Real Estate Royalty: Up Close with a Fourth-Generation Kalikow
If Greg Kalikow’s name sounds familiar, it should. The Kalikow family rank among New York’s oldest surviving real estate dynasties.
The Kalikow family launched into real estate in 1927 when Greg’s great-grandfather Joseph started developing buildings in Brooklyn, setting the foundation for an empire that would amass an impressive number of properties countrywide.
Today, as VP of both the Kalikow Group and Kaled Management, Greg (pictured, left, with his father and Kalikow Group president Ed Kalikow) oversees the management of the firm’s properties and provides legal counsel on developments. Since Greg joined the family business fulltime 5 years ago, the Kalikow family has expanded the empire, investing and curating relationships outside the fiercely competitive Big Apple for opportunities as more buyers scramble for inventory.
The Manhattan market always offers opportunity, Greg tells Bisnow, but it’s a “you- snooze, you-lose” type of party. “Every property has 20 buyers ready to jump,” he says.
In addition to 1031 buyers, foreign investors from China and Europe, who see Manhattan real estate as a safe haven, have been driving building prices, says Greg, putting down huge money with little regard for short-term yield, and only the goal of finding a home for their equity.
To adapt to these market conditions, the Kalikow family has used their big-city expertise to profit from markets outside of New York, engineering off-market deals through their network of local development partners. This is where being a Kalikow has its benefits, Greg says.
In these outer markets, the Kalikow family works with joint venture developer partners with access to off-market projects ranging from retail to apartment development to mixed-use lot development. The Kalikow Group contributes most of the equity and act as GP and the JV partner assumes the role of developer. Through this, the family has been able to form a variety of partnerships, acquire many off-market properties – especially in the Carolinas, Florida and Texas.
In the rare occasion when a developer partner has gone bankrupt, the Kalikow’s expertise and skill has allowed them to finish the job in order to protect the equity invested by the company and of their investors.
Greg's ability to employ strategic guile comes in part from growing up in the business.
Greg has been learning the family business since he was 13. Whether it was coming into the office or using a jackhammer to demolish bathroom tiles on a jobsite, Greg tells us, the fourth-generation Kalikow was learning all he could about his family’s business. Though he was never pushed to join the family dynasty, Greg confirms, his passion always lay in learning the real estate business and building upon the efforts of the previous Kalikow generations.
Though the family’s made their presence felt throughout the country, the Kalikow Group recently made a big splash on the New York scene with acquisitions of a six-story multifamily building at 68 Richardson Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a four- story mixed-use building at 517 Second Avenue and a 60-unit development site in Flatbush.
This past March, the Kalikow Group sold 113-117 Elizabeth Street in Little Italy. Originally purchased in 2011 for $12.6M, the property sold for $26M.
“When it comes to currently underwriting and assessing opportunities, the Manhattan market hasn’t met our overall expectations when it came to rate of return because of the new rent laws,” Greg tells Bisnow.
That’s not to say the family hasn’t been involved in New York City real estate at all. The Kalikow family has long touted the importance of their third-party property management strategy when it comes to urban properties. Ed Kalikow believes that property management would always guarantee security, regardless of changes in the market. "In addition," Ed tells Bisnow, "the ability to understand rent-stabilization allows the Kalikow Group to maximize the potential of their assets."
The family currently manages the base building at 711 West End Avenue, which will soon have high-end condominiums developed on the higher floors.
So what does Greg see for the future of New York real estate and the Kalikow dynasty? Greg is cautious, stating that the new rent laws change many assumptions about the market.
"With stricter rules, the tactic of buying buildings with the ultimate goal of buying out rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants will be much harder and almost impossible until these laws are completely understood, challenged, or changed again," Greg says.
For now, he is more focused on keeping up the Kalikow name and selectively looking to acquire more properties across the country, both in and outside of New York.
And the Kalikow legacy? “The thing about reputation is that it can be built up over a matter of decades,” Greg says, “But it can be completely destroyed in a matter of seconds or days.”
But what about the man behind the name? Here are some things to know about Greg.
Causes: Greg donates extensively to the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the United Jewish Appeal of New York
Family: Greg married his wife Alison last October, and the two are taking the time to enjoy their marriage before considering any kids
Favorite Vacation Spot: Cape Town, South Africa, Greg and Alison went there on their honeymoon, and Greg found the place “absolutely incredible.”
Favorite Restaurant: Piccola Venezia in Astoria, Queens; the restaurant has been a Kalikow family staple for decades
Favorite Movie: Goodfellas
Favorite Book: The Great Gatsby, “The books was a lot better than movie,” Greg says.
Favorite Music: Billy Joel
Hobbies: Spending time with family and friends
Fun Fact: Greg is a foodie