Midtown East Rezoning

City Planning Certifies Vanderbilt Corridor Application

1 Vanderbilt

The Department of City Planning certified a five-block rezoning application today for a stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue adjacent to Grand Central Terminal in Midtown East that includes SL Green Realty Corp.‘s proposed 67-story, 1.3-million-square-foot 1 Vanderbilt office tower.

The announcement officially kicks off the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, sending the contentious plan for successive evaluations by Manhattan Community Boards 5 and 6, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the City Planning Commission and finally to the City Council. The certification could also restart the momentum behind the larger 73-block Midtown East rezoning that failed in the City Council last year. Read More

Sales Beat

Thor Nabs W’burg Properties for Retail Project

Rendering of 130 North 6th Street. (Thor Equities' website)

Joseph Sitt’s Thor Equities has purchased three Williamsburg properties for approximately $17.8 million and is planning to turn the site into a 10,000-square-foot retail development.

Thor paid $14 million for 124 North 6th Street and $3.75 million for 126 and 134 North 6th Street, all between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street, property records recorded last Thursday indicate. The two sales closed on Aug. 25.  Read More


Report: Law Firms Cut Costs by Reducing Space

75 East 55th Street.

Since the 2008 recession, the legal world has found itself in upheaval. A record number of firms are merging, growth has been sluggish and demand for services has declined. Because of unprecedented changes in law firms’ needs, there has been an overall shift to cutting back on the amount of commercial space occupied. Real estate brokerage firm Savills Studley, which operates a law firm practice group, released a report last Friday indicating that law firms are indeed occupying less space, and this trend will likely continue.

“As partnerships, law firms have always been mindful of costs, but what we’re seeing now is a true paradigm shift,” said Lisa Davidson, an executive managing director of Savills Studley, in the report. “Law firms as a group are, for the first time, really starting to question traditional assumptions about how they use space, who sits where, and how to maximize flexibility to prepare for what the future may bring for their business.” Read More

Sales Beat

Property at 110-112 Greenwich Street Flips for $52.9M

110-112 Greenwich Street.

A mixed-use property at 110-112 Greenwich Street in Lower Manhattan changed hands for $52.9 million last week.

First reported by The Wall Street Journal, the building was purchased by Hersel Torkian of the Torkian Group LLC from 110 Greenwich Street Associates. The property includes 66,530 square feet of space with 60 apartment units and corner retail space. An additional 30,000 square feet is available for development rights. Read More

World Trade Center

PA to Vote on 1 WTC Pre-Built Expansion Wednesday

1 WTC pre-built space

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey will vote on a proposal Wednesday to invest an additional $23.5 million into the Durst Organization‘s pre-built program for smaller office spaces at 1 World Trade Center, according to a board meeting agenda posted on the agency’s website last week.

The proposal would pay for one full additional floor of divided spaces under 20,000-square-feet plus multi-tenant renovations on 10 floors in the building with an octagonal floor plan and plates between 32,000 and 48,000 square feet, according to the agency. Recent leases for Cushman & Wakefield, the Westfield Corp., Legends Hospitality and BMB Group in spaces ranging from 2,191 square feet to 12,000 square feet show the success of the approach in the 3-million-square foot skyscraper, said Jordan Barowitz, Durst’s director of external affairs. Read More

On the Market

NGKF Wins Grand Central Retail Listing

Grand Central Terminal

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has tapped Newmark Grubb Knight Frank for the exclusive marketing of its roughly 150,000 square feet of Grand Central Terminal retail spaces, The Wall Street Journal reported this morning.

NGKF beat out seven other competitors with an agreement that will cost the MTA a broker fee of up to $3.1 million over the deal that could last as long as 10 years, according to the publication. The agency, which operates the 1913 Warren & Wetmore masterpiece’s retail spaces through a leasing arrangement with a landlord partnership that includes Andrew Penson‘s Argent Ventures, chose NGKF to take advantage of the firm’s expertise, said Nancy Marshall, MTA’s director of Grand Central Terminal Development.   Read More

Mortgage Observer

Hakim Seals the Deal Sans Mezz in LA Buy

6100 Wilshire Boulevard

Los Angeles-based investor Citi Real Estate, headed by Sam Hakim, took a $57.5 million CMBS loan from UBS to buy a Los Angeles office property at 6100 Wilshire Boulevard last month. But prior to the purchase, the borrower, the scion of an established Los Angeles real estate family, had actually arranged for $65 million in funds for the $76 million buy, with a portion of the financing in a mezzanine loan, a source close to the deal told Mortgage Observer.

Alas, when the rates were set to lock this summer, the mezz turned out far pricier than expected, the source said. The borrower opted instead to fill that portion of the capital stack with equity—a move highlighting the potential effect of a tumultuous CMBS market, the source said. Read More

Mortgage Observer

ERISA Language: When You Need It, When You Don’t

Joshua Stein.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a 1974 overhaul of the U.S. pension system, might at first glance not sound relevant to real estate lending. If you look closely, though, modern loan documents often contain pages of mysterious language on that federal law, which sets the rules for many pension plans. Why would a law on pensions affect real estate loans?

To answer that question, I turned to an expert, Stephen Land, the tax department chair at Duval & Stachenfeld LLP, who has handled ERISA issues almost since the law was enacted. Read More

Making History

Broker-History Buff Leads Financial District Tour

Richard Warshauer

Colliers International’s Richard Warshauer will partner with his friend from the Horace Mann School, attorney and historian James Kaplan, and the Museum of American Finance on the pair’s 27th annual Great Crashes walking history tour of Lower Manhattan tomorrow afternoon.

The three-hour tour starts at the museum and traces the history of the financial industry in the neighborhood from Henry Hudson to John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and the Panic of 1907, up to the Great Crash of 1929, the stock market collapse of 1987 and the 9/11 tragedy through visits to the actual historical location of the events. Read More

Lease Beat

End Point, Pixel Projects Partner in Park Avenue South Lease

304 Park Avenue South.

End Point Corp. and Pixel Projects have together signed a five-year, 2,755-square-foot lease at 304 Park Avenue South for executive offices, Commercial Observer has learned.

The asking rent in the 12-story SL Green Realty building on the corner of 23rd Street was $65 per square foot, according to a spokeswoman for ABS Partners. End Point, the leading provider of Google’s Liquid Galaxy open source project, and Pixel Projects, which provides AV installations, are slated to move in to their new digs on the second floor tomorrow. The lease was signed on Sept. 30. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Koll Scores $158M to Refi Orange County, Calif. Office/ Industrial Park

Airport Business Center

CBRE Capital Markets sourced $158 million from Brookfield Asset Management to refinance the Airport Business Center, an office/ industrial park in Irvine, Calif., Mortgage Observer has exclusively learned.

Brookfield originated the five-year, fixed-rate, full-term interest-only loan, which carries an “all-in interest rate in the low 5 percent range,” according to a representative for CBRE. A Brookfield representative did not respond to a request for comment. Read More

Lease Beat

Lend Lease Takes 12K SF in Midtown for Specific Project

3 East 54th Street.

Lend Lease, a provider of construction services, has signed a five-year lease for 12,000 square feet of additional space in Midtown, Commercial Observer has learned.

Come December, the firm will occupy the majority of the third floor at 3 East 54th Street. The 200,000-square-foot building, which is between Madison and Fifth Avenues, was selected for its proximity to one of Lend Lease’s nearby projects, said Marc Horowitz of Cohen Brothers Realty, who represented the building’s ownership in-house. He declined to elaborate.  Read More


Brokers Divulge Westfield WTC Retail Details

WTC hub

Despite the fact that World Trade Center retail developer Westfield Group has yet to announce any tenants for the retail component in the Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus transportation hub at the WTC site, the hub will open fully leased next year, a trio of CBRE retail brokers predicted earlier this week.

The global shopping center company that bought the eventual 440,000 square feet of retail space planned for the transit hub and towers 2,3 and 4 from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for $1.4 billion is looking for tenants who can offer omni-channel retailing, the new trend in which stores offer customers the ability to purchase products through a variety of mediums and devices, as well as a unique customer experience, the brokers said at a briefing for the media at CBRE’s Midtown offices. Read More