This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.
HAP Investments co-founder and CEO Eran Polack is no stranger to risk.
The 45-year-old developer, having founded HAP Investments alongside partners Amid Hasid and Nir Amsel in 1998, specializes in identifying emerging markets in which to invest, develop and manage residential and multifamily projects across the globe. The company is credited for being one of the first developers to identify East Harlem as an up-and-coming neighborhood fit for urban revitalization.
Taking inspiration from his hardworking grandmother, an Auschwitz survivor, Polack helped propel HAP Investments into the international multifamily owner and operator it is today.
“When things in my life are tough, I always think of her situation and it puts everything into perspective,” Polack said.
His company boasts a portfolio of more than 1.8M SF of projects in various stages of development and completion throughout New York, New Jersey, Israel, Hungary and Ukraine. In July the company filed paperwork with the city of New York to erect a 77K SF, 19-story residential tower in Tribeca that will include 41 condos and 3K SF of commercial space. HAP Investments’ U.S. portfolio consists of 11 residential and multifamily projects totaling about 1,500 units.
When he is not busy scouting emerging markets primed for new development opportunities, Polack enjoys spending time with his wife of 14 years, Idit, and his children, cooking and both watching and playing sports.
Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
Polack: It’s like being a movie producer. Finding the right land for development is similar to finding the movie script, assembling the players [can be likened to an] architect, construction companies and lenders are like casting the actors [and] the actual development process is similar to filming the movie. Selling condos or renting apartments is like selling the movie tickets.
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
Polack: I would love to start a company focused in the food, entertainment or gaming industries.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
Polack: I was a bartender at an event venue that held a lot of weddings.
Bisnow: What was your first big deal?
Polack: Acquiring land in Budapest to build 100 apartments.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Polack: I wish I had bought more land in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Bisnow: How do you define “making it”?
Polack: If everyone in my life is happy. That includes investors, employees, vendors, real estate partners and my wife and kids.
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Polack: When there is no WiFi on the airplane.
Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?
Polack: My grandmother on [my] mother’s side. She spent two years in Auschwitz and lost all her family. But despite it all, she remained strong and rebuilt her life. She started two successful farms in Israel and worked hard every day. She overcame so many obstacles and was a true inspiration to me. When things in my life are tough, I always think of her situation and it puts everything into perspective.
Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you’ve ever gotten?
Polack: The best advice I ever received is to look at the big picture when resolving a problem. Don’t try to give it a “quick fix.” Look at the situation from beginning to end with a long-term view. I haven’t really received bad advice, but I learned quickly that bringing in too many consultants with numerous opinions wasn’t helpful when running a company. You must go with your gut sometimes.
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Polack: The latest and greatest technology and gadgets.
Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
Polack: There is a small restaurant in Israel called Falafel Hakosem that serves these amazing pita sandwiches that are very fresh and delicious.
Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?
Polack: Hmm … there are a few topics that come to mind, but that would be a private conversation between the two of us.
Bisnow: What’s the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Polack: Moving to New York with my family in 2013.
Bisnow: Whose work do you most admire?
Polack: Real estate is a tough industry, especially in New York, so I respect and admire my fellow developers that have been successful in finishing great buildings here.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
Polack: I truly love what I do and enjoy running a company. I can’t complain because I sleep pretty well at night.