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Plans are working out for development diva

By Dan Orlando

Like many who have gone on to make a name in real estate, Laura Rapaport, senior vice president at L&L Holding Company, arrived in the field via a winding path.

Rapaport told Real Estate Weekly that, up until her senior year of high school, she planned to enter the medical field.

After being exposed to the world of real estate by family friend, Earle Altman, the chairman of the venerable New York City company, ABS Partners, the Irvington, New York native’s plans began to change.

Laura Rappaport
Laura Rapaport

Saying that she was romanced by “the idea that you can actually change a city, change the way people work,” by facilitating prime commercial real estate transactions, Rapaport made the decision to pursue a business degree instead of a pre-med course of study.

“I think the interesting thing about my family is they’ve always been really supportive about doing whatever you feel passionate about,” said Rapaport while discussing the significant career shift.

It would be a swerve that would lead her around the globe and give her the opportunity to close deals in more than a dozen countries.

After high school, Rapaport’s next stop was the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics. From there, she relocated to London to serve as an analyst for Lehman Brothers before moving onto a role as director of real estate development and acquisitions for Tishman Speyer.

Upon leaving that position, Rapaport returned to UPenn and enrolled in The Wharton School to obtain her MBA in Real Estate, Finance.

Now, Rapaport finds herself spearheading the charge to raise capital and stimulate development projects for L&L.

Her current focus is on the company’s marquee 425 Park Avenue project, which she labels as the highlight of her career, thus far.

“I am the project director for 425 Park Avenue, the first full-block ground-up office building on Park Avenue in 47 years,” Rapaport explained.

“This trophy office building is designed by Lord Norman Foster and will be a future New York City landmark. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build such a special project and I feel fortunate to be part of such an incredible team.”
The cutting-edge property will create 670,000 s/f of rentable office space with ceilings that range from 9.5 to nearly 40 ft. on certain floors, and a healthy serving of floor-to-ceiling glass.

While an anchor is yet to be signed for the new skyscraper, Rapaport is confident that the building will fill its offices by its planned debut in 2018.

“A lot of the tenants that are in the trophy properties (in Midtown) haven’t had the opportunity to move to new space,” she said. “It hasn’t been available.” According to Rapaport, L&L has received substantial interest from hedge fund and private equity-type entities, but that many of the more serious players won’t officially be in the market for a move until closer to the building’s completion. “We’re pretty confident that we’re offering something that people haven’t seen, what people want,” Rapaport said.

While she has done a great deal in a relatively short amount of time as a real estate professional, Rapaport hasn’t completely strayed from the medical field.

In 2006, she launched The Friends for Kids Foundation, a non-profit which organizes arts and craft-based activities for children who are being treated at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital (Columbia University Medical Center).
Rapaport will be taking time out from her real estate and charitable endeavors to speak at the 4th Annual Real Estate Weekly Women’s Forum on February 25.

“I’ve been really fortunate,” Rapaport said. “One, I have had incredible women mentors. Two, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with men who never made gender an issue and always supported me and treated me as an equal.”

This year, the forum’s theme is “Women Helping Women” and panels will focus on topics ranging from construction and development to sustainability and capital raising. Attendees will hear case studies from top real estate entrepreneurs that highlight active opportunities in the market today.

Rapaport will dicuss her views on commercial development in New York City in general and 425 Park specifically.
To find out more about the forum, go to www.rewomensforum.com.

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