Rudin Management Company Part 2
CEO and vice chairman Bill Rudin and Samantha Rudin Earls of Rudin Management Company speak with EisnerAmper Real Estate Services Group Chair Ken Weissenberg about the development and design of the futuristic Dock 72 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and their repositioning strategy for NYC.
- Understanding NYC urbanism, providing the right environment for tenants and the importance of making long-term decisions when redeveloping
- Balancing the different tastes of Baby Boomers returning to the city and the younger generations
- How the right restaurant can highlight a property
Ken Weissenberg: Hi Ken Weissenberg from EisnerAmper I'm here at Greenwich Lane with Bill Rudin and Samantha Rudin and we're here to talk about what's going on in their lives and in real estate in New York and in general welcome.
Bill Rudin: Thank you thanks for joining us here at our model apartment here at the Greenwich Lane.
KW: It is absolutely stunning I'm very impressed and I wish I had the cash to buy a place like this Samantha you are going to tell us about the design of the lobby?
Samantha Rudin: Yes so we worked with Fogarty Finger to design the interiors of Dock 72 and Robert Finger and his team came in and the challenge was that there's this long corridor that you walk down to enter the building and WeWork’s aesthetic is very much of this sort of you know you come and you sit and it's a very livable approachable aesthetic and there was a sort of long cold corridor so how do we infuse it with the we work essence and what they're looking for but also it's a main thoroughfare people are going to be walking through there and some people are going to want to get there you know get to where they're going super-fast and other people are going to want to sit and have their coffee and so we went back and forth and Robert Finger and his team really came up with this beautiful optimal solution and created a series of rooms to break up this long hallway and allow people to have the opportunity to sit and talk and relax but also not block the flow I think their design really honored this sort of you know futuristic or sort of the need for people to live and breathe and experience where they're working but also not have it be to sort of just a common and relaxed and so that there's this nice flow and grandeur that you experience but it's also balanced with this wonderful ease and comfort that you'll experience that really I think is important to WeWork.
BR: The lobby has two entrances one coming from the river where the ferry service will literally dock a couple hundred feet from the entrance to the western lobby and then the eastern lobby where you're coming from the main entrance of the Navy Yard and it connects in the middle where it will have a coffee bar food service you can then sit you can also sit outside look at the basketball court look at the garden the grass have have your coffee have your lunch and or sit inside depend on the weather but you have water on three sides a very unique site you have water on three sides and then you have the industrial part of the Navy Yard it's still a major working yard for rehabilitation of ships so you have a NOAA ship or you have a tugboat or you have a major ship coming in the cranes are there it's a lot of moving things a lot of action so it's very dynamic.
KW: It'd be an incredible place to work.
BR:We think it will be an incredible place to work and it will also have I mentioned before in terms of infrastructure it was designed if you go to a building in Chelsea or in Soho they're beautiful architectural cast-iron buildings but they weren't designed to have one person for every hundred feet within the space and that's where everybody is moving to that type of density so we've put in our design the bathrooms that will hold that capacity the mechanical systems will hold that capacity the electrical systems the elevators all of those things are in there so
KW:The AC to keep a building like that cool when it's fully occupied is massive.
BR:So everybody's driving down to save money to get more people in but you need to again retain that quality of environment and attractiveness and also because it's a long design center core there's not a lot of where you’re very close to the windows you there's I think it's 30 feet from the core to the to the exterior with 14 foot floor to ceiling heights eight feet of vision glass so it's going to bring.
KW:The views must be incredible.
BR:The views are amazing the light and air they'll come in so it's very exciting It’s a European model where you will always see light and air coming into the space so we're very excited we've broken ground we’re out marketing we brought in again part of this collaboration effort we brought in both Chrisman & Wakefield and CBRE to help us on the leasing and its really been a great team experience working with all these great minds together to create what we think is the office building of the future will it be a LEED standard we'll be putting our very unique building operating system called Nantom within the building that provides data to our building managers to increase or decrease air conditioning and heating based on population very energy efficient and so it's really very exciting to be a part of it and again to work with my kids and my cousin Eric and the rest of the Rudin team.
KW:Eric’s son must be college age by now?
BR: Now Eric has two sons and they're still in one's in high school and ones in middle school but my cousin Madeleine her son graduated college I guess last year and he's been involved he's a screenwriter and a director but he's involved with working with Michael and our ventures related to technology we're starting to invest and look at opportunities particularly in real estate and how to use real estate use technology to enhance our product we've already invested in a few companies we've invested in WeWork when we've enlisted a few other companies and we've created our own business to utilize technology.
KW: I'm fascinated by the marriage of technology and real estate and I think it's really the next big thing that's going to change the way people live and work.
BR:Well literally next week and in middle of June we'll be announcing our product it's called Nantom and as I mentioned it really is on the cutting edge of creating a the brains for operating any type of building and giving data to the manager of the building so he and his engineers can increase decrease the flow of air conditioning we use a machine learning algorithms to help create the database and so we know on a particular day on a Friday in the summer at two o'clock the population drops very fast so we can start pulling back the fan speeds in the in the HVAC systems reduce energy costs without reducing comfort and save money.
KW:You wont overcook people in the winter or freeze people in the summer.
BR:Exactly we've actually in the buildings we've put the system in which our buildings right now we've had a forty percent reduction in hot or cold calls from the tenants which then allows the engineers to focus on other things as opposed to just going up and adjusting the air conditioning or heating in the space so it's very exciting one thing I forgot to mention in terms of the Brooklyn Navy Yard is besides the ferry service we've created with the Navy Yard a shuttle service connecting our building and the entire Navy Yard to the major subway stops that are by the shuttle service about seven minutes away with Wi-Fi enabled shuttles air-conditioned comfortable chairs so that's one of the initiatives that we've worked on and then the City and the mayor in his State of the City address announced earlier this year a serious proposal related to what's called the Bronx Queens connector the BQX we we'll connect northern Queens on the on the water coming all the way down through Williamsburg into the Navy Yard literally through the Navy Yard down to Dumbo and then down to Red Hook and we're very excited about that and working with the coalition that's come together to really make sure that that project does get funded and we're very key I think to the long-term viability of Brooklyn and Queens in terms of economic development.
KW:Now your company's always had an affinity to mass transit in terms of that.
BR: Oh definitely my grandfather built his first building up in East Tremont and Westchester Square in the Bronx 1400 Ben Street a building that we still own and he built it there because it was the terminus of the subway and he thought that was done in 1927 and he was a true pioneer in understanding mass transit connectivity to living and working and his philosophy is if I can't get there by subway I don't want to own it and so we have fulfilled that the mission and all of our developments you look at all of our projects are very close proximity to mass transit even in some of our buildings like at 560 Lexington Avenue which I talked about before we have a subway entrance there we just went back and rebuilt the whole ground floor we designed that reimagines that with Skidmore and something Samantha also worked on and so that's very much a part of our ethos that there has to be a mass transit connectivity to our projects.
KW:That's really terrific you seem to be retrofitting a lot of your properties recently 68th Street 70th street what's your goal and repositioning those properties?
SR: I think that the buyers are in this case renters people are looking for a certain aesthetic and want to live and as nice a way as possible and so I’m always juxtaposing like the condos and seeing the level of finish and learning about that and then also then when I walk through the buildings built by my great-grandfather by my father's grandfather Samuel and kind of walking through and I'll open the door and I'll see this giant closet and I’ll be like they had it right the whole time because the bones are really there and then it's our job to sort of come in and say okay maybe someone is looking for a little a nicer kitchen design not designed but finish level and so we're really looking in terms of going back in our existing portfolio where all the bones and everything is there but it's maybe just giving it a little lift and upgrade and I've always loved a good makeover so there's nothing better.
KW:And you’re adding amenities that people are craving.
SR: We're adding playrooms we're adding children's play rooms gyms especially in the winter when people can't go outside there's nothing better than being able to take your kids to a playroom that's inside and they'll be other families and other kids from other buildings that come by and our building uptown at 211 East 70th Street has a courtyard in front and literally it's as if you'd think that there was I don't know what the truck I mean people come from all over to this garden a courtyard with their kids to play and enjoy and so it's really when the need and the appetite when people want something I think it's our job to listen and hear and try and in this best way if possible respond and answer that.
BR:I think it's also about urbanism and people families coming back into the city and that's something to my father and uncle and Sam Rudin my grandfather always believed it in during the 70s when people were moving out of the city and the building that we live in now I'm very lucky to have my daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter live in the same building so Elle comes up to visit we take her down to the garden and play and that and so it's that urbanism and people wanted to be in the city so we have to provide the right environment for our customers and our clients and when we started redoing 211 Park maybe six years ago I didn't know you know when Samantha was going to get married and when you know what you know when choosing have a kid and with it were they going to live but it was that lot that plaza was done in the in the 70s and it was dated and it needed a refresh so we really did a great job and when I leave every morning or come back and night and I see the Elle playing with her friends and the literally the hundred year old man who lives in the building down there smiling enjoying it that gives me the greatest pleasure because I know we've done something right
And we did that at 215 East 68th Street a building I grew up in when I was a young boy and we totally redid the facade it's a million foot building over 600 apartments and the first terracotta screen wall redo in the city of New York and it's an amazing the aesthetic is amazing and then we did all the outdoor spaces and built playgrounds and passive play areas and seating.
KW: It's really it's a beautiful building.
BR: It's amazing and it was a difficult process because tenants were in the building when we were doing this work but in the end of the day it's really come out it's a beautiful it's beautifully designed and I think people appreciate it and I think that's our responsibility as stewards of this incredible portfolio that we've inherited to make sure that it's optimized in terms of its’ look and its’ feel and that hopefully translates into a more positive bottom line for us but sometimes we spend the money even though we know we're not going to necessarily get that return back so quickly because we look at our investments in the long-term basis and so we could have just replaced and patched the bricks at 215 but we made a decision as a family that this was a very unique opportunity to reimagine this building and we made that decision and spent a lot of time and effort doing it and we continually do that within our whole our whole portfolio and Samantha mentioned before we go back and redo the bathrooms and the kitchens and something that that Samantha has really taken on and in terms of responsible in the hallways and making sure that when you come home that you feel like it's a home and it's as top quality as buying a co-op or a condominium so that's our philosophy and it's always been our philosophy and as I said before the young folks I call them the younginns or G4 that they really brought their sensibility and they're in there viewpoint to the table just like when I start out in the business you know in the in the late 70s and Eric and my sister Beth and cousin Madeline we all brought our view and took and my father and uncle took their sensibility and combined with our cinema and we got we you know we got to the to the point where we were all working in a very positive way to fulfill our mission. KW: From our generation that the baby boomers are moving back into the city I can't yet my kids are only 14 and 16 but the baby boomers. I’m sure they want to move back into the city.
KW:My daughter's here today running around with your friends for the younger generation they seem to be staying in the city longer and having their children here in the city how are you balancing the different taste between the baby boomer generation and the millennial generation and your designs?
BR: I'll let Samantha answer that one.
SR:I'll just speak generally it's always hard to know exactly what people's taste is and what people are going to like and so we kind of take the perspective of like our building at 211 East 70th street we redid the lobby and we made it all white and it was a darker wood before and the older generation really bucked and had had a hard time with it because they were used to this darker wood lobby that I think they found more traditional and classic classical and so when they came in and they saw that it was all white and more modern they really had a hard time adjusting at first so I think that you know you're never going to make everyone happy and people resist change as well so it's always hard to sort of you know it was the same with the Greenwich Lane we were tearing down certain buildings and so I think at the end though people do like if you're upgrading and trying to make something new and fresh and trying to improve upon what was there before it's always nice to honor the past and not totally flip it over but it that said if you see that there's an opportunity to improve something and improve people's quality of life I want people to come home and be happy and I want it to be bright now maybe not everyone likes everything white and bright but I think that there is a real effort to just sort of create something that feels as livable and as fresh as possible for people.
BR: I think at the end of the day good design into whether you're a millennium or you know of our generation good design stands out and I think in terms of the kitchens and the bathrooms there good design but nothing too crazy on either side of the spectrum so we just try to make sure there's a nice balance and how it's clean but so I think and we again the diversity of our tenants and our residential buildings are younger people just come out of college to literally hundreds you know a gentleman at 211 is a hundred years old and he's been there a long time.
KW:You seem to be creating communities instead of just little individual dwelling units.
SR:And I think also then people adjust the things and then all of a sudden the next thing you hear they're like oh I love it and definitely we do try and take the approach not to in general unless it's someone's personal home and they want to paint the walls whatever color they want we try not to rock the boat too much and I always say like vanilla ice cream you may not love it and want to order it every time but if someone puts some vanilla ice cream in front of you it's good it's okay you're going to be okay.
KW: Now you rent to a lot of restaurants for of your retail spaces is there a particular slant towards restaurants?
BR:Well I think it just depends where the spaces in the market we just added two at 136 East 55th Street we divided a space there was a bank space and again it's all tied into providing amenities for your tenants and for the for the neighborhood and so very important that these type of restaurants that are really you know whether it's you know Juice Press or Organic Avenue which is coming back or you know Pret A Manger or Starbucks these are all part of the amenity package that you need to provide for your customers and your tenant so they're filling in a very important niche in the marketplace.
KW:That’s great any particular plans for the old Sports Authority store?
BR:Well it's still in bankruptcy proceedings so we're not sure what's happening there yet but there could be companies that buy that that lease or if not we'll get it back and we'll then figure out what to do it's a very vibrant neighborhood on 51st and Third Avenue and so we'll figure that but I think a little early to tell what we know what the status is of that.
EisnerAmper Real Estate Services Group Chair Ken Weissenberg talks about 100 years of Rudin real estate development in New York with CEO and vice chairman Bill Rudin and Samantha Rudin Earls of Rudin Management Company. Bill shares how he started in development, and how the next generation of Rudin developers is coming up in the family business.
Bill Rudin and Samantha Rudin Earls of Rudin Management Company discuss how the condo market has changed since they started leasing The Greenwich Lane, the role of high-end amenities in marketing units, and designing unique family communities.