In the Trenches with Sandy Jacolow, CIO, Silverstein Properties – Part II

In our last conversation, Sandy Jacolow, CIO of Silverstein Properties , spoke about the opening of the World Trade Center and the innovative technologies and challenges involved in that project. We followed up while Sandy was driving through another blast of winter in the Northeast to a conference in Westchester, and spoke about some of Silverstein’s other projects and the role social media plays in promoting their business.

Chris Saah: Well, first of all, thanks for the virtual tour of 4 World Trade Center. It was fascinating to hear about the technology deployed in a building of that size and scope as well as to celebrate the rebirth of that site following the 9/11 tragedy. Let’s take a moment to talk about some of the other projects you have going on, because while the World Trade Center may be your highest profile project, I know you have many other projects going on around the city.
Sandy Jacolow: Most people around the world associate Silverstein Properties with the World Trade Center, but we are involved in so many other exciting world class projects. In fact, we are transforming the new downtown skyline, breaking ground on the first Four Season’s Hotel and Residence in New York City. This comes on the heels of developing the Four Season Hotel Orlando on premises at Walt Disney World and the House of Mouse, which opens this summer.
Chris Saah: So are you doing twin towers side by side or mixing the hotel and residence together? A condo can’t be cheap in that neighborhood.
Sandy Jacolow: It’s a single building that will be nearly 1,000 feet in height, the tallest residential complex in downtown New York. The lower section will be an iconic Four Season hotel with the remaining space luxury condominiums. And you’re right—they are not for the faint of heart, starting at $3,000 per square foot, where New York’s spectacular skyline surrounds you.
Chris Saah: Out of my price range, sir! And what do you get for that? Gold bathroom fixtures?
Sandy Jacolow: Well, not quite, but the 21st century equivalent. Every unit is prewired for everything you can imagine: wireless access points, lighting and shade controls, electric metering, security and AV. Add to that all of the Four Season unparalleled concierge services and amenities at the tip of your fingers, integrated with a mobile app. When you consider how the CIO role has changed, technology has become an integral part of marketing and pre-sales strategy used to wow our prospective buyers. We’re transforming 7,000 square feet of commercial office space at 7 World Trade Center into an exciting sales office which includes a fully furnished replica model apartment, with state of the art home automation. To showcase the TriBeCa experience we’re installing a sexy 3D projection system that will bring a multi-dimensional neighborhood map to life.
Chris Saah: So, how exactly is the 3D environment created?
Sandy Jacolow: It’s very Disneyesque. We’ve partnered with Incredible Machines based here in New York, they have created installations for global media events. In essence, you have three or four projectors that overlap and are precisely aligned in order to create the impression of depth and motion. Projecting multi-media content on a curved or textured surface gives the impression you are actually looking at a neighborhood building or park come to life, truly fascinating. We then partnered with EDG/Savant to design a simple user friendly iPad interface, letting our leasing agents call up specific images, creating a personalized user experience; effectively supporting their sales effort.
Chris Saah: In the past, we’ve discussed your use of social networking and you’ve spoken at some Realcomm sessions on the topic. I imagine with a project like this, there is a strong social networking component.
Sandy Jacolow: We’ve incorporated social networking into quite a bit of what we do. It’s truly about creating a sense of community and connecting people. For all of its vibrancy, New York can be a cold city where people often just pass one other even when they live or work in the same building. Social Media has allowed us to break down walls drawing people and businesses together.
Chris Saah: I know Silverstein does a lot of charitable work in the city. How do you promote those and other business activities?
Sandy Jacolow: Giving back to the community is part of our corporate culture, supporting organizations like City Harvest, NY Cares Coat and Blood Drives. In the old days it was a simple sign in the lobby, now through Facebook, Twitter and other social channels we connect with a larger audience and help those less fortunate.
We also leverage social platforms to support new retail tenants with cross promotions, providing discounts to our residents while helping to increase sales, a true win-win. On the residential side we are building a community and connecting our residents through events such as live concerts, barbeques or even a simple contest posting a related picture on Facebook and Pinterest. People can also check in at our Dog Park or Fitness Center, shifting a virtual community to human interaction, which also supports our leasing activities.
Chris Saah: And how do you integrate social component with the traditional technology?
Sandy Jacolow: It’s all about a comprehensive Internet strategy linking and integrating social media platforms, web sites and search engine results. Tailoring a mobile user experience is a must, and too often ignored. A website should be optimized for mobile devices, making it is easy to view while delivering a call to action. This facilitates engagement in the moment, when someone is browsing your site, sees something they like and providing a seamless opportunity in one click to obtain more information, call a leasing agent or send a contact email. Ultimately it’s about capturing your share of the market and leveraging technology to drive revenue.
Chris Saah: Sandy, thanks for this view into life in the big city and ways Silverstein leverages technology to up their game.
Sandy Jacolow: My pleasure, it’s a truly a fun and exciting time where technology is being embraced for adding value to the business, and no longer viewed as a support break/fix back office function.