Veteran broker Ron Solarz is back in his stride at Eastern Consolidated.
After 29 years in the business and $6 billion in sales and acquisitions, one of the most respected and successful New York City investment sales brokers of the past three decades said he’s still a half-glass full sorta guy.
“Nobody has a crystal ball,” said Solarz. “At the moment, things are incredibly strong. Demand is absolutely outweighing supply.
“If anything, more and more money is pouring into New York. From what I can tell, things are going to be healthy for a while.”
After a stint at Brookfield Financial with his former partner at Eastern Consolidated, Eric Anton, Solarz rejoined the firm as a principal and executive managing director in April last year.
He said there were “no hard feelingsˮ surrounding the decision, but that Eastern Consolidated was simply “a better fitˮ for him.
Indeed, since his return, he was the first broker to bring an infamous Ring building to market when he sold Extell’s 34 West 17th Street building for $20 million, or about $810 psf, in February.
Last month, Solarz and colleague Chris Matousek handled the sale of 22-12 Jackson Avenue to Adam America Real Estate for $43.5 million. The current commercial lot is slated to become the site of a residential building, something that Solarz feels is desperately needed in the growing section of Queens.
“Demand for well-located condominium development sites is very strong,” he said. “Most of the deals that are being developed are being developed as rentals.
“You buy a condo in midtown Manhattan, it might cost — for arguments sake — $2,000 psf. You buy a condo in Long Island City and today it might cost 1,100 or $1,200 psf. It just represents a value play. It’s a huge discount from Manhattan, but it’s incredibly convenient to Manhattan. It’s just a cool area with lots of artists and lots of cool restaurants.”
One thing that the neighborhood does currently lack is an extensive selection of retail options, but Solarz is “bullish” on that void being filled promptly and said it will follow the incoming residents.
He told Real Estate Weekly that he’s executing another sizeable transaction in the area currently. “I’m signing another contract today on a smaller development site for about $281 psf.”
It may come as a surprise that the big city broker Solarz has become is a small town guy.
He grew up in Buffalo, NY and went to SUNY Buffalo to study management, but confesses he headed for the Big Apple with no real game plan.
“I always wanted to live in a big city, no question about it,” said Solarz. “When I graduated from college and I came to New York City, I was 22 years old and honestly, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do.ˮ
He said he eventually “fell into” real estate after deciding to pursue a career in sales.
“I’m a social person and I think sales is a great extension to being social,” said Solarz. “It fit my personality.”
After getting his start as a residential broker, Solarz started Solarz Realty, a Manhattan-based real estate brokerage and investment firm, then in 1994, joined Eastern Consolidated. He put in six years before becoming a principal.
“In 1994, I got tired of being a residential broker and I decided to move into commercial real estate,” he said of a decision that led to a string of big deals at Eastern Consolidated, ranging from the $210 million sale of 240 East 27th Street to the $110 million sale of 28 East 10th Street.
Solarz sold Equity Residential a 99-year net lease for a 200,000 s/f residential development site at 170 Amsterdam Avenue and closed the $125 million land sale of 160 West 62nd Street, a 400,000 s/f residential development site, as well as a $66 million development site at 510 West 22nd Street in the heart of the West Chelsea art scene. In total, Solarz has arranged more than 90 development site sales.
He said his journey from the economic doldrums of the early 90s to today has been a roller-coaster, but one that he loves to ride.
“Any business worth doing is challenging, no matter what you do in life,” said Solarz. “If it’s something that really gets you excited and it’s a competitive field, it’s going to be challenging.
“But I’ve always enjoyed this business — I really love what I do. For every cycle, I’m the guy who sees the glass half full. I’m very optimistic and even though it can be very challenging, I have a very positive outlook.”