James D. Kuhn ’70, G’72 is president of Newmark Knight Frank, the fourth-largest global real estate brokerage firm in the world. During the course of his career, Kuhn has acted as advisor, broker or principal in over $3 billion in transactions for 25 million square feet of commercial and residential real estate.
Before joining Newmark Knight Frank as principal and president in 1992, Kuhn spent 15 years with Bernard Mendik as owner/manager, where he acquired 11 million square feet of office space and 6,000 apartments. He also spent two years in partnership with Bear Stearns and Chuck Davidson of Steinhardt Partners, where he purchased distressed assets from the RTC, FDIC, and other financial institutions.
An expert in the acquisition, leasing, management, repositioning and liquidation of major investments, Kuhn is also experienced in joint venture and equity financing. He has served roles as merchant banker, de facto advisor, partner and co-investor with such firms as Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs & Co. Inc., The Equitable Life Assurance Society, J.E. Robert Companies, Lennar-Morgan Stanley and Steinhardt Partners, among others.
In addition to his administrative duties at Newmark Knight Frank, Kuhn chairs the National Capital Markets and Property Management boards. He is a member and Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS), and serves on the board of trustees and board of directors for the National Jewish Medical and Research Center.
Over the past five years, Kuhn has developed a group specializing in advising hospitals, universities, and municipalities in the acquisition and disposition of real estate assets. Kuhn's clients include The Mount Sinai Medical Center, Brooklyn Hospital Center, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York University and Hudson Yards Development Corporation, NYC School Construction Authority, and CUNY.
With a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s in real estate from the Whitman School of Management, Kuhn is among Syracuse University’s most generous supporters. He is a member of the board of trustees and its executive committee, as well as an advisory board member for the Whitman School.
In 2006, the James D. Kuhn Real Estate Center at the Whitman School of Management was established with an endowment from Kuhn. The Kuhn Real Estate Center gives students the opportunity to integrate their education in finance with an exciting education in real estate. Success in the real estate industry now requires international networks, and the study of finance and real estate are merging to produce optimal results. Activities and scholarship of the Kuhn Real Estate Center help students understand how these two fields integrate, preparing them to become innovators in the profession.
In 2012, Kuhn was a founding partner in the establishment of the Fisher Center, providing support as well as working closely with the University to find the best location for the space. Syracuse University’s flagship academic home in New York City, the Fisher Center provides classrooms and studios for such NYC-based immersion programs as the Tepper Semester, Syracuse Architecture NYC, and Newhouse in NYC, and will fuel SU’s growth in the city by accommodating new programs in all of SU’s schools and colleges.
Kuhn also established the Leo and Sunnie Kuhn Scholarship for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Whitman School of Management. The scholarship aids students interested in the studies of real estate.
Kuhn’s generosity extends to other universities too. He serves on the board of trustees at Pratt Institute and established an endowment for the Leo J. Kuhn Lobby at Pratt’s School of Architecture. He chairs the New York University Real Estate Institute advisory board and funds its James and Marjorie Kuhn Program to Foster Diversity in Real Estate.
Several organizations have honored Kuhn’s professional contributions. He received the NYU Real Estate Service Award of the Year in 1984 and the Young Man of the Year award from the Real Estate Board of New York in 1985. Kuhn received the National Jewish Humanitarian Award in 1994 and was guest of honor at the Real Estate & Construction Industries’ annual Winter’s Eve Ball, which benefited the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine.
It might be hard to imagine someone as involved as Kuhn having time for a hobby, but fencing was close to his heart long before his illustrious career. As captain of the fencing team at Stuyvesant High School, from which he graduated in 1965, Kuhn placed second in the tri-state championship and was a member of the 1964 City Championship team.
Kuhn went on to fence at SU, winning tri-state championships in 1968 and finishing 12th in the country. After a 25-year absence Kuhn returned to fence in the veterans division, where he eventually ranked seventh in the country.
Although he retired from the veterans division in 2001, Kuhn remains passionate about the sport and ensuring future generations can experience it. He established the James Kuhn Fund for Fencing at Stuyvesant High School and the James Kuhn Fund for Underprivileged Children for the San Antonio Fencing Club.