Real estate investor Lloyd Goldman is on a tear. After years of lurking in the background of scores of property deals, the very private son of one of the city's most powerful real estate families is suddenly showing up prominently in a wide array of big transactions.
Most famously, in March Mr. Goldman turned up as part of the private investment group that bought the Sears Tower in Chicago for $811 million and quickly sold it for a nearly $30 million profit. That deal came on the heels of his purchase of the Enron headquarters in Houston for $102 million with another group of investors. The group resold that building 16 months later for a $36 million gain. Just two weeks ago, he was at it again, participating in the purchase of a 35-story, $350 million trophy tower in Boston.
Lloyd Goldman's transition to his new status as a hyperactive real estate magnate began quietly back in 2001. It was then that after a long career of buying up small, little-noticed properties, Mr. Goldman bet big on a long shot by the name of Larry Silverstein.
When Mr. Silverstein stunned the real estate world in 2001 by submitting what turned out to be the winning, $3.2 billion bid for the 99-year lease on the World Trade Center, Mr. Goldman emerged as his biggest backer. Mr. Silverstein himself had put up $14 million in equity for the deal; Mr. Goldman's contribution was nearly six times larger, at $80 million.
"Lloyd was integral to our bid for the World Trade Center," says Mr. Silverstein.
Since the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, Mr. Goldman has recouped his original investment via insurance payments, but he has also retained a sizable stake and voice in the rebuilding project.
"The fact that we've received money back through insurance doesn't mean we're any less involved," he says. "I want to have some investment in lower Manhattan, and the World Trade Center is more than some investment."
Mr. Silverstein himself leaves no doubt about his partner's position going forward. "Since Sept. 11, Lloyd has been committed to a full rebuild of the World Trade Center," Mr. Silverstein says. "He believes in lower Manhattan."
These days, Mr. Goldman also believes in something else: working with like-minded investors in packs to land even the biggest of deals.
"I have partnered with more people in the last few years," says Mr. Goldman. "Among our group, we have seen more deals than we have seen individually."
These partners include Stanley Chera, who worked with Mr. Goldman on the Sears Tower. Mr. Chera explains that his fellow investors think the current low interest rates offer a singular opportunity to make bids with piles of borrowed cash.
Seizing the moment
"The reason we're doing more high-profile deals now is the market warrants it," says Mr. Chera.
While some say that paying top dollar in an already