EMBCA’s NYC Development, Design & Construction Panel Discussion

Source: The National Herald

By Eleni Sakellis

NEW YORK – The East Mediterranean Business Cultural Alliance (EMBCA) held its Spring Panel Discussion on NYC Development, Design & Construction on March 29 at the Russian Tea Room in Midtown Manhattan. The panel for the sold-out event included John Catsimatidis- CEO/Chairman, Red Apple Group; Faith Hope Consolo- Chairman Retail Group, Douglas Elliman Real Estate; Jeffrey E. Levine- Chairman of Douglaston Development & Levine Builders; Donna Olshan- President Olshan Realty Inc. and author of the Olshan Luxury Report; and Anthony Rinaldi- President, Rinaldi Group. The panel moderator, Louis Katsos- Jekmar Associates and President of EMBCA gave the welcoming remarks and introduced special guest speaker Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), co-chair and co-founder of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues.

Rep. Maloney, a staunch supporter of the Hellenic community, noted what an honor it was to be at the event with so many friends in the historic Russian Tea Room. Among her many efforts for the community, she helped bring $10 billion for all types of construction projects for New York City, and helped with the vital transportation projects including the 2nd Avenue Subway, and the new Kosciuszko Bridge.

Maloney then spoke about the current issues facing Greece and Cyprus in relation to Turkey and its actions in the Aegean and Cyprus’ EEZ, the false statements about the Treaty of Lausanne, and the two Greek soldiers currently being held for accidentally crossing the border in bad weather. She said “Macedonia is Greek,” and then noted that it is time for the Parthenon marbles to be returned.

The informative panel discussion offered insights into the current state of development, design, and construction in New York City. Mr. Catsimatidis, before speaking about development, noted that his daughter Andrea is the New York County Republican Party Chairwoman and is supporting a candidate running against Maloney, but Catsimatidis himself said he was voting for Maloney. “She is a great lady and fought hard for everyone in this room,” he said. Catsimatidis then spoke about choosing to build on the waterfront in Brooklyn and arguing with his people over balconies for each unit. He said, “You can’t live on the ocean without a balcony,” adding that he builds buildings that he would want to live in. The next project for Catsimatidis is in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area of Florida which he said is a “hot, growing area.”

Some reservations were expressed about the price of real estate in New York City and the high cost of construction. Olshan noted that in the luxury market, apartments are listed for much longer than she has ever seen and sellers must cut 10 percent of their asking price and may have to cut 5 or 10 percent more before they can sell. Consolo spoke about the retail market, pointing out that everyone wants to be in New York. She mentioned her efforts in Harlem with The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce (GHCC) which have transformed the neighborhood. GHCC President and CEO Lloyd A. Williams was also present at the event. Catsimatidis noted that Williams, Katsos, and himself all attended Brooklyn Tech.

Levine noted the changing demographics that affect development. As baby boomers are retiring, the market is changing, and since millennials are more renters than buyers, concessions will have to be made to sell product.

Rinaldi noted the difference in the cost of building in New York and in Florida. For high rise condos in Miami, the cost can be $150-175 per square foot, but in New York, $500 or even up to $1,000. When asked about the huge difference, he said one word, “Labor.”

The next event for EMBCA, Katsos noted, is the Hellenic Rembetika/Harlem/Havana Blues Concert on April 26. More information is available at: embca.com.