Big Sales

Report: Biggest Three Commercial Sales of 2013 All Top $1B

30 Rockefeller Plaza

There were three whopping commercial deals in New York City last year in the trillion-dollar price range, blowing away the other commercial transactions for the year in terms of price, according to a report by PropertyShark provided exclusively to Commercial Observer

The priciest deal was Comcast’s $1.3 billion purchase of 1.3 million square feet of office and studio space at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, part of the media and communications giant’s $16.7 billion purchase of a 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal from General Electric. Read More

3Q2013

Sunshine by the Square Foot

Aerial Photographs of New York City - Archive Images

While it did not rival what some recalled as a “blistering” second quarter, the Manhattan commercial real estate office market continued to gain momentum in the third quarter, and most real estate observers took the growth as a sign of more to come.

Positive absorption and rising rents throughout Manhattan are on track to rain in a strong end to the year, as Midtown remained steady, Midtown South shined, and Downtown turned heads.

Read More

The Sit-Down

From the Gut: HFZ Capital’s Ziel Feldman on the Making of a Gut Renovation Empire

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A real estate lawyer in the early part of his career, Ziel Feldman has carved out a niche as one of the most active developers in the New York market. Mr. Feldman, founder and managing principal of HFZ Capital, has taken on ground-up development and the acquisition of existing properties. With an extensive presence on the Upper West Side, Mr. Feldman and HFZ Capital have entered new markets including Flatiron, where One Madison, a condominium project developed in partnership with Related Companies, recently opened for sale boasting residences priced as high as $50 million. Mr. Feldman spoke with The Commercial Observer last week about HFZ Capital’s current projects and his outlook for the market.  Read More

2Q13

The Return of the Mega Deal

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Dominated last year by smaller middle-market transactions, New York’s investment sales market has welcomed the return of large institutional transactions in 2013, while leasing activity in the first half of the year also experienced positive year-over-year growth.

With 10 transactions in excess of $400 million under contract through the second quarter, 2013 is set to be the single most active year for large deals since the Great Recession began in early 2008, according to midyear statistics from Cushman & Wakefield. Read More

Sales Beat

GM Building Stake Sold to International Buyers

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A 40-percent stake in the General Motors Building has been acquired by the family of Chinese real estate developer Zhang Xin, through The Sungate Trust, and M. Safra and Co. Inc., the investment firm of the Brazilian Safra family, from the Goldman Sachs Real Estate Opportunities Fund and Meraas Capital. According to reports, the stake sold for $1.4 billion, valuing the property at $3.4 billion.

“This landmark sale signals a return to the billion-dollar plus level for an individual investment transaction and is recognition of the value for elite trophy assets by the most sophisticated global investors,” said Darcy Stacom, of CBRE, who brokered the sale alongside colleague Bill Shanahan, in a prepared statement. “This sale underscores both the GM Building’s universal appeal as one of the world’s most important commercial assets and New York City’s un-diminished value, as the premier location for trophy investment properties.” Read More

Sales Beat

Carlyle Agrees to Sell 650 Madison Avenue in $1.3 Billion Deal

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The Carlyle Group has agreed to sell the 27-story office and retail tower at 650 Madison Avenue to Crown Acquisitions and Highgate for $1.3 billion.

“We are delighted to reach this agreement with Crown and Highgate, two of the smartest real estate owners around, on the sale of 650 Madison Avenue,” said Robert Stuckey, Carlyle managing director and head of U.S. real estate, in a prepared statement. “This is a great outcome for our investors and validates our opportunistic approach. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Cartier! Versace! Vuitton! Financing Next Gen at Crown’s Ritzy Retail Focus

Chera brothers.

One day in the late 1980s, three Brooklyn brothers in their teens—Isaac, Haim and Richard Chera—followed their grandfather, Isaac, and their father, Stanley, on a trip to Manhattan. While not in school, the brothers would spend much of their spare time in the Fulton Street children’s clothing store that their grandfather had opened in 1948, in a space formerly occupied by a hat store, Suzette Millinery Shop. At the time, lacking the money to replace the previous banner, Isaac Chera simply tweaked it, naming his business Suzette Kiddie Store. Only later, after having expanded to several other stores, did the family change the name to Young World. Soon, the elder Isaac Chera started to invest in real estate. The best advice he gave to his family, according to his grandson, Haim, was to always buy the building where they had a store. Read More

Sales Beat

125 West 55th Sells for $470 M. Amid Push to Unload Class A Towers

(Credit: Macklowe Properties)

In another whopping example of large real estate owners seeking to capitalize on current market conditions by unloading top-shelf inventory, Boston Properties has reportedly sold its 23-story office building at 125 West 55th Street for $470 million to J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

The deal follows a string of other Class A building sales this year – 550 Madison Avenue, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 237 Park Avenue and 75 Rockefeller Plaza – which accounted for $3.8 billion of the city’s first quarter dollar volume and created a 46% year-over-year jump, according to data from Avison Young. Read More

Cover Story

Midtown Madness: Leasing Still Sluggish in Manhattan’s Priciest Market

TO GO WITH AFP STORY: US-economy-propert

Midtown Manhattan, the biggest and most expensive U.S. office market, is still adapting to New York’s post-financial-crisis economy, as technology and new media companies flood into the more affordable areas and banks remain wary of expanding in higher-priced real estate.

With construction getting under way on millions of square feet of planned Class A offices on the West Side, much of the leasing action for the year to date has centered on neighborhoods like Murray Hill, the Penn Station area and the Garment District, which are attracting companies that have been priced—or crowded—out of the technology hub in Midtown South, brokers said. Financial companies, traditionally the biggest occupiers of Midtown real estate, remained conservative, pursuing greater efficiency in their use of real estate rather than growth.

“The days of bigger is better are gone,” said Eric Thomas, senior vice president of Cresa, a specialist in tenant representation. “Capital preservation is still key. That’s why renewals still reign in many cases.” Read More

The Lobby

Avison Young Hires Newmark’s Michael Leff

Avison Young's newest principal, Michael A. Leff.

Canada-based real estate firm, Avison Young, continues its poaching expedition, announcing today that Michael A. Leff has been named principal and will operate, effective immediately, from the company’s New York office. Mr. Leff, formerly a senior managing director with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, will shoulder a number of responsibilities, including site selection, lease negotiation, strategic Read More

ICSC

The White Whale of West 57th Street: Nordstrom appears poised for NYC

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It’s the great white whale of Manhattan retail.

Aside from Walmart, Nordstrom is the store every retail broker in the city dreams of harpooning and reeling into a new home. One prominent broker familiar with the store, the amount of space it needs and the rents it would probably be willing to pay estimates that the commission for handling its lease would be around $10 million.

But like a leviathan lurking beneath the waves, the department store has offered only fleeting glimpses around the city, most notably at several development sites and a few existing assets with the capacity to accommodate its sprawling footprint.

The scuttlebutt nowadays: Nordstrom is contemplating one of two leases, one at the West Side rail yards with the Related Companies or another at the base of Extell Development’s soaring new residential tower now rising at 157 West 57th Street. Read More

Big Deals

Stake Sale a Big-Time Bellwether on Madison

A stake in Ralph Lauren’s chichi emerald headquarters is up for grabs.

A 49 percent interest in 650 Madison Avenue, a trophy office tower just steps from the GM Building, is about to be put on the market, multiple industry sources told The Observer. The 500,000-square-foot building is valued at around $950 million, a source Read More