Founder and CEO
Joseph J. Sitt is the founder and CEO of Thor Equities, a multifaceted international real estate development company that specializes in value-added investments in shopping centers and mixed-use urban developments in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Mr. Sitt, 47, was born and raised in Brooklyn, and from childhood was taught the value of hard work, entrepreneurship and social responsibility. His first business venture, as a New York University undergrad, was implementing a lucrative system of weekend parking lots at the flea markets at Aqueduct and Roosevelt racetracks.
Mr. Sitt developed a strong interest in retail at an early age. He founded Ashley Stewart (now part of Urban Brands) in 1991, which focused on serving the urban consumer, a traditionally underserved market segment overlooked by most national retailers. The company experienced considerable success in a relatively short period of time, growing to over 380 stores in 100 cities that generated approximately $400 million in annual sales. A key to Mr. Sitt’s success at Ashley Stewart and Urban Brands was identifying and leveraging the best urban real estate opportunities for its stores. In 1998, Sitt deaccessioned his interest in Ashley Stewart and focus his energy primarily on the development and acquisition of prime real estate in urban markets with his real estate company Thor Equities.
Today, Thor Equities has an international retail, office, hotel, and residential portfolio valued at more than $5 billion and totaling more than 15 million square feet, and is a leader in urban real estate development, leasing and management. Mr. Sitt also serves as Chairman and Managing Principal of the Thor Urban Property Funds whose investors include pension funds, investment banks, top-tier college endowments, and foundations. Notable developments under Thor’s umbrella include the award winning restoration and redevelopment of the historic Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, London’s historic luxury landmark Burlington Arcade, and the Takashimaya building in the heart of Fifth Avenue—one of the most heavily trafficked and valuable retail streets in the world. Thor is also one of the largest landowners on Fifth Avenue.
Thor Equities has invested heavily in key emerging markets, especially Latin America. Notable projects include the development of a stretch of luxury European boutiques, including Gucci and Ferragamo, on the Avenida Presidente Masaryk in Mexico City and the formation of Thor Urbana Capital, a recently launched partnership between Thor and GFA Grupo Immobiliaro, which focuses solely on maximizing investment and developments throughout Latin America and South America.
In addition to Thor Equities and Thor Urban Real Estate Fund, Mr. Sitt oversees Thor High Street Advisors, which provides tenant representation and advisory services to retailers seeking premier retail locations around the world, and TOWN Residential, a full service, tailored luxury residential brokerage service in New York City.
Mr. Sitt is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and various universities including Columbia University, New York University, and Notre Dame and is an active board member of The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, one of the most renowned and respected community development organizations in the country. He also serves on the board of the Real Estate Roundtable in Washington D.C., the Department of Real Estate at Baruch College, and is a member of the Partnership for New York City. He was an honoree of Crain’s New York’s annual “40 Under 40” list in 2004 and has been named by the New York Observer in its annual list as one of the most powerful people in New York Real Estate. Harvard professor Michael Porter and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) have also honored him for his commitment to fostering healthy competitive business conditions and new opportunities in inner city neighborhoods. He is a graduate of New York University.
Mr. Sitt is also the president and founder of the Sephardic Heritage Museum (SHM) which is currently developing books, documentary films, and a museum chronicling the life and history of the Syrian Jewish community in effort to foster a broader understanding and increased dialogue between the United States, Syria and Jewish and Muslim peoples. Mr. Sitt received permission from the Syrian Government to restore and manage the historic Jewish temples and cemeteries in Syria including the great Synagogue of Aleppo—a 3,000 year old synagogue and cemetery established by Israel’s King David. He also serves as Vice President of the SFF Food Fund which helps feed over 2,000 people in need.
Mr. Sitt has spent much of his career in youth development and education. Mr. Sitt serves on the Boards of Brooklyn’s TAB High School and Flatbush High School and most proudly, through a teen program, has acted as an ongoing mentor and guidance counselor to wayward youth in various New York City communities.
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