On the Market

Controversial Bushwick Rental Building Hits the Market for $81.5M

Colony 1209. (Spruce Capital's website)

Colony 1209, an 127-unit Bushwick rental apartment building that opened earlier this year at 1209 Dekalb Avenue, has hit the market for $81.5 million, according to marketing materials from Massey Knakal Realty Services.

The five-story building, which is between Bushwick and Evergreen Avenues and was bought by Spruce Capital Partners for $58 million in April, has been dubbed the “most controversial building in Bushwick,” according to Bushwick Daily. Read More

Accounting Issue 2014

Berdon Partner Wayne Berkowitz Explains Tax Law to the Rest of Us

Wayne Berkowitz

Taxes, though a certainty in life, are complicated. They vary wildly by state and strain all but the most analytical of minds. For many real estate moguls, state and local taxes on their assets can mean millions of dollars at stake.

Enter Wayne Berkowitz, a partner at Berdon and head of the firm’s State and Local Tax Group, to disentangle the web of legal jargon and elucidate the complex stipulations mandated by municipalities. And he sometimes plays a role, albeit a modest one, in drafting reforms. (He was the head of the New York Multistate and Local Taxation Committee for the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants.) Read More

The Sit-Down

John Catsimatidis Talks Real Estate Deals and Monorails

John Catsimatidis

John Catsimatidis has a soft side. The businessman says he still misses Cottonball, the departed family cat for whom he built a cemetery at his East Quogue home. He wistfully reminisces about taking his (now grown) children “pumpkin hunting” and says he is collaborating with Rep. Carolyn Maloney to transport two giant pandas from China for New York City schoolchildren to enjoy.

But Mr. Catsimatidis, 66, is also a shrewd executive and the brains behind his multibillion-dollar business, the Red Apple Group, which has holdings in real estate, energy and grocery stores. Read More


NGKF Rivals Ready to Poach Top Brokers

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank logo.

The city’s biggest and most established commercial real estate firms are looking to woo top Newmark Grubb Knight Frank brokers who face individual contract expirations come the end of 2015, Commercial Observer has learned.

Firms like CBRE, JLLSavills Studley and Colliers International have approached the brokers “trying to find out what our intention is and express the weaknesses in [NGKF]’s platform in contrast to [theirs],” said one source on the condition of anonymity. Read More

Accounting Issue 2014

NYC Real Estate is Still the Safest Bet for Foreign Investors


Last month the landmark Waldorf-Astoria’s owner Hilton Worldwide Holdings announced that it was selling the grand hotel to the Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group for $1.95 billion. Hilton said it would retain a 100-year management contract at the hotel and the property would be renovated.

The purchase, slated to close on Dec. 31, marks the first real estate acquisition in the U.S. by Anbang, which is reportedly planning an initial public offering that could raise about $2 billion. Read More

Accounting Issue 2014

The 10 Commandments: Unbreakable Accounting Rules for Real Estate Pros

The Accounting Commandments

Real estate accounting manifests itself at the intersection of business, politics, family and, perhaps, everything else. With millions of dollars, square feet and jobs hanging in the balance, Commercial Observer asked a group of big-time accountants, insurance executives, lawyers and real estate professionals for their best guidance on all things financial.

The spiritual talks bestowed CO with a list of commandments ranging from the macro advice we expect and need from financial advisors, to Elijah-like warnings about keeping federal aid for terrorism insurance and tax-deferred savings from like-kind property exchanges intact. And perhaps likening fees on secondary homes, extra sales taxes and surcharges on foreigners who sell property to the 10 plagues would represent something of a hyperbole, but we are willing to take that risk. If not enlightenment, we hope you gain some insight from our somewhat (O.K. definitely) sacrilegious list. Read More

Lease Beat

IEX Relocates to 4WTC from 7WTC

4 World Trade Center. (Silverstein Properties)

IEX, a start-up stock market, is moving from 3,600 square feet at 7 World Trade Center to 13,000 feet at 4 World Trade Center, both Silverstein Properties buildings, the developer announced.

The firm signed a seven-year lease on the 44th floor of the 56-story, 2.3-million-square-foot building and will move in April 2015. A source with knowledge of the deal said the asking rent is in the mid-$70s per foot. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Terra Funds Witkoff Land Deal for Sunset Strip Development

Rendering of the Marriott Edition hotel 9040 Sunset Boulevard.

Terra—the Latin word for “ground”—is becoming all the more relevant for one firm. Terra Capital Partners closed its third land deal as the mezzanine lender continues to shift its attention to non-income producing and transitional assets for established sponsors.

The New York-based firm provided a $25 million mezzanine loan to fund the Witkoff Group’s acquisition and pre-development of 9040 Sunset Boulevard, a 1.4-acre development site in West Hollywood, Calif. Read More

Land Use

City to Sell $110.6M Land and Development Package for $1

Taconic 52nd Street

The de Blasio administration will sell a 25,204-square-foot plot on the southern side of West 53rd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues and a development rights package to the Clinton Housing Development Corporation for $1 if city officials greenlight the proposed transaction next week.

The discount purchase would clear the way for Clinton Housing’s 103-unit affordable development slated for 530-548 West 53rd Street and Taconic Investment Partners and Ritterman Capital‘s upcoming 405-unit development with 81 affordable units at 525 West 52nd Street, according to a newly-released proposal from the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development reviewed by Commercial Observer. Read More

Mortgage Observer

TF Cornerstone Closes Two Agency Loans Totaling $365M

95 Horatio Street.

The Singer & Bassuk Organization advised TF Cornerstone in the arrangement of two permanent agency loans totaling $365 million for the New York developer’s rental apartment buildings at 95 Horatio Street in the Meatpacking District and 4610 Center Boulevard in Long Island City, Mortgage Observer has first learned.

TF Cornerstone secured a $165 million Freddie Mac loan through Capital One for its Horatio Street property, said Jeremy Shell, the company’s head of finance and acquisitions, and Andrew Singer, chairman and chief executive officer of Singer & Bassuk. Read More

In the Office

Puppy Perks: Inside TAMI Office Culture


It’s doggone nice to work for tech companies these days. Employees at online content discovery platform Outbrain welcomed four canines from a doggie daycare and boarding business next door to the firm’s office near Union Square on a recent afternoon.

The 120 New York City employees of the company, which posts recommended links on the websites of media outlets like CNN and ESPN, enjoy office perks like the food and ping-pong that are becoming the norm in the highly-sought class of tenants in the TAMI–technology, advertising, media and information–sectors. But the company also distributes unconventional goodies such as daily personal allotments of $10 worth of the company’s digital ad space and the hour-long visit to Outbrain’s Kramer conference room last week by dogs from Biscuits & Bath Dog Retreat. Read More