At YJP summit, real estate VIPs discuss navigating the recovering market

<em>From left: Arcadia's Ken Bernstein, Colliers' Michael Cohen, Holland &amp; Knight's Marty Miner, JDS' Michael Stern and David Kramer of Hudson Companies</em> <em>(credit: Pako Dominguez)</em>
From left: Arcadia's Ken Bernstein, Colliers' Michael Cohen, Holland & Knight's Marty Miner, JDS' Michael Stern and David Kramer of Hudson Companies (credit: Pako Dominguez)

With land prices skyrocketing across the city and competition for prospective sites becoming increasingly fierce, making a straightforward New York City deal has never been more difficult. Most successful transactions tend to be hairy and require some out-of-the-box thinking.

Finding creative ways into the marketplace was the topic of a real estate panel event, held last night at the Chelsea Pearl and hosted by Young Jewish Professionals. Panelists included Michael Cohen, president of the tri-state region at Colliers, David Kramer of Hudson Companies, Ken Bernstein of Arcadia Realty Trust and Emanuel Stern of Harz Mountain Industries.

Despite heading a brokerage business, Cohen heralded “ferreting out” off-market deals as the best way to make the numbers work for a development deal. The Colliers chief pointed to Stellar Management’s purchase earlier this year of two industrial buildings in Soho as an example of finding a great bargain. Stellar’s Lawrence Gluck bought the two buildings, which totaled 570,000 square feet, for $200 million or approximately $350 a square foot, when most buyers were paying in excess of $400 a foot in the neighborhood. The buildings were never officially on the market.

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Partnering with long-time owners of land or existing properties is another way to seek out deals out of plain site, said Kramer. Convincing owners, especially those who have owned their properties for many years, to take a risk by putting their fee interest into a joint venture with a developer can be tricky, but it’s worth a developer’s time if it works out. Developers such as Zach Vella of VE Equities have made such deals work. VE is currently developing a 20-unit condominium at 11 North Moore Street in Tribeca in partnership with a family that’s owned the land for several decades.

Kramer also noted the value of successfully picking up properties in emerging neighborhoods. Hudson is currently betting on Roosevelt Island. The company is developing a nine-building complex in the Riverwalk neighborhood.

Also in attendance at the event were Ziel Feldman of HFZ Capital, Michael Stern of JDS Development, attorney Ira Meister and Flintlock Construction Services member Chip Weiss. The panel was moderated by Marty Miner of Holland & Knight.