Mr. Knakal graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 1984. He majored in real estate finance and entrepreneurial management and was a member of the Wharton School's Real Estate Club.
In 1981, Mr. Knakal was hired by Coldwell Banker Commercial - now CB Richard Ellis - as a market research intern. He returned the following summer as co-leader of its summer market research group and in 1983, obtained his real estate salesperson license. He worked that summer at CB as an assistant to a senior broker. After graduation, he started as a full-time investment property specialist with CB's midtown Manhattan office.
In 1984, Mr. Knakal collaborated with Paul J. Massey Jr. to establish a property sales group in Manhattan. They served as co-directors for the new specialization and in 1986, shared CB's prestigious top salesman award in New York. At that time, CB employed an average of 60 people in its Manhattan office. Mr. Knakal and Mr. Massey retained this top ranking until they left the firm in November 1988 to start their own business - Massey Knakal Realty Services. To date, Mr. Knakal has been responsible for the sale of more than 1,500 buildings and over $10 billion in sales.
In 1993, Mr. Knakal was elected president of the National Realty Conference, which made him the youngest president in the organization's 58-year-old history. He is also a very involved member of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). He has served on numerous of its committees including the Ethics Committee, Arbitration Committee and Chairman of its Sales Brokers Committee. He was also on the Commercial Division's Board of Directors, and was elected to its Board of Governors.
In 1998, at the age of 36, Mr. Knakal was named to Crain's New York Business's Forty Under Forty/New York Rising Stars list for his outstanding achievement in the New York City business community. He was also named a Top Dealmaker by Real Estate New York magazine and in 2002, along with Broker Mark Massey, won the prestigious Robert T. Lawrence Award in the Real Estate Board of New York's Most Ingenious Deal of the Year contest for their nine-year assemblage of the easterly blockfront of Second Avenue between 54th and 55th Streets. In 2003, he handled the two largest multi-family portfolio sales in New York City. The Manhattan portfolio consisted of six elevatored buildings in prime Manhattan locations and contained 450 apartments which sold for $102,000,000. The Simkowitz portfolio consisted of 786 apartments in 12 Northern Manhattan and Bronx buildings with a sale price of $109,000,000. Also in 2003, Mr. Knakal and Mr. Massey were named New York's Top Entrepreneurs by Crain's New York Business, a prestigious recognition out of scores of nominations. Also that year, The Real Deal magazine listed Massey Knakal as one of New York's best boutique firms and Mr. Knakal was appointed to REBNY's prestigious 20-member Executive Committee.
In 2004, Mr. Knakal won the award again for his sale of the Gotham Book Mart building on West 47th Street. His creative negotiating strategy increased the sales price of the building by 31 percent, which won acclaim from the judges.
In 2004, Mr. Knakal handled the sale of Massey Knakal's largest multi-family portfolio to date. The Macklowe portfolio consisted of 345 apartments and 17 stores in seven elevatored buildings. The sale price was $179,000,000.
In 2005, Mr. Knakal led the marketing team for the sale of the Vanderveer Estates in Brooklyn, the largest privately-owned apartment complex in the borough. The property consisted of 2,500 apartments in 59 elevatored buildings. The sale price was $138,500,000. In 2006, Mr. Knakal led the marketing team in the assemblage of the entire western blockfront on Sixth Avenue between 30th and 31st Streets. This marked Massey Knakal's largest development transaction to date at a price of $117,500,000.
In 2006, Mr. Knakal was named a Commercial Broker All-Star by Real Estate New York magazine for the second consecutive year; one of the Top 10 Building Sales Brokers in New York City by Co-Star a third consecutive year; and a Top Dealmaker by Real Estate Weekly in its 50th anniversary issue. Also in 2006, he was named Investment Sales Broker Of The Year by the Mann Foundation. Mr. Knakal also writes a weekly column for the Commercial Observer called “Concrete Thoughts” where he shares his insights on real estate and politics.
Mr. Knakal was a featured speaker at Columbia University's Real Estate Roundtable Series titled Legends of the Street. He is a frequent guest lecturer at Columbia, New York University, The Appraisal Institute, The Metropolitan Mortgage Bankers Association and The Institute for Real Estate Management. He also teaches continuing education classes for the Real Estate Board of New York and The Continuing Education Academy. In addition, he teaches a class on real estate investment at The Learning Annex.
Massey Knakal has a rich history of serving the communities in which it works through charitable giving and volunteerism. In 2005, all the firm's efforts in this area were formalized by the incorporation of the Massey Knakal Charitable Foundation. All the company's charitable endeavors are implemented through the Foundation.
Mr. Knakal's personal civic involvements are numerous and are highlighted by his presidency of the 149-year-old Prescott Fund for Children and Youth, which makes grants to disadvantaged children for educational purposes. He is also the President and member of the Board of Directors of Ice Hockey in Harlem, an after-school program that allows children to participate in hockey if they attend special classroom sessions to supplement their education.
In 2002, Mr. Knakal and Mr. Massey were named Real Estate Men of the Year for their charitable work by the Rambam Hospital in Israel. In 2004, Mr. Knakal was recognized for his work with underprivileged children by being named the recipient of The Catalog For Giving's prestigious Urban Hero Award. Past Urban Heroes include Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan Bud Selig and Kedar Massenburg, president of Motown Records. In 2006, Mr. Knakal was elected to the Catalog For Giving's Board of Directors.
Mr. Knakal resides in Manhattan with his wife, Cynthia and daughter, Sophia. He can be reached in the Manhattan office at 212.696.2500 x7777.