For Carole Bloom, founder and principal of Bloomstone Group, developing, marketing, and leasing a residential project is about finding harmony among its various elements—not surprising given her training as an opera singer.
After a 25-year career working in and consulting for nearly every aspect of residential real estate, selling and leasing more than $2 billion in residential properties, and directing the leasing of more than 30,000 rental units, she founded the two-year-old Bloomstone Group, focused on bringing all of the elements of residential buildings together. The firm provides advisory services for developers, owners, investors, and family offices, including repositioning existing rental properties to help maximize rents, hiring and directing leasing teams, design, and development consulting and marketing services.
“It’s something intangible that I feel. I feel a pulse, perhaps because of my musical background,” said Bloom, who also recently launched Silver Street RE, a brokerage for existing apartments. “I just sense vibrations. When you’re singing with an orchestra, you have to listen to all the instruments. You have to listen to everyone around you. When I’m hiring a team, I want them all in sync.”
A native New Yorker, Bloom studied for years with leading singing coaches, and a professional opera career beckoned. But preferring a more stable lifestyle than that of a performer, she instead went into a business that was part of her family history. Her great grandfather and grandfather Irving Stone, through their company Stone & Stone Realty, had owned 40 buildings, but the company dissolved during World War II. Seeking to do on-site leasing, she joined Related Companies, and then spent the next 18 years there learning all aspects of residential real estate.
“I worked in so many different divisions at Related, including Related Rentals, Related Sales, and Related Management,” Bloom recalled.
That led to more contacts. “I had opened two other buildings on the Upper West Side for Related, and after being introduced to David Pickett, president of Gotham Organization, he hired me as a consultant,” she said.
The hire paid off. She priced the building, oversaw the staff, and leased the building in eight months, achieving rents of $90 per square foot, then a record for the Upper West Side. Word spread, and Manhattan Skyline’s Laurie Zucker brought Bloom into the fold, creating the in-house leasing and sales platforms, and overseeing the company’s 14 rental buildings, as well as the condos.
But after four years, Bloom was looking for new challenges. After two years working with Durst Fetner Residential, she joined Eric Birnbaum and Michael Fascitelli at Imperial Companies. By then she had incorporated Bloomstone, named for her family.
“It was a partnership of Imperial and Shorenstein, and that was the time to use my new company,” working on the branding, marketing, and hiring the leasing team, Bloom said.
That led her to working with Watermark LIC, a boutique Long Island City rental project by Twining Properties, Bedrock Real Estate Partners, and Principal Real Estate Investors, as well as 200 East 11th Street, and other public and private companies for new developments, both for sale and lease. Among the other buildings she’s worked with is Imperial Companies’ Apthorp, overseeing marketing, renderings, and pricing. Imperial also brought on Brown Harris to help sell the apartments.
“It was all word of mouth,” Bloom said. All of that work has led to her overseeing a staff of 10.
Her broad experience and overview allow her to bring the building’s different elements into a cohesive whole, which helps get top dollar, regardless of whether the apartments are for sale or lease. Given the competition, it can be difficult for some companies to remain close to the potential client and get the pulse of the market, she explains.
“Developers want my opinion on what will work or why something isn’t working,” she says. “I can come in, see what’s there, see what’s not there, and of course review the pricing. I can offer opinions on what they can do in terms of media strategy, incorporating features such as custom photography. All of those make a difference to the renter.”
When Bloom takes on a building, she examines everything, from the apartments to the lobby amenities to the advertising plans, the rent roll, and competing buildings.
“I look at what needs to be repositioned or added, what the competitors have that the client doesn’t, and then I look at the quality of the apartments and see what needs to be seen and redone. Then I see the opportunity to raise the rents. I do that really well,” Bloom said, laughing. “When you make a decision and believe in a product you watch everything. They’re pieces of a puzzle. You find the piece that’s missing and fix it.”
Marketing has changed over the years, she observes. Related was a pioneer, she explained, that many developers still see as a role model for incorporating amenities and lifestyle offerings into buildings.
“Landlords are not just able to offer a building,” she said. “They must incorporate better amenities, concierge services, certain lifestyle services, and even better gym equipment for a rental building.”
For now, Bloomstone is focused on the five boroughs, but branching off to New Jersey or California is a possibility, all based on referrals. Long Island City has a number of projects coming on the market, and is even attracting customers who previously would have looked at Manhattan, but want a more affordable price point, she observes. That keeps her busy even at a competitive time.
“Demographics can change, but there’s always that moment when you see the customer’s face and know what they’re going to want,” Bloom said. “I examine every building with the demographic in mind, to see them get that sparkle in their eye as they make that split-second decision.”