Allen Gross, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Allen Gross, Chairman & CEO of GFI Capital Resources Group, brings over 35 years of real estate expertise to the company. In 1978, Mr. Gross started as a real estate transactional attorney and soon established a neighborhood mortgage banking business while seeking opportunities to rehabilitate under-performing multifamily assets. This later became the foundation for GFI’s property management portfolio which currently manages close to 16,000 residential apartment units throughout the country. In 1979, Mr. Gross started focusing his attention on developing and converting various condominium and cooperative projects. Some notable projects include 144 North 8th Street, a 41-unit condo building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that sold out in six months; Century Vintage, a six story, 31-unit condo development in Greenpoint, Brooklyn as well as Newport Towers and Parc Vendome both situated in midtown Manhattan. His ability to maintain strong lender relationships has enabled Mr. Gross to also be a driving force in the commercial sales and finance markets.
Among his many accomplishments includes the development of the Ace Hotel New York, a 275-room boutique hotel that was internationally praised by publications such as The New York Times and Wallpaper Magazine, as well as winning a coveted award for best boutique design hotel from Interior Design magazine. Mr. Gross is also responsible for developing the NoMad Hotel* in Manhattan, a premiere lifestyle hotel featuring 168 guestrooms, that has received significant acclaim for its design by world renowned designer Jacques Garcia and for the food & beverage program led by New York City’s top culinary talents. Allen’s main emphasis has been on creating value in any project he’s involved in; which includes neighborhood revitalization. These hotels have redefined the emerging area of midtown they are located in which has now been dubbed NoMad (North of Madison Square Park). Another distinguished property developed by Mr. Gross is The Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, California which has received national and international praise from esteemed publications, including Elle Décor and Conde Nast Traveler. This hotel consistently outperforms its competitive market and was recognized among the Top Ten Trendiest Hotels in the World by Travel & Leisure.
Presently, Mr. Gross is involved in the strategic development of his most recent project, 5 Beekman Street in downtown Manhattan. This unique, historic structure, together with an adjacent site, has been converted into a luxury hotel consisting of 287 guestrooms and 67 residences and has become a catalyst in the revitalization of lower Manhattan with its close proximity to major landmarks including the new One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) and the New Fulton Street Transportation Center. The Beekman Hotel has been featured in many elite publications including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Hotels Magazine, and Vogue. The Beekman has received multiple awards including Travel & Leisure Magazines, “Best Hotels in New York State,” and Trip Advisors “Best 5 Star Hotels In New York City 2017.”
Mr. Gross is not only an established entrepreneur, but also serves his community by guest-lecturing at universities, real estate symposiums, and various other organizations. He presides as Chairman of the HASC, a school for special children. Allen is also an active member of the Mortgage Banker Association, Real Estate Association, and International Council of Shopping Centers.
Ilya Braz, Managing Director & General Counsel
As Managing Director & General Counsel, Mr. Braz directs all of the day-to-day legal affairs of GFI and its affiliates, including the planning, structuring and negotiation of complex transactions, joint ventures, regulatory and compliance matters and corporate governance. Mr. Braz is a member of GFI’s Executive and Investment Committees and coordinates execution of the Company’s investment strategies.
Prior to joining GFI, Mr. Braz was the Director of Legal Services for Africa Israel, USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Africa Israel Investments, where he advised the company on all legal matters concerning the company’s U.S. real estate holdings. At Africa Israel, Mr. Braz played a key role on development projects including: 20 Pine- the Collection, a conversion of a high rise office building in Manhattan’s financial district to 409 luxury condominium residences and ground floor retail, the ground-up development of the Marquis, a 67-story luxury condominium and hotel located in downtown Miami and the redevelopment of the Times Square Building.
Mr. Braz earned his bachelor’s degree, from Clark University, cum laude with honors in Economics, and received a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.
Spero Tsocanos, Director of Information Technology
Spero Tsocanos is the Director of Information Technology at GFI Capital Resources Group. Spero provides leadership for the continued development of an innovative, robust, and secure information technology environment throughout GFI. The primary responsibilities for this office encompass a wide variety of strategic technology issues: governance and policy, resource allocation, information technology protocols, and the GFI Information Technology organization.
Prior to joining GFI, Spero spent over 25 years in information technology roles within corporate environments. Most recently, as the Director of IT at Resource Residential in Philadelphia, PA and as the Director of IT at Jonathan Rose Companies in New York, NY. Spero holds a B.B.A in Management Science and an M.B.A. in Computer Information Systems, from Baruch College in New York City.