Boy Developer Ben Shaoul Wants to Live Forever

I’m not sure that’s true. And when condos come in, Duane Reades are often the next step.

Sure, but we’re not the first condominium in the East Village.

Would you feel bad if the East Village became entirely gentrified?

Would I feel bad? I would not feel bad at all. I think it is part of evolution. It happens by itself. It’s not me doing it; it’s not someone else doing it.

The A Building on East 13th Street has a 50-foot pool and private cabanas, and that’s between First Avenue and Avenue A. That’s a big example of how the neighborhood’s changing and really gentrifying. Is that something you worry about, or feel guilty about?

I don’t think me building a condominium on a lot that was being operated as a lumber yard, as a dry cleaner that polluted—you know about the pollution over there, or no?—and a bunch of commercial buildings [is bad] … Not everyone can afford to go to the Hamptons on the weekends or go to the beach, or has a car to get to the beach. It’s nice to buy a studio in the East Village and have a pool and be able to lay out.

You’re building the 14-story condo Yves in Chelsea, which isn’t a big, tall neighborhood. Do you feel a responsibility toward maintaining scale where you build?

I don’t think scale is so much the issue—I think it’s the architects’ responsibility to make sure what they design conforms with the neighborhood. You ask any developer, and he’ll tell you the truth: I’m going to build as much as I can, as high as I can.

Who’s your favorite architect?

I’ll get back to you on that.

What about building green, is that something you’ve ever done?

We have a hotel project planned on West 28th Street, we’re growing the site substantially, enlarging it. It is our plan to build the hotel green, be certified. … We will be building new construction, as of right now it’s north of 26 stories … a very high-end business hotel.

Oversupply is what bursts bubbles. Do you worry that too many condos are going up?

With the current credit crunch there will be a lot less development; a lot of condominiums will not be built this year.

You were just called the developer of the year by the Web site Curbed. Would you promote yourself, like Donald Trump does? Do you want to be famous?

I don’t know if I want to be famous. I think I want people to know I build a good product and stand behind my product.

Do you own apartments in your buildings?

I planned on living in one of my buildings—Yves—and I’ve since changed my mind, and am actually under contract to buy a townhouse in the West Village.

You paid $8.25 million for a house on West 14th Street, which you were going to call the Citizens Arts Club, but now it’s the Norwood Club. Who gets in? What happens there?

I am not involved at all in the operations: I am a member, I own the building, they lease the property. … It’s private members, we try to facilitate, and try to put people together. It’s like a hangout place.

What’s one thing you’d like to change about yourself?

I’d like to get married and have children one day. And I’d like to create something big in the city one day. I’d like to build something that’s substantial that will have recognition forever.

Boy Developer Ben Shaoul Wants to Live Forever