CEO & Co-Founder, HAP Investments
What are your thoughts about the “b” word?
If the market decreased 10 to 15 percent, I would expect international and domestic buyers to step in and absorb the difference, as demand for Manhattan real estate remains strong. As a company, the HAP portfolio is largely rental and located in emerging markets. We are not overly invested in luxury products that need to sell at a high price per square foot.
If tenants like Union Square Hospitality Group can’t afford rents, what’s a tenant to do?
The commercial retail market is interesting, as an increase in vacancy has not led to a decrease in prices. Markets like Harlem, Bushwick and Red Hook will continue to see an increase in demand as tenants expand to new neighborhoods and boroughs.
Who would you like to be the next president of the United States?
I want to focus on development and not politics.
What tech do you most heavily rely on besides your cell phone?
My Apple Watch.
If you had to pick, are you more a Cuomo guy or a de Blasio guy?
I am a Cuomo guy and a de Blasio guy. Both love New York, both love the citizens of New York and both are trying to do good with a different approach.
What infrastructure project do you think is least likely to get done?
One infrastructure project I think should be completed is a network of streetcars or a light rail. Ted Rall wrote a great opinion piece in the Observer in February on the subject.
If you were going to invest in one, which would you pick: the Bronx or Staten Island?
Given our strong portfolio in northern Manhattan, HAP would be more comfortable doing projects in the Bronx.
What is the most promising real estate market outside of the city?
The Jersey City market is very promising, with good public transportation into Manhattan.
What’s the best (and the worst) decision of your career?
The best decision of my career was that I purchased land in Manhattan at attractive prices during a down market, and the worst decision is that I did not purchase more land than I did.
What is the most exciting project under development in the city that you are not involved in and why?
Ziel Feldman’s HFZ Chelsea land acquisition has exciting possibilities and is in a superior location.
What transportation project is going to help the city the most?
The Second Avenue subway line will relieve tremendous overcrowding on the 4/5/6 subway line and add value to HAP’s properties in East Harlem.
Everybody’s talking 80/20. But what are your thoughts on the 50/30/20 affordable housing model?
The 50-30-20 housing model needs to be structured properly to take into account that development costs are very high. Land and construction costs make it very difficult to make most projects work financially. I agree that more needs to be done to add housing for New Yorkers of all income levels.
Ever used Airbnb? Do you think it can make a dent in NYC’s pricey hotel market?
I have used Airbnb in the Hamptons and Canada when vacationing with my family. I think there are separate markets for Airbnb and hotels, as the customer base is different.
Are coworking spaces here for the long run?
Yes. Coworking spaces allow many individuals and industries to exist in an expensive urban environment. It fosters collaboration and opens possibilities of new business practices.
If you could own air rights over any NYC building, which would it be?
A building in Brooklyn or Queens with open views of the Manhattan skyline in which I could construct a tower.
What is the one thing LaGuardia’s revamp should not leave out?
Dedicated driverless car lanes to facilitate easier arrival and departure time, and connection to public transportation either subway or light rail.