Not often do real estate developers have the liberty to create an entire neighborhood from scratch in one of the most densely populated cities in the country. University of Virginia Darden School of Business alumnus David Walentas (’64), who is featured in Forbes magazine this month, seized on just such an opportunity in the late 1970s by transforming a dilapidated industrial landing under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges into what is now one of the most high-end neighborhoods in New York City—known as Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).
After earning his MBA from Darden and making his first foray onto the New York City real estate scene, Walentas borrowed $12M to build up a neighborhood that now lists individual penthouse suites for $15M. Dumbo’s name has since become synonymous with luxury lofts, art galleries, artisanal shops and boutique retailers, in addition to serving as a hub for tech and start-up ventures. Although Manhattan has given birth to plenty of real estate moguls, Forbes points out, “Walentas is the first billionaire to ever make his money almost entirely in New York’s coolest borough.” In a profile this month, Forbes discusses Walentas’s next big move in Manhattan real estate.