Faith Hope Consolo, a Force in Retail Real Estate, Is Dead at 73

Faith Hope Consolo, who as the chairwoman of Douglas Elliman’s retail group was one of New York City’s most prolific retail real estate brokers, died on Dec. 23 at her home in Manhattan. She was 73.

A spokesman for Douglas Elliman confirmed the death but did not specify the cause.

A mainstay in the clubby world of New York real estate, Ms. Consolo was responsible for luring numerous luxury retailers to Manhattan. Among her clients were Cartier, Versace, Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent; she also represented some of New York’s best-known landlords, including Donald J. Trump and Larry Silverstein.

The properties she handled included the Cartier mansion, on Fifth Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets, and the nearby Zara flagship store.

Ms. Consolo, who called herself the “Queen of Retail,” was known for her outsize personality and her love of publicity. Her name was splashed across vacant shop windows from Madison Avenue to SoHo. Her ubiquitous tagline, “You Need Faith,” was imprinted on everything from her business cards to the pink nail files she sent clients for the holidays.

But despite her larger-than-life persona, Ms. Consolo was exceedingly private, and many details about her personal life remain unknown — even to those closest to her.

An only child, she was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, on July 25, 1945, and moved to Westport, Conn., as a young girl. Her father, John, who ran a real estate business, died when she was 2; her mother, Jill, a child psychiatrist, died when she was 12; and she was raised mostly by her grandmother, according to Joseph Aquino, who was her business partner for 26 years.

No immediate family members survive.

Ms. Consolo studied art history at New York University and also attended Parsons School of Design. In the late 1970s, she married and moved to Malibu, Calif. While there, she opened an interior design business in Beverly Hills, decorating movie studios and the homes of film stars, according to an interview she gave in 2005. But the marriage was short-lived, and after her divorce Ms. Consolo returned to New York.

“I had a failed marriage behind me,” she said. “I had been good in design, but not good enough to be in the top tier. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do.”

Mr. Aquino said: “She was a world-class shopper, she knew all the stores in Europe, and she wanted to go into real estate. So a friend suggested that she work with retailers.”

In 1985, Ms. Consolo met the owner of a firm called 2001 Real Estate and took a part-time job there cold-calling landlords and retailers, hoping to find vacant stores and shopkeepers who wanted to lease them. So great was her knack for deal-making that she was soon recruited by the retail powerhouse Garrick-Aug Worldwide. She remained there for nearly two decades, eventually becoming vice chairwoman. She joined Douglas Elliman in 2005.

“Faith was a driving and iconic force in New York City’s retail sector,” Steven James, president of Douglas Elliman’s New York City region, said in a statement.

Ms. Consolo was on the board of the Association of Real Estate Women and founded the AREW Charitable Fund.

Early in her career, she met Jerome Sidel, a Wall Street broker and financial consultant, when she showed him a rental property and then offered to walk his dog. The pair were together for decades, although Ms. Consolo rarely discussed their relationship.

“She was relentless in her pursuit of her brand; that was her world, her brand in real estate,” said Adam Sidel, Jerome’s son from a previous marriage, referring to Ms. Consolo’s constant efforts to publicize her business. “Aside from that, it was my father. They were deeply committed for more than 30 years.”

The younger Mr. Sidel said he did not know much about Ms. Consolo, “as surprising as that may be, considering she was effectively my stepmother.” He said that he did not even know if his father had ever married Ms. Consolo, although she was known as Mrs. Sidel in her personal life.

Ms. Consolo could be brash and outspoken, which sometimes led to conflict. In 2015, her partnership with Mr. Aquino dissolved over a dispute regarding commissions. Adam Sidel became estranged from her after his father died in 2011.

“She was smart and complicated and challenging,” Mr. Sidel said. “She didn’t embarrass easily. She did what she wanted to do, maybe regardless of the outcome.”

When she died, Ms. Consolo was in the midst of several deals. “We were actually in negotiations right now for a Madison Avenue property,” said Norman Sturner, the chairman of MHP Real Estate Services. “She was a force — a retailing force. If you wanted to get a store, you had to have Faith.”

Better Than the Powerball

Winning a spot in one of New York City’s affordable housing lotteries might seem completely out of reach, the stuff of urban legend.

But every day across the five boroughs, tens of thousands of New Yorkers play the odds, and a lucky few check their inboxes to discover they have won an affordable new home. For some, the welcome news may have come just months after they first applied, while for others, it may have taken years.

“I was like, ‘Are you being serious?’ For a minute I thought it was a joke,” said Josh Boscarino, 28, a former actor, after hearing that he had won a large rent-stabilized studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with an oversized window facing the waterfront, months after submitting his first application.

Winners include older adults who rely on Social Security as their sole income and 30-something singles with graduate degrees earning six figures. The vast majority of the units awarded are rent-stabilized apartments that range in price from a few hundred dollars a month to nearly market-rate amounts, although the lotteries also offer some below-market-rate condominiums and cooperatives, and even a few coveted single-family houses.

The lotteries are run by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Housing Development Corporation, and are open to New Yorkers who earn no more than $120,615 for a single person or $199,650 for a family of six. And the demand is so high that it is not unheard-of for the city to receive as many as 58,000 applicants for 58 apartments.

The housing stock available is built and owned by private developers who typically receive subsidies, tax abatements or zoning benefits in exchange for creating below-market-rate units. The units can be found in buildings that are entirely affordable housing, as well as those that include a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments, depending on the type of subsidy the developer received.

Applicants chosen in the agency’s random drawings are screened by the developers, who verify income and interview candidates (a process that is separate from the city’s public housing, which is owned and operated by the New York City Housing Authority).

Mayor Bill de Blasio has made affordable housing a priority, promising to build or preserve a total of 300,000 units by 2026. As part of that effort, the number of apartments made available through the lotteries has increased in recent years. In 2018, some 7,857 apartments were awarded by lottery, compared with 2,741 in 2012, before Mr. de Blasio took office. The administration has also streamlined the application process, expanding NYC Housing Connect, a website translated into seven languages, where applicants can fill out a profile and enter multiple lotteries with the click of a button.

But the increase in the number of units available has been accompanied by a surge in the number of people applying. In 2018, there were more than 4.6 million applicants, with the odds of winning just 1 in 592. In 2012, there were fewer units available, but the odds were far better, at 1 in 80; in 2011, they were 1 in 63.

Despite those daunting statistics, chances of winning are better than it may seem. That is because many of those who apply are disqualified, either because their earnings exceed or are below the requirements for a specific development, or because they fail to provide the necessary paperwork, including work history and tax records.

And depending on the housing project, preference may be given to those who meet certain criteria, like municipal workers, the homeless or residents of the neighborhood where the development is being built. (The latter, known as community preference, has come under attackfor perpetuating racial segregation in some neighborhoods, and in the wake of a growing homeless population, some have also criticized the lottery program for not giving enough preference to the homeless.)

Those who have won housing lotteries are a diverse group, from a variety of socioeconomic, racial and geographic backgrounds. Despite their differences, however, they tend to have something in common: Many have faced challenging life events, and nearly all insist that the key to winning the lottery is determination.

“You have to know how to hustle and be on it,” said Erika Lindsey, an urban planner who spent nearly a decade applying to lotteries before winning a one-bedroom in Brooklyn, near Barclays Center. “My main advice is to be persistent.”

Before the Trumps, There Were the Wendels

(The New York Times) The most well-known developer in New York today may be a man with national aspirations and a propensity to talk off the top of his extravagantly coifed head, but a century ago, the headlines were commanded by a real estate family with an aversion to publicity and the trappings of wealth.

In the early 20th century, the Wendels were perhaps the most powerful landlords in New York City, a dynasty with more than 150 properties in Manhattan worth over $1 billion in today’s dollars. The Wendels were the delight of the local papers, for, rich as they were, the family — six sisters and a brother, all unmarried — lived together in a shuttered mansion without electricity on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 39th Street, and dressed in grim Victorian garb that had gone out of style half a century earlier. Tour buses regularly pulled up in front of “the House of Mystery.”

In their day, they were known as “the Weird Wendels.” John G. Wendel II, the brother, was alternately referred to as “the hermit” and “the recluse” of Fifth Avenue.

“Of all the families floated to affluence by rising waves of Manhattan real estate values, the Wendels were the quietest and the queerest,” wrote Arthur Pound in his 1935 book, “The Golden Earth: The Story of Manhattan’s Landed Wealth.” “They lived simply on the most expensive residential site in New York City,” he continued, and “drew less fun from their fortune than a bricklayer gets out of his weekly wage.”

Chasing Waldorf's History as it Becomes History Itself

(The New York Times) The Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan is known for its grand public spaces, such as its two-tiered ballroom and vast lobby. But upstairs, in a windowless corner of the hotel’s administrative offices, Deidre Dinnigan toils in a cramped room not much larger than a closet. Ms. Dinnigan, the hotel’s archivist, is responsible for cataloging and researching more than 4,000 objects, from filigreed brass room numbers to yellowing advertisements from the 1950s.

“I love what I do,” Ms. Dinnigan said during a recent interview, her tall frame squeezed between a table obscured by books and a tower of filing cabinets. A mannequin dressed in an old bellhop uniform was stationed where her desk chair would normally go. “I believe I would throw myself into any field,” she said, “but there is something about the Waldorf, especially if you love New York and social history.”

 

 

Deidre Dinnigan has been working at the Waldorf Astoria as the hotel’s archivist for over a year. CreditAlex Wroblewski/The New York Times

Want a Green Card? Invest in Real Estate

(The New York Times) Like many of her fellow classmates at New York University, Yanchu Zhao has a busy schedule. A college junior, she has a double major in economics and journalism, and juggles classes, an internship and life with roommates in a rental near Herald Square.

But unlike many of her fellow classmates, Ms. Zhao came to the United States on a student visa. “A lot of students talked about how hard it was to get a job in New York and in the United States,” she said. “My parents heard that if I can get a green card, it would be easier for me to succeed.”

So two years ago, Ms. Zhao’s parents invested $500,000 in a hotel project on Bryant Park, knowing that their investment could be parlayed into green cards for the family. Three months ago, their paperwork came through and the Zhaos became permanent residents of the United States.

Yi Lin and his wife, Molly Xi, in their new home in Manhattan. Under a federal program known as EB-5, they received green cards in exchange for their investment in a Miami real estate project. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Leonardo DiCaprio Builds an Eco-Resort

(The New York Times) In what may be his highest-impact leading role yet, the actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the Oscar-nominated “Wolf of Wall Street,” is planning to heal an island.

A well-known environmental activist, Mr. DiCaprio bought Blackadore Caye, 104 acres of wild, unpopulated land off the coast of Belize, with a partner soon after he set foot in the country a decade ago. “It was like heaven on earth,” he said, speaking by telephone from Los Angeles. “And almost immediately, I found this opportunity to purchase an island there.”

Now Mr. DiCaprio has joined with Paul Scialla, the chief executive of Delos, a New York City-based developer, to create an eco-conscious resort there. When it opens to guests in 2018, “Blackadore Caye, a Restorative Island” will feature the trappings of many luxury resorts, with sprawling villas, infinity pools and stunning sunset views.

Benedict Kim for The New York Times

Bon Appétit Moves to a New Home and Into the Kitchen You’ve Always Wanted

(The New York Times) The first thing Alison Roman does when she arrives at work is switch on the computer and check her email. But that’s where the similarities with many Manhattan office workers end.

After a few minutes at her desk, Ms. Roman clomps downstairs in her kitchen clogs and heads to her workstation. There, she puts on an apron, spreads her recipe on the white Calacatta marble countertop and begins slicing a tomato. Instead of asking colleagues where the stapler is, she searches for the microplane.

“We are obsessed with this,” she said, grabbing the rectangular metal tool and bowing her head over a lemon. “You can use it to zest, to shave Parmesan, you name it.”

Alison Roman, senior food editor at Bon Appétit, in the test kitchen on the 35th floor of 1 World Trade Center.      Credit  Pablo Enriquez for The New York Times

Alison Roman, senior food editor at Bon Appétit, in the test kitchen on the 35th floor of 1 World Trade Center. Credit Pablo Enriquez for The New York Times

The Lure of the Gold Coast: Wealthy Chinese Buyers Head to New York’s Suburbs

(The New York Times) For the past several years, wealthy buyers from China have been purchasing investment properties and pieds-à-terre in luxurious Manhattan high-rises. Lately, though, some have moved their portfolios east to the exclusive enclaves of Long Island, springing for the pricey houses of the North Shore’s Gold Coast.

Some Chinese buyers are parking money in what they see as a low-risk investment. Others are seeking a trophy home. Still others are intent on living in these places full time while their children attend the area’s high-performing schools.

The suburbs of Long Island are not the only places growing in desirability among the Chinese.