Billy Gray

On The Bowery

Plans Emerge for Ace Hotel’s “Faux Hostel” at 225 Bowery

225 Bowery

The trendy Ace Hotel brand will soon sidle up right next to the Bowery Mission with a so-called “faux hostel” (or “distilled service”) concept at the vacant 225 Bowery, formerly a Salvation Army shelter and community center. 

Nataliya Donskoy of ND Architecture will design the spot’s 178 guest rooms spread over 10 floors and 57,793 square feet. Bowery Boogie, which first reported the Bowery Ace project in September, is now saying that the development will cost $5 million split between North Wind Group and the Omnia Group. Read More

on the waterfront

Fate of Greenpoint Towers To Be Determined This Week [Updated]

Renderings of 77 Commercial Street

Long-simmering plans to put up two new high-rise towers along the Greenpoint waterfront should be put to a vote this week, and the project’s future mostly lies in the hands of City Council member Stephen Levin.

Mr. Levin, who represents the North Brooklyn neighborhood, must vote in favor of or against a 40-story and 30-story tower by the Council’s final meeting of the year on Thursday. The project’s developers Joseph Chetrit and David Bistricer hope to win approval for the towers that would soar past the area’s current 15-story zoning cap. Read More

Year in Real Estate

The Mayoral Equation

Bill de Blasio (Photo: AP)

William Bratton’s selection as police commissioner under Bill de Blasio will stand as perhaps the mayor-elect’s most prominent appointment. But as the clock ticks on Michael Bloomberg’s administration, two questions remain unanswered: Which projects begun under Mayor Bloomberg will unfold as planned? And who will shepherd Mr. de Blasio’s development goals?

In its final weeks in power, the Bloomberg administration is rushing to consolidate the mayor’s imposing real estate legacy. A New York Times article on Monday reported that $12 billion worth of projects were being pushed through for approval in the mayor’s twilight hours. They include grand projects like a massive Ferris wheel and outlet mall on Staten Island, America’s largest indoor ice rink in the Bronx and the Domino sugar factory redevelopment on the Brooklyn waterfront.  Read More

On the Market

Former 7-Eleven Hits the Market on St. Mark’s Place

Photo: EV Grieve

“Retail for lease” signs went up yesterday at the just-closed 7-Eleven on St. Mark’s Place.

EV Grieve reported the branch closure on November 30, begetting a chorus of “good riddance” sentiments from the site’s largely anti-chain commenters. It was a rare setback for the quintessentially suburban convenient store behemoth as it continues to gobble up Manhattan real estate. Last year, the company opened 27 stores in the five boroughs, bringing it to 124 locations. Read More

Lease Beat

Sompo Japan Insurance Co. Inks at 777 Third Avenue

777 Third Avenue

Sompo Japan Insurance Co. leased 13,055 square feet at 777 Third Avenue during a busy week for William Kaufman Organization and The Travelers Cos.’ Midtown tower.

The insurer will take the entire 24th floor after the move from space in a portion of the 28th floor. Kunihiko Otomo, a corporate managing director at Studley, represented the tenant. Frank Doyle, Cynthia Wasserberger, Alexis Tener Petrus, Jonathan Schifirin and David Wassel of Jones Lang LaSalle worked on behalf of the landlords with Sage Realty‘s Michael Lenchner. Read More

On the Market

46 Old Fulton Street in Dumbo Hits The Market

46-48 Old Fulton Street

TerraCRG is marketing the sale of a four-story, 17,800-square-foot commercial building at 46-48 Old Fulton Street in Dumbo, The Commercial Observer has learned.

The property–listed at  $7.8 million–includes 3,400 square feet of retail space that will be delivered vacant and is well-suited to a restaurant or boutique. Read More

Market Research

Lower Manhattan Only Submarket With Positive Net Absorption: Report


A Cushman & Wakefield report found that in the third quarter Lower Manhattan was the sole major office submarket to register positive net absorption.

A total of 523,000 square feet of office space was absorbed, a figure aided by  a 2.8 percent jump in October leasing activity from year-ago levels. “Downtown is its own success story,” Tara Stacom, an executive vice chairman at C& W, said in a prepared statement. “Registering more than a half of a million square feet of positive absorption during the third quarter is remarkable. Lower Manhattan has re-invented itself as a 24/7 hub where creative and innovative companies can flourish.” Read More

Lease Beat

HSBC Grows by 75,000-SF at 330 Madison


HSBC expanded by 75,000 square feet at 330 Madison Avenue in a deal that gives the British bank two additional floors–the 12th and lucky 13th–at the Grand Central-area office tower.

The tenant already occupies the full fifth floor. This growth spurt will allow HSBC to relocate some divisions from 452 Fifth Avenue to Vornado‘s 742,000-square-foot property. Read More

Sales Beat

Five-Building Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Package Sells for $3.65 Million

1198-1206 Nostrand Avenue

Brooklyn commercial real estate brokerage TerraCRG has closed on the $3.65 million sale of 1198-1206 Nostrand Avenue, a mixed-used building package in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.

The five contiguous properties each feature two market-rate apartment units and a ground floor commercial space. Together, the buildings contain 5,216 square feet of ground floor retail space and 163 feet of wraparound frontage. Read More

ICSC 2013

Why Domino’s Soars in NYC While Pizza Hut Plummets


Das Racist’s 2008 hit indie rap novelty song, “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” a nonsensical ode to a stoner’s dream fast food pairing, specifically name-checked the stomach-churning combo’s branch at 160-01 Jamaica Avenue. 

But while that location survives and 24 Taco Bells fan out across the boroughs, Pizza Hut maintains a low New York City profile, often conjoined with the ignominious Gordita crunch vendor in commuter hubs and down-at-heel outlying commercial corridors.  Read More

Coming Attractions

Work Begins on Test Floating Pool [Updated]

A rendering of + POOL

The people behind + POOL, New York’s buzzed-about floating river pool, have announced the start of work on a beta version of the watering hole–and another ambitious round of fundraising.

Designers and founders Dong-Ping Wong, Archie Lee Coates IV and Jeff Franklin said the “fabrication” of Float Lab, the test pool, will begin early next year and continue through next summer at  the Hudson River’s Pier 40, providing the team with data regarding seasonal filtration, among other matters. The Brooklyn-based naval architects at Persak & Wurmfeld will assist with the Float Lab portion of this project. Read More

ICSC 2013

Danny Meyer: Real Estate Mover, Shaker

Danny Meyer

As arguably the most influential New York restaurateur of the past 30 years, Danny Meyer has altered Manhattan’s culinary map and helped redraw its real estate borders. Starting with Union Square Café in 1985, growing exponentially with Shake Shack and moving forward with NoMad, Brooklyn and JFK airport concepts, Mr. Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group presaged the Midtown South gold rush and nurtured a generation of top toques while redefining restaurant hospitality. Mr. Meyer spoke to The Commercial Observer about the gentrification his restaurants are credited with jumpstarting, the decriminalization of mall dining in New York and the city’s untapped restaurant rows. This interview was conducted prior to his ICSC New York keynote address Monday. Read More