Roy Carrasquillo is rising Carrasquillo Legislation Group, his “one-stop-shop,” with companies and experience : NYREJ

New York, NY The New York Real Estate Journal (NYREJ) recently sat down for a question-and-answer session with Roy Carrasquillo, Executive of the Month. Carrasquillo is the co-founder and managing partner of the Carrasquillo Law Group (CLG).

Roy Carrasquillo and his father Leoncio Carrasquillo (left)

NYREJ: Tell us about how you were inspired to become a lawyer.
Carrasquillo: The main inspiration for me to become a lawyer was really my father. He was a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. After 20 years of service in the US military, he went to college and law school at 40. He really loved practicing law and he loved what he did for his clients. He specialized in compensation and labor law and was passionate about making things happen. Although my practice is in a different area, it inspires me again and again that he anticipates me in this area in order to do my absolute best work for my clients today and every day.

NYREJ: When did you realize that real estate is going to be an important factor in the law you practice?
During my time as a summer partner in Puerto Rico, which was a long time ago, I was exposed to general corporate and real estate matters. This has given me the opportunity to work on a number of projects including hospitality and hotel development. I began to see the many elements of the law, from funding to actual project development. Even as a young employee with little experience beyond what I had learned in the classroom, I knew this was the type of work I wanted to be involved in longer term as the projects had tangible and physical results.

NYREJ: You have had an interesting career so far. You once worked in Asia. Can you tell us about that experience and how it contributed to what you are doing today?
This feels like it was another lifetime, but I love revisiting this part of my career journey. Yes, I lived in Shanghai for over a year while working for a large US company. It was one of my most exciting and life changing experiences. I didn’t just live on the other side of the world; I was able to immerse myself in the culture of China and that was remarkable. I got to know firsthand all the cultural nuances of dealing with Chinese investors and companies. This included not only how their investments and securities were structured, but also how the locals communicated with one another. I’m fortunate that I was able to combine this with my understanding of American and Latin American culture that grew up in both Puerto Rico and the United States, and that has helped me create a real international niche for myself – especially in relation on real estate.

Roy Carrasquillo with his father Leoncio Carrasquillo (left)
and Roy’s son Rogelio Carrasquillo II

NYREJ: When did you know you were going to start your own company?
About two years ago, I decided to take the plunge to become an entrepreneurial attorney after really wondering, “How can you better serve your clients and take on the real estate and other projects you want?” Partnered with Bill Kogan, who has a tremendous amount of real estate experience, and we’ve come up with a plan of action. Up until that point, my career was mostly focused on economics and finance, with real estate added. Together, Bill and I knew we had a formula that would lead to success. I can now devote myself to both my clients and my team as I work on projects that are paying off, including EB-5 investments. Since I founded CLG, I have had relationships with organizations like EB-5 Investors and IIUSA, where I now regularly serve as a panelist and sponsor of their events.

NYREJ: You seem very involved in EB-5 projects. Can you tell us more about how you see this part of your practice grow?
Indeed we are. I first got involved in an EB-5 project many years ago when I was working on funding a real estate hospitality project. In the course of my career I have come across several projects in this area. I immersed myself in learning the nuances of how EB-5 can be a great source of capital and saw firsthand how, when used properly, it is a vehicle that can drive the economy forward at no cost to the taxpayer. My experience working with banking and finance has helped me understand how to integrate it with the rest of the capital stack and combine it with other economic development programs or incentives. For our developer customers, there is a central point of contact when working with us, because, due to our financing, tax and securities background, we not only have real estate but also all of our know-how under one roof. It’s something that makes us stand out from the crowd, and we know it’s an added benefit.

NYREJ: What do you think is a career that defines real estate transactions?
While I’m proud of many things we’ve accomplished in a relatively short amount of time, the project that springs to mind is a low-income, multi-purpose residential complex aimed at senior citizens in Puerto Rico, one of the first of its kind in many ways. It was a complex transaction that involved tax credits and the involvement of investors to ensure the development was profitable. This project, which was attended by some New York-based investors, was a real trailblazer in the market as it addressed an unsupervised market and brought capital investment to Puerto Rico. It has been a win-win for those who committed to it, from the investors to the developers to the end users. This was a pivotal moment as it also showed us ways to connect New York and Puerto Rico.

Roy Carrasquillo at an HNBA event

NYREJ: The pandemic has changed a lot around the world, especially in the way we look at and use real estate. How do you see New York changing over the long term?
The way we use our office space will be significantly different in the future as a direct result of the pandemic. You don’t want to be the “blockbuster” who lives in a “Netflix” world. The New York developers know that there has to be flexibility above all to retain tenants and attract new ones. With mobility, it’s attractive to be in a place where the ocean is steps away and the climate is milder, and Manhattan suddenly has to compete with it and stay attractive. The city’s historical significance and cache will prevail. I have no doubt.

NYREJ: You see Puerto Rico as an “investment destination”. Can you elaborate on this and why this is appealing to New York based investors, as you indicated earlier?
The tax situation in Puerto Rico is very attractive and the proximity to New York is a profitable combination. Puerto Rico has all the elements to be a remarkably successful travel destination. This includes a well-educated and hard-working workforce, the benefits of a US jurisdiction, and a large economic incentive structure in which to develop businesses. It is, as I call it, the “pearl” of the Caribbean. And yes, I may be biased as it is my dual home with New York. But I saw the potential, which is why my New York-based law firm does some real estate deals on the island.

NYREJ: Where do you want to see the Carrasquillo Law Group in the next five years?
In the next five years, I imagine we will expand our skills. For this reason, however, we are not interested in growth. We want our services and expertise to be tailored to our clients, and we want to take on projects in New York and beyond that make sense and show progress, especially when it comes to real estate development.

NYREJ: What’s one thing that people would be surprised about if they found out about you?
If my close friends read this now, they would be telling you exactly what I’m about to say: “Roy is going to talk about his Star Wars obsession.” And guess what – you would be correct! Others, if they read this, may be surprised! I’ve been an avid Star Wars fan since my father inspired me to do The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. I arrived at this little theater in Puerto Rico and on that day, over 40 years ago, my obsession set a stone. In fact, my seven year old daughter’s goal is to complete her Jedi training. We practice lightsaber skills and she is pretty good at the Force!

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