PROFILEnyc had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with Avi Fisher of Avery Hall Investments to discuss how the leadership team consisting of himself, Jesse Wark and Brian Ezra have set their sites on building up Brooklyn. We explore how the visionary grassroots developers seek to enhance the quality of resident life in the communities in which they invest with a focus on their native "Brownstone Brooklyn."
PM: How did the partnership between Brian Ezra, Avi Fisher and Jesse Wark come to form Avery Hall Investments?
Avi Fisher: We met through the Columbia University real estate graduate program. After graduating we all stayed in the City and began working in the real estate industry at separate companies, though always staying in touch. Since meeting each other we had individually and collectively dreamed of doing real estate development on our own at some point in our careers.
Several years later, after we’d matured into our careers and respective skill-sets, the timing was right and we came together to form our development firm, Avery Hall Investments. Avery Hall is the building the real estate development program is housed in on Columbia’s campus. In naming our company Avery Hall it was an homage to where we met and our most formative years of education.
PM: Why has Avery Hall Investments set your sites on "Brownstone Brooklyn?"
AF: Brian was born and raised in Brooklyn and he was a huge advocate of the borough and the lifestyle quality of Brooklyn. He felt very strongly about making a bet on the market and making it grow.
When we first looked into developing in Brooklyn, we found that it felt as though it had been undervalued both qualitatively and quantitatively, particularly based on the holistic offering it provides in terms of schools, parks, proximity to cultural institutions, restaurants, nightlife and diversity – essentially everything that is emblematic of Brooklyn today and that has helped turn it into a global brand.
Looking back, we had really great timing. We moved into the Brooklyn market before the Brooklyn brand gained the status it has today. Additionally, Brian’s intimate knowledge of the borough was a key part of the recipe to securing projects and garnering investor trust.
Looking at the borough now, many say that it’s become as competitive as Manhattan and while competition has certainly increased we believe that reinforces our original thesis about the area and the potential it’s always had.
PM: How do you identify opportunities in the neighborhoods you focus on?
AF: First and foremost, Brian and the acquisition team he manages are constantly researching and working to identify new opportunities for AHI. We also continue to identify through relentless and continuous outreach to property owners, attorneys, real estate brokers, lenders – really anyone who is active in the market. We’ve been most successful essentially going door-to-door and strategically tapping property owners that we think would be interested in selling.
Our primary focus thus far has been from Fort Greene to the South Slope / Sunset Park area, to the New York Harbor and Prospect Park. We feel very comfortable playing in this backyard as we’re very familiar with the zoning, site constraints and all other variables that affect value there.
PM: Which neighborhoods do you see the most room for growth over the next 5 to 10 years?
AF: Our real thesis is to develop in very high barrier to entry markets. Because of this and to that extent we see no limit in the growth of high density neighborhoods. If you’re looking at growth solely in the form of population density, then zoning alone dictates that growth will happen further south and east into Brooklyn.
PM: How has Brooklyn grown from your prospective in the past decade? What is still lacking? (ie. retail, housing, office-space)?
AF: Brooklyn has had stratospheric growth in the last decade from almost every angle. We view that growth as net positive, although it does come with a number of challenges.
PM: Avery Hall Investments began to transform Carroll Gardens with 145 President? What inspired you to launch this project?
AF: 145 President is the most luxurious and unique offering in Carroll Gardens in recent history and the foreseeable future, given the site constraints and zoning. We found an opportunity to deliver something that can not be recreated.
PM: How did the opportunity for 145 President Street come about? Can you comment on what makes this project so unique?
AF: We noticed in public records that there was one owner who owned a series of oddly shaped parcels in Carroll Gardens. We reached out to the land owner and were in discussions for about a year until they finally came to an agreement to sell. What we quickly realized is that the zoning allowed an extraordinarily unique development to be built in the neighborhood, one that is unlike anything else that has ever been built and could be built in the formal boundaries of today’s Carroll Gardens given today’s zoning laws.
We’ve also spent a tremendous amount of time designing in-house what we believe will be an exceptional building that will stand the test of time. Additionally, it will feature unprecedented views for the area, as well as a robust selection of amenities for not only a building of its size, but for the neighborhood as well.
PM: You have partnered with Aria Development Group and Allegra Holdings on several other projects, including 465 Pacific Street. How did these partnerships come about? What value do the firms add working together?
AF: These relationships grew primarily from friendships that eventually grew into partnerships. Each of these partners brings, among other things, strategic and complimentary skills and experience to each one of our developments. However, the theme that runs true that makes the partnerships work really well is the unified belief in the Brooklyn market and the longevity and continued maturation of brownstone Brooklyn.
PM: What will Avery Hall Investment's projects mean for Brooklyn in the short and long term?
AF: They will provide the market a niche product that it has been devoid of. We also hope our buildings will continue to elevate the quality and design in the Brooklyn market.
PM: How does Avery Hall Investments plan to continue to grow? Any new exciting projects in store you can touch on?
AF: We plan to continue to expand our in-house development platform – most recently we brought in a handful of veteran construction professionals. We’re also venturing deeper into Brooklyn with several projects currently in our pipeline soon to be announced.
About Avi Fisher:
Mr. Avi Fisher is a Founding Principal of Avery Hall Investments, and oversees all aspects of project financing & structuring, as well as capital raising and investor relations. Over the past decade, Avi has been involved in $500 million of real estate development and investment activity, primarily in the New York City and Washington DC markets. He has played a key part in the delivery of over 400 luxury condominium apartments, and takes a lead role in the design, sales and marketing of each residential development the Avery Hall Investments pursues. Avi holds a B.S. in Marketing from The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and he received a Masters of Science in Real Estate Development from Columbia University, where he was an Adjunct Faculty Member in Real Estate Finance for 3 years.
About Avery Hall Investments:
Avery Hall Investments aims to generate superior, risk-adjusted returns through the acquisition, design and development of real property, with a focus on Brownstone Brooklyn. Avery Hall Investment's investment strategy targets markets which contain key indicators for growth and value appreciation. Along with their institutional partners and consultants, the Avery Hall Investments team carefully shepherds every aspect of each investment, from architectural and zoning feasibility studies, through day to day construction management, to project completion and disposition. Avery Hall Investments seeks to enhance the quality of life in the communities in which it invests, with a view towards long term value growth.