Jared Kushner recalls having a childhood similar to those of other children of private, entrepreneurial apartment executives. Instead of going to summer camp, he spent summers working for his father, Charles. Each year, he’d learn a different part of the business, whether it was working on construction sites, leasing and renovating apartments, shadowing the head of property management, studying finance, or doing due diligence for acquisitions.
While that humble beginning is a far cry from his current life as CEO of Kushner Cos., owner of the New York Observer, husband to Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law of business magnate Donald Trump, it helped get Jared started in the business at a young age. In college, while other kids were partying, he saw an opportunity and bought apartment complexes.
“Thinking that I had spent my whole life in the business and that I knew everything about it, I went in and bought some apartments that I tried to manage myself,” Kushner says. “I made a bunch of mistakes along the way.”
But the rising market in the early and mid 2000s helped him out. “We ended up doing very well with renovations,” he says. “I think I bought things right and I was able to really create some good value.”
The year before he graduated, Kushner worked for an investment bank for a summer and soon realized that wasn’t the career for him. Wanting to go into public service and become a prosecutor, he attended New York University to earn degrees in law and business. But his plans changed in 2004, when his father was arrested. “I was basically forced to go into the family business [as a result],” he says. “I got involved and was pretty much in the office five days a week and went to law school [on the side].”
He still followed other pursuits, as well. In 2006, Kushner made a non–real estate acquisition that made headlines in New York when he bought the New York Observer. He then split time between the family real estate business and his media business. By 2008, he decided to head back to real estate full time, taking over the family business (while still owning the Observer). And, he’s certainly made his mark on Kushner Cos.
While Charles focused on New Jersey, Jared started buying value-add opportunities in New York, where Kushner now owns more than a thousand apartments and 3.5 million square feet of office space. In the city (specifically, in the East Village), Kushner has bought more than 70 buildings since 2009, some for the family as long-term holds and others with several institutional partners. Currently, he's converting 2 Rector St. into 450 apartments and has a contract to close on 508 units in Brooklyn. Next year, Kushner will break ground on a 450-unit rental building in Jersey City, N.J.
But Jared isn’t just staying in the Northeast. Since 2010, he’s bought units in several markets across the country, including the August 2012 purchase of a 25 percent stake in a 5,500-unit Maryland portfolio from Boston-based Rockpoint Group. “We’ve been very happy with that portfolio,” Kushner says. “We made the improvements and the properties’ cash flows very nicely.”