Each semester, the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate and the student-led Real Estate Club present an Innovator Award to an industry leader that embodies the spirit of the University’s tradition of innovation in real estate education and research. On February 6th, we had the pleasure of presenting the award to Marc Holliday, CEO of SL Green Realty, a real estate investment trust (REIT) based in New York City. Under Mr. Holliday’s leadership, SL Green has grown to be New York City’s largest owner of commercial office properties and the dominant landlord in Midtown Manhattan.
Marc Holliday with Real Estate Club Co-Presidents Conor McCahill (left) and Kyle Van Someren (right)
After Mike Brennan, Executive Director of the Graaskamp Center, presented the award, Mr. Holliday took the stage. He started with a video produced for investors and analysts that showed the majority of SL Green’s Manhattan properties. After seeing the video and maps identifying their locations, and then hearing him explain how his office was a 10 to 15 minute walk from most of their properties, we really got a feel for how much of Midtown Manhattan that SL Green owns. Mr. Holliday is a big believer in scale, which has allowed him to accommodate his tenants as they move up and down the space and rent spectrums.
Mr.Holliday was a dynamic presenter, using a good mix of media, humor, and project examples to give us a feel for what he and SL Green are all about. For those of you interested in a career in real estate, he had some great advice as well:
• Don’t get caught up in a preference for equity or debt investments. Real estate is about making money from your investment whether it is on the equity or debt side.
• Success in real estate is all about having access to capital, and being a publicly traded REIT provides that access.
• Bringing in partners on big deals is a good way to mitigate risk.
• Buy vacancy in a rising rental market. Buy net leases in declining markets.
• Follow the credit markets to help you determine where we’re at in the cycle.
The Real Estate Club was thrilled to have Mr. Holliday on campus—his advice and wisdom was of great benefit to the attending students. The Innovator Award is one example of how the Wisconsin Real Estate Program is reaching out to industry leaders across the country and around the world to bring new best of class experiences to our students, alumni and board members.
The inspiration for the Innovator Series Award was derived from the paper "Tradition and Innovation," written by Professor Stephen Malpezzi. The paper's central theme is that a rich history cannot be established without continually implementing innovation. Previous recipients of the award include Gary Beban of CBRE, Michael Ashner of Winthrop Realty, Nick Billotti of Turner Construction, Laurence Geller of Strategic Hotels and Resorts, David Brain of Entertainment Properties Trust, Jay Shidler of the Shilder Group, and Hersch Klaff of Klaff Realty.