An instrumental figure in rebuilding the World Trade Center site following 9/11, Larry Silverstein is one of New York’s most well-known developers.
Mr. Silverstein, 85, has been developing and managing properties in the Big Apple for 60 years. His company, Silverstein Properties, is the fifth largest commercial landlord in the city and has owned, built or managed more than 40 million square feet of property, from office buildings on Wall Street and Fifth Avenue to residential developments in Hell’s Kitchen.
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One of his nearest and dearest projects, outside of the World Trade Center, is the recently opened condominium designed by Robert A.M. Stern, 30 Park Place in Tribeca. It’s the crowning jewel in Mr. Silverstein’s residential portfolio, towering at 926-feet tall, and riddled with five-star amenities, some particular to Mr. Silverstein’s taste.
In December, shortly after his interview with Mansion Global for this story, Mr. Silverstein revealed that he was buying a 6,200-square-foot penthouse unit on the 80th floor of 30 Park Place.
Here’s some time-tested insight straight from the top:
Mansion Global: Describe your dream property.
Larry Silverstein: My dream property I would say is probably at the top of 30 Park Place or a building like 30 Park Place—it’s a little bit difficult to be anything but subjective. When I was in the building, I went to look at the swimming pool, it’s a 75-foot swimming pool, it’s a lap pool, it is just absolutely perfect for people who have a propensity for swimming on a daily basis, and it just so happens that I’m one of them. By virtue of that fact, we designed the building and built it. I remember telling the architects very early on to be sure that they made room for a 75-foot lap pool, and by golly, there it is.
MG: Do you have a real estate property that got away?
LS: The answer has to be in the affirmative, probably 5,728 different places which we failed to hold on to. If you ask me which one, there are so many, I couldn’t tell you because I’ve been doing this for 85 years. So God only knows, they’re out there by the dozens.
MG: What does luxury mean to you?
LS: Space. And first is location, right? And a place that has everything I could want exactly. For example, I want to be in a neighborhood where I feel very safe, very comfortable where the surroundings present the things that I like to see; the things that I like to eat; the things that I like to buy; the things that I like to luxuriate in; things that make me happy.
MG: What area do you think is the next hub for luxury properties?
LS: It’s really quite remarkable but the flow of capital from around the world has not decreased at all… And it’s coming to America because they know we have a system of laws that works and therefore you could move your money here with peace of mind, without worrying that tomorrow it’s going to be taken away from you. If you want to invest, you certainly have myriad investment opportunities provided by some of the best financial minds in the world, they’re all here. You also have the best law firms in the world. So the variety of financial expertise and consideration and safety is so great that United States is No. 1, and No. 1 in the states continues to be New York.
MG: What’s the biggest surprise in the luxury real estate market now?
LS: I don’t know if I’d call it a surprise, but I think that one thing that has become obvious is that there is a large number of luxury units that have been built in New York. I think the development community came to the conclusion simultaneously that we were only destined to do one thing, and that was to build super luxury condominiums high in the sky. So we have a wee bit of an oversupply that’s going to take some time to be absorbed… What we have today will be absorbed and quicker than most people believe.
Issue No. 2 is that the luxury in these condo homes, these large availabilities, are really extraordinary. Couple that with the views that they offer and, in some cases, five-star hotel services—that’s unique, that’s unusual.
MG: What’s your favorite part of your home?
LS: I love my view currently. I love my ability to look out on a 360-degree basis and see different parts of the city. I enjoy that fully. I enjoy being in a central location where there’s a ton of mass transit where if people want to reach me, it’s easy as pie to do so.
MG: What best describes the theme to your home and why?
LS: The space that we have to enjoy the art that we have on the walls and the art that we have in a very extensive collection of blown glass. Funny, once our walls got filled we suddenly realized that we were attracted to blown glass of one kind or another. After some years, we assembled a collection that we didn’t fully appreciate at the time.
MG: What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
LS: I’m 85 years old and my wife is 83—being able to push a button and get Four Seasons services in a minute-and-a-half is really pretty darn fantastic. So I look at that and I say that’s as good as you can get anywhere.
MG: What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
LS: I don’t like to gamble. I don’t go to race tracks. I don’t go to the casinos. I don’t do any of that, but I enjoy buying real estate. I enjoy taking advantage of what I like to think are unique opportunities… I look at New York and I say to myself land is becoming infinitely more rare, and more and more difficult to find. So where you have an opportunity to acquire a piece of dirt, to acquire a piece of land, that you can put away for tomorrow, now’s a pretty good opportunity to do so. You may have a building on it, you may have a couple of buildings on it, which probably do not represent the highest and best value for that land. Time will prove infinitely more valuable than it is today.
MG: If you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
LS: In fairness, I think you know the answer the that question. I think that’s where we started… If I wanted to choose a place to live other than the place where I’ve been living for the last 32 years in Midtown Manhattan, (30 Park Place) would be a superb location to consider.
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