David Levinson’s Home Runs

More than what you would expect in midtown and certainly the highest rents achieved in the midtown south market. And we’ll maintain that. This is a premier, one-of-a-kind building, and it deserves to have that kind of recognition.

 

Will you have to build out that space?

No, they’re going to do it. They’re going to build their space. We did a major alteration on the building and transformed the building with the gardens in the center and the glass curtain wall and the Gold LEED certification. As far as the tenants, that’s their responsibility, and we just kind of cooperate.

 

How did the so-called Great Recession affect you?

It did a couple of things. One, if you were in the business and had assets—what we call legacy assets—the value of those assets in the initial phase of this recession was seriously impaired. Rents have gone down. Cap rates, which helps create the value of the building, not only went up, they were almost nonexistent. It was very, very difficult. So, fortunately for us, we’re not a public company, we’re not a fund.

 

L&L is a partner with Lehman Brothers on several properties. How did the company’s bankruptcy affect the company?

Well, it certainly impacted us because they were partners of ours. They were not lenders, but they were partners of ours-and are today-and partners of ours in some major properties. For the first couple of months after the Lehman bankruptcy, it was very difficult to deal with them and communicate with them because they were sort of just pulling the bodies out of the wreckage.

But I would tell you that in two cases we have been dealing with Lehman, it’s been very good. It’s been very fortunate that the Lehman estate has done everything they were supposed to do as a partner, and, over time, it’s gotten much easier to work with them. Now it’s sort of settled down to normalcy. Obviously, there are huge challenges with them, but in our partnerships with them, it’s been quite good.

 

I understand that you invested in gold.

Yes. The bullion purchase was back in those moments where in the recession we didn’t know how far things were going to go. We called it bullets and bullion-B&B. [Editor’s note: Mr. Levinson furnished a cell phone picture of three bars of gold bullion.] Each one of those bars is 27 pounds.

 

How many bars of those do you have?

Not enough.

 

 

You have a close relationship with News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch. Care to comment on The Wall Street Journal‘s new metro section, which hit the streets Monday?

The Wall Street Journal section is going to be exciting. The transformation of The Journal at the time Rupert bought it has been terrific. It’s evident, if you look at it, when you see the numbers. More and more people read it, so it’s great to see that happen. Having a New York section is really exciting. They put a lot of money into it.

 

 

 

You have a 10 percent stake in the New York Yankees. Care to handicap the season?

Number 28 for sure. This will be another championship for us.

 

I presume you’re a Yankees fan, right?

To be an owner, you have to be. It’s a requirement. In fact, I just filled out the papers for my ring size so I’m excited about that.

jsederstrom@observer.com

David Levinson’s Home Runs