Beyond The Bio: Bisnow's 16 Questions With Steiner NYC Chairman Doug Steiner
This series profiles men and women in commercial real estate who have profoundly transformed our neighborhoods and reshaped our cities, businesses and lifestyles.
Doug Steiner is the chairman of Steiner NYC and the founder of Steiner Studios, a television and film production complex he developed inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1999. The complex opened in 2004, sitting on 26 acres and spanning 580K SF; it is the largest film and television complex east of Hollywood. It is now being expanded by an additional 179K SF, and, once finished, it will contain 1.8M SF on 60 acres.
Steiner is also renting out apartments at a 750-unit building called the Hub on Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Sales at his luxury condominium development on East 12th Street in the East Village launched in 2016.
Bisnow: How do you describe your job to people who are not in the industry?
Bisnow: If you weren’t in commercial real estate, what would you do?
Steiner: I don’t know. M&A? Hedgie? Vulture investor? Director? If I wasn’t in business, I’d be a grammar school teacher. I love kids.
Bisnow: What is the worst job you ever had?
Steiner: One summer, I was a gardener in California and the owner of the house told me to get rid of the giant dead rat behind the wood pile. It was a crossroads that I think every gardener must face.
Bisnow: What was your first big deal?
Steiner: Toys R Us in El Paso, Texas. I’d only done office and industrial deals and usually had the greater leverage. This was my first retail anchor deal. At the first meeting with attorneys I thought I was going to throw up.
Bisnow: What deal do you consider to be your biggest failure?
Steiner: Learning about Warren Buffett from an investment adviser in 1985, only buying 20 shares, and putting a whole lot more money with the investment adviser.
Bisnow: How do you define “making it”?
Steiner: First and foremost, raising my kids to be independent thinkers, good, kind and hardworking. Second, I guess being responsible for a lot of people’s livelihoods, and proud of not just our product, but how we get there.
Bisnow: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Steiner: I have a lot. Besides “very unique,” slow walkers, bad drivers and conspicuous consumption, missing or wrong document-tracking footers.
Bisnow: Who is your greatest mentor?
Steiner: My father, for sure. I’ve worked with him my whole life.
Bisnow: What is the best and worst professional advice you've ever gotten?
Steiner: Best: Don’t risk a lot for a little, don’t bet the ranch, and don’t worry about return on, worry about return of.
Worst: Be dogmatic about never selling, being told anything is easy money, and always dress better than your customer.
Bisnow: What is your greatest extravagance?
Steiner: A hidden private bathroom — complete with shower — in my office.
Bisnow: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
Steiner: Gladstone Tavern in Gladstone, New Jersey. I own it with the chef, who has been my closest friend since I was 3 years old.
Bisnow: If you could sit down with President Donald Trump, what would you say?
Steiner: “I was kinda expecting you to install 10-foot-high brass letters reading TRUMP HOUSE."
Bisnow: What's the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Steiner: Steiner Studios. I didn’t know what I was doing. If I hadn’t been so distracted by a bitter divorce at the same time, I wouldn’t have gotten in so deep that there was no turning back.
Bisnow: Whose work do you most admire?
Steiner: I like all kinds of stuff, in all kinds of fields, and I don’t think I can pick just one person in any given realm.
Bisnow: What keeps you up at night?
Steiner: Everything. I’m pretty stressed out, and I have a hard time turning work off.
Bisnow: Outside of your work, what are you most passionate about?
Steiner: I try to get as much cultural enrichment as I can, in all forms.