Mortgage Observer

So They Say: Ben Bernanke Talks Refinancing Troubles, AIG and Other Hard Times

Ben Bernanke.

Ben Shalom Bernanke, who ended his tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve in February, recently told a conference moderator in Chicago that he is unable to refinance his home mortgage due to the fact that most of his income comes from 1099 contracts rather than W-2s.

The remarks, made on Oct. 2 and first reported by Bloomberg News, evoked criticism from other media outlets, which quickly pointed to Mr. Bernanke’s latest endeavors, including a speech in Abu Dhabi in March that earned him an estimated $250,000. Read More

Sales Beat

Treetop Nabs $10M Washington Heights Portfolio

The Washington Heights portfolio.

Adam Mermelstein‘s Newark, N.J.-based Treetop Development has picked up a Washington Heights portfolio of low-rise walk-up apartment buildings for $10 million from Onex Real Estate PartnersCommercial Observer has learned.

The $5.5 million sale of 432-434 West 163rd Street between Amsterdam and Edgecombe Avenues closed two days ago, according to property records made public yesterday. The contiguous two five-story buildings at 612-618 West 182nd Street, between Wadsworth and St. Nicholas Avenues, also sold for $4.5 million, Ariel Property Advisors said. Read More


2014 Wired Store To Pop Up in the Milk Building

The Milk Building at 451-459 West 14th Street. (Jamestown)

In its 10th year, Wired‘s annual pop-up shop is headed to the Meatpacking District’s Milk Building, adjacent to the High Line, Commercial Observer has learned.

The tech-favorite store will assume the 8,413-square-foot storefront space, including an elevated level, at 451-459 West 14th Street, the building’s owner, Jamestown Properties, said last night at a broker party showcasing the space. It is being marketed at $300 per square foot by RKF‘s Karen Bellantoni and Emily Musilli and can be divided for as many as three long-term tenants starting Jan. 1, 2015, Ms. Bellantoni said. Read More

Lease Beat

Education Tech Company Expands in Flatiron District

100-104 Fifth Avenue. (Clarion Partners)

Knewton education technology company has expanded by 14,700 square feet to 31,000 square feet in the Flatiron District, the New York Post reported.

The education company, which personalizes digital courses, already occupied the entire eighth floor in the Clarion Partners building at 100-104 Fifth Avenue between West 15th and West 16th Streets. The firm will now also have 10,500 feet on the seventh floor as well as 4,200 feet on the 20th floor, the latter which has an outdoor terrace. Read More

Space Search

Starbucks Targets Manhattan for New Concepts

A rendering of the new Starbucks cafe in Seattle. (Starbucks)

Starbucks Coffee is planning to bring two new types of stores to Manhattan, a grab-and-go concept as well as a slow bar.

The global coffee behemoth announced last month that it was launching a high-end concept in Seattle, as well as an express store in Manhattan in 2015. But Commercial Observer has learned that Starbucks is also searching for space for the upscale cafe in Manhattan. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Canyon Provides Construction Loan for Gowanus Development

365 Bond Street rendering.

Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm Canyon Capital Realty Advisors originated a $120 million construction loan for the ground-up development of a 12-story apartment complex in Brooklyn’s Gowanus area, Mortgage Observer has first learned.

The 30-month senior loan, provided to an affiliate of The Lightstone Group, features a fixed-rate and extension options, according to Meridian Capital Group, which brokered the debt. The project also benefits from a 25-year tax abatement, the lender and broker said. Read More

Lease Beat

Harbinger Group Leases Soho Space

64 Wooster Street.

Publicly traded holding company Harbinger Group has landed a new lease in Soho, Commercial Observer has learned.

The company, which is run by hedge fund manager Philip A. Falcone and is an affiliate of the hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, took 6,000 square feet on the third floor of Zar Property‘s 64 Wooster Street between Broome and Spring Streets, according to sources with knowledge of the deal. Read More

Lease Beat

Urban Compass Doubles its Space in the Flatiron District

90 Fifth Avenue

Technology-centered residential real estate brokerage Urban Compass has doubled its floors and square footage at RFR Realty‘s 90 Fifth Avenue after officials at Urban Compass discovered that the 25,000 square feet it leased this past summer wouldn’t suffice for its growing staff.

The company’s previous lease covered spaces on the third and fourth floors of the 140,000-square-foot building between West 14th and West 15th Streets, but the new deal will extend the company’s space to the fifth and sixth floors and grow its footprint onsite by an additional 25,000 square feet once Urban Compass starts moving into the space in December, RFR officials said. Read More

Lease Beat

Nonprofit Inks Lease for Subleased Space

90 Park Avenue

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit that provides research grants to scholars and artists, signed a 16-year, 13,878-square-foot lease in space it has occupied as a subtenant for nearly 50 years in Midtown East, EVO Real Estate Group announced earlier this week.

The nonprofit inked the direct lease with Vornado Realty Trust for the entire 33rd floor of the building at 90 Park Avenue where asking rents run for $85 per square foot, EVO officials said. The organization will relocate temporarily for new renovations and occupy the revamped space between East 39th and East 40th Streets in April 2015, Arnold Gamberg, an executive vice president at EVO, told Crain’s New York Business, which first reported the deal. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Defeasance Back in Style

A Shopko retail store.

Defeasance provisions, which allow sponsors to swap out a loan with treasury securities that replicate the cash flows of the loan, have again become a popular option for CMBS borrowers looking to lock in rates and avoid prepayment penalties, industry sources told Mortgage Observer.

While defeasance provisions were invoked regularly before the 2008 financial meltdown, the current wave marks a new post-crisis high. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Q&A: Mark McCool, President of Berkadia Commercial Real Estate Services

Mark McCool.

Mr. McCool leads the servicing division of Berkadia Commercial Real Estate Services, a company owned by Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National Corp with 75 offices nationally. The company services a portfolio of properties in the U.S., Canada and Mexico valued at over $245.3 billion and is the third-largest multifamily servicer nationally. Mr. McCool recently sat down with Mortgage Observer in Berkadia’s Midtown Manhattan office, where he told us about the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the market for debt on distressed properties and the company’s operations in Hyderabad, India. Read More

Lease Beat

Papyrus Takes Chelsea Crumbs Location

655 Avenue of the Americas. (United American Land)

Stationery, greeting card and gift shop chain Papyrus has signed a new lease for an old Crumbs location at 655 Avenue of the Americas, Commercial Observer has learned.

The 10-year deal, which was signed last week, is for 1,372 square feet on Avenue of the Americas between West 20th and West 21st Streets, said Taryn Brandes of SCG Retail, who represented Papyrus along with SCG Retail’s Jacqueline Klinger. The asking rent was roughly $250 per square foot. Read More

Market Reports

Report: Ground Retail Rents Rise Along 13 of 17 Corridors

Manhattan Retail Rents

Median retail asking rents in Manhattan grew eight percent in the last six months and 12 percent over the past 12 months, according to the latest biannual retail report released this morning by the Real Estate Board of New York.

Median retail asks for all kinds of spaces now run for $104 per square foot versus $93 per square foot last fall, while average ground floor rents increased along 13 of 17 corridors tracked by the report. The stretch of Fifth Avenue between 49th Streets and 59th Streets remained the most expensive retail area in Manhattan at a median asking rent of $3,500 per square foot and its closest competitor, a Times Square area that encompasses Broadway and Seventh Avenue between West 42nd and West 47th Streets, stayed in second place with a median asking rent of $2,225 per square foot, the report found. Read More

Lease Beat

Salesforce Signs Five-Year Lease in Hudson Square

155 Avenue of the Americas.

Salesforce, the San Francisco-based cloud computing company, has signed a five-year lease in Hudson Square.

First reported by The Real Deal, Salesforce secured roughly 30,000 square feet for the 11th and 12th floors at 155 Avenue of the Americas at the corner of Spring Street. The property is owned by Trinity Real Estate. Other tenants in the building include Buddy Media, Accenture LLP, East Coast Digital and Mindfile Multimedia. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Goldman Sachs, Triangle Equities Win Award For Creative Financing of Bronx Mixed-Use Project

Rendering of Triangle Plaza Hub.

After years of work wrangling would-be tenants and buyers and navigating the murky waters of city and state tax credits, Triangle Equities has emerged with a viable strategy for its Triangle Plaza Hub, a mixed-use development in the South Bronx. So viable is the arrangement the developer finally finagled, with the help of Goldman Sachs Urban Investments unit, that it even won an award for its use of tax credits.  Read More