The Touch-Up Artist

As one of the original sons of Jack Resnick & Sons—the 84-year-old, family-owned development firm—Burton Resnick has steered the company to continued success while keeping it all in the family. The firm, which has more than five million square feet of office space under its purview, is now being led by Jonathan Resnick, Mr. Resnick’s son. But that hardly means Burton is out of the game. He still has plenty of buildings in need of a modern touch-up, fitting two of them—the Symphony House, at 235 West 56th Street, and 199 Water Street—with all the trappings of a modern building (Wi-Fi, generators, security systems, etc.). Mr. Resnick spoke to The Commercial Observer earlier this month about the joys and attendant challenges of updating a building for modern times.

burt resnick The Touch Up Artist

Burton Resnick.

The Commercial Observer: It seems you have been focused on renovating a lot of your existing buildings, like the Symphony House and 199 Water Street.
Mr. Resnick: Water Street was a building that was built in the ’80s. We have lease turnovers coming up in 2014. We are marketing the building for the tenancy downtown and the brokers downtown but now it’s the brokers and tenancy in Midtown, also because downtown is not an insurance or financial district anymore.

With Condé Nast and the Daily News and with other different industries moving into the area, downtown is not only the financial district. If I remember correctly, it’s the third-biggest central business district in the country. It’s not only financing, but everything else. And we built 199 Water Street, which is at the seaport, in the ’80s, and we leased it up, and now leases are coming up in 2014. We have about 250,000 feet of space to rerent. We are repositioning the building and upgrading the building into a 21st-century building.

What kind of tenants did you have in the building?
It was primarily Prudential Securities, who sold out to Wachovia Securities, and they sell a lot of the space to insurance companies and lawyers and financial industry tenants.

When you built the building, did you have a particular kind of tenant in mind? Or was it built in such a way that it could accommodate any kind of tenant?
It was primarily financial services. The first tenant was Lloyd’s Bank of England, who took the bottom third of the building. The top half of the building was taken by Prudential Financial and the middle part was taken by various and sundry financial companies and lawyers.

With the downtown office landscape moving away from being primarily just finance and insurance firms to including a variety of other businesses, do you have to market your space differently from how you did when you first opened the building?
You know what, it really doesn’t make any difference. I think that we have a building in the Hudson Square area that we just revamped, which is primarily an advertising agency and public relations agency and a law firm, and various and sundry industries like that. It used to be a printing area. Today, I don’t think there are areas that are solely one industry. I think New York has developed into a multifaceted industry town, which is great, because we’re not reliant only on the financial industry. So the New York scene is a different scene than it was 20 years ago and longer.