May 24, 2024

Square Feet: Laurie Zucker

Q You’re part of an elite club — the daughters of developers active themselves in commercial real estate. Has it been hard being a woman in this industry?

A In the beginning, certainly, it was harder. I would often be the only woman in a room. It’s easier for women now. I’m on the construction jobs a lot and I walk around by myself; I have no fear whatsoever. Still, I am often the only woman around.

Q Is your father active in the business?

A I do run the company, but it is a family company; I work with my dad. He is still very active and he does his thing and I do my thing.

Q And what does that include?

A He’s very good at identifying sites and handling financing. I am pretty much the detail person. I do a lot of the design work: I select materials for the apartments and public spaces, and I’m instrumental in the marketing. I also oversee the management of all the properties.

Q What’s it like working with your father?

A I started in 1977. I had a chair, and my desk was my lap. In the beginning it was difficult for us to find our place — I was young and trying to make my mark somewhere — but I think we found a very nice place for both of us.

When we first started out, my father was mostly a mortgage broker. He developed a couple of buildings, and the person who was managing the buildings for us died suddenly; he ended up de facto having to take over the management. We added more and more people and buildings.

Q And you continue to add buildings, like Love Lane Mews in Brooklyn Heights.

A Construction is just about done there. There are 30-some-odd layouts in the 38 apartments, priced from $1.050 million, for a one-bedroom, to $4.250 million, for a three-bedroom. We started selling in December, and we have eight contracts either signed or in the process of being signed.

This was a renovation of a group of buildings that were previously a garage, but we saved a lot of the original brick walls, and we have the garage in the building. So if you buy an apartment, you will have a parking space in an attended garage.

Q Is 55 Thompson fully leased?

A We started leasing in September, and occupancy started in November. We are about 90 percent leased. We have a town house that enters on Sullivan Street, which is part of the project, that we just completed and is going on the market. Rents start at $6,000, for a one-bedroom, and go up to $25,000, for a three-bedroom. There are only 38 apartments.

Q And 34 East 22nd Street?

A We just started renting. Thirty-four is a walk-up brownstone that we gut-renovated; there are eight apartments in all. We’re asking $4,995 up to $6,595. They’re all one-bedrooms, but the ones that are more expensive have large terraces.

I did 34 and 36 without my dad.

Q No. 36 is the Story House.

A There’s a story behind the Story House. It used to be the offices of Frederick Warne Company Publishing, which published the Beatrix Potter series and stories from Brothers Grimm like “The Frog Prince.”

The eight apartments are loft floor-throughs, two- and three-bedrooms. We felt we could get families in the building, so we thought the Story House was a great way to market the building. Prices start at $3 million, and go up to $3.895 million, for the top-floor apartment. That is an average of $1,517 a square foot.

Most of the marketing campaign is very whimsical: our brochure is a cloth-bound storybook, and it’s a fairy tale that we wrote about how a fairy wanted to do something wonderful with the building and she created these fabulous apartments.

Q Were you always interested in real estate?

A I was actually a piano major in school. I didn’t want to teach and I wasn’t good enough to be a concert player, plus I hated performing in front of people, so that was not an option. I actually always worked for my dad on vacations in high school, and I enjoyed it.

Q Do you still play the piano?

A I take piano lessons every Wednesday morning at 8. It forces me to sit down for an hour.

Q What else do you do in your spare time?

A I’m an avid knitter. It’s sort of like building a building — at the end you have something to show for it. I don’t knit at meetings, because it’s really unacceptable.

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