Sometimes when glancing at the news in the last couple of years — as we saw inflation rising, wars overseas, mounting fears of recession and political dysfunction at home — it was as if we were all suddenly cast back in time to the 1970s.
Just as the ’70s had its lows, there were Studio 54-level highs as well. Indeed, this current era has certainly felt its share of headiness and exuberance, as far as real estate is concerned.
While we still find ourselves under the cloud of the pestilence that has depressed so much economic activity (as well as so much else) over the last two-plus years, a lot of real estate owners and investors have been able to keep things in perspective and think long term.
Yes, office attendance remains dismal, but it’s improving. Yes, a lot of tenants might have had second thoughts about shelling out rent for property that they’re indifferent to, but quality product has been achieving top dollar. SL Green’s
One Vanderbilt is one of those unvarnished success stories, for instance: 97 percent leased and commanding rents that would have seemed optimistic in the best of times.
The smart real estate players — those we honor in this year’s Power 100 — are the ones who have been able to pivot and evolve. On the office front, they’re not the ones who sat back during the pandemic and waded through their Netflix queue. Instead, they did the hard, expensive labor of starting to make their buildings carbon neutral.
They’re the ones who saw the long runway for e-commerce, and invested in logistics and industrial space.
They’re the ones who saw the need for life science space and began building accordingly.
They’re the ones who saw an underserved housing market and began putting their money behind multifamily and single-family rental.
They’re the ones who realized that it’s not just a Warner Bros. / Metro Goldwyn Mayer world, but one in which content is big business and is everywhere, and began looking for studio space.
To paraphrase the immortal words of the Bee Gees, they’re the ones who might feel the city breaking and everybody shaking, but they’re staying alive.
#80 Adam Gordon
Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Wildflower
Since founding Wildflower with Matthew Dicker in 2017, Adam Gordon has built the real estate development firm around outside-the-box property sectors in New York City.
Wildflower has carved out a niche specializing in the e-commerce and studio sectors in particular. This strategy included buying a 5.25-acre site in Astoria, Queens, in 2019 for a planned 775,000-square-foot, multilevel Hollywood-style studio. The New York City Department of Buildings gave approval in February to commence construction on the ambitious project.
“The studio is a physical statement of the future for entertainment in all forms as a tool for storytelling,” Gordon said. “As an architectural gesture it’s a statement that New York City is the place creatives come to have inspired careers.”
Gordon said the Wildflower Studios development will fill a crucial void in New York’s film industry by providing the Big Apple a permanent, full-scale production facility similar to what Los Angeles has seen built up over the years. The project, which it developed in partnership with actor Robert De Niro, has the potential to dramatically transform New York’s film industry.
On the logistics front, Wildflower is Amazon’s most active e-commerce warehouse and parking developer in New York City. It sold two Amazon-operated warehouses in East New York, Brooklyn, for $230 million in April to CBRE Investment Management nearly three years after purchasing the assets for $23.5 million.
Manhattan-based Wildflower is in the midst of selling off its self-storage portfolio, too, in order to narrow its focus to the e-commerce and film studio sectors. One of these deals involved offloading 3350 Park Avenue in the Bronx’s Morrisania neighborhood to Storage Post Self Storage in March for $64 million four years after purchasing the 138,000-square-foot property for $13 million.
Gordon, a fourth-generation New Yorker, is looking to continue targeting nontraditional asset classes in and around the city and has no plans to morph into a more traditional CRE development firm.
“We’re not inhibited by convention,” Gordon said. “Wildflower’s DNA is curiosity and innovation.”