David Lichtenstein’s Lightstone Group and the Gowanus Apartment Lottery

Jan 12, 16 David Lichtenstein’s Lightstone Group and the Gowanus Apartment Lottery

Posted by in Real Estate

The Gowanus apartment lottery attracted way more bidders than units available. This shouldn’t have come as such a great surprise since the price was right and the location, most sought-after. But deciding to purchase the land to on which to build this property was not only a risk for David Lichstenstein, CEO and founder of The Lightstone Group, but a pricey one. “You must spend money to make money,” might have been an infamous quote many centuries ago when uttered by Titus Maccius Plautus, but the sentiment still reigns true today. Thus individuals such as Lichtenstein, (along with other real estate investors) at the nadir or the housing market started, “snapping up foreclosures at bargain prices betting they could rent them for a tidy profit, and sell them for a tidy profit.” A risk it was, but as Frank Warren taught us when he said “be wise enough not to be reckless, but brave enough to take risks,” to succeed, these have to be calculated ones. And when David Lichtenstein’s firm bought out substantial amounts of land it was because its leader was “convinced it would yield better returns for his New York firm.” While the Lightstone Group was not alone in this move, there were still many who avoided engaging in the risk, since at the time it seemed “unlikely to pay off quickly.” It was just the hedge funds and real estate investors with an appetite for success and not afraid to take risks, that did. And it seems this action paid off in many cases. One such example is the building at the Gowanus Canal. The 86 affordable apartments located at Gowanus’ 365 Bond Street were entered into a lottery sale led by the Lightstone Group. Eighty-six might not seem such a small number, but it’s all relative; with 56,000 applicants, the popularity and attractiveness of these units suddenly appears to be a very elusive thing. Prices of the units are actually extremely reasonable and thus very sought-after: a studio would...

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Vladislav Doronin Makes it to Top 20 Power Player List

Jan 12, 16 Vladislav Doronin Makes it to Top 20 Power Player List

Posted by in Real Estate

Who are New York City’s power players? Which real estate business men and women are making the most noise in the City? In this article we read about a few of the main players for 2015, one of whom is Vladislav Doronin of Moscow-based Capital Group. Making it to the list of ‘Top 20 biggest power players in New York City real estate,’ each year is no easy feat. In 2014 the region’s real estate business escalated by 21 percent and in the first quarter of 2015, sales reached $10.1 billion so there is a lot of money to be made for those who are successful. Vladislav Doronin has been heading Capital Group since he launched it back in 1991; in addition, just last year he became majority owner of the Aman Group. Who else is making the real estate news in New York City? According to an article in The New York Post, founder of Paris Forino Interior Design, Paris Forino, has been “thrust into the spotlight as one of New York’s most sought-after interior designers.” Her firm has only been in business since 2012, but lack of time has not prevented her from becoming one New York real estate businesswomen to be watched this year. DBOX founding partner, Matthew Bannister, has also been a part of some very impressive projects in the real estate industry. Since the launch of his firm back in 1996, he has participated in the creation of “the Emmy-winning film presentation of an imagined One World Trade Center; devised a stunning homage to New York for 432 Park Avenue; and green-screened preconstruction video fly-throughs of the New York by Gehry building.” Others who have been included in this list along with Vladislav Doronin, Paris Forino and Matthew Bannister include: Norman Foster (of Foster & Partners), Saif Sumaida and Amit Khurana (of Sumaida + Khurana), Soo K. Chan (of SCDA Architects), Annabelle Selldorf (of Selldorf Architects), Veronica Mainetti (of Sorgente Group of Americda), Robert Reffkin (of Compass), Jamie Drake...

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Phil Vasan’s Next Opportunity

Nov 30, 15 Phil Vasan’s Next Opportunity

Posted by in All, Business

Now that Wells Fargo has agreed to the purchase of the US private banking division of Credit Suisse, there is a rare opportunity for investment firms to snatch up a talented executive who will soon be leaving Credit Suisse. As soon as the Credit Suisse transition has been completed, Phil Vasan, the present CEO, will be leaving. Vasan became the CEO back in 2013 in order to bring profitability back to Credit Suisse’s US operations, a task he was successful in completing. For a decade Phil Vasan worked as the head of prime services at Credit Suisse. Beginning in 2003 until he took over the private banking operation in 2013, Vasan raised the market share of the firm from 2 percent to 14 percent. Vasan’s success brought Credit Suisse into a top-two market position and then an invitation by Brady Dougan to repair the operations of the private bank. So what is the next step for Vasan? The expectation is that Vasan will either return to his long time career as an investment banker or instead make the switch to alternative investment management. If he decides he would like to return to banking, then it is clear that he would be best suited for a leadership role there, especially if there was an opportunity to take the bank in the direction of much needed changes. However, the banks most in need of his special skill set, such as Barclays, Deutsche and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, seem to not yet be ready for the type of transformative leadership Vasan would bring to the table. Another option which is more likely to entice Vasan is a senior position in the alternative investment industry. The larger firms and more cautious hedge fund managers which have survived the recent crisis in this industry will most likely recognize the value of someone like Vasan to transition their firms around to money-making machines in a more sustainable business model. In the internal memo Credit Suisse sent out which announced...

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Marc Lasry Worried About Fiscal Cliff

Oct 22, 15 Marc Lasry Worried About Fiscal Cliff

Posted by in Business

Five years ago, hedge fund manager Marc Lasry was only a little bit worried about the fiscal cliff that the government was fast approaching.  At the time he said, “There is going to be a lot of nervousness and the markets will go down,” says Lasry, who is the founder of Avenue Capital Group. To protect himself, he practically doubled his usual amount of investment money in cash at the end of 2010. Lasry at that time viewed the fiscal cliff crisis as an investment opportunity, and planned on making the best out of the...

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Bitty Brooklyn Bungalow Has Astronomical Price Tag

Jul 27, 15 Bitty Brooklyn Bungalow Has Astronomical Price Tag

Posted by in All, Real Estate

A tiny home in Windsor Terrace has an asking price designed to make prospective buyers take notice. The 900-square-foot, three-bedroom bungalow with a wild front and back yards was placed on the market for a cool $1.25 million. The little home is sandwiched between two much larger homes, giving the impression that it didn’t get the memo to grow up. The listing is a real lesson in realtor-speak: “Super sweet, lovely and charming,” are the opening words of an exquisitely creative listing for the 17-foot wide cottage at 658 Vanderbilt Street. Especially upbeat is the home’s description as a “…truly unique property that has always, over the years, commanded the attention of onlookers and admirers!” This is definitely a true statement, however misleading it may be. Keep in mind that in Brooklyn, as location begins to become the be-all and end-all of a property’s worth, the real value here most likely lies in the fact that according to the area’s zoning rules, the baby-bear house can be swept into the trash to make way for a three story papa-bear near-mansion, with all the latest amenities. According to realtor Barbara Puccia, “Someone can move right in or knock it down,” she said. “The neighborhood would be sad to see it go, but I have to market it in its full diversity. People are paying the same amount for a condo. Here you get a house with a back yard.” The house was built during the end of the 19th century, and rumors say that it was once located inside Prospect Park. Owner Heather Baley paid a mere $150,000 for the house in 1989. We are excited to see how the deal...

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Grado Headphones Now Grow in Brooklyn

Jul 19, 15 Grado Headphones Now Grow in Brooklyn

Posted by in All, Business

Grado Labs has been making wooden headphones whose quality has been satisfying such discerning customers as Mike Krieger, founder of Instagram, musician Neil Young, and film director Spike Jonze. The appeal is based on two major factors; their sound and their “made-in-Brooklyn pedigree. Now Grado has decided to take the concept to the next level: instead of using imported mahogany to craft the headphones, the wood will come from a maple tree from the local reclaimed Sunset Park. “We’ve been making wooden headphones for 20 years, and … ‘Oh, a tree grows in Brooklyn,’ people would kid us about it,” said owner Jonathan Grado, referring to the beloved 1943 novel by Betty Smith about a young girl from a poor Irish family growing up in Brooklyn near the turn of the century. “But it just seemed to be the right time, and everything fell into place for us to do this,” Grado,...

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