Walter & Samuels, Inc. employs approximately 40 professionals, including management and leasing specialists, attorneys, asset management experts, financial analysts, construction engineers, and residential conversion experts. Biographies of the firm’s senior management are below.
A leading New York City real estate investor with five decades of experience acquiring, managing, converting, and developing commercial and residential real estate in Manhattan, Walter & Samuels, Inc. chairman David I. Berley has earned a storied reputation for his inventive deal-making and ability to create value.
Born in Brooklyn, where he attended Midwood High School, Berley started his real estate career working at Berley & Company, where he syndicated his first deal at the age of 23. In 1968 Berley joined Walter & Samuels; he then bought the company from its senior partners in 1973. As the owner and leader of Walter & Samuels for the last four decades, Berley has done hundreds of deals. Whether buying a building himself or working with institutional partners such as General Electric Capital Corporation or a Deutsche Bank REEF, Berley brings vast experience, sound judgment, and stunning creativity.
Berley has been a pioneer in transforming commercial neighborhoods and converting pre-war residential buildings as well as commercial buildings. When he moved Walter & Samuels from 342 Madison Avenue to 419 Park Avenue South in the 1970s, Berley led the way in making Midtown South a choice destination for quality office space. Berley has always pushed the real estate envelope in the area of residential conversions. His first conversion was a co-op, 1155 Park in 1978. But in the early 1980s Berley saw the advantage of doing condominium conversions when everyone else was doing co-ops. Berley has done 30 condo conversions over the last 30 years, most recently 15 Madison Square North, a conversion of 20-story pre-war office building into 12 floors of luxury residential apartments above an elegant commercial building.
With a legendary feel for buildings and a mind for numbers, Berley has gained wide respect across the New York real estate community throughout his career. Former Chairman of the Young Men’s/Women’s Real Estate Association of New York, and former Chairman of the Board of Governors of its New York Chapter, Berley is the only person to receive both the Young Man of the Year Award (1977) and the Young Real Estate Senior Man of the Year Award (1990). During the last three years, Berley has done $1 billion in deals.
Elena Zweifach has been with Walter & Samuels for more than 30 years. Prior to joining the firm, she worked as a paralegal specializing in foreclosures and estates.
Ms. Zweifach began working at Walter & Samuels in 1977 as assistant to the executive vice president/director of management and was involved in handling all day-to-day operations of commercial and residential buildings. Insurance being an integral part of property management, she became a licensed insurance broker in 1983. After demonstrating special insight and skill while working on all of the company’s coop/condo conversions of residential buildings in the early 1980s, she was promoted to director of the firm’s coop/condominium conversion department, overseeing almost every aspect of the 30 conversions Walter & Samuels has completed over the last thirty years.
Prior to being promoted to president in 1998, Ms. Zweifach was director of residential management, responsible for supervising all managing agents as well as overseeing the day-to-day operations of the firm’s property management portfolio.
As president, in addition to continuing with hands-on guidance of condo conversions, which include, most recently, the complex mixed-use conversions of 15 Madison Square North, 186 Fifth Avenue, and The Theatre Condominium, she oversees the company’s data systems, reporting procedures, and personnel. Ms. Zweifach is committed to enhancing the firm’s long-standing professional standards.
Marc Berley works within in all divisions of Walter & Samuels, including asset management, financing, leasing, and acquisitions, focusing on strategies for building asset values throughout the firm’s portfolio. Mr. Berley also oversees the firm’s public relations.
Prior to joining Walter & Samuels, Mr. Berley was a professor of English, teaching Shakespeare and Renaissance literature at Rutgers and Columbia Universities from 1991 until 2003. From 1998 to 2003, he was President of FAST, a national nonprofit educational foundation. As President of FAST, Mr. Berley appeared frequently on television and radio (Fox News, PBS, BBC, and WABC), and his work was covered by USA Today, Yahoo!, The Washington Post, and other media outlets nationwide. Mr. Berley published three books and was also an op-ed columnist, writing for the New York Post and other major newspapers and magazines. Mr. Berley is listed in Who’s Who in America.
Mr. Berley graduated from Columbia College and earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University, where he was a President’s Fellow. Mr. Berley also earned a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He is a member of the New York Bar.
Mr. Weiss is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Boston University’s School of Law. He was associated with Dreyer & Traub and an associate at Kronish, Lieb, Weiner & Hellman, representing major New York real estate professionals and management companies in all facets of real estate law. In 1995 he co-founded Applied Capital Corp., a private lending company, where he acted as a principal and advisor to real estate and venture capital firms.
Mr. Weiss joined Walter & Samuels in 1997 as director of acquisitions and asset management, working with the firm’s portfolio of more than three million square feet of office space and five hundred apartments
Mr. Weiss was instrumental in the strategic alliance formed in 2001 between Walter & Samuels and Silk & Halpern Realty, Inc., a 400,000 square foot portfolio consisting of prime midtown properties including 136 East 57th Street, 501 Madison Avenue, 425 Madison Avenue and 6 east 45th Street.
Mr. Weiss oversaw the conversion of the top eight floors of 315 West 36th Street into 20 residential condominiums and the conversion of the top 12 floors of 15 Madison Square North into a luxury residential condominium.
Mr. Weiss has been a member of the New York Bar since 1986.
Steven Forest has been with Walter & Samuels for over 20 years and has been involved in virtually every area of the firm’s operations. As Senior Executive Managing Director he is involved with the firm’s acquisitions and asset management, and, along with Peter Weiss, helps operate the firm’s entire commercial and residential portfolio. Mr. Forest oversaw the conversion and sales program for 15 Madison Square North into 69 luxury residential lofts as well as the conversion of 315 West 36th Street. Mr. Forest was also instrumental in the negotiation of IMG’s 55,000 square foot expansion at 304 Park Avenue South and the purchase of 500 Eighth Avenue on behalf of a private investor group controlled by Walter & Samuels.
Mr. Forest began his law career in the real estate department at Dreyer & Traub. He then spent several years as head of his own firm, Emory Properties, where he accumulated an extensive portfolio of real estate assets as well as retail businesses. Prior to joining Walter & Samuels, Inc. Mr. Forest was also a full-service sports agent for a number of professional athletes and sports broadcasters.
Mr. Forest earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Emory University School of Business prior to receiving his law degree from Fordham University and has been of member of the New York and New Jersey State Bar since 1986.