Meet the billionaire who built a huge fortune with small buildings

The billionaire is known for his stylish, mid-sized projects

565 Fifth Avenue and Axel Stawski
565 Fifth Avenue and Axel Stawski

You don’t necessarily have to think big to build a massive fortune in New York City.

Developer Axel Stawski, founder and president of Stawski Partners, is known for his small and stylish boutique buildings, a humble portfolio that has helped him amass a net worth of $2.4 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. He doesn’t fall too far behind Donald Trump, who — according to the index — has a net worth of $2.9 billion.

One of Stawski’s biggest office buildings in Manhattan is 565 Fifth Avenue, which spans a mere 380,000 square feet. His six office buildings, which average 316,000 square feet, show Stawski’s attention to detail and appreciation of design, Michael Cohen, president of Colliers International Group [TRData], told Bloomberg.

“He has very good aesthetic taste, and that matters in this town,” he said.

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In May, Stawski filed plans for a 66-story residential tower in Long Island City.

The building will span 838,000 square feet and have 921 apartments. The project will be his largest since 505 Fifth Avenue was built roughly 10 years ago.

The son of a German concentration camp survivor, Stawski began investing in New York City real estate in the late 1970s and is known for long-term investments.

“I sometimes think that that the axiom ‘location, location, location’ should be replaced with ‘timing, timing, timing,’ Cohen told Bloomberg. “His timing has been excellent.” [Bloomberg]Kathryn Brenzel