January 3rd, 2012
(Photo: Emily Berl for The New York Times)
Two Trees Management principal Jed Walentas was featured in The New York Times Sunday Real Estate. At 37, he looks “more Silicon Valley entrepreneur than big-city real estate tycoon”, but runs the real estate management firm his father built by buying two million square feet of former factory and warehouse space between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges in 1981 (for $12 million) and creating the most expensive neighborhood in Brooklyn. Mr. Walentas tells the NYTimes that he wants “to find ways to better connect Downtown Brooklyn with the thriving neighborhoods that ring it. With so many college-age students attending classes — but often not living — in that section of Brooklyn, he said it mystified him that more hadn’t been done to keep them there.”
He not only has influence on Dumbo, but neighborhoods stretching from the West Side of Manhattan to Fort Greene, Brooklyn. He also supports entrepreneurs and the tech community, when he helped present the Dumbo incubator last summer. He also contributed a piece on Brooklyn Eagle on how AT&T, an international corporate entity is supporting the local community.
Bruce Ratner, the president of the Forest City Ratner Companies, which is developing the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn said
“Battery Park City is a great place, but it does not have the same sense of character as Dumbo. Rockefeller Center, on the other hand, has a definitive sense of character, because “the Rockefellers had some idea of what they wanted that place to be.”
In Dumbo, he said, the guiding vision was to retain the area’s industrial flavor (without the industry), while providing a street-level experience both diverse and interesting — even if it means subsidizing rents for small-business owners and declining the high rents offered by big-box stores, or selling off properties and cashing out.
“Jed holds firm to the vision,” Mr. Ratner said. “And that is not a minor comment.”
High praise from one of the more well known develpers. However, Judy Stanton, the executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association has been a critic has battled with both David and Jed Walentas over numerous projects, including the controversial Dock Street project.
Read the article to find out why attracting diversity is important for NYC, why real estate prices are so high, and how he and Donald Trump differ in their styles.