Jon Krasner: Adding Social Action To Luxury Hospitality

Jon Krasner is a quintessential New Yorker whose name is making waves in the real estate industry. As a Partner at 7G Group / 7G Realty, Krasner possesses a unique perspective that sets him apart from the crowd. But it’s not just his keen eye for emerging markets that makes him stand out, it’s his ability to uncover hidden gems with untapped potential, often overlooked by others.

With a knack for spotting neighborhoods with genuine character, Krasner consistently achieves remarkable success rates. His portfolio — which includes almost 20 properties in New York, Miami, Watertown, Phoenix, and Nashville — is a testament to his commitment to mirroring the vibe of each location he invests in, ensuring that the essence of the community remains intact even as transformation takes place.

One notable example of Krasner’s visionary approach is his role as the Managing Partner of The Rockaway Hotel + Spa, nestled in the heart of Rockaway Beach in Queens. Krasner envisioned the area’s potential as a premier destination. He set out to create the first upscale hotel in the area, injecting a level of investment unprecedented in recent history.

But Krasner’s ambitions extended beyond mere brick and mortar. His strategy encompassed a deep understanding of the power of community engagement and brand-building. The local community became an integral part of the hotel’s journey, their voices shaping its architectural and design decisions. The result? A convergence of luxury and local authenticity, breathing new life into the neighborhood.

Even the challenges brought forth by the Covid-19 pandemic could not dim the allure of The Rockaway Hotel + Spa. Since its grand opening in September 2020, it has emerged as a community hub and lifestyle haven, becoming a go-to destination for both residents and travelers alike.

Krasner’s endeavors, which also include Hero Beach and Shagwong Tavern in Montauk, continue to redefine the possibilities within the real estate industry, one vibrant location at a time.

Jon Krasner

Jon, you have an impressive portfolio of award-winning developments across the country through the 7G Group. What is the 7G Group exactly?

7G Realty is a boutique firm focused on investments, real estate, and social action-driven projects. We prioritize investing in real estate and working with partners with a clear mission to create change and positive impact by addressing neighborhood demands and today’s pressing issues. We’re committed to community-focused projects that uplift the surrounding area through commercial and lifestyle needs.

Co-founders of 7G Realty Charles and Michi Jigarjian are my longtime friends and business partners. We each bring something different to the table, but at the end of the day, we love a blank canvas, especially industrial properties that are large warehouses. They are art pieces, allowing us to illustrate and ultimately create a masterpiece.

What’s the investment structure, in that is there an exit strategy in place once you have built out a project or are you building the portfolio indefinitely under the 7G Group?

Our philosophy is to buy properties and invest in them long-term. We pour assets into great locations to build up the surrounding community. We strive to be thoughtful developers who learn from the area’s residents, welcoming their first-hand input. The goal is not to flip properties and sell to the highest bidder. We seek to help communities in markets with an existing pulse grow, pushing them to reach their full potential and flourish alongside them.

A few projects, including Hero Beach Club, are outside of 7G Realty. I bought, repositioned, and developed Hero Beach Club 8 years ago, which helped create the idea behind 7G Reality — being in tune with the destination. We are not short-term investors — we want to feel the neighborhood, get to know them, and do many projects within.

The business model of Shagwong in Montauk, also separate from 7G Realty, is a perfect example of my approach to hospitality. I was up against other bidders who had plans to completely remodel the place, transforming it into something not wanted by the community or authentic to Montauk. I wanted to come in and lift the place while maintaining and celebrating its storied history, ultimately leading to me being the owner today.

We’ve heard Hero Beach Club in Montauk may be on the market. Is this true?

Hero Beach Club is not on the market, and we have no plans to sell the property. It’s a fantasy acre of land, standing at the gateway to Montauk right off the gorgeous beach — why would anyone want to sell that? Plus, I have to provide employment for all of my friends’ children.

The Rockaway Hotel. Photo by Kyle Knodell

Tell us more about Rockaway Hotel + Spa. You won The Urban Land Institute’s Excellence in Hotel Development award in 2022?

Being recognized for meeting the needs of New York and the diverse communities the hotel encompasses is an honor. Throughout the building process with Morris Adjmi, we were mindful of the history and existing framework of the beachfront neighborhood. The diverse bungalows throughout the Rockaways were an essential reference for the hotel’s exterior. The hotel’s height was purposely set so it didn’t outweigh the houses nearby, while the colors were chosen to complement their existing palettes and forms.

The Rockaway Hotel + Spa, an urban beach getaway for surfers and cultural enthusiasts, opened in the summer of 2020 in Rockaway Beach. Built with a deep commitment to honor Rockaway’s vibrant culture, the hotel is an inclusive space activated year-round through social impact initiatives and arts and cultural programming — core tenants of the hotel’s ethos. The hotel offers a respite from the city bustle through a modern-day retreat to the Rockaway peninsula. Ushering in a new wave of visitors to the destination, The Rockaway Hotel celebrates the legacy and hospitality of one of New York City’s most beloved beaches.

The Rockaway Hotel. Photo by Kyle Knodell

What was it like opening The Rockaway Hotel at the absolute height of the pandemic, pre-vaccines?

It was not what we had envisioned, but we had no choice, and we had to maneuver it as best we could. Everyone came together as a team, and our builders, Ben Igoe and Sam Provisero from CTS Builders were incredible and did the job. The hotel offered hope to the neighborhood during such a tough time. With several outdoor venues and spaces to gather at a distance, the hotel became a community hub long before the elevated programming you see today existed. People crave connection, and our hotel gave them a space to do just that.

The Rockaway Hotel. Photo by Kyle Knodell

The interior is just stunning. Who was the designer?

Curious Yellow, the design team behind The Rockaway Hotel, was influenced by the hotel’s setting and the existing soul of the destination. A combination of relaxation and playfulness, the space is designed to capture the crossover of the beach town with city energy. They used teak, linen, and wool to create a retro and calming atmosphere while capturing the outdoor vibe through natural wood paneling and a minimalistic Scandinavian design, complemented by light colors and one-of-a-kind art pieces curated by Michi Jigarjian, Managing Partner and Chief Social Impact Officer of the 7G Group and The Rockaway Hotel + Spa.

The Rockaway Hotel. Photo by Kyle Knodell

It’s very high-end and gorgeous. Are you worried about the gentrification of the area? How are locals responding?

There is a sensitive way to do everything. Just because it is an upscale property does not mean it’s a place only for those who only like luxury. The Rockaway Hotel is designed to cater to different types of people across all price points. Whether you’re looking to grab dinner, enjoy a spa treatment, lay out by the pool, host a wedding, go surfing, or spend the night away, you name it; we have an approachable model that caters to everyone. We ensure that our service quality reflects our standards and that all guests feel welcome.

We are building with the community, not the bank, and that’s a crucial point we share through our give-back initiatives. We know we have to earn the area’s respect, it is not just handed out, and we work hard to listen to the neighborhood. The hotel was not designed to change the area but to enhance and strengthen the destination while providing a hub for locals.

Your organization brings up “social action” a lot. What does that look like in your projects and why is that important to you?

Our goal is to give back, never to take away. At our properties, we engage with the area as much as possible by highlighting neighboring businesses, such as providing local bands with a stage to perform, murals to paint, and retail space to showcase their creations at The Rockaway Hotel + Spa.

My business partner and longtime friend, Michi Jigarjian, spearheads the hotel’s art and community initiatives.

Since the renovation and reopening of Hero Beach Club in Montauk in 2017 it has maintained its blissed-out surfer vibe, but it looks like some serious work was put in to bring it up to modern standards. What are some ways you updated the hotel?

In 2017, we gut-renovated each room and the lobby, redesigned the pool and landscaping, and upgraded the service. With the hotel’s prime location, the goal was to blend the structure into the surrounding dunes and beach across the street, echoing old Montauk’s tranquil vibe. When we developed The Rockaway Hotel + Spa, we had a similar goal: creating a calm, welcoming beachside oasis.

Who was the designer of the Hero Beach Club and what did you ask for when it was being conceptualized?

Curious Yellow Design designed Hero Beach Club in 2017. Their team is very familiar with the Montauk aesthetic, its subtleties, and what the area needed, which was very important to help blend into the surroundings.

Are you looking at other spots? What’s coming up for you and 7G? What do you look for in terms of investment properties?

We always monitor markets that match our vibe — areas rich in culture and communities with an exciting, sometimes untapped energy. We are looking for commercial, industrial, and hospitality concepts. Currently, 7G Realty includes nearly 20 properties, with our most recent addition being the prime real estate that Bounce Beach Montauk sits on, purchased back in December of 2022. We are still determining what the development of that land will look like. We plan to see how Montauk evolves in the next few years and produce what’s best for the area.

The big, money-making deals in the real estate business are the commercial buildings we don’t discuss as much. Our hospitality projects and long-term investment spaces in growing markets around the U.S., such as Miami, Nashville, and Phoenix, are where we can put our personal touches and showcase what we, as a group, can do. Our approach to real estate is simple: we go into underdeveloped and diverse neighborhoods to create a positive impact, tapping into existing talent and resources to move the needle forward in hopes that others will jump in and help us push the energy forward.

To learn more, visit 7G Group.

Ty Wenzel

Co-Publisher & Contributor

Ty Wenzel started her career as a fashion coordinator for Bloomingdale’s followed by fashion editor for Cosmopolitan Magazine. She was also a writer for countless publications, including having published a memoir and written features for The New York Times. She is an award-winning writer and designer who covers lifestyle, real estate, architecture and interiors for James Lane Post. Wenzel is also a co-founder of the meditation app for kids, DreamyKid, and the social media agency, TWM Hamptons Social Media.

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