Happy New Year from The Real Deal!

Happy New Year from The Real Deal!

Happy New Year from The Real Deal!

In honor of the New Year holiday, we won’t be posting on Wednesday (but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for breaking news). The Real Deal wishes you and your family a safe and happy holiday, and a joyous 2014! Be sure to check back here on Thursday, starting at 7:30 a.m., for the latest in real estate news.

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American Realty sued over $91M Tribeca purchase

Bassalali-Varick

Rama Bassalali and 50 Varick Street (Photo credit: PropertyShark)

A Manhattan-based sales broker claims American Realty Capital New York Recovery REIT, a real estate investment trust, stiffed him on a brokerage commission stemming from its $90.8 million purchase of a commercial condominium in Tribeca last summer.

The broker, Rama Bassalali of RMB Properties, accused Midtown-based American Realty of refusing to pay a commission that he estimates should be about $850,000 for the off-market purchase. He made the claims in a lawsuit filed yesterday in New York State Supreme Court.

Bassalali says he introduced American Realty, headed by Nicholas Schorsch, to the seller of a 158,573-square-foot condominium comprised of the top three floors of 50 Varick Street, occupied by communications and branding agency Spring Studios on a 15-year lease. Milan-based Estate4, the seller, redeveloped the seven-story property located between Laight Street and Ericsson Place.

However, Bassalali never inked a formal contract with the buyer, he says in court filings, who he said would pay the commission.

“[American Realty] knowingly induced RMB to render such [brokerage] services by promising to and agreeing to treat RMB ‘fairly’ in paying a brokerage commission,” the suit said.

Bassalali was an active broker during the boom with major transactions including the $450 million sale of 2 Park Avenue in 2006, property databases Real Capital Analytics and CoStar Group show, but he has been less active since about 2008.

Joe Sitt’s Thor Equities had already inked a contract in the spring to buy the property, located between Ericsson Place and Laight Street, but made a quick $5.86 million when it assigned its purchase rights to American Realty, the suit says.

City property records value the transaction at $72 million, which appears to be the net price paid to the seller. The $90.8 million price cited by American Realty likely includes the payment to Thor and a $12.5 million credit American Realty says it received from the seller to complete construction of the property.

American Realty, Bassalali and his attorney, James Kennedy at the law firm Kennedy Berg, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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US housing recovery reflects staggering highs, lows

home-price-graphicFINAL

While home prices are back to their pre-recession peaks in many parts of the U.S., recovery is uneven nationwide and many areas still chug along well below pre-crash dollar amounts.

Around 10 percent of municipalities have prices that reached new highs in 2013, compared with 2007 peaks, and they are within 5 percent in 300 other areas. Still, these high-flying spots are exceptions, with some 1,500 holding values that hover at least 25 percent below previous highs.

Values tumbled 23.8 percent from 2007 and 2011 nationwide, then rebounded 9.9 percent after hitting bottom in 2011, according to Zillow data cited by the Wall Street Journal. Now, nationwide home values are 16.3 percent below previous decade highs.

In New York City, the Zillow home value index was $354,100 in October, 22.2 percent below the pre-recession peak in May 2007. In comparative extremes, home prices soared 40 percent above prior highs in Palo Alto, Calif., and hover 54 percent below in nearby Oakland. [WSJ]Julie Strickland 

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Ben Shaoul developing School of Visual Arts dorm

school-visual-arts-ben-shaoul

From left: 209 East 23rd Street, Benjamin Shaoul, Ismael Leyva and 407 First Avenue

In partnership with private investment firm 40 North Properties, Benjamin Shaoul’s residential development firm Magnum Real Estate Group is developing a new 146,000-square-foot dormitory building for the School of Visual Arts in Kips Bay, Shaoul told The Real Deal exclusively.

The six-story building, slated for 407 First Avenue at 24th Street, will serve as the flagship residence hall for the art school. It will house 505 residents and also feature retail and offices, he said.

Shaoul has hired Midtown West-based firm Ismael Leyva Architects to design. Construction is expected to start early next year and wrap up in summer 2016 in time for a fall semester opening that year.

Magnum and 40 North, led by Howard Glatzer, jointly acquired the site in April for $32.25 million from the nonprofit International Center for the Disabled, property records show. Jones Lang LaSalle brokers Glenn Tolchin, Jon Caplan and Yoav Oelsner marketed the site when it hit the market in July 2012, as The Real Deal reported.

The New York City Department of Buildings has approved the plans for the project, the address of which is also 344-346 East 24th Street, Shaoul said. Neither address could be located in the DOB database.

“We have several other [student housing] projects in the works,” Shaoul said.

The school’s other residence halls are located at 215 East 23rd Street, 23 Lexington Avenue, 17 Gramercy Park South, 101 10th Street and 101 Ludlow Street. The latter residential building is the newest one on campus, having opened its doors in 2009. It sleeps 350 students and features 259 single and 47 double rooms, according to the school’s website.

The School of Visual Arts could not be immediately reached for comment.

In September, Magnum bought the top 21 floors of Verizon’s 140 West Street headquarters, with plans to convert it to residential condominiums, as previously reported.

Other developers are breaking into the student housing market as well. Gregg Singer, for example, plans to convert 605 East 9th Street into a college dormitory, as previously reported.

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10 real estate pros who made their mark in 2013

From left: Bill De Blasio, Jared Kushner, Nicholas Schorsch and Zhang Xin

From left: Bill De Blasio, Jared Kushner, Nicholas Schorsch and Zhang Xin

In some ways, 2013 was a watershed year for the New York City real estate industry, between the half dozen or so office towers that sold for more than $1 billion and the residential skyscrapers that scraped the heights of apartment asking prices. But what about the people who shaped a year of change in New York City real estate?

Take, for example, Nicholas Schorsh of Amercial Realty Capital and Florida-based developer R. Donohue Peebles, both of whom got busy in Manhattan for the first time. Or the founders of Urban Compass and CompStak, who both hope their brand of technology can transform the industry. Or the Chinese property magnate who set a record in Midtown. Sometimes controversial, these figures undoubtedly eked out a name for themselves in 2013. Read on for the full list.

Peter Von Der Ahe and Joe Koicim, Marcus & Millichap

Peter Von Der Ahe and Joe Koicim

Peter Von Der Ahe and Joe Koicim

Multi-family property brokers Peter Von Der Ahe and Joe Koicim of Marcus & Millichap had a benchmark year in 2013, doubling the dollar volume of their deals over 2012. They made headlines for brokering several high-profile transactions, like TIAA-CREF’s sale of the Exo, a 14-story, 115-unit rental building in Astoria, for $47.2 million, and the Naftali Group’s $37 million purchase of a rental building at 245 West 25th Street.

They owe their success, in part, to Marcus & Millichap’s addition in January of an institutional property advisers platform, a network of advisers around the country who deal with institutional clients, as well as their relationships with several multi-family investors — among them Stone Street Properties, Silverstone Properties, Silvershore Properties and Benchmark Real Estate Group — who were particularly active this year.

“This was a record-setting year for us, no doubt,” Koicim told The Real Deal. “The $5 million to $30 million range has been our niche. That’s our bread and butter. Now, with the institutional platform, we’ve moving into the $50 million-plus category.”

The duo has built a reputation for flipping properties at a profit. For example, they arranged the sale of a multi-family building at 143-145 West 4th Street for $19.2 million; Silverstone had bought it for $11.3 million one year prior.

“We’ve made a name for ourselves by finding that out-of-the-box buyer and getting them to pay more than anybody else,” Koicim said.


Bill de Blasio, Mayor-elect

Bill De Blasio

Bill De Blasio

Perhaps no figure has dominated more headlines in the real estate press this year, or been more divisive, than former public advocate and current Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio won the race for the city’s top political office in November with 73 percent of the vote, beating out former Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Joe Lhota.

The politician, who was a City Council member in Brooklyn before becoming public advocate in 2010, had not attracted much attention from the real estate community prior to his race for mayor. One exception may have been his “NYC’s Worst Landlords” list, which singled out residential owners with the  most unresolved building-code violations.

But during his run, hardly a panel discussion or real estate-related event passed without someone commenting on what a de Blasio administration would mean for New York City real estate.

“Whenever there is a change in administration, there’s understandable trepidation,” Seth Pinsky, executive vice president at RXR Realty and the former president of the city Economic Development Corporation under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, told The Real Deal last month. “But there are also opportunities that come with change.”

Luis D. Ortiz, star of “Million Dollar Listing New York”

Luis D. Ortiz

Luis D. Ortiz

The producers of Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York” tapped Luis D. Ortiz, then a broker at Keller Williams NYC, to replace Douglas Elliman broker Michael Lorber for the reality show’s second season.

That decision set off a whirlwind for the Puerto Rican native, who went from complete obscurity to a fixture on the scene, attending a slew of industry bashes and hosting a May season premiere party on the rooftop of the former Elizabeth Arden building at 689 Fifth Avenue. Attendees included execs from the Trump Organization and Keller Williams as well as Ortiz’ parents and his twin brother, Daniel.

Man-about-town Ortiz then made headlines in August when KWNYC fired him; he landed at Elliman. His former brokerage said it was uncomfortable with his association with the oft sensationalized television show. Later, he made headlines for a Department of State investigation into his allegedly doctoring listing photos.

“For the world, I’ve become synonymous with real estate, which is something hard to buy,” Ortiz told The Real Deal, summing up his year. “I receive a lot of attention, even when I’m out [of] the country. But the good thing is that all of it is very bright and positive. People smile when they see me. That makes me very happy.”

Michael Mandel and Vadim Belobravka, founders of CompStak

Michael Mandel and Vadim Belobravka

Michael Mandel and Vadim Belobravka

You may not know of Michael Mandel and Vadim Belobravka, but there’s a good chance you’ve heard of their creation: CompStak, the online database of office leasing comps. While Mandel, a former Grubb & Ellis broker, and programmer Belobravka may have launched the site in January 2012, it wasn’t until the past year that it gained major traction in the New York City market (thanks in part to their willingness to provide The Real Deal and other media outlets with data).

Since January, CompStak has expanded its New York City-based members by 500 percent and attracted new customers like Wells Fargo, Empire State Realty Trust, Beacon Capital and Sitt Asset Management, Mandel told The Real Deal. Its New York City team is now five times the size it was last year, with 25 employees, he said. And the company raised $4.45 million in series A funding in April from a group including Canaan Partners, 500 Startups, Founder Collective and Expansion VC.

“New employees include great people with experience from places like Google, LiveStream and Morgan Stanley,” Mandel said.

The site, which claims to have data on nearly all of the Manhattan commercial office deals completed in the past year, is now a well-recognized resource for leasing brokers, sources said.

Nicholas Schorsch, chairman and CEO of American Realty Capital

Nicholas Schorsch

Nicholas Schorsch

American Realty Capital’s New York Recovery REIT unit went on a buying binge last year, doubling its New York City portfolio with assets like 1 Worldwide Plaza, for which it signed a $1.3 billion contract. The man at the helm? CEO and Chairman Nicholas Schorsch.

Schorsch, 52, set up his Manhattan operations in 2007. He was previously headed real estate investment trust American Financial Realty.

American Realty’s 2013 deals also included the acquisition 1440 Broadway for $529 million, the purchase of the leasehold for the Viceroy Hotel in Midtown for nearly $150 million, a $90 million deal for a commercial condo at 50 Varick Street in Tribeca and a $220 million transaction for an office building at 333 West 34th Street. The REIT’s total New York City portfolio is now valued at around $2.1 billion.

“The markets are beginning to recover but the buying opportunities were very strong for us this year,” Schorsch told The Real Deal yesterday. “There were more and better opportunities in 2013 because of a lot of pent-up supply and demand in Manhattan. We were definitely in the right place at the right time.”

Jared Kushner, Kushner Companies

Jared Kushner

Jared Kushner

Jared Kushner, the son of developer Charles Kushner and owner of the New York Observer newspaper, has long been a recognizable name in the city, perhaps even more so since he wed real estate scion Ivanka Trump in 2009.

But Kushner’s profile hit a new level this year, thanks to a slew of mega-deals done by his real estate firm, Kushner Companies.

In the largest Brooklyn acquisition of 2013, Kushner and Aby Rosen’s RFR Holdings snapped up a portfolio of Dumbo properties from the Jehovah’s Witnesses for $375 million this summer. The 1.25 million-square-foot portfolio includes a 505-room hotel five industrial buildings that lie in Brooklyn’s “Tech Triangle.”

Kushner also accumulated a portfolio of more than 500 rental units on the Lower East Side and in the East Village in the last 18 months, including a package of 17 walk-up apartment buildings he bought from Westbrook Partners for $130 million in February.

Kushner’s acquisition spree shows little sign of letting up. In December, he racked up another significant acquisition, buying a 46-unit rental building at 50 North 1st Street in Williamsburg for $33.8 million.

In one notable sale, Kushner sold 200 Lafayette Street, an office building he acquired for $50 million in 2011, to General Growth Properties for just over $150 million in cash.

Kushner was not immediately available for comment.

Ori Allon and Robert Reffkin, Urban Compass

Robert Reffkin and Ori Allon

Robert Reffkin and Ori Allon

Ori Allon and Robert Reffkin, the founders of much-hyped Manhattan startup Urban Compass, became persons of intrigue for the real estate press and the brokerage community at large when their company launched just seven months ago. Suddenly, every brokerage chief in the city had an opinion on whether the two men, whose company initially combined a StreetEasy-style listings website with a team of salaried “neighborhood specialists” who functioned much like rental brokers, would be able succeed in the New York market.

Allon certainly appeared to have the technology chops. The serial entrepreneur created Julpan, an online tool for analyzing social information, which he sold to Twitter for an undisclosed amount in 2011, and the web search algorithm Orion, which Google bought in 2006, also for an undisclosed price. Meanwhile, Reffkin had the financial background. Before starting Urban Compass, he worked at Goldman Sachs as chief of staff to the president and COO following five years working in the firm’s private equity arm.

The conversation surrounding the duo’s approach has only increased throughout the year and reached fever pitch earlier this month when the start-up shifted its commission model to make a move into the sales market. Close to 50 percent of all Urban Compass agents are now independent contractors working on commission, while others remain salaried employees. While some thought the move towards a commission-based business was a sign that the company was flailing, others thought it was a smart move to attract talent.

“At Urban Compass, we are just as thrilled today as when we launched back in May with Mayor Bloomberg in our offices,” Reffkin told The Real Deal in a statement. “We’ve received a great deal of tech and real estate media attention but that hasn’t distracted us from our core objective, which is to give consumers a better way to find a home.”

Don Peebles, the Peebles Corporation

Don Peebles

Don Peebles

Don Peebles, CEO of national real estate company the Peebles Corporation, made waves this year when he snapped up a site from the municipal government to build his first New York City project.

Peebles, head of one of the nation’s largest African American-owned development firms, picked up a landmarked 400,000-square-foot building at 346 Broadway — also known as 108 Leonard Street — in Tribeca for $160 million in partnership with the Elad Group in December. He plans to transform it into condominiums and a hotel, with sales set to launch late next year.

“The deal broke a number of barriers including the largest real estate deal with a minority-led firm in the history of New York City, the largest single building sale in the history of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the largest single building sale in Tribeca’s history,” said a spokesperson for Peebles in a statement to The Real Deal.

In addition, Peebles is in the final stages of a public-private bidding process to build a condo tower at 2040 Frederick Douglas Boulevard in Central Harlem.

Peebles previously told The Real Deal that the public-private model, which involves partnering with city- or state-run agencies to develop new properties on government-owned land, plays to the company’s strengths and allows it to compete for land in a crowded marketplace.

Jason Meister, Avison Young

Jason Meister

Jason Meister

Jason Meister was a prominent young broker with commercial brokerage Avison Young, attracting a smattering of press for his deals. But several $2 billion-plus offers for the Empire State Building propelled him onto the pages of every major New York City newspaper in 2013.

Meister represented two bidders for the building, investors Joseph Sitt of Thor Equities and Rubin Schron, both of whom wanted to snap up the tower before manager Malkin Holdings could wrap it up in a publicly traded real estate investment trust this year.

While neither bidder dissuaded Malkin Holdings from their plan, the bidding process — and the attention it garnered — associated Meister with mega Manhattan deal-making. Indeed, thanks in part to his efforts, the shareholders who opposed the initial public offering (several of whom were represented by his father, Stephen Meister, in court) had an alternative to the IPO to trumpet in the press. And even after the IPO took place, Meister appeared on Fox Business, comparing the process to the federal government’s fumbling on Obamacare.

He declined to comment for this story.

Zhang Xin, Soho China

Zhang Xin

Zhang Xin

Zhang Xin, the tycoon who heads major Chinese developer Soho China, first entered the New York City market in 2012 when she purchased a 49 percent share in Park Avenue Plaza for $600 million. But 2013 saw Zhang Xin take her personal holdings in New York City to new levels.

In May, the mogul and her husband Pan Shiyi acquired a 40 percent stake in the General Motors Building at 767 Fifth Avenue for a mammoth $1.4 billion from Boston Properties. The deal valued the office property at a total $3.4 billion, making it the priciest office tower in the country.

The property magnate followed up that acquisition with something for her personal use: a restored 19th Century townhouse at 45 East 74th Street, purchased for $26 million from Italian real estate developer and movie producer Valerio Morabito.

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2013: THAT WAS THE YEAR

January
At the beginning of the year, Related Companies purchased a development site next to the High Line Park in Chelsea for $65 million.
The parcel, bought from the Central Iron and Metal Company, offered frontage on both 27th and 28th Streets between 10th and 11th Avenues, and included land underneath the High Line and the associated air rights.

Related’s purchase was just blocks south of the 26-acre Hudson Yards, where the company had recently broken ground on the first 47-story office tower to be built on the massive site.

Meanwhile, “micro units” burst onto the scene after a development team composed of Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, and nARCHITECTS were tapped to create 55 new apartments measuring as little as 250 s/f.

Forty percent of the units — to be built at a city-owned site at 335 East 27th Street in Manhattan — are to be affordable.

Called ‘My Micro NY,’ it was developed using modular construction, with the modules pre-fabricated locally by Capsys at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

“New York’s ability to adapt with changing times is what made us the world’s greatest city — and it’s going to be what keeps us strong in the 21st Century,” said Mayor Bloomberg of the units. “The growth rate for one- and two-person households greatly exceeds that of households with three or more people, and addressing that housing challenge requires us to think creatively and beyond our current regulations.”

In StuyTown/Peter Cooper Village, the complex’s 25,000 fed-up tenants called on the bill collector in charge of the complex to help them find a new owner — fast.
The call came following a community meeting that drew officials from Brookfield Asset Management, banking consultants and lawyers as well as hundreds of residents who accused the company servicing the debt on the ST/PCV apartment complex of dragging its feet on negotiating the sale of the development.

February
Vornado Realty Trust CEO Michael Fascitelli announced his resigned from his position nearly four years after being named the top executive.
Chairman Steve Roth replaced Fascitelli after he officially stepped down April 15.

Roth wrote in the memo on the company’s website, “Mike plans to take a break after which he will pursue new challenges.”

237 Park Ave

RXR Realty partnered with an affiliate of Walton Street Capital to purchase 237 Park Avenue from an entity controlled by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

The sale price was $800 million, a bargain according to Scott Rechler, chairman and CEO of RXR Realty. “It is rare that you can purchase a modern office building in such an irreplaceable location at such a significant discount to replacement cost,” said Rechler.

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch died at 88 from congestive heart failure.

Koch was elected in 1977, one of the most tumultuous years in the city’s history. “It’s hard to reconcile the New York City of the “Mean Streets” era with the glory we see today, but Ed Koch was a huge part of making that happen,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of The Retail Group for Douglas-Elliman. “Before him we were literally bankrupt, told in essence to “Drop Dead” by the U.S. Government. ”
Four months after Hurricane Sandy disrupted America’s fourth largest central business district, Lower Manhattan was back to business.
99 percent of commercial office space was open; 99 percent of residential inventory was open; 96 percent of hotel inventory was open, and; 90 percent of retailers were open.
The figures were released by Downtown Alliance president Elizabeth H. Berger during a business forum co-hosted by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) in April.
“Lower Manhattan’s recovery from Sandy has been vigorous. The Downtown Alliance’s research shows dramatic improvement across of all of Lower Manhattan’s major markets. Moreover, property owners and utility companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the district’s future to protect against the threats of future storms,” said Berger.

March
Madison Square Garden may be in the final phase of a $980 million interior renovation, but that didn’t stop the Municipal Arts Society and the Regional Plan Association from suggesting that the “World’s Most Famous Arena” be relocated from the space it has held since 1968.

A Garden move, MAS said, will allow Penn Station, which sits underneath, to be overhauled and returned to its former glory as an above-ground terminal.
But a spokesperson for Madison Square Garden told Real Estate Weekly that a move is not something seen on the immediate horizon.

Kim Kerns, senior vice president of communications for the Madison Square Garden Company, said, “Following the completion of this self-funded, nearly $1 billion transformation, it is incongruous to think that MSG would be considering moving.”

As the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) faces a serious financial shortfall, the government agency laid out a plan to lease land on the grounds of housing projects to city developers, in a bold attempt to generate revenue.

NYCHA is looking to bring in $50 million annually from developers who would build luxury high-rises on leased land in the middle of city housing projects.
A modified version of the proposed Hudson Square rezoning plan was approved by the City Council Land Use Committee in March.

The modifications will create more affordable housing units than the original proposal and ensure a vote by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for a new South Village Historic District by the end of the year.

Trinity Real Estate, the development arm of Lower Manhattan’s Trinity Church was the organization that first submitted the re-zoning proposal.

A partnership of Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management’s real estate investment business and David Werner purchased the leased fee interest in The Milford Hotel in New York for a reported $325 million. The sellers bought the entire property in 2010 for about $200 million.

Boston Properties, Inc., announced that Owen D. Thomas would succeed Mortimer B. Zuckerman as chief executive officer and join the Board of Directors.
Zuckerman remained as executive chairman and returned to his original role in company activities.

April
China Construction America, Inc., a subsidiary of one of the largest construction firms in the world, purchased a new US headquarters space.

In the largest office acquisitions in New Jersey in the first quarter, the company paid $71 million for a 320,274 s/f, class A office building at 445 South Street in Morris Twp.
China Construction America, Inc. said it will use the property as corporate expansion space for the future.

Ruth Agnese

Ruth A. Agnese, one of the foremost experts in commercial real estate valuation and analysis in New York City, died on Thursday, April 18, her 51st birthday, at St. Rafael’s/Yale University Hospital in New Haven, CT.

Ruth was president of Appraisers and Planners, Inc., a full service real estate valuation and consulting firm founded in 1933, where she worked for 33 years.
Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group closed on nearly $1.4 billion in equity investments and debt financing for Hudson Yards.

A consortium of investors and lenders agreed to fund the first tower in the development, the South Tower, which will be home to fashion brand Coach, Inc. beauty company, L’Oréal USA, and market software firm SAP.

Investors also made equity investments in a residential tower on 30th and 11th Avenue, which will be a hybrid rental and condominium tower. Construction financing is being provided by a syndicate led by Starwood Property Trust, which includes member organizations of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, along with Oxford Properties Group.

John Brod and his team from PBS Real Estate joined ABS Partners Real Estate, ABS announced.

The announcement came days after PBS co-founder Laura Pomerantz left to start her own firm.

May
TF Cornerstone purchased a development site at 49 Bond Street in Downtown Brooklyn. The sale price was $70 million.

Shutterstock, Inc., a global image marketplace on the Internet, has leased 85,000 s/f for a new headquarters at the Empire State Building.

Blumenfeld Development Group helped herald in a new era for Jamaica, Queens, with the signing of a deal to bring the first department store to the area in 35 years.
Michael Colacino, president of international commercial real estate firm, Studley, announced the opening of its office in Shanghai, China.

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) announced that David J. LaRue, president and CEO of Forest City Enterprises, was elected by ICSC’s Board of Trustees to serve as the association’s chairman for the 2013–2014 term.

Silverstein Properties secured financing to construct a skyscraper at 30 Park Place in Tribeca that will include a Four Seasons hotel and Private Residences. At 926 feet, the property will be the tallest residential tower in Downtown Manhattan and one of the tallest buildings in New York City, and is expected to block the Woolworth Building’s river views.

Web giant Yahoo leased four floors at the former New York Times building at 229 West 43rd Street. The new headquarters will consolidate the company’s three New York City offices into one main headquarters, with expansion room for an additional 200 employees.

June
Brookfield Office Properties Inc. closed on $1 billion in financing on two of the four office towers at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan.

Zhang Xin, a prominent Chinese developer, and the Brazilian banking family, the Safras, teamed up to buy a 40 percent stake in the General Motors Building at 767 Fifth Avenue. The deal placed the value of the iconic 50-story, two million s/f tower at $3.4 billion. According to CBRE, the deal was largest investment sale to close in New York since 2008.

Crown Acquisitions and investment firm Highgate bought the trophy glass tower at 650 Madison for $1.3 billion.

Real estate investment manager Clarion Partners, LLC announced the acquisition of 100-104 Fifth Avenue for $230 million. Clarion purchased the 277,412 s/f Midtown South building from the Kaufman Organization and Invesco Real Estate, and retained Kaufman Organization as leasing and managing agent.

The Mental Health Association of New York City honored Kenneth Fisher and his family at its annual benefit gala for their work with the Fisher House Foundation, a charity that builds temporary accommodations for the families of wounded soldiers near military hospitals.

Carlo Barel di SantAlbano

Cushman and Wakefield announced the departure of CEO Glenn Rufrano. Carlo Barel di Sant’Albano was named as the interim CEO to replace Rufrano, who had been CEO of the company since early 2010.

The Mionian Group officially unveiled its plans for 3 Hudson Boulevard, a 1,000-foot-tall, gently twisting office tower designed by Dan Kaplan of FXFOWLE.

REBNY presented its Retail Deal of the Year Awards. David LaPierre of CBRE, won the award for most ingenious and creative deal for Express’ lease at 1552/1560 Broadway. Jacqueline Klinger and Chase Welles of SCG Retail landed the prize for the most significant deal for bringing Whole Foods to 100 West 125th Street in Harlem.

The Brill Building, a landmark historic building located at 1619 Broadway at the corner of West 49th Street, was purchased by real estate investor Eric Hadar of Allied Partners, along with the private equity firm Brickman, in a deal valued at close to $250 million.

The partnership of four New York real estate principals who acquired Winoker Realty in February re-launched the brokerage as EVO Real Estate Group.

The Heller Gallery, a longtime Meatpacking District tenant, signed a lease to move into to the retail space in Atlantic Development Group’s newly constructed 303 10th Avenue — a sign of the High Line district’s emergence as a new art gallery hub.

Robert Lieber, a former deputy mayor for economic development, was named the new chairman of the Urban Land Institute NY.

Princeton Holdings sold its interest in the one million s/f Ring Portfolio — commercial properties located in Manhattan’s Midtown South submarket — for $74 million.
Cornell NYC Tech chose Forest City Ratner as the master developer for the first stage of the school’s planned Roosevelt Island Campus.

July
International retail giant Urban Outfitters signed a lease for 56,730 s/f on three levels at W&H Properties’ 1333 Broadway, creating the chain’s largest retail outpost.

On the verge of an IPO, the Empire State Building saw a flood of unsolicited offers from private investors looking to keep the iconic tower off the stock exchange.

At the end of the second quarter Manhattan-wide Class A office vacancy had risen to 11.6 percent.

New York Loan Company, one of the country’s most exclusive pawn shops, was the first office condominium owner to open for business at the International Gem Tower (IGT) on West 47th Street.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey selected Cushman & Wakefield as its site-wide property manager for the new World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.
The Stack, a seven-story, 28-unit residential building at 4857 Broadway, became New York City’s first multi-unit modular residential building. Pre-fab steel and concrete modules were hoisted atop one another by crane to complete the $13 million project.

Seth Pinsky

RXR Realty announced the hiring of Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), to lead a major RXR initiative to invest in emerging New York metropolitan area markets and contribute to the expansion of the region’s economy.

Skanska USA announced that it has resigned as a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest the organization’s backing of a chemical industry-led initiative to effectively ban the future use of LEED for government buildings.

Fisher Brothers and The Witkoff Group closed on a deal with St. John’s University to buy one of Lower Manhattan’s biggest development sites at 101 Murray Street for $223 million.

Two Trees Management unveiled Havermyer Park, a “pop-up park” complete with a community garden in a vacant lot that the company plans to turn into affordable housing as part of its redevelopment of the Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s acquired Surge Retail International, a New York and Boston-based specialty retail tenant representation firm.
Thor High Street Advisors has acquired London consultants Ashley Phillips Lahaise.

New-tech ad agency Droga5 has signed at 92,000 s/f deal for headquarters space at Silverstein Property’s 120 Wall Street.
Bonjour Capital bought the Crescent Club in Long Island City for $81.5 million.

August
ING signed a lease renewal and expansion for 144,000 s/f of space, comprising the entire 13th and 14th floors at 230 Park Avenue.

Elected officials and community leaders announced $8 million in funding for the East River Blueway Plan, allocating $1 million for a kayak launch at Stuyvesant Cove Park and $7 million for the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Beach.

Emmes Asset Management purchased 180 Water Street in lower Manhattan for $151 million.

The NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate of the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies announced it would begin offering a 128-credit B.S. in Real Estate during the Fall 2013 semester.

Shake Shack, the burger, hot dog and frozen custard stand, plans to open at Two Trees Commercial’s One Old Fulton Street in Brooklyn’s DUMBO in mid 2014.

H&M signed a 25-year lease for approximately 63,000 s/f in the Herald Center, at the corner of 34th Street and Broadway, Herald Square. The store will be H&M’s largest in the world and is anticipated to open in the fall of 2014.

Africa Israel USA named Chagit Sofiev-Leviev as chief executive officer.

Verizon signed a 60,000 s/f long-term lease renewal at the Rudin Family’s 32 Avenue of the Americas in TriBeCa.

SEPTEMBER
As Fed money continued to pour into the economy and stock prices rallied to record levels, fall was a good time for IPOs.

Marcus & Millichap made the first step, announcing it would go public in September. Dan Fasulo of Real Capital Analytics interpreted the move as an attempt to raise capital and compete with other, larger brokerages. “They are seeing their competitors invest,” he said. “You have to keep up with the Joneses.”

Anthony Malkin

A week later, Peter and Anthony Malkin pulled off the Blockbuster IPO of 2013. They rang the bell at the opening of the New York Stock Exchange on October 2, after a year-long battle to take the Empire State Building and other buildings in the Malkin portfolio public.

The IPO had been delayed for over a year by litigation on the part of a group of the 2,800 shareholders in the Empire State Building’s former private ownership structure, who objected to the IPO.

There were also unsolicited, eleventh-hour offers from private investors interested in individual assets in the portfolio. But in the end, the Malkins had their way and the Empire State Realty Trust was born.

Meanwhile, the residential market continued to break records. In September, the River House on East 52nd Street hit the market for $130 million – the most expensive listing in Manhattan’s history. The 60,000 s/f unit, which has yet to be sold, boasts an 82 ft. swimming pool, tennis court, screening room, wine cellar, full spa and gaming room.

October
Roche Pharmaceuticals got a warm welcome to the Big Apple when politicians and corporate executives gathered at the Alexandria Life Sciences Center on 29th Street to launch the company’s Translational and Clinical Research Center, scheduled to move into the West Tower of the life sciences facility when it opens in January.

Franz Humer, Roche’s chairman and CEO, announced last year that it would close its 1,000-employee facility in Nutley, N.J. “with a heavy heart,” Humer said.

Roche’s Nutley facility has been the site of many drug inventions including most famously Valium, the first anti-depressant, as New York State Senator Brad Hoylman reminded the audience at Tuesday’s ceremony.

“I was thinking that the governor of New Jersey needed a Valium when he heard he was losing all those jobs,” Hoylman said.

The city’s BOMA members readied n October 17, 2013, millions of people around the globe will participate in the Great ShakeOut, the world’s largest annual earthquake drill.
As November approached, asking prices and IPOs soon took a backseat to 2013s most anticipated event: the mayoral election.

As a landslide victory for Bill de Blasio became more and more likely, some real estate professionals began to voice concerns over the Democrat’s plans to raise taxes and end stop-and-frisk.

Bill de Blasio

De Blasio won in a landslide over his Republican rival Joe Lhota on November 5. Since then, he has embarked on a charm offensive, meeting several real estate leaders for lunch. His tactic seems to be paying off: While many industry leaders still voice concerns over his progressive agenda, others have come to view him as a pragmatic politician who will work with the real estate industry rather than against it.

A week after the election, politics once again took the center stage when Mayor Michael Bloomberg withdrew his application for a midtown-east rezoning plan due to opposition in the city council.

The decision was a big surprise, and caused much grief among developers and brokers who had been hoping for a flurry of new projects. Others, however, have argued that the rejection of the rezoning plan may not be that big of a deal.

“I don’t think we need more space — we need better space,” Glenn Rufrano. chairman and CEO of O’Connor Capital Partners, recently said. “Midtown is fine the way it is, if we can create more efficient space.”

November

1 WTC

New York not only got a very tall mayor, but could also once again lay claim to the tallest building in the Western hemisphere. On November 12, the Height Committee of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat declared the building’s antenna to be a spire, which meant 1WTC is now officially 1,776 feet tall. Without the spire, the building only reaches 1,368 feet.

December
December began with a collective exhalation. De Blasio’s announcement on December 5 that Bill Bratton will succeed Ray Kelly as police commissioner quelled fears over potential rise in crime. “The choice of William Bratton brought a huge sigh of relief from the real estate community,” said Mitchell Rudin, president and CEO of Brookfield Office Properties’ U.S. commercial operations, at Eisner Amper’s Real Estate Breakfast Forum.

Meanwhile, actual work was being done on Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards Project. The developer put the first modules in place for the world’s largest modular building – a 32-story residential tower.

The Atlantic Yards had been in the news a lot, but hardly ever because of construction progress.

In November, Chinese developer Greenland Holdings Group had reached a tentative agreement with Forest City Ratner to buy a 70-percent stake in the project – providing much-needed capital.

The investment was the latest in a series of high-profile Chinese forays into New York real estate in 2013.

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Mayor Bloomberg renames six streets before he hits the road, Axl Rose is the best NYC tenant ever … and more

Axl Rose: A model NYC tenant?

Axl Rose: A model NYC tenant?

1. Outgoing Mayor Bloomberg renames six NYC streets and intersections [WNYC]
2. Axl Rose in Tribeca: The best tenant ever? [NYMag]
3. Global migration patterns revealed by Facebook user data [Atlantic Cities]
4. Translation company Smartling inks 22,200 square foot lease at Savanna’s 1375 Broadway [NYO]
5. Bouldering wall, dog run among Brooklyn Bridge Park amenities to launch construction mid-January [DNAinfo]
6. Rising rents, development boom reshaping NYC’s Chinatown [Voice of America] – Julie Strickland

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