Year in Real Estate

Triple-Digit Boom: The Details Behind 2013′s Most Expensive Leases

TripleDigitBoom_1CO3200A1217

In the exclusive confines of the Plaza district, a handful of elite financial services firms spent 2013 inking triple-digit leases—those deals carrying rents in excess of $100 per square foot. Once rare, these deals have skyrocketed in those few buildings boasting the unique infrastructure requirements for the world’s top money managers.

From Aby Rosen’s landmark Seagram Building to Sheldon Solow’s 9 West 57th Street, the triple-digit fraternity is an exclusive club for both landlord and tenant. Approximately 60 leases fell into the triple-digit category in 2013, the bulk of them signed during the second quarter, according to data from CompStak.

Below, The Commercial Observer breaks down the key figures and shines some light on the most expensive deals of 2013.

Read More

Power Broker

Silver Foxes: Massey Knakal Turns 25

Messrs. Knakal and Massey at their firm's 275 Madison Avenue headquarters. (Credit: Will O'Hare)

In the midst of the Savings and Loans Crisis of the early 1990s, Massey Knakal, a three-year-old commercial sales brokerage, was facing the prospect of going out of business for the second time in a matter of months.

By late 1990, the commercial sales market had all but dried up. Rather than pounding the pavement closing deals, Paul Massey and Robert Knakal were instead sitting in the office cold calling and playing solitaire—not on a computer but with a real deck of cards. Things got so bad that the firms’ partners had to fill out applications for numerous credit cards—$60,000 worth—to make ends meet. Read More

2013 Owners Magazine

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

all_dominoplans_2013_03_08_bk01_z

When the Jehovah’s Witnesses began putting its portfolio of 35 buildings on the block in 2004, even the most seasoned real estate observer couldn’t have predicted that one of the winning bidders of a sprawling six-building complex in Dumbo would be Aby Rosen.

Known primarily as the owner of the Seagram Building and Lever House, two of the most iconic examples of mid-century modernism in Manhattan, Mr. Rosen and RFR Realty seemed unlikely suitors for a 1.2 million-square-foot compound in Brooklyn.

But similar to his cultivation of private equity and hedge fund tenants prior to the economic collapse, Mr. Rosen once again is tapping into New York City’s most exciting new business community–the rapidly expanding tech sector in Brooklyn. Read More

Power Broker

The Trophy Agent: RFR’s Steve Morrows

Credit: Fernando Pereira Gomes

Ten months ago, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, one of the world’s oldest private equity firms, was looking to expand its space at the Seagram Building. Having spent a number of years occupying the entire 18th floor of the iconic building and a portion of the floor above, the firm was on the prowl to take the entire 19th floor.

With four additional tenants sharing space on the floor, complicated negotiations were imminent. Steve Morrows, executive vice president and director of leasing at owner RFR Realty, began devising a solution with his leasing team. The answer involved two lease terminations and two relocations within the building—all at the same time. Read More

Lease Beat

Epiq Bankruptcy Leads Trio of New Leases at 757 Third Avenue

757 Third Avenue

Epiq Bankruptcy Solutions, a case management and consulting firm specializing in Chapter 11 cases, has signed a 28,036-square-foot lease on the third and seventh floors of 757 Third Avenue, the largest of three recently announced leases at the RFR Realty property. Asking rents in the building range from the low $50s to low $60s per square foot.

Additionally, real estate developer Omni Development and Astoria Federal Savings and Loan Association have signed lease for 5,700 square feet and 5,284 square feet, respectively.

“The RFR team works tirelessly to provide an unsurpassed office environment for our tenants – from the upscale building amenities and thoughtfully crafted interiors to the assiduous attention to architectural detail,” said Aby Rosen, co-Founder and principal of RFR, in a statement. “The recent leases at 757 Third Avenue are further testament to the quality of our portfolio and attention to tenant services.” Read More

Food & Drink

The Four Seasons Restaurant Faces Rent Hike

Four Seasons Grill Room 2

The Four Seasons Restaurant, home of the “power lunch,” is facing a six-fold rent increase when its current lease expires in 2016, The Huffington Post reported yesterday. The iconic New York eatery, which currently pays $19.74 per square foot, could be looking at rents of $125 per square foot for its 29,476-square-foot space inside the Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue.

Documents viewed by the Huff Post indicate that as part of the owners’ $782.8 million mortgage deal, financed jointly by Citigroup and Deutsche Bank and being marketed to investors via commercial mortgage backed securities, bankers expect management at the property to begin charging the The Four Seasons market rents, which according to the documents are determined to be $125 per square foot. Read More

Lease Beat

Sister Companies Expand at 757 Third Avenue

757third

Sister companies Aerotek and TEKsystems have signed 10-year leases for 13,551 square feet and 15,115 square feet, respectively, at RFR Realty’s 757 Third Avenue, it was announced today. Asking rents at the property range from the low $50s to low $60s per square foot and the total value of the transaction is over $16 million, according to a press release.

“The RFR team always works hard to provide the best services and amenities that attract and retain the best quality tenants,” said Aby Rosen, co-founder and principal at RFR, in a prepared statement. “That’s the secret of our success here and throughout the RFR portfolio.” Read More

On the Market

SoHo Retail Condominum at 350 West Broadway Could Rake in $30M

350 West Broadway

Jones Lang LaSalle has been retained as the exclusive leasing agent for the marketing and sale of the 11,115-square-foot retail condominium on the first two floors of a luxury residential building at 350 West Broadway in SoHo, The Commercial Observer has learned.

The two-story jewel box retail store is located in one of SoHo’s prime retail centers, between Grand and Broome Streets, with 80 feet of frontage along West Broadway.  The space also features an exclusive, 1,500-square-foot terrace area. Read More

Sales Beat

90 Fifth Avenue In Contract For $115 Million

90 Fifth Avenue

90 Fifth Avenue is being acquired by the Atlanta based investment group Jamestown for $115 million sources have revealed to The Commercial Observer, a price that equates to a lofty over $800 per square foot.

The deal, if it closes, would finally end a years long effort to sell the 140,000-square-foot property, which is mostly Read More

Lease Beat

City National Bank Moving into Former Syms Park Avenue Space

syms

City National Bank is taking the 45,000 square feet of the Park Avenue space that was formerly occupied by Syms Clothing.

The Los Angeles-based bank signed a 15-year lease for a combination of office and retail space at 400 Park Avenue, including a 5,400 square foot retail banking outlet on the corner of 54th and Park, as was first reported by The New York Post

City National Bank’s lease also includes 15,000 square feet on the second floor that will serve as a “dramatic two-story entrance,” said Phillip (Tod) Waterman III of Waterman Interests, the landlord principal of 400 Park Avenue. Read More

Sales Beat

Santander To Sell 45 East 53rd Street

45 East 53rd Street

The Spanish bank Santander is marketing 45 East 53rd Street in what will likely be a sale leaseback deal.

An investment sales broker familiar with the building said that it could trade for as much as $100 million or more.

The building is about 113,000 square feet and is fully occupied by Santander, which uses the space for its New York operations. Marcos DeSillas, a facilities manager who oversees the property for Santader told The Commercial Observer that the property’s sale is being handled by executives at the bank’s headquarters in Spain. Read More

Building Expectations

Aby Rosen's Hidden Jewel

6 Photos

757 Third

From the moment you walk through the doors of 757 Third Avenue, you know the building is different from the average, anonymous East Side office tower.

One of the lesser works of the monolithic Emery Roth & Sons—they of GM and Look and Pan Am buildings fame—757 Third is the typical wedding-cake office building. A banded obsidian glass curtain wall with those I-beam mullions, it is the sentinel we’ve seen before, cast ever so slightly anew in a thousand business districts the world over. Seagrams lite with a splash of Chase Manhattan.

That is why walking into, or really out of, 757 Third is such a dramatic experience. The 28-story building may have the nicest revolving doors in the entire city. Set into two curving, scythelike glass panels, the building’s egress does not really have an edge, and so when stepping out onto the street through those spinning doors, it is as though the building suddenly disappears. You have left the warm confines of this sleek building and are back on the cold New York City street. You might even stop to gasp at the trick if the door were not coming up behind you, about to deliver a smack in the toosh. Read More