On a recent late-summer conference call, William Rudin, Michael Rudin and Samantha Rudin Earls—three members of one of New York City’s most venerable commercial real estate families—were engaged in a bit of dactylonomy.
The three weren’t trying to come up with the number of buildings currently in the family’s commercial and residential portfolio, but rather were adding up the number of family members currently working at the company.
“That’s two, four …” Some names were mumbled. After a little back and forth, they settled on nine.
In a city known for the prominence of a handful of families in commercial real estate, single names like Rudin, Durst, Rose, Muss and LeFrak have come to symbolize the industry. These families have survived the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression while witnessing, along with the rest of us, the rise of real estate investment trusts, the top three of which now have a combined New York portfolio of roughly 67.6 million square feet.
In a era when the word ‘dynasty’ is often overused and left to trail behind words like—let’s face it—‘sports’ or ‘Kardashian,’ it finds true meaning when one surveys these biggest families in New York commercial real estate. Many of them, after all, are generations old and still control vast portfolios of properties while wielding the type of power that only comes with reputation and recognition.