Eataly ULI panel at Eataly from left: Steven Cornwell, Marcel Van Ooyen, Beth Lieberman and Adam Saper

NEW YORK CITY—In emphasizing that real estate is not always about dollars per square foot, Marcel Van Ooyen, president and CEO of GrowNYC, said farmers at the Union Square Greenmarket are charged little or nothing to sell their produce. But before the market had moved in, the area was called “Needle Park” due to all the drug use. The scene also included a biker bar across the street and frequent public fighting, according to Van Ooyen.

“We built that neighborhood up” he said, noting the Danny Meyer’s restaurant and Whole Foods later followed the greenmarket to Union Square. “If you’re in real estate, you have to realize a fabulous asset doesn’t mean just how much money it brings. It means how much life you can bring to that location.”

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Betsy Kim

Betsy Kim was the bureau chief, East Coast, and New York City reporter for Real Estate Forum and As a lawyer and journalist, Betsy has worked as the director of editorial and content for LexisNexis, a TV/multi-media journalist for NBC and CBS affiliated TV stations in the Midwest, and an associate producer at Court TV.

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