Interview With Wen Shiau From Cypress Capital Group, United States

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Wen Shiau

Wen Shiau is the managing partner of the Cypress Capital Group. It is one of the most prominent real estate investment companies in the United States.

Interview with the 2021 TITAN Property Awards Winner - Wen Shiau

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself, your background, and your job profile.

I’m a Silicon Valley and New York resident that has been an avid real estate investor, directly and co-investing, in Silicon Valley, New York, and Hong Kong over the past 25 years.

As a native of New Jersey, I began my career on Wall Street, and had a 20-year stint in Asia beginning in 1992, working for firms such as Credit Suisse, Lehman Brothers, and Greenwich Capital. I began my professional career as a Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) structurer and trader at Credit Suisse (formerly, First Boston) where I mastered the pricing dynamics of interest rates, geographic and macroeconomic trends of real estate investments. I was the co-head of Asia-Pacific capital markets for WestLB with oversight from Tokyo to Sydney to India. As a member of the APAC Executive and Investment Committees, I co-managed and built up the 100 persons capital markets team, focusing on Asian credits, rates, and fx, with principal investing for a US $31B balance sheet. Some of the highlights of my career on Wall Street include ranking in the top 5% of global sales for Lehman Brothers and #1 in the Asia-Pacific market for Credit Suisse.

I hold an M.B.A. from The Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth, and a B.A. from Cornell University where I was a double major in theoretical mathematics and computer science.

2What is your role in the company?

I’m the managing partner of Cypress Capital Group.

3Please tell us more about your company / organization.

Cypress Capital Group is a single-family office focused exclusively on real estate. We are the anchor investors of our Private Equity Real Estate funds which invest in tech-centered cities. We combine global macro investment analyses with superior local execution capabilities.

4Congratulations! As the winner of the 2021 TITAN Property Awards, what does it mean for you, your team, and your organization, to receive this distinction?

We are thrilled and gratified to be recognized by our industry leaders, by winning Gold in the category of Property Development / Redevelopment & Renovation. It is never easy to develop in New York City, especially during the 2020 pandemic, which introduced great uncertainty, labor and supply shortages. In the end, New York City remains one of the greatest cities in the world to work and play.

5Could you briefly explain about the winning project / title you entered into the 2021 TITAN Property Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

Located on the corner of east 26th street and 3rdavenue, 201 East 26th Street is a boutique walk-up rental building with condo-like finishes that adds to the historic charm of Manhattan’s central and idyllic neighborhood of Kips Bay. It was built to be a residential property in the 1930’s and when we acquired it in 1971, we wanted to keep it as a residential property. When renovation started in May of 2018, the property’s original footprint was retained while increasing its height only minimally, despite having the air rights to build much higher. The building is four stories with six apartment units, a furnished rooftop as well as a retail space on the ground floor with a lower-level basement.

6What were the biggest challenges you faced with this project?

Post Covid-19, when we returned to work in 2021 it led to the city government being stalled on real estate development projects, which resulted in delays to get permits, etc. The global supply chain also greatly impacted our ability to source materials. We are still feeling the lingering impact of this pandemic but most New Yorkers are now vaccinated, and there is a feeling that the worst is behind us. We are New York Strong as we continue to establish the new norm.

7How has winning this award developed your practice / career?

Great financial returns allows us to invest in, and design beautiful products with practical amenities. This award is a public stamp of recognition by leaders in the industry – and, we are most grateful to be acknowledged.

8For Property Developer, Architect and Designer, what makes a “good” property design?

Luxury is appealing but we believe that functionality is a form, and design process that produces great financial returns. We develop residential buildings that are modern, offer great amenities and adds to the charm of a neighborhood, making it more equitable and sustainable.

9Describe your property design style and its main characteristics.

Attention to detail. The design of 201 East 26th Street was elevated to feature condo-like finishes. Upgrades, like Nest thermostats, in-unit washer/dryers, and oak flooring were added to the building. Residents enjoy a Japanese garden on the rooftop, bike storage, a virtual doorman, an electronically secure delivery room, and Dormakaba locks with key-less entry for building and residences. We also invested in triple pane windows imported from Europe and sound insulation by QuietRock, to keep the hustle and bustle of Third Avenue’s noise out. We focus on the details for any project we develop in an effort to bring forward the best quality residences.

10What made you / Why did you choose to become an artist / designer / real estate agent / property developer?

As investors that are passionate about residential real estate development, we understand that to generate optimal returns, the process combines superior design, form and location. Of course, there are many assets to generate financial returns, but we find that real estate allows us to feel great beyond the numbers. We love the tangibles of real estate: beautiful properties, impacting lives and creating a community.

11What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

We love transitional design which pays homage to the past and moves us to the future. We love to infuse the insides of the building with all the latest technology because technology makes life so much easier, when it works!

12What led you / your organization to become successful within the industry you are currently in?

We are successful because we go above and beyond to deliver exceptional properties and serve our stakeholders. We aim to create lasting and sustainable value through returns, architecture and charity.

13What makes your country specifically unique in the design industry?

As a firm we have deliberately invested only in the United States’ Tier-1 tech centered cities because that is where the talent and jobs are. We are the best simply because we are surrounded by the best innovators and creators in New York City and Silicon Valley.

14Do you think your country and its cultural heritage had an impact on your design process?

The culture of the United States infuses our country and each individual firm. The United States is unique NOT because it intrinsically has the best people, but because its system attracts the brightest and most ambitious. As Frank Sinatra once sang, “If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere."

15How has the country, you are based in, helped move your industry forward?

The United States is a leader in technology because it has the most vibrant economy. There are consequences of having a disruptive technology because the old ways must die to have a birth of new transformative, more efficient ways of living and doing business. This vibrancy is lacking in many other parts of the world.

16What are your top THREE (3) favorite things about the real estate industry?

We can create new communities, invest in neighborhoods and create a higher tax base and positively impact all our stakeholders.

17Where do you see the evolution of the real estate industry in the next 5-10 years?

The real estate industry is very traditional, and because each project is unique, they cannot be put on an assembly line to improve competences. We await for innovative prop-tech companies to provide services and solutions which we would invest in to improve our own process. Our footprint in Silicon Valley is to not only to provide for the much-needed shortage of housing, but to also source prop-tech investments. .

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the real estate industry?

Start immediately and start small. Get hands on experience. There are many different opportunities and levels to invest in, and build one’s knowledge.

19Who has inspired you in your life, and why?

One person that's inspired me is Ray Dalio – building an entire machine to generate repeatable successes, rather than a firm which dies after the founder is gone. Another is Steve Jobs. His passion and perfectionism for a product, and believing that if you build it, they will come.

20What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

Building trust through consistently delivering on what we say. Sometimes, we have to pay a financial consequence in the short run to deliver, but in the long run, our reputation is the only reason we have repeatable business.

21Do you have anything else, which we haven’t covered, that you would like to include in this interview?

At Cypress Capital Group we value integrity, excellence, hunger, service and teamwork. Our goal with every property we develop is to create a lasting and sustainable impact through returns, architecture and charity. We recognize our responsibility to community and donate 10 percent of profits to local organizations.

Winning Entries

201 East 26th Street | 2021

Interview With Wen Shiau From Cypress Capital Group, United States

New York City has nary an inch of unoccupied land to build upon, which is why it is jam-packed with high-rise buildings and towering skyscrapers jutting into the sky.
(read more at TITAN Property Awards)

Wen Shiau

Wen Shiau is the managing partner of the Cypress Capital Group. It is one of the most prominent real estate investment companies in the United States.