CO’s 25 Under 35: The Top Young Debt and Equity Professionals of 2019


As if making major strides in the world of commercial real estate finance wasn’t enough, 2019 has also been a busy year for nuptials among our latest class of the real estate industry’s top young debt and equity professionals. Between helping CBRE’s small but high-flying debt team broker some of the country’s biggest real estate debt deals, Ethan Gottlieb found a free day to tie the knot in California. Michael Payton, an originator of growing renown at ACORE Capital, said his vows over the summer. For Jean Liu, on the other hand, the big day is just around the corner: She’ll be walking down the aisle later this month.

So if you were aiming to use these pages as a bachelor’s or bachelorette’s guide to some of the country’s most eligible, you may want to head back to the newsstand.

On the other hand, if you’re here to make your first acquaintance with some of the faces that will be shaping U.S. real estate finance deals for decades to come, read on. In fact, they already hard at work doing just that. One enterprising debt broker helped move the market when her team wrangled the financing for Related Companies’ $2.2 billion sale-leaseback deal at 30 Hudson Yards. Another up-and-coming superstar was on hand to help broker the debt for 10 Jay Street on the Brooklyn waterfront, where the $205 million loan he worked on will fund the conversion of a former industrial plant into a 21st-century mixed-use office-and-retail development. Names you’ll see in the pages to follow also helped mastermind debt deals for sites like Terminal Stores and Essex Crossing in New York City, as well as some marquee projects elsewhere in the country.

If you plan on following where commercial real estate goes next, plan on seeing a lot more of these 25 stellar youngsters.

Is there anyone here who objects?—Cathy Cunningham, Mack Burke, Matt Grossman and Tom Acitelli.

Getting out of New York is probably not the first thing you’d advise a young Brooklynite to do if he aspires to be a commercial real estate finance executive.

But that’s just what 32-year old Nick Preston did, and it’s worked out great for him, thank you very much.

The New York City native moved to Atlanta in 2011, where he’s since met his wife, settled down and embarked on an already dazzling career with SunTrust Bank, which is based there. At SunTrust, the Emory University graduate is responsible for corporate-level relationship with everyone from local developers to major real estate investment trusts, helping match his bank’s debt offering to landlord; various needs.

“It’s a pleasure to met in front of clients and talk about our products and solutions,” Preston said. “Our group has national coverage, so anytime (a SunTrust client) has a balance-sheet, corporate-level ask, I’ll probably be attending.”

The role has already led to his having a hand in some eye-catching deals. He was responsible, for instance, for arranging a $475 million bridge facility that enable the merger of two Carter Validus REITs worth a combined $3.2 billion. His job, he said, is to help clients take advantage of the full suite of products the bank offered, and that loan-which was later partially syndicated, was an apt example of its flexibility.

Though he at one time planned to become a history professor, Preston has no regrets that he landed in finance, and speaks enthusiastically about the people he’s met along the way.

“Real Estate is more like a family,” Preston said. “Even if you don’t have a direct real estate background, (young people) should consider it, because you can always learn on the job.”

Incredible as it may sound to commercial Observer’s New York City readers, Presto avers that he has no second thoughts about leaving his hometown-although Georgia life does come with one drawback.

“I really miss the walkability of (New York),” Preston said, “being in Manhattan and being able to walk up and down the island. In Atlanta, you need to car to go everywhere.”

You can always come back, Nick.

-M.G.

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Source: Commerical Observer