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The Best Quotes Of 2019

We at Bisnow talk to smart people every day. But now and again, our sources say something extra special — something that makes us rethink something we thought we knew, knocks us back a bit or makes us laugh.

We compiled some of the best zingers, thought-provoking, poetic statements, witticisms and in-your-face, unabashed truths Bisnow heard this year. Enjoy.

JLL Vice Chairman Rob Kossar, Prologis East Region President Nick Kittredge and Trammell Crow Managing Director Andrew Mele

“Everyone wants to talk about what inning we're in. It’s a long game. We are actually at the blackjack table, and it's 2 a.m., and I'm way up. The dealer is a good dealer ... everyone at the table is playing smartly. Now, it's 2 a.m. Do I go to bed? Do I go to the buffet? Do I keep playing? But now I got a couple of drunk, bachelor party bros at the table. A Midwest couple is hitting on 17. So ... it's like, you can continue to play, but everything around you is now different.” — Trammell Crow Managing Director Andrew Mele discussing the length of real estate’s growth cycle at Bisnow’s National Industrial and Logistics Summit in New York in April.

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“I’m positive that if the opportunity zone program isn’t benefiting the communities it’s meant for, I’ll kill the program.” — Sen. Tim Scott, when asked if he could end the on-stage interview on a positive note at Bisnow’s Opportunity Zone Summit in Washington, D.C., in June.

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“They’re going to get creamed. This is a math problem.” — Chicago Association of Realtors Senior Director of Government Affairs Brian Bernardoni on what he sees as the impact of rent control on landlords’ bottom lines, to Chicago reporter Brian Rogal.

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“We did a high-rise in Nashville two years ago. We began our concrete pours on the tower at 2 a.m. The biggest reason was because it was so dadgum hot, it was almost debilitating.” — Choate Construction founder Millard Choate about the challenges of construction during a record heat wave, to Atlanta reporter Jarred Schenke.

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“Hopefully we just don’t go through a chicken shortage. Otherwise, we’re all clucked.” — Lee & Associates principal Gregory Tannor discussing the chicken sandwich battle between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A with Boston reporter Cameron Sperance.

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“Recently, a client inappropriately put his hands on my butt at an industry event. A well-placed knee goes a long way.” — anonymous female real estate executive discussing how bad behavior toward women is still rampant in CRE with reporters Cameron Sperance, Kerri Panchuk and Miriam Hall. 

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“Supply chains are a mess. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked about recycling or materials and I get empty gazes across the table saying, we’ve never done it like that before. It’s just not acceptable. Sometimes I want to take a baseball bat to the industry, but a baseball bat may not be big enough.” — FORE Partnership Managing Director Basil Demeroutis on meeting demanding environmental and social standards — and how public authorities and the construction industry are less than helpful — at Bisnow's Manchester Office Sustainability and Tech event in November. 

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“If it doesn't, they are idiots.” — Walker & Dunlop Chairman and CEO Willy Walker when asked if the attitude of landlords and the office market toward WeWork would change after the company’s IPO debacle.

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Serendipity Labs CEO John Arenas

“If you’re not funded by magic money, you have to make money to stay in it. That’s what the rest of us do.” — Serendipity Labs CEO John Arenas, to East Coast editor Ethan Rothstein days after WeWork filed its IPO prospectus.

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"We probably came out the gate a little hot on that. The reaction from the planning department was nuclear." — Panoramic Interests Director of Development Zac Shore on the company proposing zero parking for its 1,000-plus-unit apartment project, to San Francisco reporter Dean Boerner. (Panoramic compromised with 59 spots.)

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“You’d do better [at assessing property values] by throwing mud against the wall and seeing what sticks.” — OCF Realty President Ori Feibush on Philadelphia’s murky property assessments process, to Philadelphia reporter Matt Rothstein.

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“Unless landowners and property owners begin to perform some basic due diligence on their tenants and evict those they suspect of engaging in prostitution or trafficking, victims will continue to be exploited.” — Children at Risk Senior Staff Attorney Jamey Caruthers on commercial real estate’s role in preventing human trafficking, to Dallas-Fort Worth reporter Kerri Panchuk.

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"There’s a reason why we went away from tariffs in the 1930s — it’s because it doesn’t work." — Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users spokesman Paul Nathanson on the tariffs the Trump administration imposed on China, to National reporter Matt Rothstein.

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“A choice between [Jeremy] Corbyn and no deal is like a choice between catching the black death or Ebola. I’m a student of history, and I know that with the black death you had a chance of survival, so I’d probably take Corbyn, although I think the chance of him winning is zero.” — M7 Chairman Richard Croft on the possibility of Corbyn winning a UK general election, to UK editor Mike Phillips.

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“Just because we don’t talk about it doesn’t mean there’s not a ‘there’ there. These issues permeate all industries. Commercial real estate is not immune.” — SVN International Corp. Chief Operating Officer Diane Danielson.

"I’m not saying it’s our responsibility [to defend other women from harassment], but maybe it is. Powerful women in Hollywood banded together to make things right, but it comes with a price. Unfortunately, we’re the ones to get blacklisted." — SVN Vice President Deena Zimmerman.

— Both speaking about the lack of a widespread #MeToo moment in CRE, to reporters Cameron Sperance, Kerri Panchuk and Miriam Hall. 

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"Nobody faults anybody for giving $1B to housing. Not to say, '$1B doesn't go as far as it used to,' but it really doesn't in housing.” — TMG Partners CEO and Chairman Michael Covarrubias speaking about billion-dollar housing pledges from tech giants like Facebook at Bisnow’s Building a Better City event in October

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Former Invest Atlanta board member Julian Bene is now the leader of Red Light The Gulch

“I'm a dangerous guy to have around. So far, they haven't found a way to get to me." — former Invest Atlanta board member Julian Bene on his role protesting tax incentives to developers, said to Atlanta reporter Jarred Schenke.

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"It was a nightmare. Between the demands of the ridiculous land seller and the city approval process, we dropped the deal. I said, 'Forget about this.' I went down to Miami, we were greeted by the mayor with open arms and we found a similar site and now we’re zooming 100 miles per hour.” — Sonnenblick Development Chairman Bob Sonnenblick on why he stopped investing and developing in California, to Los Angeles reporter Joseph Pimentel.

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"Hey man, I took risks on everything I did. When I bought Uline Arena, it was a trash station. When I bought Woody’s there wasn’t a dead pigeon on the street. When I did the Spy Museum, all there was was broken windows around there. I’ve taken risks on everything I’ve done. You put it back together again, fix it, develop it properly and you’ll do well with it. That’s the development business. That’s what we do. Time again, time again, time again, that’s what we do. I feel like a Humpty Dumpty doctor." — Douglas Development founder and President Douglas Jemal on pioneering neighborhoods as a developer, to Washington, D.C., reporter Jon Banister.

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“The [Zoning Board of Adjustment] is the mechanism through which old-fashioned, pay-to-play politics operate[s] in Philadelphia. [It] has exactly one person who’s technically qualified; they have one architect and four lifetime political machine people on the board. It’s a kangaroo court.” — Post Brothers President Matt Pestronk on the city’s permit approval system, which has faced allegations of corruption, to Philadelphia reporter Matt Rothstein. 

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“I’m pissed off. Twenty-five thousand people just lost a weekly paycheck ... New York City just sent a message that the political climate is too crazy and businesses aren’t welcome.” — Modern Spaces CEO Eric Benaim.

“We’ve elected morons.” — Meridian Capital Executive Managing Director David Schechtman.

“Our local elected [officials] who did not support it have done the city a disservice ... [but] Amazon should have been tougher. We are thick-skinned in New York. They should have been thick-skinned too.” — Queens Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Seth Bornstein.

— All said to New York City reporter Miriam Hall shortly after the news broke that Amazon was no longer bringing its highly anticipated HQ2 to the Long Island City waterfront.

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"The carrot doesn't work anymore because everyone got a trophy. It's devalued. It's thrown out with the Wendy's bag on the way home.” — Newmark Executive Vice President Sean Moynihan on the rising generation of millennial C-suite executives in CRE, to Atlanta reporter Jarred Schenke.

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CoStar CEO Andy Florance in the audience at a 2019 Bisnow event.

"By the time we went public in 1998, my salary was $150K and I was driving a Honda. When we went public, I wasn’t flying a G5 or G650 or whatever [Adam Neumann] was flying. I didn’t have a Maybach, I hadn't sold any stock, I was all-in. That’s a little different." — CoStar CEO Andy Florance reacting to WeWork’s failed IPO and the behavior of then-CEO Adam Neumann, to East Coast editor Ethan Rothstein.

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“It’s going to be the Wild West out there as we figure out who is going to go where over the next few months. It’s about the biggest thing since the repeal of Prohibition.” — The Lord Cos. President and Managing Partner Keith Lord to Chicago reporter Brian Rogal on the rush to lock down locations among tough zoning restrictions in advance of recreational cannabis becoming legal in Chicago.

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“We’ve seen [projects spend] two years behind closed doors, with all kinds of different meetings while the developer is giving money [to city officials]. And it’s a lie when it’s announced on Curbed or whatever.” — Coalition to Preserve LA Executive Director Jill Stewart about permit approvals and incentive decisions being made by city officials without transparency to the public, to National reporter Matt Rothstein.

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“Now, the latest thing they told us after the SoftBank bailout was announced, [was] ‘we are still on hold, and we could be back to you in two days, two weeks — or never.'” — an anonymous national landlord on negotiations with WeWork after the SoftBank bailout, to New York reporter Miriam Hall.

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“Opus, which we call ‘Nopus.’ It's a joke.” — Above Atlanta Brokers founder Jeffrey Taylor Johnson on a long-stalled but still-promised condo development, to Atlanta reporter Jarred Schenke.

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SkyBridge Capital's Anthony Scaramucci

“I got ejected from Washington like an Austin Powers villain.” — SkyBridge Capital founder and former White House Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci on being ousted from his White House role and how it has been good for business, to National reporter Matt Rothstein.

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“People predicted that jobs would be destroyed in the 19th century, and in the 20th century, but new technologies create jobs. If you look at areas like electric vehicles, these will be massive creators of jobs, and if people have the right skills, these jobs aren’t going away. You can be fatalistic, but the people who are won’t change the world.” — Legal & General CEO Nigel Wilson on technology replacing jobs, to UK editor Mike Phillips.

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“It was worse than expected. Once this law went into place in New York, it’s been horrific and there’s no way to work around it. There’s no upside.” — Hornig Capital Group Managing Partner Daren Hornig on the fallout from New York City’s new rent control regulations, to National reporter Matt Rothstein.

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"I'm a firm believer that [SB 13] is going to be, if not the biggest solution to the housing crisis, one of the biggest pieces.” — State Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-District 10) to San Francisco reporter Dean Boerner on SB 13, the bill he authored that made accessory dwelling units substantially easier to build in California.

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"When I was a young architect, there was outright discrimination. You just had to tough it out and fight for yourself if you wanted to stay in your profession." — HR&A Senior Adviser Martha Welborne on what it was like to be a woman architect in the 1980s, to Los Angeles reporter Joseph Pimentel.

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“There are so many development dinosaurs still lurking around the city from the last crash. People filed [for] bankruptcy and were chased out of town. You’d see Ferraris simply abandoned at the airport.” — Dubai developer Marwan Aboudib on how the city handled the Great Recession, to Boston reporter Cameron Sperance.

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“I don’t see anything in this law that I could see that makes sense for me … the whole business model has just evaporated up in smoke.” — Nelson Management Group President Robert Nelson about New York’s new rent reform legislation, to New York reporter Miriam Hall. 

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"It was a grave mistake by the opposition to assume that they would spend $80M and that this issue would be dead." — Housing Is A Human Right Director René Christian Moya on California AB 1482 rent cap law and the growing tenants rights movement in California, to Los Angeles reporter Joseph Pimentel.

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“If I wanted to figure out why or what you're working on … I don't have to hack into your system. I just have to have someone work next to you who knows what you're doing. It is just that simple sometimes. It is basic agent 101.” — Stratfor Chief Security Officer Fred Burton on the security risks of coworking, to Atlanta reporter Jarred Schenke. 

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Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells, Rottet Studio's Patricia McCaul, Grifka Group's Leo Grifka and RM/d's Rick Moses discuss Culver City's charm during a panel at Bisnow's State of the Market event at the 400/600 Culver Pointe in Culver City. Not pictured are Walter N. Marks' Wally Marks and Corgan's Sean Kim.

“It's undeniable that the cause of traffic is cars. The way to relieve traffic is to remove cars from the road. You can only do that if you are providing an alternative.” — Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells on how the city will deal with traffic issues after several major developments go live in the next couple of years, to Los Angeles reporter Joseph Pimentel.

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“I live and breathe this stuff, and it even scares me sometimes where [I’d think], ‘Oh man, I haven’t thought about that issue.’ It’s not something I’d tell attorneys or CPAs or other advisers to jump into without a team around them.” — HCVT partner Blake Christian discussing the complicated nature of the opportunity zone program with reporters Matt Rothstein and Jon Banister. 

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“At the end of the day, just treat [a millennial worker] like an adult. It doesn't matter if I'm sitting in my office or sitting in a Starbucks a mile from my house. Just trust me to get my work done.” — RETS Associates principal Kent Elliott on how millennials’ workstyles and mindsets are different from past generations’, to Atlanta reporter Jarred Schenke.

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“Amazon sent a huge message to economic developers. People who are anti-growth: Beware of that because elections are coming up.” — ESRP Real Estate President of Site Selection Susan Arledge on being a business-friendly community, said to Dallas-Fort Worth reporter Kerri Panchuk in the wake of Amazon pulling HQ2 from New York City.