A Real Estate Giant

The Moinian Group’s Joseph Moinian Talks New York Real Estate for YU Professional Networking Group

Joseph Moinian showed his chutzpah at an early age. Arriving alone in New York City from Tehran at the age of 17, he put himself through City College of New York and went on to found one of the country’s largest privately held real estate firms, The Moinian Group. He is currently ranked #29 in “The Power 100,” the Commercial Observer’s annual listing of the most influential players in commercial real estate.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that a man who dreams big developed Sky, at the time of its completion in 2015 the largest single-tower residential building in the country. The 71-story development brought 1,175 luxury units to Manhattan’s far West Side, in addition to 70,000 square feet of amenities that included Life Time Fitness with three pools, studios, spa and full-sized basketball court.

Moinian shared his bold vision for the New York real estate landscape on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2019. Nearly 150 guests joined Yeshiva University’s alumni networking group, the Real Estate Professionals, to hear from Moinian, who was interviewed by Michael Stoler, host of the Stoler Report-New York’s Business Report and president and CEO of New York Real Estate TV, LLC, a management consulting and television production firm. The event was hosted by J. Philip Rosen ’74YUHS, ’78YC at his law firm, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, and sponsored by Meridian Capital Group.

The Moinian Group is among the few national real estate entities to lend, develop, own, market and operate properties across every asset category, including office, hotel, retail, condos and rental apartments. Since its founding in 1982, the company has thrived, with a portfolio in excess of 20 million square feet across major cities, including New York, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Guests also heard from Marc Kwestel ’87YC, who serves as co-chair of the Real Estate Professionals Committee with Bruce Schanzer ’91YC, ’93C; Ralph Herzka, who spoke on behalf of Meridian Capital Group; and Adam Gerdts, vice president of YU’s Office of Institutional Advancement. Event Chair Josh Muss ’58YUHS, ’62YC introduced Moinian and Stoler.

(l-r): Mark Kwestel, J. Philip Rosen, Michael Stoler, Joseph Moinian, Josh Muss and Bruce Schanzer.

After spending nearly two decades in women’s fashion retail, Moinian leveraged his earnings from his apparel company, Billy Jack for Her, to purchase buildings in Manhattan. His first purchase, in July 1982, was 450-460 Park Avenue South, an office building located in Midtown South.

“It was a Persian carpet building, and we thought we could rent it as office space,” he recalled. Three months later, he acquired nine buildings in the Flatiron District. “Timing, with a little bit of luck, is everything. All of that goes with a lot of hard work.”

Moinian remains optimistic about the market, pointing to three areas where he sees opportunities for growth: health-related facilities, educational facilities and technology companies.

“So many of the tech-related companies are looking to New York because that’s where the talent wants to be. They want this life,” he explained. “Silicon Valley is now second to New York.”

This, he believes, is a strong positive for real estate developers. “The people who come here don’t only need office space but apartments as well. They eat in restaurants. There’s real opportunity.”

Moinian is clearly a man to seize the chance when he sees it, such as with his most recent development, The Moinian Group’s flagship project at 3 Hudson Boulevard. This $2 billion, 2-million-square-foot Class A office tower is located in the heart of the now iconic Hudson Yards District. The building will occupy the entire block between 11th Avenue and Hudson Boulevard Park, extending from West 34th Street to West 35th Street.

Other projects are also in the works. In 2018, The Moinian Group launched leasing for Oskar, its Hell’s Kitchen rental property on 11th Avenue, which features 14 stories and 118 luxury apartments. (The building was named after Moinian executive Oskar Brecher, who died in 2016.) And Moinian is currently developing properties at 123 Linden Boulevard, 2 Washington Street, 220 11th Avenue and 7 Platt Street.

“Developers,” he stated, “are only as good as their last development.” For a man like Moinian, it’s also got to be big.

The Real Estate Professionals networking group convenes annually to bring together alumni and friends of Yeshiva University who work in a range of real estate fields, from investing, development, to titles and construction. The group provides access to some of the biggest names in real estate in New York City, offering insight into the ever-changing and dynamic landscape of New York.

In addition to the Real Estate Professionals Group, YU’s Office of Alumni Affairs is proud to host professional networking events and development opportunities for alumni and friends of YU through its Wall Street, Legal Professionals, Accounting & Wealth Management and Non-profit Professional groups. For more information on these groups and their events, please visit www.yuprofessionalnetworking.com.