CPE’s Stars to Watch 2019: Assisted Living Leader

David Burman was probably destined for a real estate career. “From day one, since I was a kid, I always wanted to do this,” he said.

David Burman, 37

Partner, The Engel Burman Group

David Burman
David Burman

David Burman was probably destined for a real estate career. “From day one, since I was a kid, I always wanted to do this,” he said. Nevertheless, he took an unusual detour along the way. After graduating from the University of Miami, he attended the French Culinary Institute, earning a Grande Diploma. It turned out Gallic cuisine wasn’t his calling, however.

“I learned a lot, but it wasn’t the path I wanted to take,” Burman said.

These days, Burman is busier than a top chef. He helps run The Engel Burman Group, a fast-growing development firm that currently has 12 projects valued at more than $1 billion under construction, with another 10 projects on the horizon for 2019-2020. Working alongside his father and brother at the Garden City, N.Y.-based firm, Burman oversees all aspects of strategic development, including deal analysis, site selection, land acquisitions, project planning, municipal approvals, architecture, design and pre-construction.

Burman is currently spearheading several industry-leading projects, including the first ground-up The Bristal Assisted Living community in New York City, which will be mostly dedicated to residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. He also managed the development of Bristal projects in Jericho, N.Y., and Englewood, N.J.— each one the largest assisted living community in its respective state—along with a robust pipeline of new developments.

For Burman, a partner at the firm since 2003, the appeal of real estate is all about creating things. “I love designing the buildings; I like fitting square pegs in round holes,” he said. “It’s creating something from nothing, taking a vacant piece of land and repurposing it into something that helps people.”

Last year, he was responsible for the development, design and implementation of 13 projects totaling 2,416 units. In addition to assisted living communities, the properties included active adult rental apartments, student housing apartments, and an 80-unit addiction research and treatment facility in Calverton, N.Y.

The Engel Burman Group is looking to expand into South Florida and potentially other states. “Twelve to 13 years ago, we were doing a few jobs a year,” Burman noted. “So just the volume and the amount we’ve grown from then till now always excites us.”

Biggest Mentor: His father. “We spend a lot of time together, and I’ve learned a ton from him,” Burman said.

What Others Say About Him: “Over the past six years, I have worked closely with David on the detailed design of many award-winning assisted living and residential developments,” noted David L. Mammina, vice president & director of health care and senior living practice at H2M architects + engineers. “His understanding of land use, zoning and architectural design as interacting components is unique. David is a true professional and a great client partner.”

Meet the rest of CPE’s Stars to Watch for 2019—commercial real estate’s top young talent.