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The Mensch & Schlemiel of the Week


Noun, informal. A decent, upright, mature and responsible person. 


Noun, slang. An awkward, clumsy, or unlucky person whose endeavors tend to fail; a loser.

Mensch of the Week:

Todd Schuster, Ares Commercial Real Estate

Ares Commercial Real Estate (NYSE: ACRE) has been busy. The mortgage REIT, which focuses on mid-market multifamily loans, recently announced the acquisition of AREA Property Partners in a move that quadruples the company’s capital to $8 billion, according to Commercial Property Executive. Last week, ACRE bought EF&A Funding (better known as Alliant Capital LLC) for almost $63 million while also announcing a new co-CEO, Todd Schuster.

Mr. Schuster is a board member with both ACRE and an Alliant Capital affiliate, which makes him ideal to lead the unification of these these two companies. This appointment is also an extremely high-profile one and likely pleasing to investors.

Here’s a bit of Mr. Schuster’s resume:

  • He was the founder and principal of CW Financial Services
  • He’s familiar with mergers; CW Financial Services merged with Canadian pension fund manager Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec in 2002
  • Through his former company’s subsidiaries, he oversaw the provision of multifamily debt, high-yield CRE loans, and special servicing (through CWCapital Asset Management)
  • He also worked with Salomon Brothers and Bankers Trust, according to his bio on the ARES website

So, he has pretty good credentials.

After many years of impressive growth, the multifamily sector has become extremely competitive, whether we’re talking about gateway or secondary markets. Under Mr. Schuster’s (co-)leadership, ACRE has a great opportunity to serve this active market, providing debt for the many multifamily deals we can expect in coming years.

Schlemiel of the Week:

The Pestronk Brothers

Philadelphia developers Matthew and Michael Pestronk, aka Post Brothers, have a knack for getting media attention. During their seemingly unending battle with the city’s organized labor during the conversion of a vacated industrial property, they seemed to capture headlines week in and week out. Making enemies with the city’s unions will certainly do that.

Now, their embattled development, a high-end residential tower named Goldtex (after its former tenant) is nearing completion and has begun leasing. To get the word out, they began an aggressive ad campaign featuring what one writer calls “Ads Targeted to Desperate Postadolescent Males.” To wit: scantily clad women, provocative poses, and innuendos so unsubtle they belong in an Austin Powers movie.

What is more, the Goldtex listings on Craigslist featured provocative–albeit sophomoric–titles that you’d expect to find on a very different section of Craigslist.

I started to report on this in last Friday’s Week in Review, then got a sneaking suspicion that the Post Brother’s weren’t behind this. I checked the Goldtex website and found it to be completely classy–entendre-free, not a near-naked woman in sight. I assumed these ads were someone’s efforts to smear the Post Brother’s reputation. (A preview party for the building was nearly derailed after an “anonymous” report to authorities that the building didn’t yet have the necessary paperwork to hold such an event.)

As it turns out, the ads were indeed okay’d by the Post Brothers. Questioned about this marketing decision, Matthew Pestronk told Philly Magazine’s Liz Spikol,

People remember them, don’t they? …The people who rent from us, which is to say typically 25- to 35-year-old professionals of all types, are generally attracted to the marketing.

No question the ads get attention, though I showed the ads to a female in the Pestronks’ target age demographic and her reaction was, and I quote, Eww… So the question of how successful these ads really are seems unanswered, though this old New York Times article suggests highly sexualized property marketing gets far more attention than actual returns.

Whether this helps lease space in the Goldtex building remains to be seen, though it goes without saying that the Post Brothers have officially established their “bro appeal”–though it remains to be seen how many “bros” can afford one of their lofts.

But before you assume such marketing is only found on the commercial side, take a look at this residential realtor’s ad:

When’s that open house again?

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