Suzanne Miller is a prolific Mrs. Fixit for New York City’s business community who’s made a career of solving problems for major corporations, property owners and the city’s transitory workforce.
An innovator by nature, Miller launched her business in the New York real estate industry, Empire State Properties, in 1986. In a curious and challenging time in New York, when the city faced many of the issues that have again reared their heads in the five boroughs, Miller saw an opportunity where some thought none existed.
In a recent profile story with New York real estate outlet The Real Deal, Miller reflected on the early stages of her career, when she was managing properties in Times Square, namely the Executive Plaza. She recalled its difficulty, given that so few people wanted to move to Times Square.
“No one wanted to be in Time Square,” she told the publication. “We needed to find a new use for the 445-room tower, so we turned it into furnished, short-term housing for businesses.”
Miller mentions that one of her first clients, when she started her company, was Le Bernadin — the premier and exclusive French restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. The company was looking to open its flagship restaurant in New York and purchase apartments. With the French company she saw the promise of New York’s West Side and the opportunity to come.
“Le Berniden was coming to New York and they came to me to purchase their first apartments,” she says. “I quickly matched the new restaurant with apartments on the West Side, which propelled me to believe in the area. I did the same with various other clients, matching corporations moving into the area with investors from all over the world, giving my investors AAA tenants on a short-term basis, and meeting the corporation’s short-term needs.”
After almost four decades, her company continues to thrive, offering this same innovative solution to meet the corporate and residential needs of New Yorkers, its companies and its workforce.
“We now manage about 500 properties for those investors, while remaining a boutique company,” she adds. “My clients, who range from JP Morgan to The New York Times — and many others that you have heard of — still have a need for apartments and extended stay. The idea was, and still is, to allow people to travel for work without living in and out of hotel rooms. I was the first one to do it, because I realized that there were companies in Midtown and there was no one meeting the companies’ needs of extended stays in Midtown Manhattan.”
Her client portfolio also includes the banking, consulting, publishing and medical industries.
Interestingly, while much has changed in the past four decades in New York, this need for extended stay rentals has sustained the test of time — a testament, one could conclude, to New York’s prowess as the economic epicenter of the globe.
And, alongside that persisting need, Suzanne Miller has also remained a constant. Her success has been profiled in many of the New York metropolitan area’s leading publications, including but not limited to The New York Times, Crain’s New York and Dan’s Papers.
While her business continues to withstand the test of time, it is rapidly evolving. Miller and Empire State Properties will soon be moving from short-term to long-term or extended-stay to brokerage, while still remaining on her company’s brand “The Single Source for Real Estate,” and offering rentals from one month to one year.
Empire State Properties is still based mainly in the city, but the boroughs are not the bounds of opportunity, Miller says. She notes that she has recently closed a few deals on the East End, meeting the needs of the companies in the region. In the last two years, she has done several deals in the Hamptons, including a nine-acre estate in East Hampton to homes in Noyac and East Quogue.
And, while professionally she spends time in the Hamptons, she also spends time here personally — enjoying the lovely scenic East End during the summer months in Sag Harbor.
“In 1997, I saw the beauty of Sag Harbor and purchased a beautiful waterside home in Redwood,” she recalls. “We gut-renovated our home and had the nicest house in the neighborhood, which today is one of the most sought-after communities in the Hamptons. I still own the home and love using it during all seasons.
“The East End is cosmopolitan, relaxing, and serene,” she adds. “I always frequent the local restaurants, but my favorite is The American Hotel — my friends refer to it as ‘Suzanne’s place.’ I play tennis at East Hampton Indoor Tennis every morning, and you can often find me outdoors, biking, but also at home writing and painting.”
She concludes, “The East End has it all with an easy commute to New York City.”
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.