job. I worked for a bunch of masons, mixing mud and carrying bricks around a lot of construction jobs, delivering pizzas at night. Almost any job you can imagine.

What were you like as a kid?

I was a hyperactive kid. I wasn’t much of a student. I liked to entertain in class; I thought that’s what you should do when you get there, get a couple of laughs.

How did you meet your wife, Elaine?

We met senior year in college at a party.

You went to Monmouth University, where you lived down the hall from Bruce Springsteen.

Brighton Avenue, where the apartment was located, was a very inexpensive place to live; the bathroom was in the hall. Bruce moved in with the whole band. They would get up around 3 o’clock in the afternoon and go over to this greasy spoon, Harry’s, across the street, and then they’d play music till the wee hours of the night.

How well did you know each other? Did you keep in touch?

Casually. We didn’t really keep in touch, but [saxophonist] Clarence [Clemons] would come down every night and say, “Hey, are you guys drinking tonight?” We’d say, “No, Clarence,” and he’d say, “Well, are you chipping in?”

What did you do after graduation?

I got a license to sell houses in college — I just went and got one with a friend. When I graduated, I focused on getting a job in real estate, but at an institutional level where I could get more exposure and experience than selling houses on the corner. As I graduated I started working at MetLife in their real estate department and then at Equitable Life Assurance Society.

When did you form SJP?

When Equitable was moving to Atlanta in the 1980s, I wanted to stay in the New York area, so I went with Lincoln Property Company, the national commercial and residential real estate firm, and became their partner in the Northeast. In the ’90s, they were in financial trouble, so I bought them out and have been in business ever since. We only concentrate on the Metropolitan area. We think we can do better things for people if we do it in a tighter geographical area.

What are your hobbies?

Anything on the water — scuba diving, swimming. I play a little golf with friends and do mountain biking. I started scuba diving about four years ago. It’s another world. The colors are spectacular.

Were you always athletic?

I swam in high school, and my first year in college I played soccer and pole vaulted for a little bit. I was playing soccer and saw these kids in the field flying over the top of this bar and thought it looked pretty cool. It’s harder than it looks.

When did you start swimming?

I had polio when I was in second grade. My mother got me into swimming, which was pretty smart. I wasn’t walking for a while and we had to get the legs going again.

Do you have any vices?

I smoke cigars … I was in the construction business my whole life. Most of the guys on the job were smoking cigars, so I started smoking cigars in my late teens.

What kind of car do you drive?

A Range Rover. I’m on sites [all day], when I drive through, I like to have that kind of vehicle.

Your son-in-law, daughter and wife work with you. Was it always real estate at the dinner table?

It was. [My daughter] started out as an inner-city school teacher. I was shocked to hear she’d like to try real estate. I questioned it, to make sure she’d like it. But it’s an interesting business. You meet people from all walks of life. No day is the same.

  • G-unit

    This guy is straight G. I would love to smoke a cigar with you!