Patricia Goldstein, CRE Pioneer, Banking Executive, Legendary Financier, Dies at 69

The commercial real estate industry is mourning the loss of Patricia Goldstein.

The commercial real estate industry is mourning the loss of Patricia Goldstein, a trailblazer who is being remembered as a legendary leader, financier and mentor to many of today’s top female executives.

She was 69 and passed away Wednesday from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident on April 23 in Highland Beach, Fla. Charges are pending against the driver who hit Goldstein and her husband, Howard Epstein, who was also injured.

At the time of her death, Goldstein was vice chairman & head of commercial real estate for Emigrant Bank. She started her career at Citicorp and went on to have leadership roles at M.J. Raynes, Olympia & York and Milstein Brothers Realty Investors, before joining Emigrant Bank in 2004.

Goldstein was best known for her skill at structuring challenging transactions that involved high-profile properties and complex portfolios. Goldstein started the CMBS desk at Citicorp, where she restructured debt on billions of dollars’ worth of assets following the financial crisis in the early 1990s.

“She could look at any deal and immediately say what worked and what didn’t,” recalled Jonathan Mechanic, chairman of Fried Frank’s Real Estate Department and a friend for over 30 years. “She was extraordinarily bright and could evaluate any deal in record time.

“Everyone in the real estate world knew her. She was smart. She was tough. She was very, very bright and experienced. She had done it all,” Mechanic told Commercial Property Executive.

Goldstein paved the way for many women in the industry, changing corporate culture and fighting for gender and racial equity. Considered a role model, she served as a mentor to countless female CRE executives, including Wendy Silverstein, the former co-head of acquisitions and capital markets at Vornado Realty Trust.

“She taught a whole generation of women in real estate how you really could do it all as long as you had the brains, energy and passion to make it work,” Silverstein said in a statement. “She was a mentor to many simply by being such a great example, but to those of us lucky enough to call her a friend, she was also someone who cared and was always there to offer her guidance and support.”

Mary Ann Tighe, CEO of CBRE’s New York Tri-State Region, noted that even though they were in different parts of the business, Goldstein was committed to helping all women advance.

“Pat always had time for you and would be available for advice, support, a drink, lunch, whatever,” said Tighe, a friend for over 25 years. “And it was always done with complete generosity and openness, never looking for anything back from it.”

Goldstein served as a mentor to both female and male professionals, Tighe pointed out, telling CPE that she had heard from many men since the announcement of Goldstein’s death. Ric Clark, CEO of Brookfield Property Group, is among the executives paying tribute. “Pat gave me my start in real estate and remained an important mentor throughout my career,” Clark said in a statement. “I have always admired her straightforward style and will forever be grateful for her support.”

Frank Sullivan, a longtime partner at Clarion Partners who worked with Goldstein at Citicorp, said he first met her in 1974 ,”when she was a newly minted loan officer at Citi and I worked for a (not surprisingly for the times, in trouble) developer.”

“I found her tough, sweet, smart and very pro-business,” he said in an emailed statement. “She carried no chips on her shoulder, and much as I wanted to dislike her (most people do that when they don’t get their way), she often came up with a good idea, and when I did likewise, she saw its merits and worked with me on implementation.”

Sullivan said the two built a friendship (he called her a “wicked good tennis player”) and also did some more business deals over the years. He and his wife had recently had dinner with Goldstein and her husband. “She and I did that old reminiscing as only longtime friends can,” he said. “She was just as she had been in 1974: smart, cool, opinionated, thoughtful, caring about what needed caring and willing to go the extra mile.”

Marty Burger, CEO of Silverstein Properties Inc., also remembered Goldstein as a friend and longtime mentor. “Pat was a consummate professional, as well as a pioneer and role model for women in commercial real estate,” Burger said in a statement. “She understood better than anyone how to get major projects financed and built.”

Raised in Queens, N.Y., Goldstein graduated from Baruch College and earned an MBA from New York University. She began her career in the early 1970s at Citicorp. Offered a job as a typist, she convinced the bank’s executives she was qualified to become the first woman in the company’s credit training program.

During the 1980s, Goldstein moved on to senior leadership roles at several firms, including serving as executive vice president & COO at M.J. Raynes and senior vice president at Olympia & York. During her tenure at Olympia & York, she helped finance the Canary Wharf project in London.

She returned to Citicorp during the financial crisis of the early 1990s, where contributions to saving the bank from major financial problems earned her the moniker “workout queen.” Goldstein negotiated major transactions, including Bertelsmann A.G.’s acquisition of 1540 Broadway and Morgan Stanley’s purchase of 750 Seventh Ave., that helped stabilize the distressed office market of the time.

Goldstein joined Milstein Brothers Realty Investors in 2001 to run a new venture in acquisitions and development. In 2004, she became chairman & head of CRE for Emigrant Bank, in charge of credit decisions for the real estate group as well as Emigrant’s other leading franchises.

“Pat was an iconic, larger-than-life leader in banking and real estate in New York City and the nation, a true force of nature, a pioneer in her field for women, and a mentor to many,” said Howard Milstein, chairman of Emigrant Bank & Milstein Properties, in a statement. “She loved what she did, day in and day out, and excelled in her field.”

Goldstein was also an active member of The Real Estate Roundtable for many years, noted Jeffrey DeBoer, the organization’s president & CEO. “Her honest, informed and passionate perspective on real estate financing issues always helped us reach sound responsible advocacy positions,” he said in a statement. “She had a lot of friends in the Roundtable and we will miss her tremendously.”

She was also active in the NY Teachers Common Fund, the Urban Land Institute, the Women’s UJA, the NYU Schack School of Real Estate, the Real Estate Board of New York and the Association of Real Estate Women.

Goldstein is survived by her husband, Howard Epstein, DDS; a daughter, Alicia Goldstein, executive vice president of Faena/Access Industries; a son, Jeffrey Goldstein, the founder and owner of Blue&Cream; and two grandsons, Jack Prusky and Jetson Goldstein.

Services will be held Monday, 11 a.m., at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan.