How Real Estate Jobs Teach How Communities Work
In Chapter 14 of 21 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, New York City Council candidate and public relations executive Ken Biberaj notes how real estate job experience informs a better understanding of community, from schools and small business to housing and recreation. He finds real estate fundamental to understanding urban development and building livable communities. Ken Biberaj is currently a 2013 Candidate for New York City Council for the West Side of Manhattan.
Erik: What has your real estate experience taught you about community? Ken: I think real estate, for better or worse, is almost the answer to every problem. Alright, so on the Upper West Side, overcrowding in schools, real estate question, space; affordable housing, real estate question, issues with space; bike lanes; parks, all about real estate. I think having an understanding of real estate is essential to understanding community, urban development, urban planning, and kind of understanding where the city is gonna be going in the future and how best to kind of build a livable community. On the very specific real estate side a lot of what we do in commercial real estate is retail leasing, so I’ll work with small Mom & Pops, help them try to find new locations, and it’s been incredible being a part of the process for some of these small businesses who are looking to expand because we have to find them locations, we have to negotiate with the landlord and so on, and over the last 7 years, we’ve helped put in a lot of small businesses that have had such an amazing impact on the small community that they’d been in, whether it’s in the Bronx or in the West Village, or the Upper West Side, all of these businesses who kind of come in are doing great things for the community, you know so it’s getting harder and harder every single day when we’re trying to help a small business expand because now landlords are saying, well, I can put a Verizon store in there or an AT&T store or Bank of America, and they’ll pay me 5 times what your little guys are gonna pay me. So it’s kind of helped reaffirm to me again this kind of frustration and concern that the support for the small businesses isn’t there and you know we’ve tried through the real estate side to meet with landlords and convince them that these are the exact tenants you want and so on, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but the real estate has really helped me understand how community exists because I think community is so tied the small businesses we have there I mean you move to a particular neighborhood because of what shops are there, what restaurants are there, what community is there, you know, where you can bring your friends and hang out and then you’re here and then other businesses are gonna come because you’re here, you know, and it’s this constant cycle. So I think once you kind of pull the plug on the small businesses and it’s just you know Duane Reade, people don’t move to a new neighborhood just because of that so…