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Manhattan real estate mogul shares insights with students

Marc Holliday ’88, left, delivered this year's Stacom Family ire@l Speaker Series lecture. Tara Stacom '80, right, created the series.

Marc Holliday ’88, midtown Manhattan’s dominant landlord, provided Lehigh students with key insights during his time on campus earlier this week.

“When you’re starting your career, you just have to go after it with incredible vigor,” Holliday said. “If you have the drive, the smarts, the education and a little luck, it’ll happen—everything falls into place. And you’re at Lehigh, so you’re getting an incredible head start.”

Holliday, CEO of SL Green Realty Corp., spoke to students and the campus community as part of the Stacom Family ire@l Speaker Series, which brings some of the country’s most influential real estate professionals to Lehigh. Earlier in the day, he lunched with students in the ire@l (Integrated Real Estate at Lehigh) program and spoke with business students in the ire@l practicum class. 

‘Do you make the deal?’

Holliday provided students with an insider’s view of New York’s cutthroat commercial real-estate market and the backroom deals by which properties change hands. Specifically, he presented a case study of 3 Columbus Circle and the deal that turned it from a downtrodden, outdated property with a handful of tenants into a modern Midtown haven on its way to more than 70 percent occupancy.  

The 26-story office building was owned at the time by The Moinian Group and Joe Moinian, a friend of Holliday’s who bought the property in 1999 for $130 million and was starting a $100 million redevelopment project in 2007—before the market took a nosedive.

“All of a sudden, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow looked precarious,” Holliday said.

Holliday’s SL Green Realty Corp. stepped in and made a deal with Moinian to prevent foreclosure on the building by loan holders Related and Deutsche Bank, prompting a multi-year clash that was chronicled in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal with headlines like “Developers Wage Battle” and “SL Green, Moinian Fend Off Related.”

Throughout his retelling of the story, Holliday paused to ask students, “Do you make the deal?”

In the end, it all came down to creativity and chutzpah, with Holliday zeroing in on legalese in the loan documents and leaving a check for $258 million in a safe deposit box with the county clerk. This manuever led to a rapid settlement of the litigation and a deal was struck. 

Learning from the best

Paul R. Brown, dean of the College of Business and Economics, stressed the importance of bringing internationally recognized thought leaders like Marc Holliday to campus.

“He, like many of our distinguished alumni, provides Lehigh students with a ‘real-world’ view of business,” Brown said. “Personal interaction with accomplished business professionals is every bit as important to a Lehigh education as the pages in a textbook. Our students are fortunate to learn from the best.”

Tara Stacom ’80 created the Stacom Family ire@l Speaker Series to do just that: expose students to people and concepts that augment their coursework.

“Speakers bring of-the-moment case studies to life, making coursework far more interesting and stimulating,” Stacom said. “And it’s important for students to see accomplished alumni like Marc excel from the education they received at Lehigh. It inspires their vision of what’s possible and also ignites their thinking into areas previously not considered.”

Photo by John Kish IV

Story by Adrienne Wright

Posted on Thursday, March 01, 2012

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