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Alumni Group Looks at the Property Business

Real Estate Executive Circle Shares Professional Interests While Supporting YU

(l-r): Ari Hirt, Ben Blumenthal

The Yeshiva University Real Estate Executive Circle, an exclusive networking group created by the Office of Alumni Affairs and co-chaired by Ari Hirt ’88YC and Ben Blumenthal ’12SB, held a panel discussion on Monday, January 29, on “The Property Business,” an in-depth look into commercial and residential real estate, as well as trends in retailing. The event was hosted by Hunton & Williams LLP.

The YU Real Estate Executive Circle (YUREEC) was launched in the summer of 2016 as a corollary of the YU Real Estate Professionals, designed to bring together real estate professionals who share a common interest in supporting Yeshiva University and its values. All members of the group make a minimum annual donation of $1,000 to support YU students and activities. Executive Circle events afford members the opportunity to hear from industry leaders and network.

In his opening remarks, Hirt noted the contribution the Executive Circle has made to YU, noting that the group has raised $65,000 for the University since its inception. He also promoted its ability to provide members with high-quality networking opportunities and YU students with internships and jobs.

“The Property Business” was moderated by Laurie Grasso, partner at Hunton & Williams, and the panel included Laurie Golub, COO of Square Mile Capital Management; Rachel Kraus, vice president, marketing, for Westfield and a 2005 graduate of Stern College for Women; Rebecca Rosen, director of acquisitions, Acadia Realty Trust; Dana Lowey Luttway, founder and president of Holliswood Development LLC; and Neha Santiago, vice president, Goldman Sachs.

(l-r): Rebecca Rosen; Rachel Kraus; Laurie Golub; Dana Lowey Luttway; Laurie Grasso; Neha Santiago

Grasso proposed two questions for the panelists to answer: “What keeps you busy during the day?” and “what keeps you up at night?”

What keeps panelists busy by day is a strong performance in the luxury end of the condo market ($15 – $20 million) with some progress being made in the $3 – $4 million level as market corrections bring prices more in line with availability. They also noted that financing prospects for the year are very strong, especially with an expected infusion of foreign capital.

What keeps the presenters up at night is, in a word, Amazon, or, more specifically, the kind of disruption and innovation that Amazon has brought to retail, which has forced real estate developers and financiers to rethink how to engage consumers in brick-and-mortar retail outlets.

This high-level professional analysis and conversation are why people join the Executive Circle, Jennifer Prince ’99S and Daniel Belecen ’10SB, two members, pointed out. Prince also joined because she “wanted to show my appreciation for YU and have the chance to join a great network,” while Belecen was looking not just to “make a strong donation to YU and have the chance to meet high-caliber guests,” but to also have the opportunity to meet with students to share his advice.

For more information about this and other networking opportunities, please visit