In November 2000, when most of his classmates were thinking about midterms and the Harvard-Yale game, Jared C. Kushner ’03 quietly bought seven residential buildings in Somerville, Mass. for $9 million, according to mortgage documents obtained from Middlesex County. Shortly after, Kushner obtained an additional investment property at 11 Dimick St. He was 19 years old.
Kushner, now 36, is best known today for his marriage to Ivanka M. Trump and his role as senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. While he was a sophomore in Kirkland House, though, Kushner was already somewhat well-known for being the son of billionaire real-estate scion Charles B. Kushner.
Charles Kushner founded Kushner Companies in 1985. Unlike the Trump Organization, which has largely moved from property acquisition into brand management, Kushner Companies remains a real estate firm to this day. Jared Kushner worked for Kushner Companies for years, eventually becoming an owner, before he accepted his current role as senior adviser to the President of the United States.
Although it is difficult to determine the structure of private corporations like Kushner Companies, mortgage documents obtained by The Crimson indicate that Jared Kushner was vice president of 10 corporations as an undergrad, each of which operated as a part of Kushner Companies. Those corporations, centered around Somerville Building Associates, LLC, all appear to have been centered on the management of the properties in Somerville.
Richard Stadtmauer, Jared Kushner’s uncle and the only other vice president of these corporations listed in publically available documents, was convicted of felony tax fraud in 2009 and sentenced to 38 months in prison. Charles Kushner, listed as president on some deeds, was convicted of making illegal political donations in 2005 and spent 18 months in prison.
Seven of the buildings Kushner operated appeared to be rentals, while a building at 82 Munroe St. was converted into a condominium. Purchased in 2000 for $2.25 million, its 16 units were sold for a combined $4.3 million throughout 2002. The other buildings for which The Crimson was able to obtain financial data returned handsome but less dramatic profits when they were sold in 2004. Those properties—located at 15 Waldo Ave, 81 Summer St., and 8-10 Avon St.—tracked roughly with the city of Somerville, whose property values increased 50 percent between 2000 and 2004.
Previous interviews indicate that, although he was not in charge on paper, Jared Kushner ran the day-to-day business of the Somerville properties. “I’d be in class, and get a call that a toilet broke, and have to get a contractor over there,” Kushner said in a 2006 interview with the New York Sun. Kushner did not respond to requests for comment on this article.
“Everything he did in life, he did at a young age, and with great, great success,” says E. Hirschy Zarchi, the rabbi of Harvard Chabad and a close friend of Kushner during Kushner’s undergraduate years. Zarchi was open in his praise of Kushner, describing him as a hard-working young man who helped build up Harvard Chabad, founded just two years before Kushner arrived on campus. “He was almost like a partner [to Chabad],” says Zarchi. “He was a great friend. At a very young age, he brought a certain wisdom and strategic thinking about building an enterprise.”
Shortly after Somerville Building Associates started bringing in revenue, Kushner donated $18,000 to Chabad. “It’s very, very rare that college students contribute on any level,” says Zarchi, who notes that Kushner’s gift was one of the largest checks ever given to the organization. Nevertheless, Zarchi recalled other aspects of their friendship as far more important: “[Money] was not the defining aspect of our relationship at all.”
Despite his success, Kushner has never been able to escape charges of nepotism. Somerville Building Associates and its sister corporations were funded by venture capital raised from Charles Kushner and some family friends. In 2006, when Jared Kushner bought the New York Observer, a small but influential weekly newspaper in New York City, he did so with profits from his Somerville deals.
By the time Somerville Building Associates disbanded in 2005, it reportedly had returned a profit of over $20 million.