Lauren Elkies Schram

The Sit-Down

Adelaide Polsinelli—a Commercial Real Estate Maverick

Adelaide Polsinelli on the roof of her listing at 116-119 South Street. (Lea Rubin Photography)

In an industry dominated by men, Adelaide Polsinelli has held her own since entering the profession 29 years ago on the residential side at Century 21 Real Estate. Ms. Polsinelli, a senior director at Eastern Consolidated since March 2012, is juggling a dozen exclusive listings, the bulk of which are in East Harlem. She is co-listing two mixed-use buildings in the South Street Seaport, one of which is home to the Paris Café, for $25.8 million. Ms. Polsinelli talked with Commercial Observer over lunch at the café about the Seaport, her favorite deal and the advantage of working at Eastern Consolidated. Read More


Nonprofits, Others Getting Into the Commercial Condo Game

633 Third Avenue.

Nonprofit organizations in Manhattan have been cashing in on the strong investment sales market by selling off buildings they own and scaling back with office condominiums.

Last month, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies bought a $13 million, 33,000-square-foot condo at 40 Rector Street after selling its headquarters at the Church Missions House at 281 Park Avenue South for $50 million earlier this year. Big Brothers and Big Sisters, which pairs children with mentors, sold its townhouse at 223 East 30th Street for $6.75 million. It also terminated a lease at 245 Fifth Avenue and then consolidated with a 25,711-square-foot office condo it purchased for $10 million at 40 Rector Street. Vocational training organization FedCap Rehabilitation Services sold its longtime headquarters at 211 West 14th Street for $26.75 million and then purchased a 44,000-square-foot office condo at 633 Third Avenue for $26.5 million. Read More

Hotel Beat

Lower Manhattan Hotel Industry Expands

Aloft Hotel is slated to open at 49-53 Ann Street in January. (Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide website)

Lower Manhattan’s lodging market is hot with an increasing number of hotels in the works as well as strong activity at existing hotels.

There are 17 hotel projects with 3,292 rooms in the pipeline (in the planning, final planning and construction phases) in Lower Manhattan, according to data provided today by lodging industry benchmarking services firm STR to Commercial Observer. That marks a 30 percent increase in hotel count year-over-year from 13, and a 35 percent increase in room count from 2,431. Read More

Lease Beat

New Financial Services Firm Signs First Lease [Updated]

527 Madison Avenue.

New financial services technology firm GR Tech has signed a lease for its first office at Mitsui Fudosan America’s 527 Madison Avenue, Commercial Observer has learned.

GR Tech took 7,500 square feet, or the full 18th floor, in the building between 53rd and 54th Streets. The company moved in on Sept. 18 after signing a Labor Day deal. The office serves as the headquarters for GR Tech’s trading operation. Read More

Food & Drink

Rainbow Room Reopens to Public for Brunch This Sunday

The new Rainbow Room at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. (Bart Barlow)

The historic Rainbow Room will be reopening to the public for brunch on Sunday after a private opening party on Wednesday. The following night the Rainbow Room, on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, will be open for dinner.

Owner and operator Tishman Speyer oversaw the renovations which included an updated dining room, two new lounge spaces, one of which will be open to the public, and a 950-foot wraparound terrace. The company declined to indicate the price tag through a spokeswoman. Gabellini Sheppard Architects, the architecture firm which reimagined Rockefeller Center‘s observation deck, Top of the Rock, designed the Rainbow Room’s public spaces. Read More

The Plan

The Plan: 275 Seventh Avenue

FreeWheel Media office space at 275 Seventh Avenue.

When tech advertising firm FreeWheel Media, which was recently acquired by Comcast Corporation, decided to move to a full-floor space at 275 Seventh Avenue, the company knew it wanted an open plan with collaborative offices and break-out spaces.

FreeWheel hired the architecture firm Fogarty Finger, which two years ago started a $10 million renovation of the 600,000-square-foot Art Deco building, to design its 19,000-square-foot 24th floor office. Read More

Buildings and Construction

Construction Worker Dies at Sam Chang Hotel Site [Updated]

Rendering of 326 West 37th Street.

A construction worker at a future Sam Chang hotel was trapped and killed yesterday by a concrete slab on West 37th Street.

Mr. Chang told Commercial Observer he doesn’t know exactly what happened, but that the construction company on the project, Cavo Construction, was meeting with the city’s Department of Buildings now and he would learn more afterward. Read More

Grand Openings

Lego’s Flagship Store to Soft Open This Week [Updated]

Inside the new Lego store at 200 Fifth Avenue, as of  last week.

Lego’s New York City flagship will soft open at 200 Fifth Avenue this Friday at 11 a.m., according to a spokeswoman for LEGO Systems, and the grand opening is scheduled to span Columbus Day weekend.

The toy manufacturer is a couple of months behind schedule as it was supposed to soft-open in mid-July and then officially open over the course of a weekend in August, DNAinfo reported in April.  Read More

Lease Beat

Event Producer Snaps Up Industry City Space

Industry City. (Sarah Dorio)

Full-service event design, planning and production company David Stark Design and Production has signed a lease for 38,000 square feet at Brooklyn’s Industry City.

The Brooklyn firm will move into the 40-acre Sunset Park complex in early 2015, according to a release from Industry City. Its current digs are in a 5,000-square-foot production space in Carroll Gardens and a 9,000-square-foot storage space in Gowanus, according to Crain’s New York Business, which first reported news of the deal. Read More

Wrecking Ball

NoMad Parish House Soon To Come Down [Updated]

30 East 31st Street.

Eckstein Development Group has filed an application to tear down the Madison Avenue Baptist Church‘s historic 1906 parish house at 30 East 31st Street, according to Department of Buildings records.

The development group is planning to erect a $90 million condominium in partnership with Pinnacle Real Estate, according to Ekstein’s website. The project is slated to break ground in the fourth quarter of this year.  Read More

Lease Beat

Insurance Company Inks Lease at RFR’s Seagram Building

The Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue.

Berkley Insurance Company has snapped up 7,817 square feet in a 10-year lease at the Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue, Commercial Observer has learned.

The deal, which was signed at the end of last month, gives the firm a new space for its senior executive leadership on the 27th floor of the RFR Realty building, which is between 52nd and 53rd streets. Berkley is building out the space and anticipates moving into the building at the start of 2015, according to a spokesman for RFR. Read More