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Bisnow NY reporter Amanda Metcalf and NYCREW members recently spent the day showing teenage girls from non-profit Girls Quest just what goes into a CRE career. It was a little bit mentoring, a little bit laughing, and yes, perhaps a little recruiting. (Look for a deluge of job apps in about eight years.) First stop: the 21st floor of Extell Development's rising International Gem Tower.
Maja Ostojic and International Gem Tower from 46th Street on June 7, 2012
In the park across from the Diamond District's new $750M gem (entrances on 46th and 47th streets between Fifth and Sixth avenues), we snapped Tishman Construction structural project manager Maja Ostojic. The Serbia native aspired to be an artist, but (self-descriptively) lacked the skill. She instead went into structural engineering where she could see her projects grow and see people admire and use them. (Maja just motivated us to abandon journalism and go into playground equipment design.) It wasn't easy, considering only 20% of the 600 students in her first-year master's program were women. Now she's working on a building that has 14,000 tons of steel and 250 yards of concrete per floor.
Beth Zafonte and Raizy Haas in International Gem Tower on June 7, 2012
Here's Akerman Senterfitt's Beth Zafonte and Extell's Raizy Haas, who says the diamond industry brings 25,000 jobs to NY but has been losing ground to new gem hot spots China, India, and Dubai. The IGT is Extell's strategy to revive the industry in NYC. Floors 22 to 34 will be leased to traditional office tenants, while everything below will be condos for gem companies (70% sold at around $1,200/SF). It had to be the most secure building in the world, Raizy says, and the separate condo entrance will even include iris scanners at the turnstiles recognizing permissible people from six feet away. There'll be a secure underground loading area, filtered air for diamond manufacturing, a 3,000 SF vault (with a conference room, wet bar, and wifi), parking, valet, concierge, and fitness center.
Diamond shop on 47th between Fifth and Sixth avenues on June 7, 2012
If we can't afford diamonds, at least we can take photos of our reflection in a jewelry store window that makes it look like we're wearing them. GIA, the certification company mentioned at the bottom of the display case, took two floors (60k SF) in the IGT. Raizy says some of the buyers are local and some are from other places, like Israel, and want to establish or expand their NY presences.
Laura Walker and Diana Butler in International Gem Tower on June 7, 2012
National CREW prez Diana Butler, CEO of Dallas-based Butler Burgher Group (right, with Citibank's Laura Walker), tells us she got into appraisal to learn the ins and outs of the industry, expecting to move on to another facet of CRE. Twenty-five years later, she's still at it, now with 12 offices and over 100 employees.
International Gem Tower from 47th Street on June 7, 2012
This view of the through-block building from 47th Street shows off architect SOM's intention for the skyscraper: to glimmer like a diamond.
Dotti Cunningham on June 7, 2012
Former CRE Finance Council CEO Dotti Cunningham went on a five-continent vacation last year, and long story short, now she's chief exploration officer for GlobeDOTTIngTravel, giving local walking tours and planning overseas ones, as well. Before wrapping up details on the first trip (to Burma in January), Dotti rejoined her CRE friends to give the Girls Quest group a walking tour of the IGT's neighborhood, explaining that this is where the rich folks lived until companies like Saks (moving from Herald Square in 1924) and Tiffany followed their clientele here. Crowded out by commercial interests, the wealthy then escaped to the Upper East Side. Above, Dotti leads the group's bus tour up to Crowell & Moring's office on 57th and Madison.
Sheena Wright, 590 madison Ave., June 7, 2012
Abyssinian Development CEO Sheena Wright says she was born and raised as the second daughter of a teenage mother in the South Bronx in the '70s. Her mother never stopped going to school, even taking her girls to Hunter College classes. Sheena went to boarding school, where eight of the 400 students were black. When a well-meaning classmate wondered how she did it with three strikes(female, black, and "from modest means") already against her, Sheena's reaction was "I can't even get up to bat? How come I'm running circles around you?" She adds, "If someone writes you off,reject that." The Columbia (undergrad and law school) alum was in demand among law firms, but has chosen to work on community and economic development in Harlem instead.