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Ryan Nelson, 37, SVP of Acquisitions and Development, Sherwood Equities

New York Office

You might not think growing up in a town of 6,000 outside Omaha would lead Ryan Nelson to NYC's real estate scene. But living with his grandparents amid hogs, cattle, and crops, he says he loved being around heavy equipment and building things and eventually became fascinated by high-rises.

So he focused on civil engineering at Iowa State, worked for Turner Construction, got a University of Texas MBA, and worked for Dallas' Champion Partners developing office and retail.

Still, he dreamed of going to the Big Apple and met Jeffrey Katz at Sherwood seven years ago, who was recruiting to grow his family firm that started in Long Island in the '50s. (The company is named after a neighborhood, not a forest.)

Today, Ryan focuses on new investments, including sourcing deals, underwriting, and negotiating contracts with capital partners, then managing the process post closing.


The firm may be best known for helping make Times Square what it is today. It built Two Times Square in the '80s, redeveloped One Times Square with Lehman in the '90s, built 1600 Broadway in 2006, and others; Wharton Business School already has Jeffrey in its Hall of Fame.

Sherwood also works in Hudson Yards, where it's got a site at 34th and Tenth, part of an assemblage with the Rosenthal family that can support 2.2M SF of commercial. Bob Knakal is marketing it as "the future tallest building in the US." With Paramount, Sherwood also just sold 440 Ninth Ave to a Japanese group for $211M and bought 370 Lex with JPMorgan back in 2008.

The company holds some of its buildings for 20 or 30 years; others it exits quickly. It invested heavily from '09 to ‘11, bought several sites on the High Line, and sold 360 Tenth Ave off market to former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt last summer, who's planning a hotel and condos. That transaction yielded Sherwood a $112M profit after just two years. Ryan sourced the acquisition, introduced by a friend to McCourt's son, Travis.

From its office at 57th and Fifth, it’s having one of its busiest years ever, selling $400M in the past four months, with two projects (500 W 21st and 508 W 20th) under construction and aggressive efforts to buy more.

Not surprisingly, Ryan's office is lined with land maps. He’s a marathoner and a big soccer fan who's been to the World Cup in Germany and South Africa and this June will see the tournament in Brazil.