Though not a traditional owner-operator, TIAA-CREF has begun to draw the attention of the real estate industry in recent months for a bevy of deals, including its acquisition of a stake in the Frank Gehry-designed building at 8 Spruce Street and a joint venture with Norges Bank Investment Management.
The asset management firm’s steady persistence in the real estate market during the downturn has led to a realization of gains, and recent deals could lead to the redeployment of capital in key markets going forward, said analysts familiar with the firm’s strategy going into 2013.
“TIAA is one of the investors that was pretty active in the depths of the market in 2009 and 2010, and some of those investments have turned into significant home runs,” said Dan Fasulo, managing director and head of research at Real Capital Analytics.
Stat of the Week
Ahhh—the hustle and bustle of the Grand Central submarket.
It has it all: a spectacular train station with its shops, bars, restaurants and food hall (oh, and actual trains, too), a fantastic location within walking distance of everything from Times Square to Central Park (and you can always take the subway if you’re lazy) and a thriving commercial office market consisting of almost 59 million square feet of inventory (though only 27 percent of that is considered Class A).
But all there isn’t absolutely perfect—something about those wonderful buildings getting a bit long in the tooth, maybe? After all, it’s not really the Mad Men days of yore, and the building stock (average age: 72 years) doesn’t necessarily work for all those companies looking for wide-open floorplates and glass from floor to ceiling. That’s the reason a number of government and private-sector movers and shakers have decided to, well, shake things up by looking to upzone a large swath of the area.
Lease of the Week
When in 2006 the real estate investor Joseph Moinian bought the office building 475 Fifth Avenue in partnership with the firm Westbrook Partners, the Eurasia Group—a tenant in the building—saw it as an opportunity. The company had years left on its lease, but word quickly spread among tenants that Mr. Moinian was going to offer handsome buyouts to empty the building so he could gut renovate the skyscraper and re-lease it at sky-high rents.
Mr. Moinian’s strategy hardly seemed audacious at the time. The economy was hot, Manhattan rents were rising by the month and prime office space was in strong demand.