It’s hard to come up with a word or phrase to fully encompass Marc Bell’s work. Terms like “entrepreneur” or “investor” do not come close to capturing the scope of his interests, which range from the Broadway stage to the frontiers of space—and include a longtime involvement with his alma mater, NYU.
Already a member of the NYU Board of Trustees, NYU Langone Medical Center Board of Overseers, and NYU Stern Center for Real Estate Finance Research Advisory Board, Marc is now bringing his insights and expertise to the Schack Institute Advisory Board—returning to the school where he earned his MS in Real Estate Development and Investment.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Schack,” he says. “Schack gave me the tools that I needed to do what I did.”
Marc’s ties to Schack—and to real estate in New York City—run deep. His father, an attorney and developer, was a partner in Bell Kalnick Beckman Klee & Green, one of the city’s leading boutique real estate firms in the 1970’s and ’80s. In 1988, the elder Bell joined Larry Silverstein ’52 (who remains active on the Advisory Board as Chair Emeritus) and other prominent real estate industry figures in founding the Institute and recruiting students—including Marc, then a recent college graduate.
“I was having Chinese food with my dad and Norman Weinberg [at that time, Associate Dean of SPS—then known as the School of Continuing Education—and inaugural director of Schack],” he recalls. “This was not long after the stock market crash in 1987, and I was having trouble finding a job. And my father and Norman were like, ‘Look, we have this new real estate program, we need kids, and we can’t find anybody. Why don’t you do the program for a year?’”
Marc joined an initial cohort of 11 students who ultimately became the Institute’s first graduating class. “When we had our fifth-anniversary reunion in [then-NYU President] John Sexton’s apartment,” he jokes, “the entire class except one person showed up… percentage-wise, it may have been the best reunion in the history of NYU.”
He describes his time at Schack as an “amazing, phenomenal experience” where he learned from professors who represented “a Who’s-Who of real estate in New York.” He also has fond memories of his graduation ceremony, which was rather unconventional.
“We didn’t actually have a ceremony,” he says. “[Then-President] L. Jay Oliva came up to 11 West 42nd Street to meet us. We were all standing lined up in the hallway, and he shook our hands and pinned a little torch on each of us. It was pretty funny—and I still have the torch to this day.”
After graduation, Marc was able to put his Schack education to good use when he founded Globix: The Global Internet Exchange, a technology company which became the world’s largest logical peer, connecting more than 1,000 internet providers around the world with over 28,000 miles of fiber, helping to build one of the largest parts of the Internet’s global backbone.
“We built over one million square feet of Internet Data Center space in record time and one of the first and largest data centers in New York City,” he explains, “and built other centers around the world. So that got me into the construction and real estate business. I actually owned a construction company for a time.”
Marc went on to an incredibly eclectic career. Among the highlights: He is a two-time Tony Award-winning stage producer whose Broadway credits include Jersey Boys and August: Osage County, in addition to several films; and he is the managing partner of Marc Bell Capital, a Boca Raton, FL-based Family Home Office that he founded in 2003. More recently, Marc co-founded and serves as Executive Chairman of PredaSAR, which plans to launch and operate the world’s largest constellation of spacecraft using advanced radar technology for government applications and commercial uses. (When asked whether he had ever considered going into space, he replied with a laugh, “They don’t put overweight, middle-aged Jews in space.”)
Over the years, Marc remained friendly with many of his former Schack classmates. But he had never given much thought to becoming involved with the Institute until February of last year.
“My father had just passed away,” he explains, “and I was looking for a way to honor him. I had endowed a chair at [NYU Langone] Medical Center in his name not too long ago… but I also felt it was the right time to join the Schack board.”
He strongly believes that his business experience gives him a unique perspective on the connection between technology and real estate—something that he would like to see Schack impart to its students.
“When you think of real estate development, there’s a lot of technology involved; we just don’t call it ‘technology’,” he says. “How do you make concrete? How do you make steel? How do you know how tall a building can be before it falls down? It’s technology you’re going to use.”