Never heard of the Olnicks? Aside from industry insiders, pretty much no one had until July 11, when The New York Times revealed that, amid an affordable housing crisis, Congressman Charles Rangel had been hoarding four rent-stabilized apartments in the Olnick’s Lenox Terrace complex in Harlem.
It may be hard to believe that in a city so consumed with itself, so dedicated to narcissism and self-love, money and power, the Olnicks would shun the spotlight. But do a Nexis search on the family name, and aside from some clips in Real Estate Weekly—which faithfully publishes personnel and small lease announcements—you’ll find nary a hit until this month.
“They seem to be sort of old-school and reserved,” said one real estate broker. “Prior to this, you didn’t hear their name come up. And I think that’s how they like it.”
Like many New York dynasties, the Olnicks’ power cannot be measured in newspaper inches.
According to its Web site, the Olnick Organization, founded in 1946 by the late Robert Olnick, owns two hotels, the Hyatt Morristown in New Jersey and the Bristol Plaza Hotel in Manhattan; co-op shares in more than two dozen Manhattan buildings; scattered retail space; and five large apartment complexes, including the 600-unit Century in Riverdale; the now notorious 1,700-unit Lenox Terrace in Harlem; the 131-unit 200 East 87th Street; the 162-unit building Le Triomphe on East 58th; and the 1,700-unit Gateway Plaza in Battery Park City.
The Olnicks, of course, declined to speak with us. Which we guess is no surprise. But this was: Even the family’s hired PR guns didn’t know the names of the important members of the family. They deal only with hired hands like themselves.
“They’re very low-key people,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chairwoman of the retail leasing and sales division at Prudential Douglas Elliman, who has worked with the Olnicks in the past. “I’m sure they don’t like this attention. They like to just do their business and stay below the radar screen.”