Why did you decide to renovate New York buildings?
When I founded CDO in 1993, Harlem wasn't the hot place it is today. I looked out and saw all this wonderful housing stock—a lot of it abandoned—while people really needed affordable housing.
How did you begin the process?
I started going to conferences and to seminars to get some sense of what was going on in community and economic development. I also talked to people in the business and got their advice. You don't have to reinvent the wheel.
When will you know it was all worthwhile?
When I get the Certificate of Occupancy that allows 36 families to move into their condominiums. Then I can take a breath and relax.