I want to share with you the story of David Lichtenstein and The Lightstone Group – my story. It’s a story appropriate to be heard by everyone from New Jersey to California and from Montana to Texas; black or white, rich or poor. You only have to be an American to understand how it applies to you. And, I have been very fortune to have been born an American in a country that encourages its citizens to work hard, work smart and seize a fair chance to succeed in every possible way in our great democracy.
Despite what you read in the newspapers about our struggling economy, the American Dream is still very much alive and it still allows and encourages people from even the most humble beginnings like me, Lichtenstein, to climb the ladder of success. Not wanting to sound overly narcissistic, it is important that every single person alive in the United States know the story of someone like David Lichtenstein, because it is an American success story told over and over again by many besides myself. It is a story that reminds us all that believing in the Dream has always been in the DNA of Americans, since the nation first declared its independence from Great Britain. From John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the reality of the Dream has proven itself over and over again as common men from all walks of life went on to become great ones in our land of opportunity.
Now, Mr. Lichtenstein is not in the same class as those previously mentioned. In fact, I revere each of these gentlemen’s special contributions to American history and to American know-how, respectively But, David Lichtenstein does share the same exact ladder that each once climbed to attain his greatness. Indeed, it’s the same exact ladder that every successful American – born here or naturalized later on – has had available to them to rise above many of lives struggles.
We may all not need or be endowed with enough gifts to climb that same ladder as high as Thomas Jefferson or Bill Gates once did, but their ladder has many rungs for success-seekers to climb to whatever height they my aspire to and to the level their talents and fates lead them to. Their ultimate level of success is generally – at least – a few rungs higher than the one from which they once began their climb. Of course it is important that their smarts, effort, faith and luck all line up like the stars. For me, David Lichtenstein, the general direction of my climb has usually been up (setbacks here and there as to be expected) and I am very thankful for that.
So, what has been my story? What has been the story of David Lichtenstein in business and in life?
I, David Lichtenstein began my career as a real estate investor in 1986 with an $89,000 property investment. Two years later I began my own real estate company – The Lightstone Group.
Yes, I took risks and they generally panned out for me. Risk taking is inherent in the American Dream. We are guaranteed nothing in a free society; just the opportunity to succeed. Knowing this and living with this understanding, I took additional risks and my next big break was the acquisition of two large outlet mall properties in Orlando, Florida.
The same year, Lightstone Group under CEO David Lichtenstein bought a group of Chicago office buildings through the procurement of Prime Group Realty Trust.
Establishing The Lightstone Group Value Plus REIT (LSVP EIT) in 2006 brought tremendous growth to the Lightstone Group through investments in outlet mall properties. This empowered investors to create balanced portfolios through investing in stable real estate properties in a diversified manner. By December of 2009, David Lichtenstein – me – and the Lightstone Group transferred its portfolio of 22 retail outlets to the Simon Property Group for $2.235 billion. Now, remember that my first deal was only for $89,000 twenty years earlier and the intervening years saw Lichtenstein and The Lightstone Group steadily climb from the tens of thousands through the billions in dollar transactions. Only in America, as they say.
In 2007, the Lightstone Group closed on the 366-room Crown Plaza Hotel and the adjacent CoCo Key Water Resort for $10-million at auction. As the real estate market inevitably ebbs and flows, I weathered the changes and continued to grow my investments by sticking to a timeless strategy.
From there on and throughout that period of American history that will be known as “The Great Recession,” there have been more successes and some disappointing setbacks from time to time, but the general direction of Lightstone Group and David Lichtenstein has been upward. One must learn to make difficult decisions as change occurs, but success is always on the horizon and it is possible to weather a few storms on the way to smooth sailing.
It’s important to realize that the real estate business is not that difficult to understand, either. You buy low and sell higher to make a profit. If there is one thing David Lichtenstein has learned from all of my experiences so far is that you don’t need to be a genius to become successful. You need a fair amount of intelligence; a basic understanding of how a business works, a high degree of good judgment; and the ability to focus on the bigger picture the entire time you move to accomplish it. It requires hard work, many hours of effort and the ability to deal with stress, but in America all things are possible – even in 2014. Mr. Lichtenstein is living proof of that. I am humble and thankful, but I also know that no one handed me anything – I earned it in the land of opportunity.