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observer.com | the commercial observer 24 January 19, 2010 the commercial observer | observer.com January 19, 2010 25
he Real Estate Board of New York
on Jan. 21 plans to honor several
commercial real estate
professionals at its 114th an-
nual banquet. Four of the hon-
orees are featured below, and
check out on page 30 our Pow-
er Broker profle of ToddKorrenof Swig
Equities, winner of the 2010Young Real
Estate Man of the Year Award.
Samuel H. Lindenbaum
Counsel, Kramer Levin Naftalis &
Frankel LLP
Winner of the Harry B. Helmsley Dis-
tinguished New Yorker Award, which
memorializesHelmsley, hisgeneration’s
most admired real estate executive.
Sandy Lindenbaum is of counsel to
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel and a
member of its land-use department.
For more than 40 years, Mr. Linden-
baum’s extensive experience in land use
and zoning has been put to work in han-
dling special permits, zoning changes,
variances, landmark proceedings, air
rightstransfers, taxabatementsandeco-
nomic development incentives for many
of thecity’s most prominent commercial
and residential developments and for
the expansion programs of many of the
city’s leading nonproft institutions.
His afliations include the Real Es-
tate Board of New York, vice president
and member of the executive commit-
tee of the Board of Governors; Met-
ropolitan Museum of Art, honorary
trustee; American Friends of the Isra-
el Museum, honorary chairman of the
executive committee of the Board of
Directors; Peggy Guggenheim Collec-
tion in Venice, member of the adviso-
ry board; Guild Hall of East Hampton,
member of the Board of Trustees; Cen-
tral Synagogue, member of the Board of
Trustees; Jewish Association for Ser-
vices for the Aged, chair of the execu-
tive committee; Association for a Bet-
ter NewYork, founder, director andvice
president; UJAFederation of NewYork,
member of the board of the real estate
committee; Real Estate Institute of Ba-
ruch College, member of the Board of
Trustees; New York State Council on
the Arts, member, 1976-1986,
Mr. Lindenbaum earned a
B.A. cum laude from Harvard
College in 1956 and a J.D. cum
laude in 1959 fromHarvard LawSchool.
After graduating from law school, he
was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship.
He married Linda M. Lewis in 1957.
They have two married daughters, Er-
ica Tishman and Laurie Lindenbaum,
and six grandchildren.
David R. Greenbaum
President, Vornado Realty Trust,
NewYork division
Winnerof theBernardH. MendikLife-
time Leadership in Real Estate Award,
which is named for Bernard H. Mendik,
REBNY’s chairperson from 1992 until
his death, in 2001.
David R. Greenbaum is president of
Vornado Ofce, the New York ofce di-
vision of Vornado Realty Trust, which
owns a commercial real estate portfolio
in New York City that encompasses 52
buildings totaling22millionsquare feet.
Mr. Greenbaum oversees all aspects of
the New York City portfolio, including
ground-up development, redevelop-
ment, leasing andbuilding operations.
He started his career as a tax attor-
ney at Weil Gotshal &Manges, and then
joined the Mendik Company, a private
owner of commercial real estate, which
merged into Vornado Realty Trust in
Mr. Greenbaumis a trustee and mem-
ber of the executive committee of the
Citizens Budget Commission, a private
watchdogorganizationthat monitorsthe
city’s andstate’s fscal policies; amember
of the executive committee of the Board
of Governors of the Real Estate Board of
New York; a member of the Realty Advi-
soryBoard; andamember of theBoardof
Directors for the 34thStreet Partnership,
the Grand Central Partnership and the
Times Square Alliance, all public-private
eforts to enhance midtown. He is also a
member of the NewYork University Real
Estate Institute’s advisory board and
the executive roundtable committee of
the advisory board. Mr. Greenbaumalso
serves on the boards of the Jewish Na-
tional Fund as a presidential adviser, the
Jewish Guild for the Blind and the Jef-
fery Modell Foundation. He was selected
by the NewYork City Partnership to par-
ticipate in the David Rockefeller Fellows
Robert A. Knakal
Chairman, Founding Partner,
Massey Knakal Realty Services
Winner of the Louis Smadbeck Bro-
ker Recognition Award, which honors
the memory of one of the profession’s
most esteemed practitioners.
Robert Knakal graduated from the
Wharton School of Business at the Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania with a bach-
elor’s of science in economics in 1984.
He majored in real estate fnance and
entrepreneurial management and was
a member of the Wharton School’s Real
Estate Club.
In 1981, Mr. Knakal was hired by
Coldwell Banker Commercial, now CB
Richard Ellis, as a market research in-
tern. He returned the following sum-
mer as co-leader of its summer market
research group and, in 1983, obtained
his real estate sales license. He worked
that summer at Coldwell Banker as an
assistant to a senior broker. After grad-
uation, he started as a full-time invest-
ment property specialist with CB’s mid-
town ofce.
In1984, Mr. Knakal collaboratedwith
Paul Massey Jr. to establish a property
sales group in Manhattan. They served
as co-directors for the new specializa-
tion, and, in 1986, shared CB’s presti-
gious top salesman award in NewYork.
(At that time, CB employed an average
of 60 people in its Manhattan ofce.)
Messrs. Knakal and Massey retained
this top ranking until they left the frm
in November 1988 to start their own
business, Massey Knakal Realty Servic-
es. Todate, Mr. Knakal has beenrespon-
sible for the sale of more than 1,050
properties worth over $5.8 billion.
Mr. Knakal was in 1993 elected presi-
dent of the National Realty Conference,
whichmadehimtheyoungest president
intheorganization’s 58-year history. He
is also a very involved member of REB-
NY. He has served on numerous com-
mittees, including the ethics committee
and the arbitration committee, and has
been chairman of its sales brokers com-
mittee. He was also on the Commer-
cial Division’s Board of Directors, and
was elected to the Board of Governors.
In 2003, Mr. Knakal was appointed to
REBNY’s executive committee.
Mr. Knakal won, along with broker
Mark Massey, the prestigious Robert
T. Lawrence Award in the REBNY Most
Ingenious Deal of the Year contest for
their nine-year assemblage of the east-
erly blockfront of Second Avenue be-
tween 54th and 55th streets.
In 2005, Mr. Knakal led the market-
ing team for the $138.5 million sale of
the Vanderveer Estates in Brooklyn,
the largest privately owned apartment
complex in the borough. The proper-
ty consisted of 2,500 apartments in
59 elevator buildings. The sale price
was $138,500,000. In 2006, Mr. Knakal
led the marketing team in the assem-
blage of the entire western blockfront
on Sixth Avenue between 30th and 31st
streets. This marked Massey Knakal’s
largest development transaction to
date, at a price of $117,500,000.
Ralph J. DiRuggiero
Vice President, Property Manage-
ment, Paramount Group,
Winner of the George M. Brooker
Management Executive of the Year
Award, which honors the memory of the
late Mr. Brooker, the frst vice president
for REBNY’s Management Division and
one of the profession’s most respected
Ralph DiRuggiero holds a bachelor’s
of science fromthe University of Scran-
ton and a master’s of public administra-
tionfromBaruchCollege. Healsoattend-
ed Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of
Government program for senior execu-
tives instate andlocal government.
Mr. DiRuggiero began his career as a
budgetanalystatthecity’sOfceof Man-
agement and Budget. He then worked
as the assistant budget director for Es-
sex County, N.J., eventually rising to be-
cometheassistant countyadministrator
for New Jersey’s largest urban county.
In 1987, he joined Williams Real Estate
Company as a district manager respon-
sible for a midtown portfolio of ofce
buildings, and shortly thereafter was
promotedto assistant vice president.
Mr. DiRuggierothenjoinedSwigWeil-
er & Arnow Management Company as
its vice president of operations respon-
sible for 6 million square feet of Class A
ofces in Manhattan. In 1989, he joined
Equitable Real Estate Investment Man-
agement as asset manager, and, for the
next 10 years, was responsible for estab-
lishing the New York regional ofce of
Compass Management &Leasing, a sub-
sidiary of Equitable. In1994, he was pro-
moted to senior vice president, respon-
sible for Compass’ national corporate
accounts, including AT&T, Lucent Tech-
nologies, AMP Inc. and General Motors.
Mr. DiRuggiero completed assignments
in Mexico City and in the Netherlands
for Lucent, and was a member of Com-
pass’ management committee. As the
frm merged with Jones Lang LaSalle,
Mr. DiRuggiero was promoted to execu-
tive vice president with responsibilities
for corporate clients.
In 1999, Mr. DiRuggiero joined the
Trammell CrowCompany as senior vice
president of property management and
asitsregional director for theNortheast,
responsible for clients including HSBC
Bank and American Express. Mr. DiRug-
gierojoinedParamount Groupin2001 as
vice president of property management,
andisresponsiblefor all aspectsof prop-
erty management operations and secu-
rityfor thecurrent portfolioof 12million
square feet, in New York, Washington
and San Francisco. Mr. DiRuggiero es-
tablished Paramount’s San Francisco
presence and is responsible for leasing
inthat market.
Lindenbaum, Greenbaum, Knakal, DiRuggiero and Korren snag top honors
The 2010 Real Estate
Board of New York Honorees
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observer.com | the commercial observer 26 January 19, 2010
was sincerely humbled to learn
that I was going to be this year’s
recipient of the Real Estate
Board of New York’s Louis Smad-
beck Broker Recognition Award.
I’m extraordinarily appreciative
to REBNY, Steve Spinola, Bill Mon-
tana and the commercial board of
directors for this honor—and to
everyone who has, even tangen-
tially, been a part of this wonder-
ful ride.
Probably the nicest thing about
being notifed that I would receive
this award is that it made me take
a step back and consider the whole
history of my career. And
when I did that, I imme-
diately started thinking
of all the people who’ve
helped me along the way,
without whom I would
never have been consid-
ered for this recognition.
My frst serious expo-
sure to the real estate in-
dustry took place by acci-
dent, during spring break
of my freshman year at
the Wharton School, in
1981, when I, along with
just about every oth-
er Wharton kid, wanted to be the
next hot shot to take over Wall
Street. I wanted a summer job that
would look good on my résumé, so
I applied at every commercial bank
and investment bank I saw in Ber-
gen County (which is where I grew
up). I walked out of a Paine Web-
ber ofce in Continental Plaza and,
across the hall, I saw “Coldwell
Banker.” I thought it was another
bank, so I dropped my résumé of
there, too.
Just a few hours later, I received
a phone call asking me to come in
for an interview the next day. There
was no Web in 1981, so I went to the
library prior to the interview to do
some research on this bank so that
I’d be prepared. When I discovered
that Coldwell Banker was a real es-
tate company, I almost didn’t go
to the interview. But I went, and it
was the only company to ofer me
summer employment, so I took the
job somewhat reluctantly.
From my frst day there, I loved
it. It was an energetic environment
with hardworking people making
a lot of money and having a lot of
fun. The result was three college
summers working at CB. It was
there that I developed friendships
with two senior brokers who were
willing to befriend a young, wide-
eyed kid. Jack Fatigati was always
willing to answer any of the hun-
dreds of questions I had, and Tom
Mallaney taught me that, despite
the commonly accepted rule, nice
guys can fnish frst. I’m fortunate
to count Jack and Tom among my
good friends to this day, nearly 30
years later.
fter graduating from Whar-
ton, I decided to take a full-
time position with CB in their
Manhattan ofce. On my frst day
on the job, I met this other young
guy named Paul Massey. He had
worked for CB in the
same summer program,
in Boston, and he’d also
decided to give the build-
ing sales business a go in
the Big Apple. CB had
about 50 ofce leasing
brokers in New York at
the time, and four build-
ing sales brokers, includ-
ing Paul. The three other
sales brokers each had
about 20 years of expe-
rience and wanted noth-
ing to do with the young
kids—so, on my second
day on the job, Paul and I formed
a partnership that has lasted for
26 years and counting. Thousands
of days and tens of thousands of
conversations later, I can say that
I have been so lucky to have a great
business partner who has driven
me to do better than my best every
day. Thank you, Paul.
The CB years were so much fun.
There was a group of us who all
started together and went through
the “start-up phase” of what was a
very challenging but exciting busi-
ness. Johnny Maher, Kevin Danehy,
Paul Myers, Bob Stella, Bob Law,
Kim Mogul, Jackie Mansfeld and
many others were all there with
Paul and me, and we all fought to
make our mark on the industry.
Dinners often consisted of one pur-
chased beer and the systematic dis-
mantling of the free hors d’oeuvres
bar at the Charley O’s in the ground
foor of 437 Madison Avenue.
Paul and I closed our frst
transaction in March of 1985, a
20,000-square-foot commercial
building located at 1421 Third Av-
enue that almost burned down the
night before the closing. But the
building survived; the sale closed;
and when we got back to the ofce,
our mentor, Gerry Bridges, was
happy to take “the rookies” to a
grand dinner at Smith & Wollensky.
Gerry was a 50-year veteran of CB
who could not have been nicer to
us. Unfortunately, he passed away
last year, but Paul and I will always
remember his kindness to us in our
formative years. In two weeks, our
frm will present the 21st annual
Gerald W. Bridges Salesman of the
Year Award to our top agent.
In the early days of prospecting,
I was fortunate to stumble upon
Louis Brause, who owned two prop-
erties in the territory I was cover-
ing. In my frst cold call to him, I ex-
plained that I wanted to meet with
him to discuss what Paul and I were
up to in our new division at Cold-
well. Lou suggested a meeting at
his ofce at 52 Vanderbilt Avenue. I
said, “Vanderbilt Avenue? Where’s
that?” I can just imagine what kind
of second thoughts that response
must have given him. Fortunately
for Paul and me, Lou kept the meet-
ing and became a great friend to us.
Another of our company awards is
named in his honor, recognizing all
of the guidance he provided.
As our careers progressed, Paul
and I became aware of the Real Es-
tate Board of New York and the tre-
mendous work it does on behalf
of our industry. In the mid-1980s,
we both set the goal of becoming
members of REBNY’s Sales Brokers
Committee—and after months of
harassing Jack Hill, who oversaw
the committee in those days, we
fnally did. It was on that commit-
tee that we made several of the
relationships that we still cherish
to this day. The comradely nature
of the sales brokerage business in
New York would surprise many
people. Among our competitors,
we’ve met a lot of people whom
we regard very highly and consid-
er our good friends. In addition to
many others, these include Darcy
Stacom and Bill Shanahan at CB
Richard Ellis; Ron Cohen, Richard
Baxter, Scott Latham and Jon Ca-
plan at Cushman & Wakefeld; Pe-
ter Hauspurg and Brian Ezratty at
Eastern Consolidated; and Woody
Heller at Studley. They are all the
fnest of professionals and among
the nicest people you could meet.
Other brokers have helped me
in many ways. Mary Ann Tighe has
been an inspirational leader in our
industry and I congratulate her on
becoming the frst woman to chair
REBNY. Steve Siegel is my real es-
tate big brother who has always
been there with the right advice
at just the right time, and I could
never forget one of the frst bro-
kers I co-brokered a sale with, Sid-
ney Rosenthal, who taught me a lot
about what being a sales broker
was all about.
I’m especially honored and fat-
tered when I note that this award
puts me in the company of so many
legendary brokers whom I respect
and admire, including Steve Sie-
gel, Ray O’Keefe, Dan Gronich,
Stephen Riker, Ben Fox, Mary Ann
Tighe, Eugene Hegy, Bruce Mos-
ler, Earl Atlman and my partner,
Paul Massey, who was the recipi-
ent three years ago. This recog-
nition is particularly meaningful
to me as Lou Smadbeck was one
of those early members of the
Sales Brokers Committee whom I
learned so much from. He was gra-
cious enough to send Paul and me
a kind letter in November of 1988,
congratulating us on the opening
of our frm. That letter, and a photo
of Lou, hangs in the reception area
of our Manhattan ofce.
can also think of so many clients
to whom I owe so much. I apol-
ogize to each of you for not be-
ing able to mention you all here by
name. I must, however, acknowl-
edge a few. I’ll be forever grateful
to Harry Macklowe for allowing me
to represent him in several transac-
tions, including the sale of his mul-
tifamily portfolio, one of the most
rewarding transactions I’ve ever
worked on. Before Ofer Yardeni be-
came the maverick investor that he
is today, he was a sales broker, and
we completed the sale of a prop-
erty on West 28th Street together
in the early 1990s. I’m honored to
count him as one of my clients to-
day, having sold many properties
for him over the years.
Gary Barnett and Dov Hertz con-
tinue to impress me with their in-
sightful knowledge and straight-
forward approach. Seventeen years
of transactions later, I remain ap-
preciative of what they’ve done for
me. Frank Patafo, Russ Appel and
Joel Wiener continue to show con-
fdence in me year after year, and
I’m very grateful. Joe Sitt has been
consistently great to work with,
and Andy Davidof has not only
been a wonderful client but has be-
come a valued friend.
But no matter how small the
transaction, without the conf-
dence and trust of each client, a
track record cannot grow. There-
fore, I’m extraordinarily thankful
to each and every client with whom
I’ve ever worked.
The many past and present
members of my Massey Knakal
family have had a huge hand in
that track record—from all of my
partners, including John Ciraulo,
Tom Donovan, James Nelson, Shi-
mon Shkury, Christy Moyle, and
Mike Wlody; to our management
team, including Gia LaMarca, Kyle
Mast and Ken Krasnow; to each
broker; to our part-time interns.
My personal team members, Jon
Hageman, Elysa Berlin, Tom Wil-
loughby, Kevin Gleason and Greg
Postyn, and my personal assistant,
Erin Mitchell, are second to none
in terms of supporting my eforts.
Past team members include Danny
Hagan, Mike Desjadon, Mike So-
leimani, David Kalish, Casey Mc-
Cormack, J.J. Stanton, Meyrick
Ferguson, Michael Decheser, Peter
DeCheser and James Nelson, who
is not only a partner but is a top
producer at the frm.
All I can say is thank you to all
of you, mentioned here or not,
who have participated in transac-
tions with me. This is a business in
which success cannot be attained
without signifcant help. I’ve been
very lucky to have had so many
wonderful people to enjoy this in-
credible job with, and also lucky to
have accidentally found a vocation
I love so much.
Robert Knakal is the chairman and
founding partner of Massey Knakal
Realty Services, and has brokered
the sale of more than 1,050 proper-
ties in his career.
This REBNY honoree has many to thank for success in his
accidental vocation
A Thank-You Note
There was no Web in 1981,
so I went to the library prior
to the interview to do some
research on this bank so
that I’d be prepared. When
I discovered that Coldwell
Banker was a real estate
company, I almost didn’t go
to the interview.
Robert Knakal
observer.com | the commercial observer 28 January 19, 2010
By Jotham SederStrom
The Commercial Observer:
Congratulations on becoming
chairwoman for the Real Estate
Board of New York. What will be
your frst order of business as
Ms. Tighe: Last week, I met with
the executive committee of REB-
NY. In the last quarter of 2009, I
joked that I went on a listening tour,
where I met with as many members
as I could of the board of governors
and the executive committee and as
many of the past chairmen as were
able to fnd time to meet. [REBNY
president] Steve Spinola, his staf
and myself put together priorities
for REBNY to focus on in 2010. We
talked to the executive committee
and got their sign-of on those pri-
orities, and we’ve begun to organize
ourselves around those priorities.
And what are those priorities?
We put together a collection of
priorities that really are aimed not
only at real estate but also at things
we believe are critical for the well-
being of the city. The frst priority
is to advocate for programs that in-
centivize job creation and reten-
tion in New York City, and we’re ac-
tually making a specifc proposal,
which our economic development
committee has put together for the
[Economic Development Corpora-
tion], for tax credits related to peo-
ple who are bringing new employees
to the city. The second priority is to
advocate for fscal discipline at the
city and state level. The third prior-
ity is to work with all relevant par-
ties to encourage the development
of afordable housing. The fourth is
to advocate for a better and stronger
Buildings Department.
We think they’ve done a great job
on dealing with security at construc-
tion sites, but, meanwhile, there are
a number of hurdles that need to be
overcome in terms of making the
management side of the operation
fow better so we can be ready for
the next construction cycle. Also,
we’re concerned because the unem-
ployment rate among the construc-
tion trades is 25 percent in the city
right now, and there are over 500
projects that are stopped; so we
want to work, in general, with the
city to try to deal with unemploy-
ment in the trades as well as some of
the jobs that are troubled.
Another priority is that we want
to seek more federal infrastructure
dollars because New York City has
not gotten its fair share.
We want to support immigration
reform, and, fnally, we want to en-
courage everyone to participate in
the 2010 census.
Looking inward, do you have a
cohesive vision for REBNY?
REBNY’s structure is a strong
and very healthy structure. I think if
there was any area of focus, it’s that
we want to continue to expand the
membership. We’re 12,000 strong
now, but we want to bring in more
young members.
You mentioned the Buildings
Department. With REBNY being
such a powerful lobby, I’d love
to hear your opinion of Mayor
There’s no ofcial REBNY stance
on the mayor, except to say that the
city has fourished under his lead-
ership and that in this very difcult
economic time for the city, we all feel
blessed that such a skilled business-
man and manager is at the helm. So
I think we can only feel very positive
that he’s leading us these next four
Take of your REBNY hat.
What’s your personal opinion
about Bloomberg?
I personally believe everything I
just said. This is a case where there’s
just a period of stress on a lot of the
diferent systems in the city, and it is
a very happy thing to wake up in the
morning and know crime is down in
New York. It’s a wonderful thing to
realize that there are fewer deaths in
the Fire Department. And it’s won-
derful to know he’s continuing to
fght the good fght for the schools of
the city, and our role at REBNY is to
make sure the physical environment
keeps up with his grand vision.
You’re the frst woman to be
elected chairman in REBNY’s
113-year history. Is that shock-
ing to you? Is it a signifcant
benchmark in your mind?
It means a great deal to me, but I
can’t say that I’m shocked, because
our industry has tended to be slow
to change. I think that’s probably the
best way to describe it. I think it’s
only within the last 20 years or so
that you’re beginning to see the fe-
male membership of the Real Estate
Board growing signifcantly. I don’t
mean that historically there haven’t
been important women in New York
real estate—because there are many
of them—but they have been iso-
lated cases. The good news now is,
there have been a number of women
in our industry who would qualify to
be chairman of the Real Estate Board,
and what’s nice is that the executive
committee and our president, Steve
Spinola, has decided it was time to
recognize somebody. But, believe
me, there are several others who
could just as well be in my role.
You’ve been hailed as one of the
most infuential women in New
York City by the New York Post.
Do you agree with that state-
If it means having the ability to get
things done—that you can envision
something and get it done—than I’d
like to think yes, that that’s the case.
There are a few things I’ve managed
to get done that make me feel like I
can have some impact on our city.
Can you name one of them?
I think you can look at two tow-
ers that are standing that I don’t
think anybody would’ve bet on. The
Condé Nast at Four Times Square,
which was the frst new construc-
tion in a decade and the frst build-
ing at Times Square. As you probably
know, it was a project that was held
up for more than two decades. And
then, of course, there was the New
York Times building at a site that
I don’t think most people thought
was coming into development any-
time soon.
You were honored with a ‘Life-
time Achievement’ award by
REBNY at its award ceremony.
That must be a little weird,
You know, I suddenly thought to
myself, ‘Oh my! Am I that old?’ On
the other hand, that night was so
fun. I always joke that 25 years ago,
I was so intimidated by the event,
and now it seems like I’m going to a
family wedding. I mean, it has that
kind of festive feeling for me, so the
award just added to that.
In a previous life, you worked at
ABC, where you helped to create
the A&E network. What do you
think of A&E these days? Are
you watching it?
I love A&E. One of the things that
gave me great pride … I can still en-
vision the moment, on a yellow le-
gal pad, I wrote down ‘Arts & Enter-
tainment’ and then crossed out the
letters, and it’s hard to believe that
myself and a dear friend, Liz Oliver,
could be sitting at the garage she
rented in East Hampton in 1981, and
then, lo and behold, all these years
later A&E is part of the viewing land-
Have you watched The Jack-
sons: A Family Dynasty yet?
[laughs] I haven’t. I have to ad-
mit. Though I must admit I’m on the
channel all the time, but I haven’t
gotten to that. [laughs] I’m sure I
would enjoy it, though.
Let’s shift from the Jacksons
and go back to real estate.
What’s your outlook for 2010?
I think we’re already in the pro-
cess of seeing an uptick. In the leas-
ing market in Manhattan, we’re
seeing an increase in activity. The
fve-year rolling average in midtown
leasing, just to give one statistic, is
1.2 million square feet per month.
We were under that number until
June, when we broke through the
million-square-foot mark. With the
exception of one month, we’ve been
up every month. In December, we
did 1.6 million square feet of leas-
ing in midtown. Every single market
all had their availability rate drop—
not hugely, but at least 10 or 20 ba-
sis points for each one. In addition, I
think most of them had positive ab-
sorption, if not all of them.
What’s happened is very simple:
We now have enough volume to es-
tablish where pricing is. Once you’ve
established pricing, people feel con-
fdent they can transact.
CB Richard Ellis’ Mary Ann Tighe
on REBNY 2010, recent leases and
Mayor Bloomberg
madame Chair
‘[W]e’re concerned because
the unemployment rate
among the construction
trades is 25 percent in the
city right now and there are
over 500 projects that are
stopped; so we want to work,
in general, with the city to
try to deal with unemploy-
ment in the trades as well
as some of the jobs that are
earlier this month, legendary CB rich-
ard ellis tristate chief executive mary
ann tighe ofcially moved into her
new role as chairwoman of the power-
ful real estate Board of New york. the
Commercial observer spoke to ms.
tighe last week about her place in real
estate history, the city’s revitalization
and her priorities for reBNy.
the Sit-dowN
observer.com | the commercial observer 30 January 19, 2010
power broker: todd korren
by Jotham SederStrom
t one time or another during
his 25-year career, Todd Ko-
rren has donned nearly ev-
ery hat that can be worn in the real
estate industry. But whether he’s
served as a leasing agent, property
manager, developer or acquisitions
pro, one puzzle the Swig Equities se-
nior vice president has yet to solve is
the one he is reminded of each time
he returns to his William Street of-
fce: How do you keep Lower Man-
hattan desirable for potential ten-
Indeed, as a member of the Real
Estate Board of New York’s Down-
town Rental Conditions Committee
and of a subcommittee focused on
drawing new tenants to Lower Man-
hattan, Mr. Korren has emerged as
one of the area’s most committed
“We’re trying to fgure out how to
make downtown more competitive,”
said Mr. Korren during an interview
at his ofce at 110 William, one of
the downtown properties Swig op-
erates. “The question is, how do we
lure tenants downtown, and how do
we improve retail conditions and en-
courage them to come down here?”
Mr. Korren is nothing if not pas-
sionate about Lower Manhattan,
where the Roslyn, N.Y., resident frst
got his start in the real estate indus-
try. As a college student at New York
University, Mr. Korren worked for
Rockrose Development, a job that
allowed the young upstart to play a
role in luring people to Battery Park
City in the late 1980s, back when the
area was in its earliest development
phase and not yet the vibrant com-
munity it is today.
“Back then, there was literally
one building, for all intents and pur-
poses,” recalled Mr. Korren. As for
how difcult it was to lure tenants
and residents to the area, Mr. Kor-
ren said it was no walk in the park.
“Especially in the winter, when it
was very cold and there weren’t a lot
of attractions. That was before the
movie theater was there and before
you had other buildings. Taxicabs
weren’t even coming over there yet.
It was very inconvenient.”
Since then, Mr. Korren has em-
barked on a career that ofers a pan-
oramic view of the real estate indus-
try. From positions at construction
management company Structure
Tone to the mechanical and elec-
trical contractor EMCOR Group, he
has learned the business by work-
ing from the ground up and has of-
ten followed a project from concept
to completion.
“I’ve always felt that the best way
to sell a product is by really under-
standing the product and to sell it
from a position of confdence,” said
Mr. Korren, 45, who has been mar-
ried for 20 years to his wife, Donna,
and has two young daughters. “The
best way to sell from a position of
confdence is having knowledge. I’m
very interested in learning, and I’ve
always been somebody who’s con-
tinued to learn during my career.”
n total, he has negotiated more
than 830 leases represent-
ing over 5 million square feet
of property during stints at such
companies as the Witkof Group
and Rockrose Development, where
he returned as a managing direc-
tor in 2001. He also played a role
in more than 20 acquisitions, with
a combined value in excess of $1.2
billion, he said.
Last year, Mr. Korren and Swig
Equities—where he has operated
since 2004—completed capital-im-
provement projects at all seven of
the company’s Lower Manhattan
properties, including lobby and fa-
cade renovations at buildings such
as 110 Williams Street and 90 Broad
The capital-improvement proj-
ects were made easier thanks to a de-
cision by Kent Swig in 2007 to take a
break from acquiring new projects
and instead to move to refnance
Swig’s existing assets—a strategy
that turned out to be prescient, said
Mr. Korren.
“This was before you had the sub-
prime crises,” Mr. Korren recalled.
“Kent realized we needed to stop and
get the properties leased up and sta-
bilized so we could refnance them,
and we did have a concern that there
was going to be some sort of credit-
induced crises that would afect our
ability to refnance our properties
over the next 24 months.”
But what Mr. Korren appears to
be most passionate about these days
is his work in Lower Manhattan and
his eforts to draw new tenants to
the area. Although many questions
about construction at the World
Trade Center have yet to be an-
swered, Mr. Korren said that delays
have not kept people from focking
to other areas of Lower Manhattan
below Canal Street.
“What’s an interesting fact—and
something I like to tell people—is
that downtown Manhattan, exclud-
ing Tribeca, has the fastest-growing
residential population within all fve
boroughs,” he said. “The fastest-
growing residential population! It’s
literally doubling since 2000. And
that’s absolutely amazing.”
Mr. Korren said that he expects
to announce what may be the larg-
est transaction of the year within
several weeks, when an undisclosed
tenant signs a 120,000-foot lease at
110 William. But Mr. Korren, who is
bullish on Lower Manhattan, sug-
gested that the deal could be the frst
of many for Swig and its portfolio of
downtown properties this year.
“Where the uncertainty still re-
mains is the access to the subways,
whether it be the Calatrava station
or when the PATH station will be fn-
ished,” he said. “Those are really the
questions people would like to have
answered. But as those dates start to
get frmly fnalized, you’ll see people
start to move back down here.”
REBNY honoree and Swig ace focuses on luring tenants to Lower Manhattan
the downtowner
Mr. Korren said that he ex-
pects to announce what may
be the largest transaction
of the year within several
weeks, when an undisclosed
tenant signs a 120,000-foot
lease at 110 William. But Mr.
Korren, who is bullish on
Lower Manhattan, suggest-
ed that the deal could be the
frst of many for Swig and
its portfolio of downtown
properties this year.
todd korren joined Swig
equities in 2004, after
stints with the witkof
Group and rockrose
development, among

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