The Plan

The Plan: The Madison Square Portfolio

Renderings of Madison Square Portfolio

The Kaufman Organization’s ongoing renovations of three Midtown South office buildings in what was once known as the “Ring Portfolio” are moving forward with a new name and a very new look.

The company, which in April acquired four buildings that it now calls the “Madison Square Portfolio” through a 99-year lease with Extell Development Company, is sprucing up three of the long-vacant properties—19 West 24th Street,13 West 27th Street and 45 West 27th Street—ahead of a planned June 2015 occupancy date, said Grant Greenspan, a principal with Kaufman. (The fourth building in the portfolio is already open at 119-125 West 24th Street.)  Read More

Entering Brooklyn

Gary Barnett’s Extell Enters Brooklyn With City Point Deal

City Point rendering. (City Point)

Gary Barnett‘s Extell Development Company is slated to develop residential units in what marks phase three of City Point, the mixed-use development in Downtown Brooklyn, Commercial Observer has learned.

The development deal, which is in the contract stage, represents Mr. Barnett’s first foray into Kings County. The prolific developer is undecided about whether the project will be a rental or a condominium, sources close to the deal said, but no affordable housing has been included in the plans. Read More


Extell Hotel Rumors Swirling Around Diamond District

2 West 47th Street

With 100 tenants either moved out or in the process of moving out of 2 West 47th Street in Midtown’s Diamond District, business owners and brokers in the area are speculating about what will become of the building with few definitive answers available.

As whispers swirl around the district about a potential hotel on the building’s footprint via a lot assemblage by Extell Development Company, nobody seems to know for sure what will become of the building that once housed ABS Partners Real Estate’s jewelry exchange on the ground floor and top jewelry designers like Sasha Primak in the floors above. Read More

Power Broker

Brokering the Diamond District, New York City’s Crown Jewel

Diamond Ring

In a vault in the middle of the stretch of West 47th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Fifth Avenue that’s known as the Diamond District, a longtime merchant keeps his literal crown jewels: a set designed in the 18th century for the French royal family. The jewelry salesman and collector places the value of the tiara, bracelet, necklace and earrings with origins in the Bourbon-Medici clan at $1 million, but those jewels are not for sale, he says. He says he plans to donate the piece to a museum someday, and his employees show off less pricey merchandise like a $650,000 choker and a $565,000 necklace. If those items seem too expensive, a store employee tells Commercial Observer, he’s happy to point out items that sell for closer to $500,000. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Thor Refis Carlton House Retail with $175M from Morgan Stanley

680 Madison Avenue

Thor Equities refinanced its retail condominium at the base of luxury co-op The Carlton House at 680 Madison Avenue with Morgan Stanley, a source confirmed to Mortgage Observer. The $175 million first mortgage closed last month, according to records recently filed with the city.

Thor purchased the building’s block-long retail space for $277 million in January 2013—one of the highest prices ever paid for a retail property on Madison—from Extell Development, which is in the process of converting the upper floors into cooperative residential units. Read More

Real Estate and Politics

Three of Five Developers Haven’t Cashed In Controversial Tax Exemption

99 Church Street

The five controversial tax break eligibilities for luxury housing developers that state lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo carved out for five developers in January 2013 legislation have sparked controversy, speculation and investigation, but only two of the developers have actually applied for and received the 421-a exemptions thus far.

The eligibilities for Silverstein Properties at 99 Church Street, Thor Equities at 520 Fifth Avenue, Friedman Management at 113 Nassau Street, Fisher Brothers at 78-86 Trinity Place and Extell Development Company at 157 West 57th Street reportedly showed up on a subpoena for the Real Estate Board of New York drafted by investigators with the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption before the governor’s office intervened. But three of the developers have yet to apply to the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and the other two received the exemption in exchange for building affordable housing. Read More

Sales Beat

Kaufman Closes on Purchase of Four Ground Leases from Extell

119-125 West 24th Street

Kaufman Organization and Principal Real Estate Investors have closed on their acquisition of four former Ring buildings, totaling 341,441 square feet in Nomad and the Flatiron District, from Extell Development Company.

As Commercial Observer previously reported, the deal included 13-15 West 27th Street, 45 West 27th Street, 19 West 24th Street and 119-125 West 24th Street. Depending on the valuation, the 99-year net lease cost between $175 million and $200 million, according to David E. Ash of Prince Realty Advisors, the lone broker in the deal. Read More

Market Perspectives

New Construction City


Manhattan is in the midst of a construction mini-boom.

Between May 2013 and May 2014 five new office towers will be completed, adding more than 6.5 million square feet of office space to the market. That’s the largest volume of new office space to be completed over a 12-month period since 1989.

Building Office Square Read More

Sales Beat

Extell Grabs Additional $74 M. Piece of ‘Ring Portfolio,’ Sues to Force Sale

212 Fifth Avenue is among the portfolio's 14 properties (Credit: The Real Deal)

Real estate investment and finance firm Princeton Holdings has sold its interest in a one million square foot portfolio of commercial properties located in Manhattan’s Midtown South submarket for $74 million to Extell Development Company.

Buyer Extell Development Company significantly boosts its existing stake in the portfolio and, having gained at least a 50 percent stake in Read More

Sales Beat

Fate of F.M. Ring, Extell-Owned 251 Park Ave So to Be Decided at Auction in August


An ownership feud over management of a largely vacant Midtown South property will be decided at auction in August. The 16-story prewar office building at 251 Park Avenue South, which sits nearly 70 percent vacant in the heart of the red hot submarket, is to be sold at public auction on August 28, by order of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

The building is owned “tenancy in common”–a form of simultaneous ownership in a single property by two parties—by F.M. Ring Associates and an investor, reportedly Gary Barnett’s Extell Development. Read More

Post-Tropical Storm Sandy

Prepare They Did, Yet Property Owners Hit Hard by Sandy

2012-11-01 17.52.48

In the face of one of the worst natural disasters in the city’s history, commercial real estate landlords braced for Hurricane Sandy, employing every measure possible to hold property damage to a minimum and keep tenants safe.

But not even prophetic foresight could have allowed the city’s landlords—or New York City as a whole—to prevent much of the destruction that the mammoth storm wreaked across the five boroughs.

The road to recovery, especially in low-lying coastal areas like Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways, will take months, if not years. Lower Manhattan went dark for days, with many companies largely shutting down due to power outages and salt water flooding, which is especially corrosive to mechanical equipment.

“It’s—It’s—It’s just a mess,” said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the Durst Organization, who struggled to find words to describe the destruction in Lower Manhattan. Read More