Inside Moinian Group’s holiday party: PHOTOS

Old phones, Iranian diplomacy and everything else TRD picked up

You’d think Marc Holliday, who made $23 million as CEO of SL Green Realty in 2015 alone, would dish out cash for the latest gadgets.

But on Tuesday night he whipped out a near-ancient iPhone 5 to jokingly pretend to take family photos of the Moinians – much to the delight of Mitchell Moinian. As soon as he saw Holliday’s device, the real estate executive, and son to Moinian Group CEO Joseph Moinian, pulled out his own medieval clunk: the exact same model.

If out-of-date phones become a trend among high-powered developers, you read it here first.

What else did we learn at the Moinian Group’s annual holiday party? Deals are still being done, the industry’s mood is cautiously optimistic, and the Far West Side is slowly but surely growing into its own.

“It’s an emerging market,” said SRS Real Estate Partners retail broker Mark Kapnick, who was chatting with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s Jeffrey Roseman. In September, Kapnick had brokered Volvo’s 60,000-square-foot lease at Moinian’s Sky tower (the holiday party was held next door at 635 West 42nd Street) at what he said was an asking rent of $6 million per year. A special zoning that makes running a car shop easier helped get the deal done.

“It’s like a liquor license when no one else has it,” he said.

Holliday spoke of the prospect of lighter bank regulations under a Trump administration. The business community is hopeful that Trump, who is set to take office on Jan. 20, takes a look at reforming some of the more unreasonable regulations, he said.

Also spotted: Vector Group’s Howard Lorber, Meridian Capital Group’s Ralph Herzka, Empire Capital Holdings’ Josh Rahmani, the Amirian Group’s David Amirian, Winick Realty’s Jeff Winick, Iron Hound Management’s Rob Verrone and Greenberg Traurig’s Robert Ivanhoe.

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There were residential brokers aplenty. Douglas Elliman’s Jared Seligman, sporting a fur-lined coat, chatted with Moinian’s wife Nazee, a former fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and soon-to-be PhD student at St. Andrews University, where she will study the use of Islamic religious texts in Iranian diplomacy. (Last year Nazee, a Tehran native, published an op-ed in The Guardian expressing support for the Iran nuclear deal.)

Luis Ortiz, until very recently also at Elliman, arrived fashionably late. He said he’s completely out of the brokerage business now that he’s joined investment firm Empire Capital Holdings, and he’s looking to leverage the social media chops that helped him succeed in the residential world over to the commercial side. “I think it translates to everything,” he said. “People are following a subject. They want a good story.”

Town Residential’s Andrew Heiberger was with his newly-appointed director of new development, Elaine Diratz. She said that apartments priced at $3 million, “you couldn’t keep them on the shelf,” but apartments priced in the $10 million-and-up range would “struggle,” just as they did last year. Heiberger recalled that he’d been friends with Moinian since the 90s and had attended his children’s Bar Mitzvahs.

The children, now all grown up and in leading positions at the company, were running around schmoozing with visitors. Mitchell said that while 2016 seemed a “very dubious” year to people, he thinks those in the industry are enthusiastic about 2017 for a myriad of reasons — one being the outcome of the election. For one, the uncertainty of the election is over. For another, the real estate industry is seeing one of their own take office.

“There’s an inherent excitement in having a business person as president,” he said. “There is a natural revival of business.”

Compared to the typically happening parties hosted by Madison Realty Capital Group and Town, Moinian’s party has always been a more quiet affair. True to form, the event slowly began emptying out around 8:30. Attendees were wise to save their energy. There are still two full weeks of holiday parties ahead. Next up: Town Residential.

Rich Bockmann, Kathryn Brenzel, Miriam Hall and Hiten Samtani contributed reporting.

All photos by Adam Pincus for The Real Deal.