Brooklyn Heights People: David Kramer

d_kramerRaised in what he calls the small town of the Upper West Side, Brooklyn Heights resident David Kramer now builds small towns of his own. Sort of.

As a principal in the Hudson Companies, a real estate developer of rental and sale units around New York City, Kramer has garnered much attention lately for the innovative Inside Third & Bond blog on Started 138 weeks ago, the blog has detailed an abnormally honest account of the building, marketing, and selling of Third + Bond, a townhouse-style condominium apartment complex in Brooklyn.

“The world has become so transparent, and blogs are a manifestation of that,” Kramer said over the phone from his office during a recent workday. By interacting with Brownstoner readers, many of whom are real estate junkies and prospective buyers, Kramer was, he said, “attempting to lead the parade, versus being dressed up at the end of the parade.”

Initially, there was no grand vision. “I was just annoyed,” joked Kramer, who has lived in Brooklyn for more than a decade.

Brownstoner had recently written a piece about how the Hudson Companies, which also developed J Condo in DUMBO, had bought the site on Third St. and Bond St. in Carroll Gardens. Kramer recalled that one unhappy commenter had written, “Why does David Kramer shit near where he eats? Oh yeah, the money.”

Laughing, he said, “I didn’t even know what that meant. I just knew it was intended to be insulting. It was taking for granted the fact that real estate developers are a bunch of jerks. I felt like, enough is enough.”

So he volunteered to tell Hudson Companies’ side of the story, not having any sense that Inside Third & Bond was a bit revolutionary. Every week, Kramer or one of his colleagues updates readers on the work at Third + Bond: progress, setbacks, floorplans, financing, etc. They included the good, the bad, and the ugly in an industry where most planning goes on behind tightly closed doors.

“I think it turned out to be, on the whole, a marketing plus,” said Kramer, who believes the blog helped attract buyers. Though there were initial concerns that they would lose control of the conversation “to the angry mob,” that didn’t really happen.


Third + Bond

As for whether a blog like Inside Third & Bond could succeed only in a city like New York, where real estate is like porn, Kramer wasn’t sure, but said that for Hudson Companies, it was a no-brainer. He welcomed the feedback, like when one commenter suggested moving the washer-dryer to a different location in one apartment. So they did.

And if other companies adopt this practice going forward, Kramer joked, “They all owe me commission.”

When he’s not blogging on Browstoner and scouting out new sites for development, Kramer is also chairman of the Board of Directors at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, the private not-for-profit that was formed 25 years ago to ensure the Port Authority piers would become the world-class park they are slowly turning into today.

“The park is dazzling,” cooed Kramer, who, along with his three young kids, couldn’t be happier with the progress at Brooklyn Bridge Park. He strongly supported the decision to convert the park into from a state to a city entity, and applauded New York State for recognizing that New York City was better suited to complete construction.

ny-family-bklyn“The world is complicated enough, let alone having two different governments having to form a partnership,” he said. “And I think the Mayor has clearly made this a legacy project of his, and we’re bullish that the balance of the funds will materialize from the city in the next four years.”

More of Pier Six will be rolled out in a couple of months, with attractions like sand volleyball courts and a restaurant slated to open. Though right now “it’s feeling pretty magical” in the park, Kramer was able (with some gentle prodding) to name at least one aspect that could be improved.

“Access to the park from the Promenade is the one missing link right now,” he said, and agreed with my anti-parachuting position. “We want to minimize parachuting. That’s what the Conservancy is committed to.”

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  • Homer Fink

    David – try blogging here once in a while, eh?

  • harumph

    good or bad, its all spin, isn’t it?

  • nabeguy

    harumph, you’re right. While there are distinct differences between a curveball and a knuckleball, they’re both intended to do the same thing…strike you out before you can even swing the bat.

  • T.K. Small

    After last night’s media spectacle I would certainly agree that everything is about the “spin”. However, I am wondering if Mr. Kramer might be able to get a specific response from the BBP Conservancy regarding the bees nest that I stirred up recently.

    For background information, take a look at:

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Had the pleasure of being introduced to David recently and can’t say enough good things about him. It is individuals like David that make Brooklyn Heights the exceptional place it is today and will continue to be in the future.

    The fact that I also to grew up on the UWS on West End Avenue on 75th and am a real estate junkie may have something to do with my predisposition to liking him but just want to take this time to thank him for everything he has done for the area of Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn in general. I love this borough more than anything even if we didn’t get LeBron to play for the Brooklyn Nets.

    As an added note, the movie at Pier One was an incredible success and we have people like David and Regina to thank for their hard work in getting that superb park completed.

    Keep up the good work, David, it is appreciated.

  • John

    this guy is full of himself.
    worse than Lebron James.

  • Ilikebrooklyn

    Agree with you, John.

  • Miky

    While I can’t claim to know Kramer well at all, I have met him on a number of occasions. Despite what John says, I found Kramer to be humble, self-effacing and down-to-earth. He is totally unlike any other real estate developer whom I have ever come across. This being a blog, I am sure that he will get painted with the broad brush of snarkiness, but I for one, like the guy.

  • Get A Clue

    The Fourth Estate is dead (not that I’ve ever really considered BHB journalism so much as cheer leading). I should point out that all three of the above photos have been provided by David Kramer himself. The family photo is the same one he uses on his Facebook page. Perhaps it should be pointed out that he’s Facebook “friends” with NYC Public Advocate Bill DiBlasio.
    (Just a note: Former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, who “served” so dishonorably and invisibly during the last 8-year reign of falling cranes, Eminent Domain land grabs, Joshua Guttman fires, etc, is mother of Irving Gotbaum, a prominent real estate lobbyist who currently “serves” on the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Navy Yard along with (no kidding) Jed Walentas and — you guessed it! — David Kramer.)

    Kramer’s involvement with the park is self-serving.
    He should be thanked for nothing.

    If the “luxury” condos this guy is hawking are as luxurious and sprawling as he’d have you believe, then why doesn’t he live in them? Instead, he has taken the profits from his tenth-rate buildings and bought a townhouse on Clinton. Let’s congratulate David Kramer for building one block from a newly designated Superfund site (not to mention its proximity to the lovely Gowanus Housing Project). And only $700 per foot. What a deal!

  • nabeguy

    Got it, Clue. Yowza.

  • David

    I want to encourage “Get a Clue” to continue to unmercifully smear and
    hammer Kramer so that actually considers returning to the west coast ..
    where, even after decades, he is very much respected and missed. LA
    took your Dodgers… and we want Brooklyn’s David Kramer too.

  • Reggie

    What Miky said, word for word.

  • Clued

    Well, then, Mikey and Reggie, I guess you’ll be seeing each other on July 15 at the 2010 Building Awards where the Honoree will be your favorite guy, David Kramer. And where will this prestigious award be presented? Ooooh, look at that, it’ll be at The Brooklyn Navy Yard. Can you say, “circle jerk” ?

  • Miky

    Clue is clueless.

    The Gotbaum-Walentas-Kramer connection means nothing. I serve on numerous boards with people whom I barely otherwise know and with whom I disagree frequently. Is the point that Kramer is somehow responsible for what you perceive to be Public Advocate Gotbaum’s failures because his co-board member is her son? Pretty attenuated.

    And is Kramer to be criticized because he provided the photos that the blog used? Are you saying that the blog should have sent a photographer around to take pictures? Really? What purpose would that have served?

    And finally, if I were a real estate developer, I think there is a decent chance I wouldn’t want to live in the building I built. I was on my co-op board for a brief period and my neighbors bugged me about every minor issue (burned out lightbulbs, a fly in the lobby, chipped paint). I assume that a developer would be subject to much worse. That’s why a building has a managing agent. If Kramer wants to live somewhere else, I don’t blame him.

  • PS8 Mom

    Actually, Miky, I think what Clue is insinuating is that virtually anybody affiliated with real estate development in this area (from the Ratner project to Walentas to Gowanus to the Navy Yard to anybody working in local politics) is a corrupt, deceitful, lying piece of crap. And he’d (or she’d) be 100 percent correct. That perpetual smile you see on Kramer’s face is that of a crocodile. His blog at Brownstoner is nothing more than an advertorial.

    (Incidentally, David Kramer lived at One Main for several years, along with Walentas and Gotbaum, and others too many and sickening to mention.) But, no matter. Just another coincidence.

    So, Miky, Clue is not clueless, but neither are you.
    You know, just like Kramer, exactly what you’re doing.
    You are clearly a supporter of profligate development, a colleague of David Kramer (a relative or David himself).
    And posting your little apologist screeds on blogs of this type are as transparent as the smug grin on David Kramer’s face.