Greatest Minds In Commercial Real Estate

If you're on the WSO real estate forum, surely you've heard about Peter Linneman and his text Real Estate Finance & Investments... but I'd be interested to find out who else is out there. Who are some of the other best minds in commercial real estate? Which titians of our industry do you look up to or admire?

Comments (49)

May 24, 2018

Barbara Corcoran
Josh Flagg

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May 29, 2018

"This is a great investment but I don't like the color of your slide deck, for that reason, I'm out"

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May 24, 2018

You can't have this list without looking at Jonathan Gray or Sam Zell.

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May 24, 2018

Or Nate Paul

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May 24, 2018

Agreed that's another great one.

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May 25, 2018

Why isn't this getting more SB? SB to you, sir.

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May 26, 2018

Zeckendorf

May 24, 2018

Does John Paulson count?

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May 24, 2018

Crow family

Funniest
May 24, 2018

Me

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May 24, 2018

Roy March

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May 24, 2018

DJT 45........

JK, Zell and Gray are obviously choices.

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May 24, 2018

Gerry Hines

May 24, 2018

Bruce Flatt

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May 25, 2018

Jonathan Gray

May 26, 2018

Tai.... Lopez...

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May 26, 2018

In no particular order

  1. Jonathan Gray
  2. Mark Gibson
  3. Barry Sternlicht
  4. Harlan Crow
  5. Sam Zell

I come from down in the Valley, where Mr. when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done.

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May 24, 2018

Who is Mark Gibson?

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May 24, 2018
The Duke of Wall Street:

Who is Mark Gibson?

i was wondering the same thing. Runs HFF? Really, "greatest minds"?

May 26, 2018

I think its pretty cool if you can take certain names off of these list and google what they were involved in and see how they actually changed cities in major ways.

Century City would not have happened in Los Angeles if it wasn't for Zeckendorf

Sam Zell was behind Wrigley Field in Chicago

Jonathan Gray and Hilton worldwide along with the EOP just these two portfolios include major landmarks in cities.

May 27, 2018

I wonder how much carry/bonus Gray is getting (or got) in total from that Hilton LBO.

May 24, 2018
Sham Wow:

I think its pretty cool if you can take certain names off of these list and google what they were involved in and see how they actually changed cities in major ways.

Sam Zell was behind Wrigley Field in Chicago

As much as I love Sam Zell, let's not give him too much credit. Wrigley Field was built long before Zell was born; he briefly owned Wrigley Field in the sense that Tribune Co sold off the Cubs prior to bankruptcy...

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May 27, 2018

The Hines family developed many of the most prominent buildings in Houston.

May 27, 2018

Joseph Stalin. That dude just took everyone's shit for free. Talk about Deal of The Year.

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May 27, 2018

Donald Bren of the Irvine Company. He's tackled almost every asset type (Master planned communities, SFR development, apartments, retail, office, hotels, marinas, distressed debt, land conservation, and even still owns a cash flowing orange grove in Irvine behind Orchard Hills). Pretty cool story about how he and a consortium of investors such as Henry Ford's grandson and Alfred Taubman bought the Irvine Ranch from the Irvine Family. It was originally a Spanish land grant. He eventually wrangled for control and emerged as the sole 100% owner of the Irvine Company. He's done some great things with their retail stuff as of late. He sold off some stuff in the 70s/80s and employed very strategic use of deed-restrictions to create artificial supply constraints for certain asset types in Irvine. Ultimately this has made everyone win. I guess it goes back into the masterplanning thing.

Rick Caruso is also one of the best minds in "hospitality" real estate. He's a cross product guy but each of his properties is focused on offering the best experience for the end user whether that be a shopper, a hotel guest, or a working professional in one of their office projects. It's really a hospitality business at its core. Check out their concierge stuff they offer.

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May 31, 2018

Curious if anyone has heard about buying the Irvine Ranch? The only rumblings I have heard about it is that there was a little bit of shadiness. Disclaimer - not sure if there's any truth to it but thought I'd ask.

May 27, 2018

Saw this in a hotel in OC, good coffee table book if you're interested https://www.amazon.com/Irvine-Ranch-Visual-Referen...

May 27, 2018

Ill throw Ian Schrager into the mix for hotels. Aby Rosen is also a cool dude who owns Lever House & The Seagram Building. Michael Stern, Gary Barnett for NYC

May 29, 2018

It's always frustrating to me that Michael Stern is considered one of the "greatest minds" in real estate. There are dozens of smarter developers active right now, in NYC alone. He's flashy and he hit a massive bull market at exactly the right time - I don't see how anyone can qualify as a good developer, let alone something more, without surviving and thriving during a major market downturn.

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May 24, 2018

True words.

May 29, 2018
Ozymandia:

It's always frustrating to me that Michael Stern is considered one of the "greatest minds" in real estate. There are dozens of smarter developers active right now, in NYC alone. He's flashy and he hit a massive bull market at exactly the right time - I don't see how anyone can qualify as a good developer, let alone something more, without surviving and thriving during a major market downturn.

how'd he do it so young though?

May 27, 2018

Fair enough, although IMO still very impressive. Walker/Stella Towers are great, Plus I like his story. No degree, started from the ground up, etc.

Most Helpful
May 29, 2018
Timbo-slice:

Fair enough, although IMO still very impressive. Walker/Stella Towers are great, Plus I like his story. No degree, started from the ground up, etc.

Sure. He's a smart guy, he's not incompetent or anything. And of course buying a building and having the vision to transform it from an office building to a condo tower isn't something everyone possesses. But at the end of the day, it was a high stakes gamble that paid off because he started selling right as the NYC condo market took off on a crazy 2 year boom. If he starts sales 3 years earlier, or 3 years later, his project is FAR less successful.

I guess my point isn't specific to JDS, but to the entire real estate industry - it doesn't take any skill or genius to succeed in an environment where values are going up and rates are low. Literally anyone could have bought NYC land and planned to build luxury condos from 2012-2015 and made a killing. And if you succeed in an environment where everyone is succeeding doing the exact same thing, you aren't a genius, your just another member of the pack. I'm much more interested to see how developers like Stern respond to the next few years. People who bought on the back of cheap financing are going to get screwed. People who only know what it's like to develop in a bull market are going to have to scramble when they start sitting on expensive unsold inventory. Developers who had LPs begging them to take their money because there was so much capital sloshing around are going to have to learn what its like to actively raise money, to actually have a meaningful equity stake in a project instead of syndicating out their GP interest.

And to turn it back to JDS - look whats happening at their 57th St project - it's embroiled in litigation, facing financial difficulties, and all of that before you consider that their projected sellout is ~$5,750/sf. That is what happens when you develop at the tippy top of the market - little problems that might have been brushed under the rug at Walker Tower become magnified when margins get thin.

The point being, 10 years from now no one may remember the guy, because he was playing roulette on every project and it took a couple bad deals to sink his rep. Or he might warrant inclusion on the above list if he manages to keep doing his thing successfully when others start falling by the wayside. I just object to listing him as a genius because he made a ton of money really quickly - longevity counts for a lot more than getting rich quick.

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May 29, 2018

Ben Mallah

May 30, 2018

Steve Ross of Related, the Crown family, the Ritz brothers, LeFrak, Tishman Speyer family, the list goes on

ET

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May 30, 2018

Sam Zell
Gerry Hines
Jonathan Gray
Robert Moses
Shorenstein, Speyer, Steve Ross

May 24, 2018

actually you know who i fucking love is Jeff Greene. That guy FUCKS

May 24, 2018

I see his name a bunch but don't know much about his history. What's his story?

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May 24, 2018
The Duke of Wall Street:

I see his name a bunch but don't know much about his history. What's his story?

mike tyson was his best man at his wedding. that's pretty much all we need to know here

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Jun 11, 2018

Fynsis gives you the best Real estate solution and helps you in all possible ways.

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Jun 11, 2018

Sam Zell
Jon Grey
Roy March
Gerald Hines
Mike VK (Mike Van Konynenburg... guy is an absolute genius)

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