Women and the Environment: A Brief History of Involvement

Mar 31, 16 Women and the Environment: A Brief History of Involvement

Posted by in Business, Health, Lifestyle

We all know how important environmentalism is in today’s world.  But did you know that it took a woman from England to inspire action to do something about New York’s pollution back in the mid-1950s? In 1956, Hazel Henderson, the well-known futurist, immigrated to New York. Soon after her arrival in the US, she began a letter-writing campaign to clean up New York’s air. Reminded of London’s smog crisis of 1952, in which 4,000 people died, Henderson wrote letters to New York Mayor Robert Wagner describing the thick smog she observed from her apartment window. Wagner, in denial, retorted that what she saw was merely normal ‘mist’ rolling in from the sea. Henderson was not deterred, however, and proceeded to write letters to the presidents of major American broadcasting networks and sent copies to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. These letters urged them to broadcast the index of air pollution each day along with the daily weather report. Her efforts were successful five weeks later when WABC-TV in New York City began to report on the air pollution index, with CBS and NBC soon following suit. Soon after, Henderson and two friends created Citizens for Clean Air, an organization to warn residents about the health hazards of air pollution. Membership grew quickly with about three-quarters of the 25,000 members being women. Since then women have been especially active in this important arena of public health and welfare. From such notable women as Sheryl Corrigan, former Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, to Gina McCarthy, the current administrator for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, women have certainly made their mark in this important area of public...

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Jacques Torres Chocolates Growing in Brooklyn

Mar 17, 16 Jacques Torres Chocolates Growing in Brooklyn

Posted by in All, Business

This past Valentine’s Day marked an important milestone for Jacques Torres Chocolates: they celebrated the opening of a brand new 40,000-square-foot manufacturing plant at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Valentine’s Day is the biggest single day of the year for purchasing chocolates. On that day alone the company sold close to 300 tons of tasty chocolate, 10 percent of that amount coming from Torres’ Sunset Park facility. “I’m infected by your love and passion for chocolate, for manufacturing,” said City Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who is the representative of the neighborhood where Torres’ chocolates are produced. “This is something beyond the sum of its parts and you are bringing that to Sunset Park and we are lucky to have you.” Torres, who began his company 50 years ago in nearby DUMBO says he will stick to hiring local residents for his new facility. “Everybody that built this place from our contractor Dominic, to the electrician, to the plumber, everybody is from the neighborhood,” Torres said. The new chocolate manufacturing plant is only just the beginning of big changes to come to the Sunset Park area and the Brooklyn Army Terminal in particular. There has been over $100 million invested in the industrial complex by the Economic Development Corporation with the goal of injecting the area with about 2,000 new jobs. “What Sunset Park is becoming is really the epicenter of New York City’s manufacturing renaissance,” said EDC President Maria...

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Wells Fargo Brings in Credit Suisse Brokers

Mar 06, 16 Wells Fargo Brings in Credit Suisse Brokers

Posted by in Business

Head of Wells Fargo Advisors Mary Mack has been meeting with teams from New York’s Credit Suisse Group AG in an attempt to bring brokers into their firm. This, at a time that Credit Suisse is decelerating its American private-banking operations due to not having “the necessary scale to sustainably compete without significant investment or acquisition.” Ultimately it is hoped this move will help Credit Suisse raise $6.3 billion in fresh capital while scaling back its investment bank and reducing the amount of jobs it has. Wells Fargo is said to be offering some exceedingly “competitive” deals for their Credit Suisse counterparts. Packages will pay the new staff members “300% of their annual fees and commissions, with 150% given initially and up to another 150% earned over several years if certain metrics are hit.” Not everyone from Credit Suisse will take up the Wells Fargo offer though. For example, CEO of Credit Suisse, Philip Vasan will not be solicited for this deal and will thus remain at Credit Suisse in his current position. Rather his role will become more focused on the company’s transition. For Wells Fargo staff to receive the offer, they will be flown to company HQ in St. Louis and meet with personnel to get better access to the firm and its products and culture, needed since there is currently quite a broad difference between the two firms. Also it’s not a done deal that just because Credit Suisse is downsizing, they will automatically move over. According to President of Rick Peterson & Associates (a brokerage recruitment firm), Rick Peterson, “Credit Suisse’s brokers have a chance to look at the competitive landscape. The logical place to go would probably be one of the four major firms” indicating that there is no reason why they should not also be reviewing attractive job vacancies at Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and UBS. That said, it does seem there is an advantage for these people to choose Wells Fargo. This is partly because they will...

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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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