#7 Matthew Blesso

Founder & CEO, Blesso Properties, President of 3rd Ward, OHNY site sponsor
Lives in NoHo, Manhattan

What is your relationship to New York City? I grew up in New Jersey and moved to New York in 1995 just after college. People often cite the diversity of the City as its greatest attribute and I agree, but I believe what really makes New York special is the co-existence and lack of segregation of so many different people. It’s great to work in real estate and experience this on a daily basis.

How and when did you learn about OHNY? I started doing development work in 1998. I was self-taught and learned the industry through voracious reading and stumbled upon the OHNY announcement.

So far, what has been your favorite OHNY site and/or program? In general, the most memorable moment for me was the first OHNY Weekend. I spent two days visiting sites on my own. It was a discovery, almost spiritual. It woke up all these ideas inside me about how I wanted to be a different type of developer. Are you sure you’re not exaggerating on our behalf, Matt? I’m not playing it up at all! Sites I remember the most are the Bohen Foundation and a townhouse in Chelsea that had aquarium in the floor. It was great to see architecture that wasn’t cookie cutter design.

If you could gain access to any site in New York that you wanted, what would that site be? I would love to go inside David Walentas’ clock tower apartment at One Main Street in DUMBO. I love the idea of looking out through the clock faces. And the building is sandwiched between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges over the water so the view is spectacular. People often think with city views that higher is better, but I often love views that are 10-15 stories up and still have a connection to the city.

As it’s the holiday season, what is your favorite holiday spot in New York? I, of course, need to plug the 3rd Ward and our annual holiday craft fair. Aside from that I would have to say Dyker Heights. I love the fact that it takes place on such a grand scale and no one appears to make money from it. Isn’t it like other suburban areas with over-the-top decorations? Have you been to Dyker Heights? It is incredible, like nothing I’ve ever seen. We stand corrected. Looks like we need to plan a field trip!

What is the best-kept secret about New York City? Latin Jazz at La Fonda Boricua in East Harlem (currently closed for renovation but reopening soon) and secondly, the underground parties in Brooklyn. People say that New York’s nightlife has lost the edge it had in the past. There is plenty of fun and creative things going on, they are just in new places and new forms.

What sites do you have on your “to do” list for the 2012 OHNY Weekend? The TWA Terminal and the Grand Lodge of Masons.

If you could plan it, how would you celebrate OHNY’s Tenth Anniversary? I would throw a series of parties all over the city in architecturally significant spaces, all at the same time.

What is the thing you love most about OHNY? Beyond the obvious of getting access to great spaces, it is the sense of community that OHNY creates. I love how so many different people come together for a shared interest. It has a sense of intimacy that is not an easy thing to come by in New York City.

Why should people give to OHNY? Because a majority of people that live in New York came from somewhere else. People come here for the energy, excitement and the spectacle. This all takes place in the spaces that OHNY opens for the public. OHNY is very important for the life blood of the City.

Thanks for taking the time to share with us, Matt!

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