Ellen Israel is among New York’s most accomplished commercial real estate professionals, having executed transactions totaling more than 25 million square feet of sales and leasing on behalf of owners, investors, and tenants. Throughout a distinguished career, spanning more than three decades, Ellen has worked for some of the largest institutional and entrepreneurial real estate organizations, and brings a unique perspective from each side of a negotiating table. Currently, she is the managing director for JRT Realty Group—the nation’s largest certified woman-owned commercial real estate services firm (MWB/E).
After graduating from Ithaca College, she started graduate school at the Sino-Soviet Institute at George Washington University. Her parents referred to the institution as a “Spy School”. After the hostages were taken in Iran in 1979, she opted to join her father in real estate. Within a year, Ellen closed her first major deal, and it was evident that she had a natural knack for the business.
Ellen’s talent for abstract thinking has played a large role in her success. She has not only been well recognized for her excellence in handling complex leasing and investment sales transactions, but she is impeccably skilled at conceiving and orchestrating innovative deals.
In her first deal, 555 West 57th Street, which was a 1-million- square-foot building, sold in 1982 from Ford Motor Company for $40 million, to George Kaufman and Aaron Gural. During this time, there was an oil crisis, and car companies were struggling. General Motors and Chrysler had already sold their buildings, and she knew that others would be on the market for better-priced real estate. Ellen also was able to use her talents for out-of-the-box thinking to sell the New York Post building to Peter Kalikow back in 1988. Rupert Murdoch, the then owner, also owned the Channel 5 building, and Ellen knew that he would be selling soon because at that time, you could only own one media property within the same market.
Ellen has an encyclopedic knowledge of the boroughs, through working with Verizon, Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the MTA. “One of my favorite parts of my job is helping gutsy owners create thriving properties in emerging markets such as Staten Island or the Bronx and Queens,” said Israel. “I know these markets and the potential that they hold for becoming booming hubs of opportunity for users and landlords alike.”
Ellen is also a natural networker—if there is someone she doesn’t know, she makes it a point to not only meet that person but learn as much as she possibly can about him or her. In fact, her firm had t-shirts made, stating: “Have you been Ellen Israelized?” She has a strong reputation amongst her peers, colleagues, and clients of being in the ‘know-all’ and ‘be-all’.
“The beauty of being