BK Mag: How did you become involved in real estate?
Aleksandra Scepanovic: I came in through the side door of interior design. After studying in Chelsea and starting in the interior design industry, I realized that bringing amazing spaces and people together was much more exciting than just creating beautiful spaces.
Did you experience any kind of culture shock moving to New York City from Serbia?
An absolute and thorough one—I actually moved to Serbia from the post-war-torn Sarajevo (Bosnia). Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, where I grew up, has always been a metropolitan environment, and I’ve traveled extensively in Europe. But coming to New York City after a devastation so grave as the one in Bosnia, the cultural shock was dramatic.
What sorts of changes have you seen in Gowanus, and what do you think it will look like in 10 years?
Gowanus has come a long way from when we opened our first office there in 2008. It has gone from a post-industrial place struggling to come to terms with its history of manufacturing, and the realities that come with the promises of the canal cleanup. The neighborhood started acquiring a more residential identity and became a dining destination that is also attractive to retail.
In turn, of course, more people ‘discovered’ Gowanus and wanted to make it their home. And naturally, larger development appetites followed suit. Gowanus today feels more like a neighborhood than before, and hopefully it will continue on that trajectory.
What was the transition from war reporter to the real estate industry like?
In most aspects, at least on the conceptual level, it was seamless—each equally demanding of my energy and focus. From my personal experience, real estate in New York City is as competitive and as nurturing of one’s high adrenaline levels as is reporting from a war zone.
Both also depend on investigative skills, and can help you excel if you understand the value of information, and have the skill set to interpret and implement it, without just having the ability to collect it. So I really never felt like I had to switch many gears. I guess, spend a few days in a war zone, and then tell me if anything real estate-related can rattle your cage.
What are some of the biggest challenges for you in Brooklyn real estate?
One of them is finding time to do everything I would like Ideal to do in Brooklyn. I love being involved in every aspect of the company’s efforts, especially since they coincide with Brooklyn getting its own wings and taking off. I’m fortunate, luckily, to have the best team in the business, so that if and when I don’t have enough time to handle something by myself, I know that any of my colleagues can step in and be incredibly effective.
1. 620 Union Street, #4A
3rd Avenue/4th Avenue
Three-bedroom, two-bath walk-up with exposed brick, W/D, D/W, stainless steel appliances, outdoor space.
Corcoran Group Real Estate
2. 168 20th Street
One-bedroom, central AC, granite, stainless kitchen, storage lockers, bicycle parking, on-site laundry and package room.
Ideal Properties Group
3. 507 President Street, #L2
Two-bedroom, one-bathroom 650-square-foot walk-up co-op
Compass Real Estate
4. 500 3rd Avenue, #2B
Large studio, renovated bathroom, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, rolling curtains separate living area. Shared roof deck.
Ideal Properties Group