NEW YORK – Lou Katsos has developed a strong brand for the Development, Design & Construction Committee of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce (HACC). The guests who filled the Holy Trinity Cathedral Ballroom on September knew they could count on an informative and entertaining presentations by some of the heavy hitters in the real estate development world.
Katsos, who is Committee Chairman, moderated of the lively panel discussion titled “The State of Development, Design and Construction in NYC – 2015,” for which he created the vehicle of an imaginary new development in Midtown Manhattan.
Each of the panelists described his or her role in the creation of a new high-rise building and addressed the relevant issues, including the remarkable qualities of the New York real estate market.
When Katsos spoke about the value of pursuing “starchitects,” Oskar Brecher, the Executive VP of the Moinan Group, said they have become part of the branding of buildings and Alan Goldstein, co-Founder of GHWA Architects, noted that the developers must work with architects as early as possible so the marketing and sales can proceed.
Adrienne Albert, CEO of The Marketing Directors, said the team must determine “who are we going after and what their needs are, what do people need to hear to get excited about it…what needs to be done to make the market come to us.”
When Albert spoke about the “bells and whistles” people seek, she noted interiors are divided into private spaces – bedrooms and bathrooms for example – and entertainment spaces. Kitchens seem to now fall into the latter. Albert called them “showpieces.” In her experience, few Manhattanites cook in them, but they insist on the latest and greatest.
She said the spaces most in demand generate feelings of “warmth and home,” and she emphasized the importance of views: “that’s what people pay for.”
Kent spoke about traditional and innovative ways of securing financing and Brecher said that big U.S. banks are now so conservative and non-banks like insurance companies and private equity firms are now in the mix.
Among the local and national trends that were discussed was the “reurbanization” of America ant the renewed attractiveness of city centers.
Oskar said New York’s population recovery is what makes the housing market strong. After declining to 7 million in 1980 it is now at 8.3 million “on the way to 9 million.”
The office market was also discussed in detail and it was noted that the hotel industry is in its golden age – 55 million tourists visited the City this year.
The shortage of affordable housing in New York was addressed. Swig believes that Mayor de Blasio has a better change of increasing it through the carrot of incentives than the sticks of restrictions and penalties, which he said “just drives costs up…You have to be creative.”
He has spoken to de Blasio about it, whose team is looking to revamp the process when certain laws expire next year.”
Katsos, President of Jekmar Associates, thanked the sponsors, whom he said are responsible for being able to offer such events free to the public and enables HACC to devote funds to educational and cultural endeavors such as the upcoming NY Greek Film Festival.
Prior to introducing the panelist he presented HACC’s new president, Nancy Papaioannou, the new President of Atlantic Bank. She too welcomes the guest and thanks those who made the event possible, including Katsos for his dedication through the years.
Olga Alexakos, an associate broker for Sotheby’s International Realty, was very impressed. “It was very informative…They put the present into perspective by talking about long term trends.”