The Influentials: Real Estate

Photo: Roger Deckker

Louise Sunshine
Chairwoman emeritus, Corcoran Sunshine Marketing
Real estate is marketed today with as much press and fanfare as a Hollywood blockbuster because Sunshine paved the way. Having learned a thing or two about sales from her grandfather Barney Pressman—yes, that Barney—and from her boss of fifteen years, Donald Trump, she proved herself a branding genius with every condo she debuted (One Central Park, One Beacon Court, 165 Charles), selling not bricks and mortar but a gauzy vision of the good life. Even though she’s handed over the reins, at least in part, to Corcoran CEO Pam Liebman, Sunshine still gets calls from developers who want to know if she thinks a project’s viable and how she’d go about selling it.

Matthew Haines and Ryan Slack
Co-owners, PropertyShark
In real estate, information is power, and PropertyShark is putting it in the hands of buyers like never before. Want to know how much the apartment next door went for? If there’s a lien on that brownstone? If you’re near a toxic dump? With Woodward-and-Bernstein-like zeal, they dig up every bit of public dirt on every building in the city, all in the name of transparency.

Stephen Ross
CEO of the Related Companies
Related has developed more units than any other developer in Manhattan in the past five years, and its iconic projects change neighborhoods. The Time Warner Center sparked a chain reaction of luxury construction and conversions on 59th Street, including 110 Central Park South and the Plaza, all of which has turned the once also-ran thoroughfare (compared to Central Park West and Fifth Avenue) into one of the most expensive streets in the city. Despite sluggish sales, the Charles Gwathmey–designed Astor Place has similarly signaled changes in the offing for the East Village.

Dean Furbush
CEO, FreshDirect
The grocery-delivery service can make or break a fringe neighborhood. If FreshDirect delivers there, you can bet it’s on the fast track to gentrification. If not, the turnaround is likely to be a lot slower. The “FreshDirect effect” is so potent, brokers drop the service’s name when they meet with resistant buyers, and developers have carved out precious square feet in their lobbies for massive refrigerators to store deliveries.

Donald Trump
President, the Trump Organization
He may have become a pop-culture punch line, and his most talked-about addition to the skyline is his hair, but he has developed more than 15 million square feet of condos in the city, splashing his name on one phallic edifice after another. Among other things, he created an entire neighborhood (the far West Sixties) where there was none. Still a player in the building game, he recently converted the old Hotel Delmonico and named it—what else?—Trump Park Avenue.

Real Estate: The Neighborhood Changers

The Neighborhood Changers
Building, blocking, brokering, they’re transforming the city piece by piece.

Willie Kathryn Suggs, Willie Kathryn Suggs Harlem Real Estate
Predicting another Renaissance, Suggs moved into Harlem in 1985, got to know her neighbors, and eventually matched hundreds of them with buyers willing to pay top dollar. She’s sold dozens of these houses many times over.

Lee Bollinger, Columbia University
The beast that ate upper Manhattan continues to grow, with a proposed Manhattanville campus that will include a neuroscience research center and a public math and science high school. Detractors may cry foul, but there’s no denying Columbia’s power to transform a neighborhood (see Morningside Heights).

Gary Barnett, Extell Development Company
He picks the uncanniest places for ultraluxe glass towers, but somehow it works. The Orion, just blocks from the not-so-pretty Port Authority, is a runaway hit, with fans posting obsessively about its progress online.

Andrew Berman, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
He persuaded the City Council to stop a spate of “out of context” buildings in their tracks. Now he’s taking on NYU, determined not to let the university take over the neighborhood in its expansion.

Larry Silverstein, Silverstein Properties
He may be handing off reconstruction of the Freedom Tower, but he’s still got a lock on downtown with three towers he’ll build from scratch.

Jacob Goldman, LoHo Realty
The latest incarnation of the LES was kick-started by Co-op Village, a 4,500-unit housing project where Goldman has sold hundreds of apartments as cheap, cool alternatives to downtown.

Louis Silverman, G4 Development Group
Decades from now, when the waterfront here is a thriving and—yes—expensive neighborhood, everyone will be wishing they’d gambled with Silverman. Back in the nineties, he bought tracts of land in north Williamsburg, placing bets on future rezoning that would have condo developers a-calling. He was right.

(8.) DUMBO
David Walentas, Two Trees Management
By cherry-picking merchants for his retail spaces and enticing artists with relatively low rents, Walentas, who owns the vast majority of the neighborhood, studiously crafted Brooklyn’s answer to Soho.

Pam Liebman, Corcoran
The biggest Manhattan-based broker in Brooklyn, Corcoran conquered Fort Greene way before the big firms paid attention to it. Any wonder the neighborhood is now considered prime?

Bruce Ratner, Forest City Ratner
When he’s finished replacing 22 acres of brownstone Brooklyn with the Atlantic Yards project, the borough will never be the same.

John Reinhardt, Fillmore Real Estate
Its name may not be a brand, but Fillmore is the largest privately owned brokerage in the city, and the only game in town when it comes to the outlying parts of Brooklyn. Next: The Influentials in Advertising

The Influentials: Real Estate