5 Minutes With The Peninsula Team
The Peninsula, Awards for Excellence in Affordable Housing Development Finalist
Aaron Koffman, President, The Hudson Companies
Who has had the greatest influence on your career and what was the best advice he or she gave you?
Alan Bell, Hudson Companies founder and principal, now head of Bell Urban LLC. In the summer of 2003 with my freshly-minted Masters degree in City Planning in hand, Alan was one of two people that responded to the 25 letters I sent to NYC-area alumni of my program in which I essentially begged for an informational interview. He sat with me in his office for almost two hours, and although he couldn’t offer me a job at the time, he gave me seven names within the housing industry. One of them was Lisa Gomez at the NYC Housing Development Corporation who ultimately gave me my first job in housing. Alan’s mantra was that there was no better role in housing development than the Project Manager because they had the most intimate knowledge of a project. No detail was too big or too small for a successful project manager. I also try to say yes to every informational interview request that I get because of Alan’s generosity. As an aside, Lisa Gomez’s best advice was, “Don’t ‘F’ it up”, which has also been impactful.
As a ULI NY Awards nominee, what makes you most proud of your project?
I’m quite proud of the Hudson team, which led Gilbane and MHANY to ask us to join their proposal in the middle of the city competition for the Spofford site and for which we remain eternally grateful. The Peninsula sits on the site of the former Spofford Juvenile Detention facility, which loomed over Hunts Point and the youth of the Bronx and other boroughs for 50 years. I believe 740 units of affordable housing, art space, renewable energy, local business incubators, and public open space will provide the next generation of Bronxites hope and opportunity where incarceration once stood.
What is your favorite off the beaten path New York location or activity?
I will try to put the glee experienced by my son when we go to Coney Island into words. It’s electric. Just imagine any five year-old that you may know smile as wide as their five year-old faces can stretch and then add 20% more to it for good measure. Just the announcement that we are going there elicits an immediate yelp/gasp of joy that is hard to recreate but is every bit as addictive for a parent to see (especially with the added bonus of taking the subway there). I’ve lived in New York for 20 years and in Brooklyn for 16, but I’m an L.A. native so I don’t have the family history or narrative that other New Yorkers have about going to Coney Island in their youth. But it reminds me that I’m raising some cute native Brooklynites that have become as taken by the rides, the people, and the beach as so many folks before them.