By Holly Dutton
Businessman Jack Hidary — whose cousin Jack and his sons Abe, Eddie and Steven run the Manhattan-based development and acquisitions company Hidrock Realty — is running for mayor on an independent ticket, or what he calls the “Jobs and Education Party.”
And he said he’s been buoyed by the support the real estate community has given him as he runs as one of six underdogs challenging Democrat Bill DeBlasio and Republican Joe Lhota.
“People in the industry are concerned about the future of the city,” Hidary said. “They have a lot at stake and we want to make sure we can grow our city, and the real estate community is acutely aware of economic growth and tourism growth relating to real estate values.”
Three weeks after entering the campaign, Hidary garnered the second-highest volume of real estate contributions, totaling $71,325 from 17 donors, The Real Deal reported in July.
As of yesterday (Tuesday), his campaign has received $572,188 in total contributions, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board. During an interview in the Peninsula Hotel in Midtown last week, Hidary told Real Estate Weekly his connections are what make him right for the job.
“I come at this from a different perspective than other candidates. I come from a family that has built small businesses and invested in real estate. As an entrepreneur myself, I’m really focused on how we create jobs and opportunities for people,” he said.
Hidary hails from a family with stakes in the garment business. His father and uncles founded a privately-held apparel firm, M. Hidary & Co. Inc. Born in South Brooklyn, he studied philosophy and neuroscience at Columbia University before becoming a tech entrepreneur in the mid-90’s, starting EarthWeb with his brother Murray, an IT information portal that was eventually sold to private equity firms for $200 million.
He also co-founded Vista Research in 2001, an independent financial research company that serves institutional investors.
Hidary currently serves as chairman of Samba Energy, which provides software and services for clean energy and commercial building energy efficiency.
In 2008, he helped design the Cash for Clunkers program, a federal program that provided economic incentives for people to trade in older, less-efficient vehicles for newer, more fuel efficient ones.
The main tenets of his platform are encouraging entrepreneurship and small businesses, attracting companies in growth industries such as tech, healthcare and food, and investing more in education.
Streamlining transportation is also part of his campaign, an issue with which Hidary is very familiar.
In 2005, he partnered with former city councilman David Yassky in a push to make New York City taxis go hybrid –a push that worked. The law was changed to allow drivers to use hybrid vehicles that have much better gas mileage and lower emissions than Crown Victoria yellow taxis, which had been the standard for years.
Hidary sees the addition of the Cornell NYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island as a step in the right direction to encourage big tech companies to come to here.
“The Cornell Tech campus is an important one for the future of New York,” said Hidary. “It will signal that we want to continually produce a pipeline of talented technology individuals that will attract the Google’s and the Twitter’s to open big offices here.”
He envisions these “tech campuses” growing in Long Island City and areas of Brooklyn. “I’m the only one running who has relationships in Silicon Valley, and other parts of the world where there are a lot of tech companies,” said Hidary. “These companies may have headquarters elsewhere but are open to the idea of having offices in New York City to tap into our media markets, ad markets and our engineering talent.”
He cited the explosion of growth in downtown Brooklyn around the Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards as the kind of big ideas NYC leaders should be pursuing.
“If you look at Barclays, a lot of people initially scoffed at the idea,” he said of the arena. “But look at the success. Within one year, it’s become one of the top grossing ticket venues in America. We have to continue to be that kind of city, continue to be those kinds of leaders.”
Drawing on what he learned from his family growing up helped lay the foundation for his views on the city, he said.
“The knowledge I grew up with when I’d travel with my grandfather to real estate investments he’d made, here in the city and elsewhere, even as a young kid, taught me a lot about how real estate is developed,” he said. “And how important the interaction between community and real estate is.
“I grew up here, I love the city and am very passionate about it. When I saw the others that were running, I realized I had a unique voice and perspective that was not being represented. I realized I had a lot to contribute to this situation.”