NYC’s real estate dynasties

How much do they own today?

From left: Jerry Speyer, Rob Speyer, Bill Rudin, Peter Malkin and Anthony Malkin
From left: Jerry Speyer, Rob Speyer, Bill Rudin, Peter Malkin and Anthony Malkin

Seymour Durst and his brothers built six Manhattan buildings in a 12-year run. Paul and Seymour Milstein built 10 in about the same amount of time. And Lew and Jack Rudin built 11 in two decades.

The breakneck pace of development — which was largely clustered in the 1960s and the 1980s — by those three families, and a slew of others, laid the foundation for many of New York City’s most established real estate dynasties. (Think Tishman, Fisher, Malkin, Resnick, LeFrak, Rose, and Zeckendorf.)

Indeed, after passing down their real estate portfolios from one generation to the next, many of those families are sitting on bricks-and-mortar fortunes today.

This month, The Real Deal looked at New York City’s top 10 real estate dynasties — those that stretch back a minimum of three generations and are still active. Then we ranked them by how much they own, and how much net operating income, or NOI, their New York City properties throw off each year — an estimate done by analyzing tax figures from the city’s Department of Finance. (We did not include additional business, such as property management, brokerage, banking, and condo development.)

Each of the 10 families has taken slightly different paths, but all have remained significant Manhattan landlords or developers — even as aggressive real estate investment trusts like SL Green Realty and private firms like Related Companies have muscled into the business and soaked up a lot of the recent limelight.

And they’ve faced big decisions along the way. Each family has to decide how much of its income to direct toward new — and by definition, risky — projects, and how much to pay out each year to family members.

Douglas Durst, chairman of the Durst Organization, said the income from his firm’s buildings is directed into individual corporations, which then distribute the funds to shareholders.

“The shares of the corporations are owned by the [family members’] trusts,” Durst said. “The corporations run the buildings. And they decide how much money has to go into the buildings or new ventures [and how much gets] distributed to the trusts.”

These dynasties have created several billionaires, but not without drama through the years. The second generation of Milsteins split the family fortune into two companies; the Fishers lost a senior partner in a tragic plane crash, and the Dursts are estranged from one family member, who was tried (and acquitted) of murder.

“All these are families that have shown they can stand the test of time,” said Bill Rudin, CEO of Rudin Management. “[Although] everybody has little bumps along the way, all are committed to New York.”

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While owning big buildings can be an ego boost, square footage is not the sole factor in how much money family businesses make. The leverage on the building, the rents, and the building’s expenses can be far more important in determining a property’s success.

Tishman Speyer — which was founded in 1978 — knows about that success. The company placed No. 1 on TRD’s ranking with an estimated $568 million in NOI. It was followed by Rudin, which had an NOI of $315 million. The top five was rounded out by Durst ($287 million), Malkin ($179 million) and Fisher Brothers ($162 million). While some of the firms commented for the article, none of them confirmed or commented on the NOI figures.

Each family has its own strategy for directing its income. For example, the Dursts tend to hold onto their properties’ cash flow, while the Speyers distribute much of theirs to partners.

Of course, for a family to increase its real estate holdings means having to decide whether to diversify with equity and debt investments, own brokerage companies, or stick with the more-straightforward strategy of developing and owning real estate.

Richard Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress, the construction trade organization, said all of these families have been successful because they’re generally cautious. “They invest strategically after careful consideration,” said Anderson.

While most of the firms ranked by TRD appear to derive the bulk of their New York City income from existing buildings, two firms do not: Rose Associates and Zeckendorf Realty. Those two firms were difficult to assess because they rely more on brokerage and development than on traditional own-and-hold revenue-producing properties. Unlike the other families ranked here, both firms also work in the third-party brokerage business.

Few of the firms on this list have maintained the furious pace of the development that their founding generations jump-started their businesses with, but some of them are incredibly busy today. Durst has been among the most active, having completed five buildings since 1999, with three major projects underway.

Meanwhile, other firms have long been operating under-the-radar with few new projects, but are now reentering the development game. For example, Fisher Brothers — which has attempted several projects in the last decade to no avail — now has six projects moving ahead.

Family friction

Of course, making a family business work requires families to get along.

Thomas Elghanayan, one of three brothers who started the large residential rental firm Rockrose, knows that all too well. Rockrose split up in 2009, with Thomas and his brother Frederick creating an offshoot company called TF Cornerstone and his brother Henry keeping the Rockrose name with his own son, Justin.

“You’ve got to like each other. You spend a lot of time together, with a lot of friction. And you’ve got to be able to compromise and not feel like you always got to have your way, and not feel bad about that,” said Elghanayan, TF Cornerstone’s chairman.

Indeed, many of the companies that TRD ranked have also seen their own splits.

Below is a look at the finances, the strategies and the dramas behind New York’s biggest real estate dynasties.

Tishman Speyer

Founded: 1978

Total NYC square footage: 16.4 million

Annual NYC property NOI: $568 million

Although Tishman Speyer’s New York City real estate portfolio has the highest total NOI at $568 million among the 10 family firms, the company keeps just a fraction of that money. That’s because the firm shares a greater amount of its profits with equity partners than any of the other dynasties.

The company’s openness to outside capital has allowed it to grow globally well beyond its peers, with some 80 million square feet of space in nine countries, including China, India and Brazil.

“Tishman is a significant player in the third-party funds business,” said Dan Fasulo, managing director at data firm Real Capital Analytics.

The company has not attempted to acquire or develop any new property in New York since it defaulted on, and lost, Stuyvesant Town, the 11,200-unit apartment complex it purchased with partner BlackRock in 2006 for $5.4 billion.

The firm — which is jointly run by Jerry Speyer and his son Robert — declined to comment for this article. But the last building it constructed in New York was the high-profile 856,000-square-foot Hearst Tower at 300 West 57th Street, which was completed in 2006. (The building is now owned by publishing giant Hearst.)

While it hasn’t pursued new deals here recently, Tishman Speyer is incredibly active elsewhere. In fact, a review of deals from RCA found that of the 10 families, it’s been the most active nationally over the past year when it comes to large building trades. The firm is in contract to buy a Chicago office building for $211 million. And, in August it sold an office building in Washington, D.C., for $183 million, according to RCA.

It is also building San Francisco’s first speculative office tower since the financial crisis, which it’s developing with JP Morgan Chase Asset Management.

Tishman Speyer was founded in 1978, but its roots in New York date back to the late 1890s, when Julius Tishman founded Julius Tishman & Sons. That company was taken public in the 1920s, creating Tishman Realty & Construction, which was last run by Julius’ grandson, Robert Tishman. (Jerry Speyer is Robert Tishman’s former son-in-law.) The firm was split into two separate companies — Tishman Speyer and Tishman Construction — in 1978 after the high-profile foreclosure of 1166 Sixth Avenue, which it had built.

Rudin Management

Founded: 1924

Total NYC square footage: 13.9 million

Annual NYC property NOI: $315 million

After years of maintaining its vast portfolio of Manhattan buildings, Rudin Management has recently started ramping up its new development activity.

Like the Dursts, the Rudins have maintained a laser-like focus on Manhattan.

The company’s 33 Manhattan buildings — 10.2 million square feet of office space and 3.7 million of residential — bring in a combined $315 million in NOI each year.

The company — which was founded by brothers Sam, Henry, Nathan and Edward Rudin in the 1920s — rose to become one of the most active builders of Manhattan towers during the 1950s, and hit its stride in the 1960s, when it was opening an average of one building a year. While it continued building after that, its pace slowed in the 1970s as a glut of office space sat on the market.

The last office building Rudin built was the 855,000-square-foot 3 Times Square, which was completed in 2001. But it’s recently ramped up its residential development with several high-profile (and controversial) projects in Greenwich Village on the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site, which put it squarely in the spotlight.

CEO Bill Rudin acknowledged that the firm backed away from new development for a period, in part because of the impact of the terrorist attacks in 2001.

“Our city took a huge hit, so there was no real opportunity that we saw fit our level of return and what capital we would need to invest,” he said. “We focused on our existing portfolio.”

But in 2012, Rudin opened a 42-unit condo conversion at 130 West 12th Street adjacent to the defunct hospital. The project sold out in eight months, with prices ranging from $1.42 to $12.85 million, and celebrity buyers like Rosie O’Donnell to boot. Now the firm is constructing Greenwich Lane — a collection of five buildings (with 200 condos) and five townhouses also in the St. Vincent’s footprint — in partnership with Eyal Ofer’s Global Holdings.

Rudin said he partnered with Global Holdings because of the enormous capital needed to build in the city today.

“The complexity and the risk factors to do a development are significant. My generation … [has] been very conservative about how we underwrite deals,” he said.

Unlike some of New York’s other dynasties, Rudin employs a number of extended family members. Today eight of them work at the firm, including Bill’s uncle Jack, Bill’s children Samantha and Michael, Bill’s sister Beth, and Bill’s cousin Eric.

Durst Organization

Founded: 1915

Total NYC square footage: 9.5 million

Annual NYC property NOI: $287 million

While conservative with its equity, the Durst Organization is actively building and expanding its portfolio.

“There are 11 members of my generation, and there are 24 members of the next generation. And if we want to keep distributing [annual payments] to the family, we have to continue to grow,” said Douglas Durst, when asked why the company doesn’t just sit on its vast portfolio.

The company has 12 New York City buildings and an annual NOI of $287 million. (The portfolio includes 10 office buildings, two residential buildings and three developments — the 711-unit Bjarke Ingels-designed residential building at 625 West 57th Street, a 570,000-square-foot, mixed-use tower at 855 Sixth Avenue, and the 3 million-square-foot 1 World Trade Center, where its partnering with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.)

In 2009, it completed one of its most high-profile buildings, the 2.1 million-square-foot 1 Bryant Park, an office tower at Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street. That came 10 years after it finished the nearby 1.8 million-square-foot 4 Times Square, the first speculative office building constructed in New York in nearly a decade. It, of course, snagged publisher Condé Nast as an anchor tenant.

Of all the families on TRD’s list, sources say the Dursts and the Rudins are closest to what most would think of as the classic real estate dynasty. For the Dursts, that’s partly because the fourth-generation firm, which was founded in 1915 by Joseph Durst (grandfather to Douglas and Jody, the company’s president), has not deviated much from its initial mission of actively developing and managing its buildings.

The family, Douglas said, takes a conservative approach to securing equity. Rather than financing projects with outside money, it nearly always uses its own equity and often develops on its own.

Its so-called board of managers is composed of the 11 family members who are beneficiaries of the family trusts and decide how the company’s cash flow will be allocated. (The family pays out millions each year to family members.)

Douglas said the trusts are “generation skipping,” meaning that each generation has a limited say over the properties that directly benefit it.

“We think we have created a very viable platform for a family business that is able to keep growing,” said Douglas, who added that the company works off a five-year budget.

The dynasty does, however, come with the prerequisite family drama. Douglas’ older brother Robert, who is estranged from the family, has been connected to a series of mysterious deaths. He was acquitted of murder in Texas in 2002, though he admitted to dismembering his neighbor’s body — he claimed that the neighbor was accidentally killed while the two were struggling and a gun discharged. He was bought out of the family empire in 2006 for $65 million.

Malkin Holdings

Founded: 1934

Total NYC square footage: 6.7 million

Annual NYC property NOI: $179 million

Not surprisingly, the extended Malkin family derives much of its wealth from the company’s highest-profile and most-valuable asset — the Empire State Building.

Malkin Holdings, which today is headed by Anthony Malkin, controls seven New York City office buildings and four retail properties, which reap a total NOI of $179 million annually — nearly half of which comes directly from the Empire State Building. (The company also owns seven other properties in the metro area.)

While it’s not constructing any new buildings in New York, the firm is in the midst of a $500 million rehabilitation of the Empire State Building. Malkin Holdings has been in the news a lot lately because of Malkin’s proposal to take the iconic tower (along with 17 other properties) public.

The firm has a unique business model that differentiates it from the other families on the list. That’s because company founder, legendary investor Lawrence Wien — Anthony’s grandfather — specialized in syndicating building ownership. Indeed, the Empire State Building and two other marquee buildings he purchased years ago — the 1.3 million-square-foot 60 East 42nd Street and the 543,000-square-foot 250 West 57th Street — remain syndicates today. The firm controls those buildings through minority stakes.

Wien first started dabbling in real estate in 1934, but the company rose to fame in the 1960s when he and his son-in-law, Peter (Anthony’s father), partnered with Harry Helmsley to bring in the thousands of investors needed to buy shares at the three syndicated towers.

Today, at least two dozen members of the extended Malkin and Wien families own shares in Empire State Building Associates, the company that owns the tower. Still, Peter, who is the company chairman, and Anthony are the only family members who work at the firm.

Fisher Brothers

Founded: 1915

Total NYC square footage: 5.6 million

Annual NYC property NOI: $162 million

After a long hibernation from development in New York, Fisher Brothers is now roaring back — but with a twist.

While the firm constructed more than a dozen apartment buildings in the 1950s in the city’s outer boroughs, its heyday was in the 1960s, when it went on a Manhattan office tower building spree. By 1980 it had erected eight office buildings, totaling 6 million square feet.

But now it’s going back to its residential roots, with more than 900 units in the works in six developments.

Today its most high-profile construction project is the nearly 440-unit, Rafael Viñoly-designed residential tower at 22 Thames Street, where it’s partnering with the Witkoff Group to build what will likely be rentals.

In addition, Fisher Brothers, Witkoff and Howard Lorber’s Vector Group plan to demolish 101 Murray Street in Tribeca and replace it with about 200 residential condos.

Witkoff — who had never partnered with Fisher Brothers before these two deals — said he meets frequently with company head Arnold, Arnold’s sons Steven and Kenneth, and Winston, company founder Martin Fisher’s grandson.

At one such meeting in the spring, they nailed down their terms for the Murray Street building bid in only 20 minutes.

“Those are massive decisions that can take weeks or months, and we got it done in 20 minutes,” Witkoff said. He credited the speed to a strong relationship between the generations.

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And those aren’t Fisher Brothers’ only in-progress deals. Last December, it teamed up with developer Larry Silverstein and Capstone Equities to redevelop 3 Mitchell Place, which they plan to convert into an extended-stay hotel. In addition, the firm is converting the 72-unit apartment building 101 West 87th Street into condos, in partnership with private equity firm Blackrock. (Fisher told TRD the project is already sold out.)

Those new projects follow on the heels of a smaller project, the 18-unit Warren Lofts, at 37 Warren Street, which had an initial sell-out price of $60 million. While developer Sonny Bazbaz — a former Fisher Brothers employee — was the public face of that project, the site is owned by Fisher.

And Fisher has another rental in the works on 40th Street between Second and Third avenues, the company said. “The next several years will be an intense and exhilarating time,” Winston said.

Today, Fisher Brothers owns 5.6 million square feet of office space in New York in four large buildings and rakes in a NOI of $162 million. After debt payments, the company gives about half of its income to partners. That’s because each of its buildings has a joint-venture partner who owns a 49 percent stake. For example, the company is partnered with Chinese real estate tycoon Zhang Xin at the 1.1 million-square-foot Park Avenue Plaza, data from RCA showed.

Over the years, the family has seen its share of tragedy. In 2003, Anthony Fisher, a senior partner at the company, and his wife were killed in a plane crash.

But its break from development began far earlier than that, in the 1980s.

And before its latest wave of development, it created the City Investment Fund, which bought into Urban American’s $940 million Harlem portfolio in 2007.

Its lack of development activity was not for lack of trying.

It became bogged down in one of the city’s most ambitious private projects: In April 2005, the company teamed up with the famously mercurial Sheldon Solow to pay Con Edison about $600 million for a 9.2-acre site on the East Side along the FDR. The project stalled and devolved into a legal battle between the two parties, with Solow eventually buying Fisher out.

The history of the firm: Martin founded a construction company, which his brothers, Larry (Arnold’s father) and Zachary, joined and renamed Fisher Brothers.

LeFrak Organization

Founded: 1901

Total NYC square footage: 9.5 million

Annual NYC property NOI: $116 million

The LeFrak Organization has a $116 million NOI in New York City, but that number may be a little deceiving because it has a giant New Jersey presence and thousands of additional outer borough units that it’s not publicly identified with.

Also, company CEO Richard LeFrak has a fortune valued at a stunning $5.6 billion, according to Forbes’ most recent ranking of the 400 richest Americans, which was released last month. That outranked Jerry Speyer, along with other high-profile developers like Sheldon Solow, Stephen Ross and Donald Trump.

The company built a massive, multibillion-dollar, 600-acre mixed-use community in Jersey City called Newport, which currently includes 14 apartment buildings (both rental and condo), a mall, a hotel, and eight office buildings.

The firm has an extremely broad business model. It does everything from development to lending to investing in oil and gas.

The company — which was started by Richard’s grandfather, Harry Lefrak, in 1901— grew substantially under Richard’s father Samuel.

Samuel, who died in 2003, oversaw the development of tens of thousands of apartments in the 1960s, including the company’s most famous New York property, the affordably priced 5,000-unit LeFrak City in Queens. TRD’s analysis found that the complex has an estimated NOI of $35 million, a figure the firm disputed by did not correct.

While the company still owns LeFrak City, it’s sold many of its other New York holdings over the years. In 2007, for example, it unloaded 22 Brooklyn and Queens’ buildings for $251 million to Urban American. However, the company said it still owns thousands of units in the outer boroughs, many of which are not publicly identified with the firm and were therefore not included in TRD’s tally.

Last year, however, it converted an office building in Rego Park into 108 residential units. The project, called Contour, was the firm’s first in Queens in 38 years, a company spokesperson said.

Richard LeFrak told TRD that he and his two sons, Harrison and James, are the only family members who work at the firm. Today, he said, the only other people with ownership stakes in the company are his three sisters, who have “a small interest.” (He said his father bought out his own two sisters year ago.)

Having few family members working at the firm is a plus, Richard said. “The luxury is not having to satisfy a lot of people who don’t actually work.”

While the company has been quiet as a ground-up developer in New York lately, LeFrak said he’s attempting to assemble a large development site in Manhattan, though he stressed that he did not know when it would be ready.

“It could be tomorrow, it could be in two years,” he said.

He also said he was not interested in developing condos in New York, noting that more than 50 percent of the potential profit goes to taxes.

“Condos are highly tax-inefficient,” in New York City, he said. “You are working for the government.”

In the last few years, however, the firm has bought 11,000 condo units from distressed buyers outside the city, mostly in Florida and California.

Jack Resnick & Sons

Founded: 1928

Total NYC square footage: 5.7 million

Annual NYC property NOI: $113 million

After building the 194-unit condominium 200 Chambers Street in 2007, the Resnick family halted ground-up construction. And today it doesn’t have any new projects on the drawing board.

But the company — which was founded by Jack Resnick in 1928 and is run by his son Burton — operates more than 5 million square feet of office space and about 1,000 apartments. It has a NOI of about $113 million, not including condo sales from 200 Chambers.

Jonathan Resnick, Burt’s son and the company president, said the firm is “waiting for things to loosen up a bit” before it starts another construction project.

“We have a lot of dry powder, to use a cliché,” he said. “It is a very competitive market in terms of land prices and development costs.”

He said capitalization rates (which measure returns on existing properties) are low and land prices are high, so the firm is sticking with the returns it already has coming in rather than directing its cash flow to new projects.

“There is too much risk. There is not a great enough return to put [up] the amount of equity required,” he said.

Like many of the other dynasties, the company built up much of its portfolio during the 1960s. Jonathan told TRD that Resnick family members are the majority owners at most of the company’s buildings, though he said that they have minority partners.

“When my grandfather [Jack] built and assembled properties, there were friends and family, lots of different investors,” he said. “[As a result], different buildings have different partners.”

Today he and his father are the only family members at the 200-employee company, which handles most of its leasing and management in-house.

Jonathan’s brother, Scott Resnick, who spearheaded the development of 200 Chambers, set out on his own in 2007 after 18 years with the firm. Scott told TRD that he wanted a separation between family and work.

“I wanted my father to be my father, and not my senior partner,” Scott said.

He said he has a good relationship with his brother and father and still owns an undiluted equity interest in the family’s portfolio.

With his new firm SR Capital, Scott is now developing a 44-unit condo at 551 West 21st Street, adjacent to the High Line.

Milstein Properties

Founded: Late 1950s

Total NYC square footage: 5.8 million

Annual NYC property NOI: $111 million

The Milsteins’ first family enterprise was not a real estate business — it was a flooring company.

That company was founded by Morris Milstein in 1919 and eventually became a powerhouse in the industry, installing floors at Rockefeller Center and Madison Square Garden, among other high-profile venues. That business introduced Morris’ sons, Paul and Seymour, to major real estate players.

And by the 1960s, the two were developing properties of their own, including the 683-unit Dorchester Towers on the Upper West Side — their first major apartment project.

Today the company — which is run by Paul’s son Howard — owns 14 buildings in New York City, with a total of 5.8 million square feet and an annual NOI of $111 million.

The firm took a break from new development after its extraordinary run in the 1980s, when it built megatowers like the 1.2 million-square-foot office building 335 Madison Avenue and a slew of residential buildings.

The brothers also began branching out during that decade, buying Emigrant Savings Bank, real estate development and management firm Starrett Corporation, and Douglas Elliman-Gibbons & Ives (which is now Douglas Elliman). After turning around the floundering management arm of Douglas Elliman-Gibbons & Ives, the Milsteins sold it in 1995 for an undisclosed amount. The company followed that by the sale of the brokerage arm in 1999 to Andrew Farkas’ Insignia Financial Group for $65 million in cash — with the possibility of $10 million more depending on future performance.

But in the 1990s, Paul and Seymour had a falling out over how, or if, the company would be handed off to the next generation. During that period the firm didn’t construct new projects. In 2003, two years after Seymour’s death, the company split its holdings. Paul, along with his two sons Howard and Edward, took control of Milstein Properties (Paul died in 2010), while Seymour’s children Philip and Connie formed Ogden CAP Properties. In the division of properties, Ogden took five of the company’s major residential buildings, including the Dorchester Towers and the massive 1,477-unit Normandie Court on East 96th Street.

Following the split, Howard once again began to develop.

In 2011, he opened rental buildings Liberty Green and Liberty Luxe in Battery Park City. In addition, the firm owns an estimated 600 unsold units in the four Battery Park City condo towers it built in the 1980s — Liberty Terrace, Liberty View, Liberty House and Liberty Court.

The company declined to comment.

Rose Associates

Founded: 1928

Total NYC square footage: 1.4 million

Annual NYC property NOI: $29 million

Brothers David and Samuel Rose started Rose Associates during the city’s pre-Depression real estate boom, in 1928.

David had no children, so the firm was handed down to Sam’s children — Frederick, Elihu and Daniel. Today, the firm is led by Elihu’s daughter Amy and Frederick’s son Adam.

The cousins, who are co-presidents, operate in a wide range of New York real estate. Their company develops properties, but also manages those properties for itself and third-party owners. The firms says it manages more than 26,000 apartments for clients such as BlackRock and JPMorgan Asset Management.

The company has ownership interests in at least four Manhattan buildings — including the 293-unit Le Rivage at 21 West Street and the 192-unit Chelsea Landmark at 55 West 25th Street — and one in Long Island City. Its holdings bring in an estimated $29 million in NOI. However, it manages dozens of others, which bring in millions more in revenue.

The firm is currently converting the former office building 70 Pine Street in Lower Manhattan into 777 rental apartments. It’s also an equity investor in a 270-unit, apartment project with a mix of rentals and condos, which is being led by World-Wide Group on Second Avenue in the 50s.

Its management arm took a hit when its contract to operate Manhattan’s largest residential rental portfolio, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, ended in 2012. The management fee at the 11,200-unit housing development was $4 million in 2010, data from debt analysis firm Trepp showed. The property’s special servicer, CWCapital, hired its own management firm to operate the complex.

Like their peers the Resnicks, members of the Rose family have split off and formed their own firms.

In 1989, Adam’s brother Jonathan started Jonathan Rose Companies, which focuses on green development.

Zeckendorf Realty

Founded: 1992

Total NYC square footage: Unknown

Annual NYC property NOI: Unknown

Zeckendorf Realty, headed by brothers and co-founders William Lie Zeckendorf and Arthur Zeckendorf, is the youngest of the 10 family firms, and does not fit neatly into the bunch.

Its roots stretch back two generations to their grandfather, legendary dealmaker William Zeckendorf Sr., who famously built up (and then lost) a New York real estate empire.

His son William Jr. — known as Bill — launched his own firm in 1983 called Zeckendorf Company.

Then in 1992, Bill’s sons William Lie, who goes by Will, and Arthur, formed Zeckendorf Realty.

Will said his firm is different from the others because there have been three separate family companies along the way.

“We are very different. We are a family of three generations that are self-starting and self-made,” Will told TRD. “We are much more akin to Extell [Development], Related and Witkoff,” which are principal developers.

The firm does own significant assets in New York through partnerships with other companies, Will said. He declined to provide addresses, and because his company is not the identified owner in many public records, its stake can remain private.

The current Zeckendorf firm has developed a slew of condos, including one of the city’s most high-profile: 15 Central Park West. It also built 515 Park Avenue and recently converted 18 Gramercy Park South into luxury condos.

William Sr. began his real estate career as a broker, but rose through the ranks and eventually gained control of the real estate firm Webb & Knapp, which he built up to own properties such as the Chrysler Building and Graybar Building.

But in 1965, the overleveraged firm collapsed. His son Bill continued as a developer, and went on as the lead builder of Worldwide Plaza, along with a string of major apartment buildings. (Bill is now retired and living in New Mexico.)

At 15 CPW, the Zeckendorf brothers firm tapped institutional equity, including money from Goldman Sachs’ Whitehall Street Real Estate Fund and investor Eyal Ofer’s Global Holdings, which is also backing Rudin’s new project.

In addition to their development, the Zeckendorfs moved into the brokerage business with the 1995 purchase — along with Kent Swig and David Burris — of the residential firm Brown Harris Stevens. A few years later, the group acquired Halstead Realty. They operate the two under the umbrella of Terra Holdings, which is one of the largest residential property managers in the city, and has 2,000 brokers in four states.