Beyond The Bio: 16 Questions With Normandy Real Estate Partners' Paul Teti
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This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.
Rowing crew and working in a funeral home aren’t usually considered stepping stones to real estate. But both are previous careers for Paul Teti, a former Olympic rower who is now a partner and head of leasing at Normandy Real Estate Partners.
Teti oversees leasing and marketing for the company’s portfolio, which spans more than 12M SF across New York City, Boston and Washington D.C. Its properties include Terminal Stores in Manhattan, a former warehouse in the Chelsea neighborhood Normandy bought for $900M last year, 888 Broadway and the National Press Building in Washington, D.C.
The firm also co-developed multinational food and consumer goods company Unilever’s American headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and is working on 799 Broadway, a planned 12-story boutique office building in Greenwich Village, which it is developing with Columbia Property Trust.
Teti talks about the failure that haunts him, why taking a job at Normandy was a risk that paid off, and what growing up as one of 10 children taught him about extravagance.
Bisnow: What is your favorite part of your job?
Teti: We are fortunate as real estate investors to get to interact with such a broad range of businesses when we are developing space for them. For example, in any given day I may go from a meeting with a technology CEO to the head of real estate for a bank to the managing partner of a law firm. That diversity makes my job very interesting and I’ve had the chance to develop lasting friendships that I value deeply. Then there are the brokers I love so much that represent both character and characters.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
Teti: I’ve learned something from every job so I wouldn’t say “worst,” but the most interesting is probably when I worked at a funeral home when I was in high school.
I learned how to communicate with people under very emotional circumstances. That certainly comes in handy in the real estate business!
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
Teti: I would love to be doing something productive in the public sector or nonprofit world that benefits the community around me. Perhaps I would use my background in rowing or the Olympic movement to make an impact.
Bisnow: What deal are you proudest of?
Teti: That’s a tough one, but two recent deals that come to mind are 125 West 25th St., where Peloton put their first true headquarters space, and Unilever’s North American HQ.
Those were two deals where our entire team played a role from the acquisition through the development, leasing and ultimately disposition. I’m most proud of true team efforts that result in fantastic developments for world-class brands.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Teti: Missing the medal stand at the Olympic Games. It will haunt me forever.
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Teti: People who come into coffee shops in cycling gear. Go take a shower!
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Teti: When you grow up in a family of 10 children with an Irish mother, you don’t do extravagant things or someone will knock you down very quickly. If I spend money, it tends to be on things I can enjoy with my family and friends, like vacations, etc. The Teti family always travels with a large crew!
Bisnow: What motivates you?
Teti: Being the kind of person that would make my mother and father proud. In a professional context, I am motivated most by the success of our team and our platform. Success is most fun when you are celebrating as a team.
Bisnow: What advice do you wish you got when you started in CRE?
Teti: I’ve had the benefit of incredible advice and guidance from people like Finn Wentworth and David Welsh from my first day in the business.
Bisnow: What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Teti: Coming to work for Normandy when it was only a few people. That’s worked out pretty well.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
Teti: I’m not a big sleeper in general, so lots of deal-related thoughts go through my mind. But the things that worry me all have to do with raising my two daughters. Luckily, I have an amazing wife who is doing a great job raising all three of us!
Bisnow: What is your favorite place to visit?
Teti: Italy, and it’s been too long. I love the culture, the people and of course the food.
Bisnow: Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?
Teti: My family. My wife and I have always prioritized our family both in terms of our children and our respective siblings and parents. The whole crew is very close, and we do a lot together.
Bisnow: What CRE trend do you think will have the most impact over the next few years?
Teti: Companies using their space as a way to convey their culture to their employees and the outside world. It's not just a place to work but a reflection of the brand and the business. This will continue and will force developers to be even more creative about how and where they invest capital.
Bisnow: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Teti: I think most people in the RE business are surprised that I was an Olympic athlete because rowing does not translate to golf very well.
Bisnow: What do you want your legacy to be?
Teti: I just want to be known as someone who worked hard and treated people respectfully. I’d like my legacy to be reflected in the relationships I’ve had the opportunity to create over the course of my career.