The Imperial Guard

“There is a great probability, history will show you, that there will be an organic growth with these kind of tenants,” Mr. Posniak said. “They will bring other divisions, and so that 100,000 square feet they’re leasing now may eventually grow to 150,000 or 200,000 feet, and from there, the reality is they’re going to renew.”

MR. POSNIAK IS NO STRANGER TO THE Empire State Building. After being introduced to part owner Peter Malkin by a relative, he accepted his first real estate job as a leasing agent at the 78-year-old skyscraper for real estate firm Helmsley-Spear, where he worked from 1978 to 1991.

At the time, he said, the building was a hub for the shoe industry and small apparel companies, and had a dilapidated ceiling in the lobby—a far cry from the renovations seen today.

“The Empire State Building would never really be considered a distressed property, but it never received the prominence that it rightfully deserves,” Mr. Posniak said.

Despite no obvious connection or blood ties to the industry, Mr. Posniak said that even as a student at Lincoln High in Brooklyn, he always wanted to work in real estate. But aside from his meeting with Mr. Malkin, the only other connection he had to the industry was that as a child he regularly visited the same Coney Island diner as Fred Trump and his son, Donald.

Mr. Posniak graduated from N.Y.U. with a business degree. Following his 13-year stint at Helmsley-Spear, Mr. Posniak handled leasing and marketing for the owners of One Penn Plaza until 1994. Since then, he has worked under two generations of the Malkin family, first Peter and now his son, Tony.

“I always knew I wanted to do real estate, ever since I met Mr. Malkin,” said Mr. Posniak, a father of two college-age girls who lives in Westfield, N.J., with his wife, Karen. “I was so mesmerized by him that I said to my uncle, ‘I don’t know whether I can be a Peter Malkin, but I would like to pursue real estate for my career,’ and that’s what I’ve done ever since.”

jsederstrom@observer.com

The Imperial Guard