Jeff Blau
Source: Getty Images

Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau Wanted Workers to Return to the Office a Year Ago


Aug. 25 2021, Published 8:37 a.m. ET

The net worth of Jeff Blau, CEO of The Related Companies, isn’t public knowledge, but the guy is clearly rich—in 2015, he bought a New York City townhouse for $51 million, and earlier this year, he offloaded a Miami Beach condo for $5 million. So, it’s understandable that there’d be backlash to Blau’s push to get workers back into the office during the pandemic. When he wrote a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on that topic, a commenter called it “most self-serving article ever.”

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Blau also sparked controversy with his appearance on Squawk Box in Apr. 2020, when he criticized commercial tenants who refused to pay landlords during the pandemic… just before the news broke that Equinox, a fitness company and a Related subsidiary, was refusing to pay its rent. (“Equinox is an independent company, with multiple investors,” Blau said in a follow-up Squawk Box interview. “We don’t make strategic or operational decisions for them.”)

Blau got his start at Related after Stephen Ross gave him a summer job

In a 2011 interview with The Real Deal, Blau said that he was working in real estate as early as his time at the University of Michigan, when he “bought some houses and converted them into student apartments with some local guys there.”

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Jeff Blau
Source: Getty Images

And Blau’s working relationship with Stephen Ross, founder of Related, started when the billionaire offered him a summer job. “He’s a Michigan grad,” Blau said. “He was up for a conference, and the head of the real estate department introduced me. We wound up sitting together in the back row at the conference, talking, and he offered me a summer job.”

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Blau said he and Ross “see the world the same way”

According to Crain’s New York Business, Blau worked for The Related Companies part-time while earning his M.B.A. at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and as he career progressed, he eventually became head of the firm’s New York City development division and worked closely with Ross. “We see the world the same way,” Blau told the magazine.

In 2000, Blau became president of Related, and in 2012, he became CEO after Ross stepped aside. According to Blau’s Related bio, he has overseen developments worth more than $60 billion “in virtually every sector of the real estate industry.”

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He thinks New York will be “back better than ever.”

Blau appeared on Squawk Box again on Aug. 17, saying that he thinks New York City is “coming back” and will “be back better than ever.” During the interview, Blau spoke about the city’s commercial real estate market. “While we are today about 23, 25 percent occupied in the offices, that doesn’t mean that you’re 23, 25 percent leased,” he said. “These units are leased to large companies. We do expect them to be back in the office. … I do think with [the Delta variant], it’s going to be pushed back.”

He also discussed occupancy at Hudson Yards, a Related development in New York City. “We’re already seeing people come back today," he said. "We’re signing leases quickly here at Hudson Yards. We just signed Coinbase [to] welcome them as a tenant at Hudson Yards. There are lots of companies that did well during the pandemic and will actually be back in their offices, and we hope as this Delta [variant] passes through here, they’ll be returning as quick as possible.”


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