NY Times: A Conversation With Joseph P. Beninati
Via the article:
Mr. Beninati, 51, is a founder and the managing member of the Bauhouse Group, a development company based in New York and started in 2012. The company’s projects include 515 Highline, a boutique condominium with a wavy facade designed by Soo K. Chan and a high-rise condominium in the Sutton Place neighborhood.
Mr. Beninati previously was co-chief executive of the real estate investment and private equity firm Antares Investment Partners in Greenwich, Conn.
Interview conducted and condensed by
Q. As managing member you basically run the company.
A. Yep. I have to set the strategy and select the developments, and then really look after them and make sure that they’re built on a quality basis and sold or rented.
Q. What roles do your co-founders, Chris Jones and Danny Lee, play in the company?
A. Chris is more focused on the development, construction and design side; Danny is more focused on the analysis and administration side, so financial.
Q. The company was founded in 2012, just as the economy was starting to improve. Did you wait to start the company?
A. We really thought the timing was right — the fundamentals of New York were fantastic. Developing in New York has always been a dream of mine. I grew up in the city. I was a messenger for my dad’s photography company — on foot, not bike messenger — and so I know every block in the city like the back of my hand.
Q. How did you come up with the Bauhouse name?
A. It was an architectural movement in Europe pre-World War II, and the sensibilities of the architecture are certainly more on the modern side. The developments that we are doing are definitely more on the modern and progressive side.
Q. How is business right now?
A. It’s an exciting time to be in New York.
Q. How many projects are you working on?
A. We’re working on two and we’re underwriting several more.
Q. Let’s talk about these projects, starting with 515 Highline, which faces the elevated park.
A. There’s 12 units and then there’s retail at the base. It’s really the sexiest project I’ve ever worked on. We have this really amazing aspect of the building: It’s going to have an art wall on its eastern facade and we’ll be announcing soon how it will be curated and twice a year there will be an installation of a new piece of art — which fits the neighborhood, being the modern art capital.
We started on our foundations and they will be completed in the next two months. The curtain wall is being manufactured in Italy and being shipped to New York now. We just can’t wait to install it into the site.
We will open up the friends and family sales efforts this fall, and we’ll probably open up to the public soon after. We should have people living in the building in 2016.
Q. Do friends and family get a discount?
A. Well, they get the opening prices.
Q. What will the prices be?
A. Between $4.5 million and $6 million for three-bedrooms, about $2,500 per square foot. Those are the opening prices.
We will also have four or five larger penthouse units
Q. Could you see yourself living in the building?
A. I live in Greenwich, Conn., but I would love to live in the building.
Q. What’s happening with your other big project, a development that will take place at the site of four low-rise rental buildings on East 58th Street near Sutton Place, which also includes air rights.
A. It’s one of the quietest blocks in New York City, a very leafy block. We’re going to build another condo there, probably between 90 and 100 units. This will be our largest project. We’ll start with studios there.
We’ve had an opportunity to work with Foster & Partners.
Q. When will construction begin on this project?
A. We’ll start the demolition this summer.
Q. What else do you have in the pipeline?
A. We’re looking at some mixed-use projects. We’d love to do more retail, with a hotel or even an office component. A big portion of my career has been spent on office. so I like the asset class.
Q. Where would you like to see Bauhouse in the next few years?
A. I think just continuing to work among the greats in New York City.
From a fly-to perspective, cities like San Francisco and Miami also have long-term strong fundamentals.
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