Source: Commercial Observer

November 08, 2017

Owners Magazine 2017: Interviews with NYC's Top Landlords

Jeff Gural

Chairman, GFP Real Estate

What was the best decision you made in the last year? To finalize a structure that would enable the next generation to operate the real estate that we own and manage.

What was the worst? Expecting to make a lot of money on my casinos upstate and thinking that I would be receiving distributions instead of writing checks.

Is the Midtown office market oversaturated? Typically, when you have a big project like Hudson Yards come to fruition, along with the World Trade Center project you will see a decline somewhere else. I think that is probably what we are going to see over the next few years in Midtown Manhattan.

Where’s retail at the moment? It obviously went through a lot of agony earlier this year…What happens now? I think landlords like myself have got to adjust their rents and focus more on tenants that are not competing with Amazon and other online shopping networks.

A lot of developers desperately want Amazon to open its headquarters in New York. Why is this a good idea or bad one? Where should it go? I would love for Amazon to open its headquarters in New York. We have the best and brightest people coming here every year to seek their fortune, and my guess is these are the types of people that Amazon would want.

Is foreign money still coming to New York at the same pace? Who’s investing? I really do not get involved with foreign money as it is just too complicated, and since we are long-term holders, having foreign investors usually does not work.

Did New York City public transit’s “summer of hell” impact your business? How? I thought Amtrak did a good job in minimizing the impact in the repairs that had to be made at Penn Station.

Is the open-space model undergoing a rethink? What about prebuilt? I think the open-space model is becoming more and more popular, and I do not see that changing. Prebuilts will continue to be popular as tenants in many cases look for short-term leases as they expect to grow.

If you were on the City Council, what’s the one piece of legislation you’d introduce? I think we need a solution to the homeless crises, and that should be the focus.

What could Mayor Bill de Blasio do to win your heart? I would hope that after the election the mayor would agree to review the system of real estate tax assessments, which is totally broken.

What are your thoughts on the construction safety bill? Is this going to change the cost of doing business in the city? I doubt if the construction safety bill is going to change the cost, and hopefully it will save lives. I worked in construction after college for many years, and I can honestly say that it is much safer now than it was back in the late 60s and early 70s.

What are the pros and cons of Affordable New York? Obviously with my granddaughter now employed in the city and looking for an apartment clearly the high cost of living here is a problem.

If you had 15 minutes alone with President Donald Trump, what would you say? I would simply ask him to stop dividing our country and reverse course, to try to find common ground with the Democrats and to finally get something done in Washington.