The New Development leader didn’t come from a real estate family. He was just an ordinary kid from Williamsburg who saw change on the horizon and knew he wanted to be a part of it.
First things first. How on earth did you get into this business?
It all started the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at St. John’s University, when I took a job at one of the largest residential appraisal firms in the city. That led to a full-time position for the rest of my time in school. During this time, my childhood neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn was undergoing a complete transformation in front of my eyes. I’d attend school each morning, then head to Manhattan and work until 9pm.
On the L train home—and at that time, everyone congregated in the last car of the train, where the 24-hour exits were on the station platforms—I started noticing the passengers traveling with me shift from the kinds of people I’d grown up with to more East Village-types. That’s when I said to myself: If I had the money, I’d buy every building in Williamsburg.
If only we could all go back. When did you get your big break?
Well, I didn’t have a family in the business, and I certainly didn’t have the money to buy a building, so that put my development ambitions on hold for a few years. After college, I spent four years in the property and casualty insurance industry until I joined a small, family-owned real estate company in Ridgewood, Queens. After a year and a half as an agent, I left there and founded aptsandlofts.com, which grew to become of the largest new development marketing firms in NYC—simply by combining my love of marketing, advertising, and real estate with a focus on developers, landlords, and sponsors. In 2016, I sold aptsandlofts.com to NRT, and became EVP at Citi Habitats until that brand rolled under Corcoran in January of 2020. I’ve had the title under Corcoran New Development ever since.
What’s a day in the life of Dave?
My role here centers around developing new business opportunities, positioning the product, and executing the leasing or sales program. On any given day, this entails daily new business pitches, development positioning research sessions, floorplan design, and amenity program meetings with clients. We’ll have marketing strategy meetings, as well as meetings with onsite teams to discuss progress at on-market buildings. Through all of this, I’m communicating closely with my management team throughout the day on the dozens of moving parts it takes to market large-scale new developments. We work in all five boroughs of New York City, have multiple projects in New Jersey, and a new one in Philadelphia.
From a big picture standpoint, the goal is always to be working on projects we’re excited and passionate about, which I feel will always lead myself and my management team to enjoying what we do each day. When you enjoy your job, it’s not work. This business allows that philosophy to really come to fruition.
It’s a new year, and already it feels like a wild card. What do you foresee in the business over the coming months?
New development in NYC is about to change drastically in the short term, as the Affordable NY tax abatement program expires in 2022 and we expect construction costs to soar due to inflation and labor shortages. The next 8-12 months will be very important for this segment of the industry, and there is a great amount of uncertainty of what will happen without a viable tax abatement program. Rental development will likely come to a halt, which will be harmful to NYC on many levels. Notably, most new buildings would be fully affordable or ultra-luxury condos, with really no in-between.
With regards to design, we’re advising today on more energy-conscious buildings, properties that make a statement with design without breaking the bankbook, and developments that are specifically crafted to each marketplace and their demographics vs. rubber stamping each building with the same amenity program, interior design concepts, and service level. Each property should stand on its own and cater to its specific target. We’ll continue this approach with our clients, listen to our residents and be creative in how we shape their new homes.
What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
There’s so much I find enjoyable that it’s difficult to choose just one, but high on the list has to be when a client speaks highly of you or refers you to another developer. When someone comes along and says, “My friend Andrew B. says you’re the best in the business. I have a project I’d like to discuss with you, if you have a moment.” Right up there is hearing when my team is happy. That’s very important to me.
Of all your achievements, what are you most proud of?
We tackled the 2008 financial crisis, and we’ve fought through this pandemic. We’ve set price per square foot records in Brooklyn and Queens. We’ve leased the waterfront project 420 Kent in Williamsburg, and the other day, we rented a $29,500 apartment in Manhattan.
I don’t think I’ve had my greatest success yet, and I feel there are great moments ahead for me and my team. Let’s see what 2022 brings and I’ll check back with you.