NYTimes: Once Hobbled, David Lichtenstein Aims for Comeback
The NYTimes reports on David Lichtenstein and his plans to build 700 units of rental housing on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. The project recently received a go-ahead from the city planning commission.
The Times quotes Mr. Lichtenstein describing his past troubles with the Extended Stay Hotels deal as “humbling.”
One lesson he has drawn from the Extended Stay experience is to avoid large gambles. “When you take smaller gambles, no one particular deal can be big enough to have a material adverse effect on the company,” he said.
But he said this failure needed to be seen in the context of a mostly successful career. “To be human is to err, isn’t it?” he said.
But rather than spend time licking wounds, Lichtenstein is instead starting several ambitious new projects in New York, a market he has largely avoided in the past.
Though he is a Brooklyn native, Mr. Lichtenstein used to hunt mainly for overlooked real estate opportunities outside New York. But he said the city’s resiliency after the recession led him back to his hometown.
“People from all over the world want to be in New York,” he said in an interview in his Park Avenue offices. “This rather simple idea took me a long time to learn.”
Mr. Lichtenstein’s entry into the New York market has been greatly facilitated by the cash he amassed from his biggest success: the 2010 sale of 22 Prime Outlet shopping centers to Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall operator, for $2.3 billion. He bought Prime in 2003 for $638 million.
At a time when major real estate companies are streamlining their portfolios to achieve more focus, Lightstone is unusually diverse. Its holdings include 11,000 apartment units on the East Coast; 15 hotels, including three newly acquired Marriott hotels in the Midwest; and more than 2,300 acres of land for residential development. It also develops outlet malls, most recently in Livermore, Calif., and Dallas.
“I’m an extrovert,” Mr. Lichtenstein said, in accounting for his company’s varied portfolio. “The company is a reflection of that.”
The Times also mentions Lichtenstein’s speech to Cardoza Law School students and how, as the son of teachers, he likes to underscore his points with parables. One such parable from that event was how Lichtenstein purchased Michael Steinhardt’s share in the world to come. Click here for a video from the speech.