A mentor gave Julie Allen some very strong advice early in her career. Do something different every ten years. Allen may have taken it a bit more literally than most, and it might help explain why her life appears to be, for lack of a better description, very cool.
The current senior vice president of digital and brand creative at the Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) previously spent fifteen years developing big ideas, big projects, and big rollouts for some of the most prominent names in media: the BBC, MTV, and Viacom.
“Initially, I really wanted to go into TV production,” Allen explains. “I hustled really hard, but I ultimately found it to be quite one-dimensional as a medium.”
Those books helped shape Allen’s first decade at the cross section of arts and technology, a space where she continues to shine today. Allen’s accomplishments are all over the board.
At MTV, she helped create and launch MTV Breaks, a global campaign aiming to give young people their first break in creative industries. “I wanted to shine a light on the fact that there are all of these fascinating jobs that happen behind the scenes that you might not hear about in school,” Allen explains.
Ten years flew by, during which Allen helped close the largest deal in half-a-decade at MTV International. Having done about everything she could think of in the role, she knew she needed a change. HHC was in the process of building an in-house digital studio from scratch.
What did Allen know about real estate? It didn’t really matter. She could buy more books. “What did concern me was that we’d find the right people for our team in such a short period of time,” Allen explains. “But I was quite fortunate. It felt like I had this fire lit under me as we found an incredible group of people, and our team scaled pretty quickly.”
Recently, Allen worked with the senior vice president of strategy and marketing on a corporate rebrand strategy. She felt especially eager to help reimagine a company website she knew could do a stronger job of representing the people, the assets, and business comprising HHC.
While digital initiatives are a huge part of Allen’s purview, she’s had the chance to do something new over the last five years: help reshape a physical space. And not just any space—prime New York real estate.
Allen worked hand-in-hand with agency 2X4 on the overhaul and rebrand of the former South Street Seaport neighborhood, now simply known as the Seaport. The SVP helped shape not just the name, but also the neighborhood.
Currently, the SVP collaborates with her Seaport team members and acclaimed Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten to transform the former home of the Fulton Fish Market into the Tin Building. The 53,000-square-foot marketplace consists of two levels of immersive culinary concepts, including multiple restaurants and a central market offering locally sourced seafood, meats, cheese, fresh produce, and more. Every news outlet in New York has covered the build, and if that isn’t enough, Allen also leads a documentary project featuring its history and the build up to its opening.
“It’s like coming back full circle to the TV world,” Allen says.
The Tin Building is a landmark project for the ongoing HHC build-out of the Seaport area. It’s also created more opportunities for Allen to bring more attention to young creatives.
Allen also collaborated with photo agency SN37 to create art galleries in unused retail space at The Seaport. Every three months, a new show brings together some of the most talented, up-and-coming photographers from around the US.
“To create a show and have these artists see people interacting with their work feels much more impactful than buying a billboard or advertising to promote it,” Allen says. “It’s a real experience with real people, and if you give people a platform, incredible things can happen. That’s what I continue to believe, and it keeps proving itself true.”
A Crypto Connoisseur
With an incredibly creative career, Julie Allen continues to prove she’s well ahead of the pack. A cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiast since 2013, Allen acts an advocate for the future of Web 3.0 and blockchain ecosystem. She cocreated a new division at the Howard Hughes Corporation tasked with investigating new use cases for blockchain technology and the metaverse.
“This is about far more than NFT profile pictures and get-rich-quick schemes,” Allen says. “Those projects without much depth or utility will come and go, hopefully a little more quickly these days, but I’m incredibly excited about the intersection of real estate and technology. And I believe web 3.0 and the blockchain will play a very prominent role in the future of this space.”