City Islanders put hopes on hold

City Islanders may yet see a planned pocket park down on Belden Point become a reality. Work on the oft-postponed project should start this spring—roughly…

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Wednesday Blogwrap

Landmarks Commissioners Plan a Survey of Sunset Park [Eagle] East Flatbush Church May Be Saying Its Final Prayer [Crain’s] Another Prospect Heights Restaurant to Close, Victim of Frigid Winter [DNA] Upgrades Coming for Schools in Park Slope, Sunset Park, Red Hook [DNA] Brad Lander and Carlos Menchaca Arrested at Park Slope Car Wash Rally [NYO] Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams Is Meeting Change Head On [NYO] Community Leaders Break Ground on New School at 510 Coney Island Avenue [Kensington BK] Finding a Safer Traffic Solution for 20th Street [South Slope News] The Northside Festival Headliners Are Here: Run The Jewels, Neko Case, Best Coast [Brokelyn] Here’s a List of Every Single Brooklyn Coworking Space [Brokelyn] At Maite, an Exotic New Bushwick Restaurant, There’s a Lot to Love [Bushwick Daily] A Wonderful Little Film About Esposito & Sons Pork Store on Court Street [PMFA] Mexican Cantina on Smith Street Closes After Just One Year [PMFA] Red Hook Firehouse — Friends of Firefighters Building [BK Relics] How to Abandon a Brownstone……

Day in the Life of: Robert Reffkin

Robert Reffkin

Robert Reffkin

From the March issue: Robert Reffkin is the co-founder and CEO of Compass (which until last month was known as Urban Compass). The start-up brokerage — which Reffkin runs with partners Ori Allon and Ugo Di Girolamo — has raised more than $70 million since launching in May 2013. The technology-focused firm has shocked the industry by luring top Manhattan agents such as longtime Douglas Elliman-star Leonard Steinberg. The 35-year-old Reffkin has been written up in Fortune for his all-star resume, which includes graduating from Columbia University in two years, serving as a White House fellow, and doing stints at the mega-consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and Goldman Sachs[more]

More than 450 attend fourth annual REW Women’s Forum

By Jonathan Pappas

The most powerful women in New York City real estate joined together last Wednesday for Real Estate Weekly’s fourth annual Women’s Forum. The event drew over 450 men and women in the field for a day of discussion and networking that featured keynotes and timely panel sessions from some of the most influential female leaders in the industry. While the forum touched on a number of subjects, all speakers appeared to agree on one thing: the real estate industry, long set in its practices and traditions, is finally opening up to change.

“There is a great trend happening right now,” said Purnima Kapur, Executive Director of NYC Planning, during her morning keynote. “The real estate industry in New York is diversifying and making its economic base larger than it has ever been. As we look across the city, there are more opportunities to create live, work and play neighborhoods in all of the boroughs.”

Diane Ramirez

Diane Ramirez

While there were many highlights of the day, the audience received a dose of some of the top trends shaping the future of the real estate industry, including the growing interest in using technology and social media.

During the Technological Innovators in Real Estate session (moderated by our own Holly Dutton), panelists agreed that while commercial real estate, one of the oldest industries in the U.S., has lagged behind other sectors in terms of technology adoption and innovation, more brokers are beginning to embrace it.

Panelist Suzanne Carlson, Principal at NBBJ, noted that her firm is developing its own proprietary software platforms so NBBJ clients and brokers will not only have easy access to data that understands buildings, but also provides rankings of individual neighborhoods. Using GIS data, neighborhoods can be rated by the various amenities they have, such as gyms, coffee shops and parks, quite a useful tool for those meeting with clients and prospects.

Using software programs like SalesForce have also helped firms become leaner in the office and assisted in lowering their carbon footprint.

“Salesforce saves us so much time on the lease process,” said fellow panelist Jodi Berman, Director, Residential Leasing at Stonehenge Management. “Our agents can send lease paperwork electronically back to the office so it can be handled by one person instead of passed around 12 people. We also use the Google Suite including Drive and Docs. We can share and work with the same documents in real time and most importantly these programs make us fully mobile. They save us a ton of time so we can focus on making more deals and doing more follow up.”

Panelist Diane Danielson, Chief Operating Officer of Sperry Van Ness International Corporation added: “Changing demographics have also impacted technology use and the way we work. We require all our software to be in the cloud and device agnostic, meaning that it can be accessed from a phone, tablet or laptop. The new generation of workers coming in want to be able to work from anywhere which saves us time and administrative costs. It also allows our brokerage offices to reduce overhead and enables our brokers to spend more time with their clients and prospects.”

During The New Green session, panelists seemed to agree that one of the challenges the industry is facing is that the sustainability discussion isn’t as lively as it was several years ago and that the conversation today is really about continuing to educate people and reminding ourselves that we need to be responsible for our own energy consumption.

“Green benchmarking is not a new discussion for Class A buildings,” said Lauren Brust, Director of Commercial Building Energy Services at Steven Winter Associates. “However, Class B and C is a very different argument. These buildings don’t provide full HVAC and have clientele leasing at a much lower price point. The idea of making investment in these types of buildings is a hard sell because owners don’t want to invest capital. It’s really about incentivizing tenants to lower their carbon footprint. Tenant behavior is the wave of the future.”

On the residential side, one idea that seems to be gaining popularity is the notion of putting responsibility directly in the hands of tenants by providing them with the technology to control their own energy output. For example, with the click of your phone app, you can turn off your air conditioners or adjust the temperature in your home remotely.

“The energy all day was terrific,” said Carol Rosenthal, Partner at Fried Frank and moderator of The Future Is Better Than You Think session whose panelists gave a snapshot of what is trending on numerous levels, including retailers in the online era, TAMI office users, micro units and the luxury market. During one of the day’s most dynamic discussions, Eileen Spinola, Senior Vice President of REBNY, and Diane Ramirez, Chief Executive Officer of Halstead Property, reflected on lessons learned early in their careers and how mentorship has really evolved over the years.

“Finding the right mentor is like dating in a way,” said Ramirez. “It’s all about communication and feeling a connection with that person. Building the relationship should happen slowly and organically. Trust, honesty, good communication and being able to learn and grow from that person are the top qualities to look for in a mentor.”

Perhaps Wendy Maitland, president of sales at TOWN Residential, summed up the theme of the day best during her Five Things to Do to Command the Seat at the Head of the Table panel.
“Enjoy yourself and love what you do,” said Maitland. “Be emotionally connected to your audience by using your head, your heart and your gut. If you’re having fun, people around you will be engaged because nothing is more magnetic than someone who is passionate about their work.”

Jonathan Pappas is on twitter at @JPappasPR

Closing Bell: Mapping Brooklyn With Trash

Artist Jennifer Maravillas has spent the last three years walking all 9,000 blocks of Brooklyn and collecting trash to create a 10-foot-by-10-foot map of the borough, according to Animal New York. She recently finished the map, titled “71 Square Miles,” and it went on display yesterday at BRIC in Fort Greene. The Prospect Heights resident donned rubber gloves to pick up the refuse, tracking her movements in mainland Brooklyn first by labelling blocks and later with a running app. You can check out a digitized version of the map here or see it in person through September 6 as part of the “Mapping Brooklyn” group exhibition at BRIC. Artist Finishes Trash Map of Brooklyn After Walking Every Single Block [Animal NY] Video by Animal NY…

A Smart Brain for Your Energy Usage and Improving Your iOS Workflows in Five for Wednesday


In this Five for Wednesday, we’ll look at a way to monitor your energy usage throughout your home with a single device. We’ll also look at the Pebble Time (again…man, I think I really do want one) and a new service called Magic.

  1. The Neurio connects to your breaker box and wifi and with the use of an app you help it learn which devices are on so you can monitor their real time power usage. Great way to understand what in your home is an energy vampire. Not a bad price point for this type of knowledge – $249
  2. Workflow is a great iOS app for creating…workflows on your iOS device. You can set workflows that quickly engage several apps. Have a form email you’d like to send to new leads? Want pictures you take to be appended to an Evernote note and then sent to Dropbox for backup? Workflow can help. The video (at the bottom of the article) from MacSparky provides you with a great overview of how to use it.
  3. From the Verge, more information on the Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel. Even though some folks have called me an ‘Apple fanboy’ in the past, I would like to break from that name and say that this watch has me more excited than the Apple Watch. The color e-ink and battery life are two huge reasons why. It seems like I’m not alone, as they’ve raised $15,000,000+ and they still have 23 days to go on their campaign. What I find most interesting in this article though is this tidbit about smartstraps:

    Pebble is releasing more information about the unique charging and data connector found on the underside of the watch. The connector, which can send and receive both data and power, enables what Pebble calls smartstraps. The smartstraps replace a standard watch band and can do things like provide extra power to the watch, measure heart rate or other vitals, or display lights and notifications in unique ways.

    I’m excited what developers come up with in this realm. The iPhone became what it is because of the independent developers. I think Pebble is strong and getting stronger.

  4. PSFK features Magic, a texting service that will get you anything you ask for. Of course, that thing has to be legal. ;) They are working on refining their workflows but right now they’re learning as they go. Check them out.
  5. Fitting in with the Five for Wednesday theme of tech outside of real estate. Keith Garner, VP of ITS (aka @ktgeek on twitter) and I have a new podcast called Not In Service. It covers tech topics that don’t necessarily relate to real estate. It’s really about where we get our ideas for tech usage in real estate. This inaugural episode (#000) covers Lenovo’s Superfish adware pre load, comics, and podcasts. How meta. Give it a spin over at Soundcloud!

Have something you think we should add? Hit us up at @crtweet #54W. Thanks!

Sign up now: TRD showcase set for May 12

TRD New Development Showcase 2015
The Real Deal
is hosting its annual real estate forum and new development showcase on May 12th in New York at the Metropolitan Pavilion, and once again, we’re bringing real estate’s top names together for thought-provoking discussions on the industry’s biggest issues.

Last year, more than 3,000 industry players attended TRD‘s all-day event, where high-profile panelists riffed on topics such as Manhattan’s skyrocketing condo prices and the future of architecture and design. This year’s event will bring issues such as crowdfunding and the ultra-luxury market to the table, while providing some greater insight into the EB-5 visa program and other forms of foreign investment.

Click here to buy tickets and learn more about the event. For sponsorship opportunities, call 212-595-6271 or email