The Commercial Observer: After 9/11, when CNN lost its antennas at World Trade Center, you got it a new lease at 1 Chase Plaza in 72 hours. How do you do a deal—any deal— in 72 hours?
Mr. Breslin: There was a guy I know who is specifically an antenna and cell tower consultant. I’ve know him a very, very long time. The way it happened is I ran into him on the street. We were talking. ‘Hey, what are you up to these days?’ He says I’m representing some companies that lost broadcast antennas in the World Trade Center. I don’t know if, in his package, CNN was the only one that piggy-backed onto that tower, but CNN was the player.
Those CNN antennas eventually ended up at 1 Chase Plaza.
How did that happen?
I was representing Chase Bank in retail with some other folks. I had a very, very good relationship with a really senior guy at Chase Bank. The reason why Chase played into it so precisely and quickly was they had the tallest building in downtown Manhattan after the World Trade Centers came down. So it was pretty natural. In the meantime, I had a friend who was pretty instrumental in steering most of the red tape through the city and through Chase because big corporations have a lot of red tape. But he understood what it was for and what the need was. We put together the deal in a matter of days. There were all kinds of security issues with Chase. They never wanted anybody on their property.
As a retail broker, you must be on the lookout for the next new neighborhood.
What are you seeing in terms of the new, exciting, vibrant neighborhood for retail in Manhattan?
The Upper East Side—86th Street between Second and Lexington avenues—has evolved upward very quickly with those two developments that went on on 86th, the one on the corner of Third and the one on the corner of Lex, where H & M is and those guys. You just got a Shake Shack in there and La Fontaine, the French soap and perfume company, just opened a store up there.
Wait a second—in other words, the new hip neighborhood is the Upper East Side?
It’s sad to say or scary to say, but if you go up and stand outside the Shake Shack on a Saturday or Sunday around 12:00, the line is astronomical. It’s unbelievable.
Your father, [columnist, novelist and author] Jimmy Breslin, is famously opinionated. Does he have any insight into the commercial real estate market in the city? Does he ever talk about it?
He jokes around. I remember once he said something to me. It was like one of the presidents’ birthdays—like Washington’s or Lincoln’s or something like that. I was married at the time and he called on that Monday and everything is closed. He said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m working.’ He goes, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re greedy.’ It stuck me kind of like a thorn and a joke at the same time because my father, he called me once, and I was in Europe or somewhere. I was in Austria. He goes, ‘Yeah, you go all over the world, and I can’t get off of Broadway.’ But the greedy thing on President’s Day was the one that struck me as pretty funny.