July 16, 2020
When Michael Fascitelli stepped down as CEO of Vornado Realty Trust in early 2013, founder and chairman Steven Roth commented that due to the scale and complexity of Vornado’s business, his 16-year tenure with the REIT should be measured in dog years.
Fascitelli, who was instrumental in creating that scale and complexity, has hardly been idle since leaving Vornado. In the latest of Walker & Dunlop’s weekly webcasts moderated by CEO Willy Walker, he held forth on subjects ranging from Vornado’s rise to the investment and advisory initiatives he’s pursued lately, including Imperial Companies, in which he’s founding partner.
Joining Vornado—then a considerably smaller organization than it has since become—in late 1996 may have seemed like a risky proposition, Walker observed. That’s especially true since the stock of Fascitelli’s previous employer, Goldman Sachs, took off in the years following his departure. (Vornado’s stock took a similarly vertical trajectory in 2003.)
However, Fascitelli said that although Goldman’s Whitehall real estate fund scored major success under his leadership, “real estate was never the engine that drove the firm. You were always on the periphery.”
Joining Vornado, Fascitelli said, was “a more singular bet.” Compared to a real estate unit within a major investment bank, the Vornado team had “more control of our own destiny.”
Since departing Vornado, Fascitelli has been a prominent player in arenas ranging from technology-driven investment to single-family rentals. He told Walker that the current environment of uncertainty and dislocation amid the COVID-19 pandemic could represent buying opportunities, although he cautioned against pouncing just yet. Instead, he advised, “be patient and be ready to pounce.”
Amid that pandemic, Fascitelli said, reports of the imminent death of the office sector are premature. “It’s too early to take the data points we have now and make predictions,” he said.
The launch of Whitehall, Fascitelli recalled, occurred amid a similar period of economic dislocation following the savings-and-loan collapse of the early 1990s. “The people were really good, but the timing was perfect,” he said.
On-demand replays of the July 15 webcast are available by clicking here.
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