Breaking: EV Buildings Collapse, Several People in Critical Condition

Press conference after an East Village explosion (Photo:  Jillian Jorgensen).

A gas-related explosion leveled three East Village buildings and injured 15, three critically.

At 3:17 p.m., private contractors were conducting plumbing and gas work inside 121 Second Avenue between East Seventh Street and St. Mark’s Place, which caused an explosion that impacted 119, 121, 123 and 125 Second Avenue. The buildings at 121, 123 and 125 Second Avenue collapsed; fire fighters are working on battling a fire at 119 Second Avenue, and that building is at risk of collapsing, officials said at a press conference this afternoon. Read More

Lease Beat

Mobile Ad Company Relocating Within Flatiron District in Short-Term Lease

162 Fifth Avenue.

Mobile advertising company Amobee has signed a 3.5-year lease for the 12,250-square-foot 10th floor in the Flatiron District, Commercial Observer has learned.

Amobee, which provides services for large advertisers, publishers and operators, took the short-term lease at 162 Fifth Avenue “to have flexibility, as they were unsure about the amount of growth they will have in the upcoming years,” according to a spokeswoman for ABS Partners Real Estate. Amobee will be relocating from nearby 155 Fifth Avenue between East 21st and East 22nd Streets. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Morgan Stanley Refis Midtown Office Building

33 West 46th Street

Morgan Stanley provided a $19.5 million loan to refinance 33 West 46th Street, a Midtown Manhattan office building, according to CBRE, the broker on the deal.

The 38,259-square-foot, 1915 loft office building in Manhattan was sold to an LLC associated with the government of Argentina in 2009 for $11 million, according to city records and a source with knowledge of that deal. CBRE declined to comment on the ownership.  Read More

Sales Beat

Online East Harlem Sale Claims Record Price

1700 Lexington Avenue.

An online real estate bidding site is boasting a new record for a recent sale in East Harlem., a California-based e-bidding real estate site, oversaw the sale of 1700 Lexington Avenue, between East 106th and East 107th Streets, that wound up selling for $607 per square foot—a record for a one- to four-family home in the neighborhood, they boasted. Read More

Lease Beat

America’s Oldest Hatmaker Renews in Garment District

411 Fifth Avenue.

The Bollman Hat Company,a designer, manufacturer and distributor of headwear and accessories, has re-signed a portion of its space at 411 Fifth Avenue between East 37th and East 38th Streets.

The 1868 hat company occupies 11,000 square feet, or the entire second floor, of the property, as well as 2,565 on the building’s 10th floor. It re-signed a seven-year lease for the 10th floor space. It uses both floors for offices and showrooms for various brands. The second-floor lease expires in 2022. Read More

Lease Beat

Men’s Dress Shirtmaker Signs Brookfield Place Lease As Complex Officially Opens

$79 men's shirts from Kamakura Shirts (Kamakura Shirts' website).

Kamakura Shirts signed a lease at Brookfield Place yesterday, the day before the Lower Manhattan complex officially opened.

The Japanese men’s dress shirt company’s 699-square-foot space is across the hall from Equinox (opened last month) and sandwiched between a women’s fashion brand that hasn’t been announced and Time Inc.‘s lobby, Edward Hogan, the national director of retail leasing for Brookfield Office Properties, told Commercial Observer during a tour of the partially complete complex yesterday. The lease is for 10 years, he said, noting that asking rents are currently $400 to $500 per square foot. Kamakura Shirts will open in about three months. Mr. Hogan negotiated the deal for Brookfield, along with Stephen Plourde of The McDevitt Company. Craig Slosberg of JLL represented the tenant.  Read More

Buildings and Construction

Residential Construction Permits Climb in 2014


When a building goes up, just about everything else does, too.

The number of residential units approved per year has steadily risen over the last five years, carried by the outer boroughs where the demand is higher, according to a New York Building Congress report released today. While residential construction is only expected to climb in response to an affordable housing demand, the numbers are still well below pre-recession levels. Read More

Lease Beat

1 New York Plaza Adds to Its Lunchtime Repertoire

Naya Express in Midtown (Photo courtesy: Naya).

A fast-growing Middle Eastern food chain is heading Downtown among a cluster of other chains aimed at the lunchtime crowd, Commercial Observer has learned.

Naya Express inked a 10-year deal earlier this week for a 1,620-square-foot site at the redeveloped 1 New York Plaza, according to brokers in the lease agreement. Its neighbors include Chipotle and Starbucks, which have already set up shop, as well as the salad shop Chopped and burger joint Schnippers. Read More


Men At WeWork: Talking to WeWork Co-Founder Miguel McKelvey

WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey

Late last year, WeWork—the communal workspace company, which was founded in 2008—was valued at $5 billion. This co-working giant has been swallowing up hundreds of thousands of square feet of New York office space, and is only planning more. (It was reported last week that they’re even bringing the concept to residential as well as commercial space.)
It is fair to say that this company is standing the traditional office on its head. How did that happen? Where will they strike next? And (because this is in a Midtown South issue), how ripe is Midtown and Midtown South for expansion? We posed these questions—and a few others—to Miguel McKelvey who co-founded the company with Adam Neumann. Read More

The Lobby

Valerie Carlise Named Managing Director of Operations at DTZ

Valerie Carlisle.

Valerie Carlise has joined DTZ’s New York office as the managing director of operations, the company announced last week.

Ms. Carlise, who previously worked as the director of operations for Savills Studley’s New York and Boston offices, started her new role in February. She is “work[ing] to drive operational efficiency” alongside Peter Hennessy, the president of the New York tri-state region, according to a spokesman for the real estate company. Read More

Lease Beat

Private Equity Advisory Takes Final Madoff Floor in Lipstick Building

The Lipstick Building at 885 Third Avenue.

StepStone Group, a global private markets firm, has leased the entire 17th floor at the Lipstick Building, one of the floors leased to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, and the site of where company head Bernard Madoff operated his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, Commercial Observer has learned.

StepStone signed a 10-year lease for the 19,270-square-foot renovated space in the 34-story IRSA- and Marciano Investment Group-owned office tower at 885 Third Avenue between East 53rd and East 54th Streets, according to a release from the owners and the building’s co-asset management firm Herald Square Properties. The asking rent was $85 per square foot. The deal brings the building to 97 percent occupied. Only the 13,200-square-foot 28th floor is available for lease. Read More

Lease Beat

French Clothing Line Expands to Upper West Side

241 Columbus Avenue.

A French apparel brand is setting up its second New York City shop on the Upper West Side, Commercial Observer has learned, and is slated to open in September.

Paris-based IRO has inked a 10-year lease with the owner of 241 Columbus Avenue for 1,560 square feet on the first two floors of the building. The deal includes 860 square feet on the ground floor and 700 square feet on the lower level. Read More

Mortgage Observer

MetLife Finances 685 Third Avenue in $190M Deal

685 Third Avenue.

MetLife lent $190 million to a joint venture between TIAA-CREF and Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, known as the Australian Government Future Fund, to cover upgrades on the partnership’s 685 Third Avenue office tower, Mortgage Observer has first learned.

The five-year debt deal, which closed on March 18, carries a loan-to-value ratio of 54 percent, a MetLife spokesperson said. The 31-story building in Midtown has no existing debt, according to public records. Read More

Sales Beat

Food Importer Nabs Maspeth Industrial Building for $4M

54-36 48th Street in Maspeth.

A food importer has purchased a 16,000-square-foot industrial property in the Maspeth neighborhood of Queens for $4 million, Commercial Observer has learned.

The two-story building at 54-36 48th Street includes four commercial units: two warehouses and two offices. The property, which was built in 1989 and sits between 54th Road and 55th Avenue, was listed for $4.25 million. It sits on a 9,000-square-foot lot that is zoned for manufacturing. Read More