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By Claire Kao ’20 and Verity Sylvester ’19
On Tuesday October 30th 2018 the Real Estate Association (REA) and members of the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate were hosted by Bob Emmett, Co-founder and Managing Director of FOLIO Collection, for a private tour of Uptown House Harlem, a hospitality and members’-only club concept for Janus Property’s Malt House Redevelopment. The day started on the ground floor of the Malt House, currently a marketing center for Janus Property’s Taystee Building across the street, with Bob Emmett, who is also founding partner for Uptown House Harlem. The group had an opportunity to hear about the history of the site, including the Malt Building’s history as the 2nd brewery of Yuengling. The ground floor of the Malt House is currently fit-out by Janus Properties to help prospective buyers and tenants visualize the cultural and amenity possibilities that the Janus Property Site Assemblage could offer the community when completed in early 2019. Renderings and site plans gave the group an instant appreciation for the vision Janus Properties has for the neighborhood with their site assemblage of four buildings (the Mink Building, the Sweets Building, the Taystee Building, and the Malt House) from 126th-128th street along Amsterdam Avenue.
The group continued with a hard hat tour of the Malt House site where Bob showed us some of the potential concepts being planned for the site should Uptown House Harlem take over the space. Planned amenities for the concept include 44 guest rooms (20,000 SF of hotel area) and nearly 20,000 SF of public space and event areas. Uptown House has also rendered a terrace rooftop for the roof of the Malt House and 3,000 SF of spa, gym, and yoga luxury amenity spaces. Walking from ground to the roof, students had an opportunity to see what Uptown House would do on each floor and the club’s rationale for certain programming. Bob spoke at length about the members’-only club’s emphasis on social impact – diversity is at the core of the club’s philosophy both in terms of ownership and membership. Members would be required to mentor and/or sponsor youth programs in Harlem and the Bronx.
At the end of the tour, Scott Metzner ’84, Principal of Janus Property Company, led a discussion about Janus’ site assemblage and his career since he graduated from Columbia Business School in the 1980s, where he was the president of REA. Scott provided invaluable insight and advice to everyone interested in working in real estate and specifically real estate development—Scott has honed a business model around optimizing what he was good at and what he was interested in. His specific way of working allowed him to do things differently from others and to take on extraordinarily complicated projects, finding success amongst considerable industry naysaying—and suggested students do the same identification of their unique skills and interests as they navigate their careers. He shared his personal history of working in Harlem and how he built trust and relationships with the communities he would be building among. The buildings in his site assemblage were all calendared for landmarking before his involvement, but by demonstrating his intention to respect the buildings’ storied histories and with his existing strong reputation in Harlem, he successfully de-calendared all four buildings on the site. He has earned a place to stand in the community by articulating an aligned vision. He spoke to the rewards and impact of a career in real estate development, and the considerable risk and iron stomach required by the work. Scott’s relaying of his experiences was invaluable and the group walked away with rare insights.
On behalf of Columbia Business School’s Real Estate Association, we would like to thank Bob Emmett and Scott Metzner for giving us a memorable tour of the Malt House Redevelopment site and Uptown House concept. The site tour allowed us to better grasp the magnitude of the development project and both Janus’ and Uptown House’s vision for the future of Harlem.
Verity Sylvester ’19 is the VP of Site Tours for the Real Estate Association at Columbia Business School. She is a second year focusing on real estate development and finance. Prior to enrolling at Columbia, Verity worked in Real Estate asset management and development at Manulife in Toronto, Canada. Verity spent her summer working in acquisitions at SL Green.
Claire Kao ’20 is the AVP of Site Tours for the Real Estate Association at Columbia Business School. She is a first year focusing on real estate development. Prior to enrolling at Columbia, Claire worked for Tishman Construction on 3 World Trade Center.