10. Jeff Sutton
Founder and President of Wharton Properties
Last Year’s Rank: 11
There are few people in real estate who would question just how bad the last 12 months has been for retail—except, perhaps, if your name is Jeff Sutton.
While landlords throughout the city (check that, throughout the country) have been hemorrhaging tenants left and right, the sphinx-like head of Wharton Properties inked a 15-year deal to get Nike into a 69,214-square-foot space at 650 Fifth Avenue (which Sutton owns with SL Green Realty Corp.) where the 7,000 square feet of ground floor space traded at $4,000 per square foot. The 15-year deal is worth a jaw-dropping $700 million in total.
And while prime Fifth Avenue storefronts have been sitting empty, somehow Bulgari and Ermenegildo Zegna are parading their wares at 730 Fifth Avenue, a.k.a., the Crown Building, which Sutton owns with GGP (Zegna’s lease was for approximately $150 million for 15 years, as The New York Post reported, and Bulgari is paying a record $5,500 per foot); or, there’s the lease that Sutton signed in Times Square to bring a Swarovski to the old Roxy Deli space at 1565 Broadway, which the Post also reported (the exact prices on that deal remain unknown).
Of course, Sutton’s reach extends well beyond Times Square and the tony parts of Fifth Avenue; Wharton opened a massive, 200,000-square-foot chunk of retail at 100 West 125th Street along Lenox Avenue, which is home to a Burlington Coat Factory, an Olive Garden, a Raymour & Flanigan and an American Eagle with (most enticing of all) a Whole Foods set to open later this year.
Moreover, Sutton tapped the Israeli bond market, raising $245 million on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (at a 3.9 percent interest rate—a record low for an American company) in an issuance backed by 18 assets.
All in all, while many of his peers struggle, Sutton hustles. He’s the one guy in the fraught cauldron of retail we’re not particularly worried about.—M.G.