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Columbia University Business School Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate

October 2019
Alumni in the Media

Real Estate Alumni in the Media  

Here is what your fellow Columbia Business School Real Estate Alumni have been doing recently. If you don’t see your news mentioned, please let us know.

Yulia Yaani ’08

2020: Three Trends in Proptech That Can Propel CRE Forward (byline)

If 2019 is any indicator, 2020 promises to be an interesting year for proptech in commercial real estate. In the past few years, CRE has finally been experiencing the evolution of nascent technologies into more mature tech—and the industry is responding by adopting it. From smart technologies that automate the appraisal process to machine learning that centralizes property or leasing data, and even to the use of drones in construction, commercial real estate is finally starting to catch up to its more nimble cousin, residential real estate.


Can Tech Help Make CRE Recession-Proof? (byline)

Our industry is by no means recession-proof. When downturns hit, they hit real estate—hard. But behind every challenge there often lies opportunity. The smart players in CRE today know that better than anyone. As the founder of a tech startup for the commercial real estate loan industry, I bet you can guess my advice to CRE companies wondering how to hedge their bets when (not if) the economic downturn hits.


Constantine Valhouli ’03

Spike in New York’s Luxury Property Sales

“The cover charge to enter this club just got higher,” says Constantine Valhouli, director of research at NeighborhoodX, a US property analytics firm. Manhattan is the club, and New York City’s increased “mansion tax” is the new charge. Intended to fund the renovation of New York’s creaking subway, the surcharge came into effect this July. The one-off tax starts at 1.25 per cent on homes worth more than $2m, rising to 3.9 per cent on those sold for more than $25m. A $15m Manhattan property that would have previously been taxed at $150,000 now has a liability of $525,000.

Financial Times

Dreamland: Inside Coney Island’s Mini Development Boom

“You’re suddenly looking at a type of asset that did not exist prior,” said Constantine Valhouli, co-founder of real estate analytics firm NeighborhoodX. “It reflects Brooklyn closer to the city and it also reflects the dense urban development that evokes places like Miami.”

Commercial Observer

Ameet Amin ’07

Pre-Fab Housing Company Changing the Art and Cost of Home Building

“We see a lot of demand from consumers, builders, and architects for our service because it’s a different way of home building, and it really addresses the affordable crisis,” said CEO Ameet Amin.

Spectrum News

Elliott Aronson ’98

Greystone Provides $27 Million in Bridge Financing for Acquisition of Multifamily Property in Houston, Texas

“We were delighted that the Greystone team was able to move us seamlessly and rapidly through the bridge loan process so that we could start realizing our vision for Villa Nueva Apartments,” said Mr. Elliott Aronson of IRG. “Having acquired and renovated thousands of apartment units across Texas over the past decade, we understand what it takes to bring a property back to life. We are thrilled to have a team that is committed to getting us competitive financing terms so that we can get to work doing what we do best.”

Yahoo Finance

Jonathan Garonce ’08

Jackson Square Location Proves Valuable When Asset Trades

“Ultimately, we successfully created a new look and identity for the building and added significant value by attracting full-floor tech tenants,” Jonathan Garonce, partner at Drake Real Estate, tells As Garonce mentions, the renovations were successful in sparking leasing activity and resulted in the signing of several successful tech companies. The asset is now 100% occupied by EastWest Bank, Bitmami and Novani, among others.

Globe St.

Zach Aarons ’13

Seven Ways Telecommuting Has Changed Real Estate

Nevertheless, as the numbers have grown, some in the real estate industry are wondering about the long-term impact, said Zach Aarons, a co-founder of MetaProp, a New York City venture capital firm focused on real estate technology. Some investors in New York real estate see a potential threat if remote workers start to exit the city for less expensive locations, he said. The looming question is: “Do people live in the city because they like the community, or just because it’s convenient to their job?”

New York Times

Jeremy Shell ’04

Shell Yeah: TF Cornerstone’s Jeremy Shell on a Post-Amazon LIC and Beyond

Shell, who joined the family in 2004, and the family business in 2009, is head of acquisitions and finance. Over the last two years, he’s overseen some of the company’s large-scale projects in Brooklyn, Queens and Midtown—including a plan to tear down and redevelop the Grand Hyatt next to Grand Central Station—and was a key player in the Amazon drama.

Commercial Observer

David Simon ’85

Rue Gilt Groupe, with $280 Million Investment from Simon, is Taking Outlet Shopping Online

“When you put the physical and the online world together, sales for both go up,” David Simon, CEO of Simon Property Group, said in a phone interview. “This gives us an opportunity to create an online platform that shoppers can go in between visits to the outlets.”


Jonathan Flaherty ’07

REBNY Offers its Members Energy Efficiency Education Programs

“REBNY’s education program is yet another example of how the real estate industry is committed to helping New York City achieve its climate goals,” said Jonathan Flaherty, Co-Chair of REBNY’s Sustainability Committee and Senior Director, Sustainability and Utilities at Tishman Speyer. “Tishman Speyer knows that sustainability is critical to our success and we’re pleased that REBNY is running this program.”

Real Estate Weekly

Lou D'Avanzo ’91

CushWake Bolsters Midtown Team with Directors in Brokerage

“We are excited to welcome Natasha and Justin to the Cushman & Wakefield family,” said Lou D’Avanzo, managing principal, Midtown. “Both have impressive histories across a multitude of industries. We are always looking for experienced professionals with unique and diverse backgrounds who bring different perspectives to the table to best serve our global client base.”

Connect New York

Geoff Goldstein ’07

BoA, Wells Fargo Provide $1B Refi for Tishman’s Jackson Park Development in LIC

Tishman Speyer has nabbed $1 billion from Bank of America and Wells Fargo to refinance previous construction debt on its three-tower residential development, Jackson Park, in Long Island City, Queens, according to an announcement today by Tishman. The new, 10-year, interest-only loan refinances $640 million in previous construction debt from Bank of America—provided in December 2015—used to build the 1,871-unit luxury residential complex. A JLL team of Michael Tepedino, Michael Gigliotti and Geoff Goldstein arranged the transaction on behalf of Tishman.

Commercial Observer

Matt Giammanco ’13

AvalonBay Unveils Teaneck Community, Amid Surging Demand from Renters

Matt Giammanco, a development director with AvalonBay, touted another key selling point for Avalon Teaneck: The project and management team for the property includes a host of Teaneck and Bergen County residents. When employees are working in their own community and “have the chance to give back like this and commit themselves to their neighborhood and other residents, I think it elevates the community to a different level,” he said.

Real Estate NJ

Joshua Berman ’14

CO’s 25 Under 35: The Top Young Debt and Equity Professionals of 2019

The two biggest deals that Josh Berman has orchestrated so far in his financing career happen to be in the hometowns of his two alma maters. In 2018, he arranged $163 million in financing for 1300 Fairmount Avenue—a major mixed-used development along Philly’s North Broad Street corridor, which links Center City and the Temple University area. Berman helped arrange a senior construction loan and a preferred equity contribution for the 471-unit project.

Commercial Observer

Gideon Gil ’00 & Brian Steinwurtzel ’04

Square Mile Provides $430M Construction Loan for 100 Pearl Street Redevelopment

The owners will use the loan on the 970,000-square-foot property, formerly known as 7 Hanover Square, to modernize the more than 30-year-old building with a new lobby, mechanical equipment and infrastructure, according to GFP. “We have always believed in the re-emergence of downtown as a place where tenants want to be,” Brian Steinwurtzel, the co-CEO of GFP, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to commence construction next week and add 100 Pearl Street to GFP’s growing portfolio.” Cushman & Wakefield’s Adam Spies, Doug Harmon, Adam Donegar, Josh King and Gideon Gil arranged the financing for the project. Square Mile principal Sean Reimer originated the debt.

Commercial Observer

Jessica Sherman ’16

No Fantasy Football: How the Levines Have Turned Douglaston into a Real Estate Family Success Story

Ben and Jessica [Sherman] were always interested in real estate, and both majored in urban studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Sherman joined the company three years ago, having previously worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Her focus on social policy led her to the affordable side of the company.


Tim Berry ’13

Pennybacker Raises More Than $1bn for Latest Value-Add Vehicle

Austin, Texas–based private equity real estate firm Pennybacker Capital has raised $775 million towards its fifth value-add real estate fund, hitting the vehicle’s hard-cap. Pennybacker V, launched in late 2018, exceeded its $600 million target and was oversubscribed as of last month, according to founder and chief executive Tim Berry.


Michael Tillman ’11

Miami Firm Pays $13 Million for a Prime Area in St. Pete’s Edge District

Michael Tillman, chief executive of PTM Partners, told the New York Times in May that his company had an opportunity zone site under contract in St. Petersburg—the one just purchased—and already was working on multi-family housing developments in Miami and a former FBI office building in Washington D.C.

Tampa Bay Times

Jonathan Wasserstrum ’12

Where Should the Boss Sit? (byline)

My consistent aim throughout all of this growth has been that I remain at the center of the organization. I’ve entrusted valuable executives and employees to help expand our business – and they report back to me what I need to know–yet I remain curious about what’s happening throughout the office. So I made the decision to sit where the team is–right in the middle of the office.

USA Today

Erik Horvat ’04

550 Madison Ave. Will have 30-foot-tall Window in New Lobby

Six tall avenue windows will be recessed to emphasize granite columns between them and near-transparent mullions will replace thick and dark ones. Horvat described the interior modernization as “top to bottom,” featuring advanced air ventilation and state-of-the-art mechanical and electric systems. “I’d put this building up against anything new,” he said, adding “no building of this vintage” is as advanced.

New York Post

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