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David Kramer's impact at Roosevelt Island on developing a new neighborhood in New York City

Jan 7, 2023

David Kramer, a graduate of university, began to consider his career options. He thought there were three avenues he could use to save the world. They were education, government, and affordable housing. David chose the third option. Now, he runs a realty business with over 30 year's experience in affordable housing in New York City's five boroughs.

The Baker Program in Real Estate heard David Kramer, President and CEO of Hudson Companies. This full-service residential realty firm is responsible for more than $2 billion in multifamily developments in New York City. The company covers all aspects of New York City housing, from affordable to market rates to institutional housing. This presentation was second in a two-part case study that Baker students completed at Cornell Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

Born on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Mr. Kramer has contributed to the New York City community throughout his entire career. While at Yale University, Mr. Kramer got involved in homeless policy. He was later accepted to the Coro Foundation Fellows Program to study Public Affairs. He was a Project Management Officer at Skid Row Housing Trust before joining Hudson Companies. There he worked as a Project manager, eventually rising to become the company's President.

Photo: David Kramer

M. Kramer toured several interesting developments, including the Founder's Hall Residence at NYU and the Atlantic Center affordable housing development in Brooklyn. But the most memorable part of the session was the discussion about Roosevelt Island, namely, the residential section of Cornell Tech's campus. Hudson Companies in partnership and Related Companies was selected to further develop Roosevelt Island. The island, which is unassuming, is owned by New York City. It has a ground lease with the State of New York. The first Roosevelt Island developments were built in the period of 'brutalism' architecture, which gave the island an unfavorable reputation. Hudson and Related created an even-split venture and built nine of the most desired residential buildings in Riverwalk. These residences have completely transformed the look and status of the island into a charming, outdoorsy, and quieter alternative to the main island of Manhattan.

Photo: Birds-eye View of Roosevelt Island

This enabled Mr. Kramer to and the company to be in prime position for The House. The House will be a Passive House standard residential building that houses five-hundred units on the Cornell Tech campus. This remarkable public-private partnership is an example of creativity and innovation. Mr. Kramer stated that the House was the first building to achieve the passive house standard in design and construction. Kramer went on to discuss the passive-house standard, which is a set if design principles that aim to achieve energy efficiency and comfort levels within a given space. David showed students how a passive house standard unit of 3 bedrooms in New York City could never turn on the heat if it had body heat and constant screen use.

Photo: Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, The House being the tallest building pictured

The House at Cornell Tech case study was complete when Mr. Kramer led students through the capital structure of the project. The materials he presented exemplified the exact methods for feasibility analysis his team used, a description of the earnings waterfall between Hudson and Cornell University, a description of their debt negotiations, plus stories of how the Cornell University Board of Directors used creativity and timing to make this project happen.

Mr. Kramer's presentation of Hudson's work provided fascinating examples of how real estate development has the capacity to help impoverished communities, celebrate and preserve history, build entirely new neighborhoods, and show us an energy efficient future. It was an amazing celebration of the progress made in New York City's boroughs and of how real estate can reflect human experience over time.

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