The Sit-Down

JLL’s Downtown Don: John Wheeler

John Wheeler. (Credit: Lea Rubin)

John Wheeler was tapped in March 2012 to run JLL’s lower Manhattan office after returning to the firm in 2009. He is a managing director at the company and has been with JLL for 14 years. He had two stints working on the principle side of the business for Gramercy Capital and Antares Real Estate Partners. Today he directs JLL’s efforts on Gramercy Capital’s 13.5-million-square-foot national portfolio. A couple of his key transactions have been a 500,000-square-foot sublease to Morgan Stanley at 1 New York Plaza and a 450,000-square-foot master lease to the City of New York at 180 Water Street. In his entire career, Mr. Wheeler, 52, has negotiated 13 million square feet of leases for clients. Last week, Commercial Observer sat down with Mr. Wheeler in his office at 140 Broadway and talked about lower Manhattan post-Superstorm Sandy, leasing prices being pushed from the bottom up and the newly distinguished submarket of the Water Street corridor. Read More

The Sit-Down

No Holding Back: Robert Lapidus

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Robert Lapidus remembers Midtown South vividly. Not the red hot Midtown South of today, but the Midtown South from nearly a decade and a half ago, when his firm, L&L Holding Company, bought 150 Fifth Avenue. Rents in the building were $26 per square foot, the property was operating “like a hotel,” and the submarket Read More

Sales Beat

L&L Sells 195 Broadway to Investors

195 Broadway

Institutional investors advised by JP Morgan have acquired a majority ownership of the landmarked 195 Broadway from L&L Holding Company and Beacon Capital Partners.

L&L chairman and chief David Levinson and partners bought the Financial District property for $206 million in 2005. The New York Post reported that the 29-story office tower is currently worth about $500 million. Read More

Postings

Updating a Lower Manhattan Landmark: Restaurant and Apparel Included

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Completed in 1923, 195 Broadway served as the headquarters for American Telephone and Telegraph and Western Union, and it currently boasts Thomson Reuters as a major tenant. Acquired by L&L Holdings in 2005, the Financial District property has been repositioned to capitalize on retail opportunities on the ground floor.

Marketed by Cushman & Wakefield, the majestic space will be divided for up to three tenants, including a restaurant, with whom brokers are now in discussions with to open an upscale eatery with access to a 30th floor rooftop deck. Located across from the Fulton Street transit hub, 195 Broadway’s retail space is ideally suited for apparel and jewelry retailers. Alan Schmerzler, executive director at C&W, spoke with The Commercial Observer last week about the building’s unique challenges and potential opportunities. Read More

1Q13

Which Way is Up: Manhattan’s Market Boundaries are Beginning to Blur

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From the outside, 222 Broadway fits the stereotype of the Downtown financial office tower.

But when Bank of America downsized, leaving roughly 250,000 square feet of space vacant, a series of tours guided by its new owner, L&L Holdings, quickly blasted that stereotype away.

Condé Nast committed to 80,000 square feet at the tower in early March. WeWork, which provides collaborative workspace for tech and media companies, was next in line. Read More

Lease Beat

Ad Firm Omnicom Expands–Again–At 195 Broadway, Brings Total to 295,295 Square Feet

195 Broadway

The advertising agency Omnicom continued to build on its Lower Manhattan footprint by leasing an additional 26,414 square feet at 195 Broadway, The Commercial Observer has learned The firm now occupies 295,294 square feet in the 29-story, 1.1-million-square-foot tower, which is now 100 percent occupied.

Lee Feld of Feld Real Estate represented the tenant. David C. Berkey and Andrew Wiener represented the building owner, L&L Holding Company, in-house. Asking rent was $47 per square foot. Read More

Lease Beat

WeWork Leases 120,537 Square Feet at 222 Broadway, Builds Momentum of “Downtown North”

222 Broadway

The collaborative workspace provider WeWork signed a 16-year, 120,537-square-foot lease at 222 Broadway, The Commercial Observer has learned.

David Berkey and Andrew Wiener represented the building owner L&L Holding Company in-house. Mark Lapidus of WeWork and Sean Black of Jones Lang LaSalle represented the tenant. Asking rents at 222 Broadway are in the mid-$50 per square foot range.

WeWork typically provides communal office space to tech and new media companies, making the lease another sign of Lower Manhattan’s growing appeal to that type of firm. Mr. Berkey was quick to point out that tech and media tenants are “nothing new” in the neighborhood.

“I’ve been telling whoever will listen that for two years now we’ve seen nothing but this kind of tenant here and at [L&L's] 195 Broadway,” Mr. Berkey said. “We haven’t seen financial services or law firm tenants. It’s not a new phenomenon by any stretch.” Read More

Market Reports

Midtown South Landlords Rule With Iron Fist Despite Spike in Availability

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Despite a fair share of new product hitting the Midtown South market in January, landlords continued to call the shots, seeking ever-growing rents in the city’s epicenter for tech and creative companies, the latest data from Cushman & Wakefield shows.

The data shows that total space increased year-over-year in January by 9.8 percent to more than 4.52 million square feet, yet average rents also increased by 10.7 percent to $50.61 per square foot.

The boost in available product was pronounced among Class A and Class B properties, with 41.03 and 47.1 percent increases, respectively.

“It is still a landlord’s market even though that space has come online,” said Ken McCarthy, C&W’s chief economist.  “Anyone adding space to the market is asking higher rents.” Read More

Power Broker

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

Brad Gerla.

As leasing agent for some of Manhattan’s most iconic buildings, CBRE executive vice president Brad Gerla has access to some impressive real estate—like J.P. Morgan’s former pied-à-terre on the 31st floor of 14 Wall Street or the neo-Gothic inner workings of the Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway.

So it was strange to chat with him one recent rainy morning in a nondescript conference room in an equally nondescript–dare we say blah–office, save for the fact that the conference room was nestled inside the former MetLife headquarters at 11 Madison Avenue. Read More

Lease of the Week

French Kiss: The Romance Between Trinity Real Estate and Parisian Advertising Behemoth Havas, Revealed!

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On the first day of March, Havas chief executive officer David Jones joined a conference call and webcast with the press to announce his company’s 2011 financial results.

For Havas, a French marketing services group owned by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, the year was a good one. Its revenue grew 5.4 percent to $2.2 billion, 23 percent of which came from digital and social media activity.

Then, the English businessman told the media and, in effect, the world that beginning on Sept. 1, Havas would be rebranding Euro RSCG, the largest firm in Havas’s portfolio, as Havas Worldwide. Read More