Mr. Polack, 40, is the chief executive of HAP Investment Developers, a company with offices in New York and Tel Aviv that focuses mainly on midsize residential and commercial properties, mainly in northern Manhattan. His partners in the company are Amir Hasid and Nir Amsel.
Interview conducted and condensed by
Q. What is your main role in the company?
A. I like finding new projects. We’ve been working in Budapest, Kiev, Tel Aviv, and now we’re working in New York.
Q. And what do the two other founding partners do?
A. For all of the deals that we did here in Manhattan, the equity — the money — came 90 percent from Israel. And they’re handling all the investors. We have a $50,000 investor to a $10 million to $20 million investor. They’re all private investors — we have, like, 50, 60, 70 investors — people that want to invest directly in real estate and not a fund. They invest in a project and we are developing and managing the project.
Q. How much of your work is in New York?
A. Right now most of our portfolio is based in New York, in Manhattan. We have eight different projects in different stages — several in northern Manhattan.
Q. Let’s talk about them, starting with the Chelsea site you recently bought for $51 million, along with air rights.
A. We’re planning to build about 150,0000 square feet, with 21 floors. We will have retail space on the ground level and we’re looking to do two-floor heights in the lobby, and then above that we will have residential. We will have about 140 units; they will be anywhere between 600 square feet to 3,500. We have not picked an architect yet. In a year we’re going to break ground.
Q. What kinds of prices are you anticipating per square foot?
A. We’re thinking for the lower levels about $1,400, in the middle about $1,600, and the higher level about $2,000. I think the location in Chelsea is very up and coming, but it’s not the best location in Chelsea. It’s three blocks from the High Line. F.I.T. is in front of us.
Q. What else are you working on?
A. We bought 4452 Broadway. It’s a large piece of land, about 20,000 square feet. We are going to build 150,000 square feet. We’ll have 50 parking spaces and 20,000 square feet of community facilities, about 110 apartments. I think we’ll be able to sell from $550 to $650 per square feet. It’s already in the Buildings Department and I hope we’ll get approval in two to three months and then we will hit ground.
We have another project on 187th Street — the same area — it’s 80,000 square feet, about 70 apartments — some studios and some three-bedrooms. It’s going to be a rental building. It will have a nice, new contemporary design. We will start in about eight months.
Another project is on 167th Street. It’s a condo under construction for three months: 39 apartments and a community facility. Another project is 120th and Second Avenue. It’s a rental: about 30,000 square feet. We hit ground one month ago, so it’s going to be finished 12 months from now.
Q. You seem to be serving more of the needs of the middle class.
A. Yes. The demand for that product will be high. This is a problem with cosmopolitan cities, and New York is the capital of the cosmopolitan cities of the world. You have to find Russian oligarchs, Chinese oligarchs — rich people from all over the world.
Q. Could you see HAP developing a luxury building?
A. Twenty-eighth Street won’t be luxury, luxury, luxury, but it will be a more high-end property.
Q. You’re very busy.
A. We are busy, yes. Look, I am young. I am 40, and I am definitely feeling that I’m in a peak and I’m sure that my partners are feeling the same thing. To work in Manhattan is already a peak.
Q. You relocated your family here from Tel Aviv.
A. We moved in August; I live here in Manhattan, at 79th and Columbus. My partners live in Israel.
Q. How much of HAP’s money goes into your projects?
A. We always use our own money. The minimum we put in is 20 percent of equity. Most of the time it’s 30, 40 percent.
Usually we take a 65 percent construction loan and the rest would be equity of our own and of our investors.
Q. What else does HAP have in the pipeline?
A. We’re looking at Roosevelt Island, Long Island City and New Jersey. We’re also working on more deals here in Manhattan. We’re working on an interesting deal in East Harlem and TriBeCa.
Q. Where do you see the company in the next five to 10 years?
A. We would like to grow as an international company, especially here in the United States, and go to different places and regions of the United States.
Long term, 10 years, I think we will start somewhere in Africa.