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Eliot Spitzer
Tuesday night, our publisher Mark Bisnow (yes, it's really his name) met with former Gov. Eliot Spitze r at DC’s 1615 L St, one of the two buildings he and 87-year-old dad Bernard own in the nation's capital (and they're looking for more). The first building Bernard acquired in DC was 2001 K St 10 years ago; Eliot tells us his dad thought it was prudent to avoid buying buildings in NY while his son was attorney general. Eliot also told his dad that concentrating assets between 34th and 79th Streets in Manhattan was probably not the broadest swath or wisest course. The Spitzers are used to prominent properties: one of their NY assets is the famed Crown Building, which Bernard bought from the estate of Ferdinand Marcos in ‘91. Other Spitzer properties include the 1.1M SF Corinthian luxury apartment house, and five buildings around Central Park: 200 and 210 Central Park South; and 800, 985, and 1050 Fifth.
Eliot Spitzer and Mark Bisnow
Your publisher does his best Katie Couric on-the-scene imitation. Two or three mornings a week, Eliot goes to Spitzer Enterprises in the Crown Building to look at investment sales proposals and rent data, generally overseeing a biz that’s largely run by 25-year vet Charles Morisi. Though he spends less than a third of his time at real estate, Eliot’s the most active among his siblings: his brother’s a neurosurgeon and his sister (“the best lawyer in the family”) runs a nonprofit health organization. Eliot remembers sitting on a steam shovel at 200 Central Park South as a little kid but says his dad didn’t try pushing them into real estate. His father’s perspective: In the late '50s, 1050 Fifth was used in the blockbuster Butterfield 8. During filming, his dad walked into the lobby and went up to superstar Elizabeth Taylor, proudly telling her: “I built this building.” She replied, “So?” She went on to win an Academy Award, and his father, Eliot laughs, realized there were other important things in life.
Broker party in Washington DC
Eliot teaches a Friday morning course on philosophy and finance at CCNY, which he's glad to do because of the family significance of the school. Bernard grew up the son of Polish immigrants at Avenue B and 4th St, with no hot water and taking the subway (for a nickel) to school. He graduated at 18 and went into the Navy and then to work for the storied Zeckendorfs, finally concluding, “I can basically do what they’re doing.” He eventually raised capital through partners, bought some apartment houses in the Bronx, then trained his eyes on Manhattan. With a degree in engineering, Bernard was more interested in the layout of apartments than their capital structure. These broader interests describe Eliot as well. At a party for brokers after our interview, he talked briefly about the building, then dove into more colorful issues: denouncing the “birther idiocy” debate and saying that after the Osama episode, he wonders what “Donald What’s-His-Name” has been accomplishing lately.