Finding your Gordian knot

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Motivational

Submitted: March 10, 2016

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Submitted: March 10, 2016

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I often drive around looking for the next deal, the next development project or the next inspiration. Most people don't get that but it’s true. You’re only as good as your last deal and a developer’s last deal marks the dividing line between the pikers and the producers. The next great idea can come from anywhere so your job is simple: be patient and prepared for the inspiration when it happens. I think that’s relative to everything we do. At least it stands true for me.

As an in-fill developer, finding chain store tenants isn't what I do. I’m more on the artisanal side of tenancy. The focus is on providing space for makers of creative products, which in turn creates a destination location for like-minded merchants. For example, I might create ideal space for a soap producer, a chocolatier, or a candlestick maker. Things that are out of the ordinary and, to some, are extraordinary. Add drinks, food and coffee and you have a destination location—a great place to just walk around and participate in the local commerce.

No matter who your target is, your process starts with one simple question: “What can I do, create or offer to foster an environment for entrepreneurs to act on their ideas?” The answer to this question is often surprisingly simple. It can include:

Finding an entrepreneur with an idea and supporting the venture with deferred or suspended rent. Creating design with all-inclusive build outs for prospective tenants Developing a social site that allows artisanal traders to post their needs so developers can incorporate them in a future project, which effectively creates a waiting list of potential tenants. The key is to develop a program that gives entrepreneurs a shot at making things happen with a brick-and-mortar location. I do this with many of my properties, including the upcoming Pavilion Hill Terrace development slated for Van Duzer Street in Staten Island. It will feature harbor views from every unit, a High Performance green roof, efficient electricity, a rainwater collection system, and retail space below. It’s perfectly tailored to the unique tastes and expectations of my target renter—both commercial and residential.

North Shore of Staten Island is the true Gordian knot of New York Harbor—possibly of the entire state. Here is a quick story of the Gordian knot. . King Gordius had a village population that was dissipating. He called a meeting of his smartest clerics and discussed ways to stimulate the village of Phrygia. King Gordian tied his cattle to a tree with a very complicated knot. He asked all the villagers to undo the knot, yet no one could. People were attracted from all over Europe to try and undo this very complicated knot. Then one day, Alexander the Great heard that whoever undid the complicated knot would rule all of Asia. So Alexander the Great rode up to the Gordian knot, pulled out his sword and cut the knot, then went on to conquer Asia. The lesson to be learned here is: there is no problem great enough that it can’t be resolved. It’s just a matter of finding the solution—and sometimes, the unexpected solution is the way to go. As everyone on Staten Island was wondering what to do with the waterfront, the real estate firm of Casandra Properties solved the Gordian knot by going after the guys who could identify what could be done. I’m a big believer in not being the smartest guy in the room. I just want to be smart enough to find the people that can make things happen.

People are always asking me what happens when things go bad or a mistake is made. Making mistakes is a very important element of creation. The solution is to adapt, adjust and redirect—which is exactly what prompts true innovation and allows you to act on it. Evolutionary development of product ideas is truly the inspiration. There are plenty of investment banks that hope for a murder of ideas, yet they simply give life to one or two ideas that get them some acclaim. Never stop farming concepts and creating opportunities. Stay motivated by stimulating thought, and challenging the ordinary.

As we start 2016, ask yourself what deals are in your funnel already and what contacts you’ve made to help you solve your own Gordian knots and come up with innovative solutions to existing problems. I’m always looking for ideas and people to work with. Drop me a line and let’s share ideas—we might just find a pearl waiting in the real estate field of oysters.


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