The New York City skyline is a collection of greatest hits for Jonathan Mechanic. The celebrated real estate lawyer with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson has been involved in the sale, lease or purchase of some of the most recognizable buildings in NYC, including Radio City Music Hall, the MetLife Building and the Time Warner Center. And then there’s the $5.4 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to developer Tishman Speyer Properties. In the 2007 edition of New York Metro Super Lawyers Magazine, Mechanic let us in on his love of real estate.
Mechanic once struck up a conversation at a dinner party with the owner of a small arbitrage firm. “He told me the name of the firm and I said, ‘Oh, you used to be at 30 Broad Street. Then, when the building went up next door, you relocated to 40 Broad Street, and then to Third Avenue,'” says Mechanic. “I knew all this because I’d worked on deals for each of those buildings. The man looked at me like I was from Mars.”
This love of real estate runs so deep that Mechanic’s wife does not let him drive through Manhattan, since he prefers to take in the architecture–some of his favorites include the GM Building, the Seagram Building, Time Warner Center and the World Financial Center–rather than watch the road. “I love every part of the city,” he says. “I like having the sun roof open so that I can look around at the buildings.”
Though the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village deal would be an obvious choice for Mechanic’s favorite, he knows each deal can top the last. The same day he closed the deal on Stuyvesant Town, Mechanic gave a presentation at his alma mater. The topic: “Why it’s exciting to be a real estate lawyer.” Mechanic began by telling the story of a double townhouse on 44th Street he closed on during his early years at Fried Frank. “It was 1978, the townhouse cost $1.4 million and I thought that was the most extraordinary amount of money. And earlier today, we just closed a deal on a property for $5.4 billion,” he told the class.