clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

14 Brazen Quotes From the Developers of Dumbo & Domino

New, 3 comments

David Walentas, founder and overlord of Two Trees, has never been known as an amenable and docile man. Though since his son Jed took the company reins in the early 2000s, David's divisive ways have been largely out of the spotlight, but a feature on the father-son duo in this week's New York Magazine shows that David is no less arrogant than he was when he redeveloped Dumbo nearly two decades ago. And while Jed may be better liked that his father, his opinions about their work are just as strong. The developers talk Dumbo, Domino, and fights with the city with some rather salty language that makes for a very entertaining and enlightening read. Here now, 14 of the best Walentas quotes from the piece:

1) David on his "most notorious eruption" at a public meeting, "where he called Marianna Koval, then-president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, 'a cunt' to her face": "Truth is my best defense: I did call her a cunt!"

2) David on Jed: "Jed is much more personable; he schmoozes with people. I hate 'em all."

3) Jed on working with the community on Domino: "When we bought the thing, I didn't know a fucking thing about the neighborhood. Those folks have lived there their whole life. We're arrogant, but we're not that arrogant."

]

4) Jed on negotiating a Domino deal with de Blasio's planning commissioner Carl Weisbrod and deputy mayor for housing and economic development Alicia Glen: "Carl had never been briefed on the plan. They didn't have their staff organized, and that made it worse. [...] I called a bunch of people, horrified, who I knew had a relationship with Carl. I was like, 'These people are going to ruin this project. What are they doing?'" Jed approached the mayor at an event and told him, "They're overplaying their hand and are going to fuck this up." "He just listened."

5) Jed on the negotiations, again: "There was a question: Are they calculating some political benefit by sacrificing this thing? What we were worried about was whether there could be scenarios where normally rational people behave in ways that are rational to them but where everybody else thinks is irrational. Like North Korea."

6) David on de Blasio: "I think de Blasio's a disaster for the city. His whole administration are amateurs and left wing. He's never run anything and he has no ideas. All he wants to do is get his name in the paper."

7) Jed on Brooklyn: "If I could buy up all of Brooklyn, I would. I'm really bullish on Brooklyn."

8) Jed on his uniform of hoodies: "I don't like to be part of a club. My friends are not real-estate people."

9) Jed on David: "Everything during his whole life was a fight. He started with nothing. Literally nothing. So everything for him was a struggle. Sometimes he probably picked fights where he didn't need to."

10) Jed on his first Two Trees project, the conversion of Dumbo's Clocktower: "We didn't know dick. We were running a 250,000-square-foot conversion, and my previous construction experience was putting together a moving box to move myself into college. It was like, 'Okay, pull flap down!' We'd sit on the floor with the plans and figure out what the fuck we were doing."

11) David on new developers working in Dumbo: "Everyone is playing with other people's money. They have no idea. They don't have a feel for it. With us, we lived and breathed every detail."

12) David, on his fight with the Brooklyn Heights Association over where Jane's Carousel would be installed: "They're just stupid, insulated people. The truth is that the Old Guard up the Heights are racists and anti-Semites, if you really want to know. They don't want anything to happen to disturb their little community. They don't want shvartzes walking through the community to get to the park." But today, "the Heights people love the carousel."

13) David on Jed's plan for the Wythe Hotel: "I told him it's the dumbest fucking idea I've ever heard. It's in fucking nowhere. Why do you want to get in the hotel business? It's not a business."

14) Jed on Domino: "It's like an archaeological dig. [...] You want people to understand there was a pretty intense history here. You want them to feel that. We've spent hundreds of hours saving the more interesting infrastructure. [...] Building a 50-story building is not a monumental occurrence. It's getting the social and urban conditions right so it's a fabulous place people want to come to. If we're good at what we do and you come back in 20 years, you won't know that these five or six buildings were designed by one developer. If it feels like Celebration, Florida, or Walt Disney World, someone should shoot me."
· The Flying Walentases [NYM]
· All Domino coverage [Curbed]
· All Two Trees coverage [Curbed]