Commercial Observer’s 30 Under 30 of NYC’s Rising Real Estate Stars

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Lee Silpe (27)

Berko & Associates, COO and Partner

At Berko and Associates, Lee Silpe wears many hats. As the chief operating officer, he oversees the operations for the whole office, consisting of 22 associates, analysts and support staff. He is also a director at the company, leading a team of the firm’s top agents. Recently, Mr. Silpe was named one of the firm’s partners. Yet only a few years ago, Mr. Silpe, a Long Island native, was working at Merrill Lynch and trying to figure out his next step.

At his job at Merrill Lynch, many of the high, net-worth clients that Mr. Silpe worked with had something in common: they owned real estate. It was this discovery that led Mr. Silpe to pursue a career in commercial real estate. Mr. Silpe’s prior work in finance has certainly helped him underwrite well into the billions of dollars worth of transactions.

Recently, Mr. Silpe helped get a buyer under contract a 170,000-square-foot industrial loft building in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the negotiations for which took almost a year. According to Mr. Silpe, the building is slated to become a creative loft office space that will aim to attract young companies to the neighborhood. Mr. Silpe also facilitated the transaction of the last industrial building in Greenwich Village. Mr. Silpe says his tenure in commercial real estate “really been pretty incredible.”

“Commercial real estate is extremely challenging and rewarding,” he said. “It’s the type of career that is constantly evolving, and every day seems to bring excitement.” —D.S.

Thirty years ago Google was spelled Googol (and it was a mathematical term, not a search engine), 15 Central Park West was the Mayflower Hotel, and nobody knew just how deeply weird young Mel Gibson was.

That, and none of the pros on Commercial Observer’s third annual 30 Under 30 list were born.

At CO, we expend a lot of column inches on the big, established machers of the real estate business—but we also make time to consider the up-and-comers. And that’s why our list of 30 pros under 30 years old is so important.

To a certain extent, for the people in the commercial real estate business who are younger than the movie Ghostbusters, it’s too early to know who’s a light of the universe, and who’s a flash in the pan. We asked for nominations from firms big and small and were left with an embarrassment of riches. Some of the names we chose are striking out with real estate firms of their own. Others nailed 5 million square feet worth of deals while at long-established companies. We tried to expand our reach to the young guns of construction. We threw in a few names of pros who in their spare time started real estate blogs or taquerias.

Our only rule was that we wanted people who had not yet reached 30 years old. (Although one of them turns 30 this month.) We tried to keep the list to no more than three names per firm. And we wanted names who had not appeared on CO’s 30 Under 30 list before. (With one exception. But it was a big move for that individual.)

Of course, nobody—save Marty McFly—has a time machine and we don’t know how our picks will fare, say, 30 years hence. But, honestly, we don’t need a DeLorean to know these ladies and gentlemen will do very well. (Nominees: You may be too young to remember Marty McFly and the DeLorean, but this is a reference to a movie called Back to the Future, which might have been before your time.)—Max Gross, Editor in Chief