Q&A WITH LESLIE HIMMEL
|Himmel + Meringoff Properties principal Leslie Himmel never forgot how she met business partner Steve Meringoff: at a lecture conducted by Larry Silverstein at NYU's School of Real Estate.Harry Helmsley had just given a presentation and opened up for questions. She asked: "So you've spoken about your buildings, but what has been your greatest accomplishment?â Without skipping a beat, Harry shot back, âWhat are you doing later tonight?â Steve was so impressed by Leslie's confidence, he introduced himself to Leslie at the end, and the partnership's seeds were laid that evening. Over 30 years and 2M SF of owned and operated office, retail, and industrial space later, Leslie shares her history with Bisnow.Bisnow: How did you get your start in CRE?|
Leslie: After graduating from Harvard with an MBA and then quickly resigning from a job in the corporate world with a cosmetics company, I thought long and hard about how to apply my skills with numbers in a field that would be challenging but not take over my life, as would investment banking. After a succession of interviews, I secured a post with Integrated Resources, one of the largest real estate syndicators at the time. It was a great training ground; I learned appraisal engineering, finance, and acquisitions. Five years later, I met Steve Meringoff.
Bisnow: What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned in the business?
Leslie: Never to take economic cycles for granted. When things are good in the real estate business, a down cycle is sure to follow. In the early â90s, when banking regulations changed and financing dried up, Steve and I had a portfolio of properties with loans coming due with no money available to replace those loans. However, with much negotiation and creative thinking, we managed to purchase the loans at a discount and hence âstayed alive in â95.â My mentors are truly icons and legends: Larry Silverstein, Daniel Rose, Seymour Durst, Harry Helmsley, Bernie Mendik, and Burt Resnick, to name a few.
Bisnow: Give us a fun fact about yourself.Leslie: I've always been an avid athlete. Inspired by a professor at Harvard who told students, âIf you can't figure out the answer to my case, go jogging.â I find that I am happiest when I work out at the gym, ski, play tennis, bike ride, or do any rigorous physical activity that increases my heart rate. It brings more oxygen to my brain, and I'm so much better at problem solving. I have to admit I'm addicted to physical fitness; it goes hand in hand with mental acuity. I don't know how to live any other way.