Construction Finance

Bank of China Goes in on Chicago Office Conversion Loan

1K Fulton rendering.

Bank of China took the $120 million senior portion of a $220 million refinancing on a nearly complete Chicago office building, where Google will soon make its nest, a broker who eyed the deal told Mortgage Observer.

Mesa West Capital originated the five-year, floating-rate debt. The loan to local developer Sterling Bay replaces about $150 million on the former cold storage warehousing facility, now known as 1K Fulton, and will fund additional costs on the building’s conversion. Read More

Lease Beat

Google Expands Along Manhattan’s West Side

85 Tenth Avenue.

Internet behemoth Google, which already has a sizable presence in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood at its New York headquarters, recently signed a 180,000-square-foot lease at 85 10th Avenue.

First reported by The Wall Street Journal, Google’s new space used to be a Nabisco cookie factory. The property, owned by Vornado Realty Trust and the Related Companies, is near the West Side Highway and the High Line. Read More

Lease Beat

Deutsch Leaves Google Building, Signs Penn Plaza Lease

330 West 34th Street.

Advertising agency Deutsch has signed a new lease for 74,346 square feet on the 13th and 14th floors at 330 West 34th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues at Penn Plaza, the New York Post reported.

The new lease marks the planned relocation of the New York branch of Donny Deutsch’s bicoastal agency from Google’s building at 111 Eighth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, the Post said. Deutsch’s current space is 134,830 square feet spanning the 14th and 15th floors of the building. Read More

The 360 View

Tech Provides Greater Access to Commercial Real Estate Space, but is it Really Necessary?

Google Maps interior view of Giorgione restaurant.

Retail pros are aflutter as they schedule their appointments for the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon Las Vegas. Two companies in particular are preparing for a big debut on the first day of the three-day May trade show: Related Companies and Floored.

Floored, a company providing software for the 3-D visualization of real estate, is planning to showcase the 3-D modeling of Related’s 26-acre Hudson Yards at its booth at the convention, David Eisenberg, the chief executive of Floored, told Commercial Observer. The technology will give potential tenants a sense of what it will look and feel like to be at the Far West Side commercial and residential development upon its completion in 2018. (Representatives from Related were not available for comment at press time.) Read More

In the Market

Google Eyes More NYC Space

Renderings of 450 West 33rd Street

Internet giant Google is in the market for up to 600,000 square feet of office space in Manhattan—enough to hold more than 3,000 employees, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Google could potentially expand to 450 West 33rd Street or St. John’s Terminal at 550 Washington Street, according to sources cited by the Journal. Brookfield’s 450 West 33rd Street boasts floor plates of 100,000 square feet and is being renovated to the tune of $200 million. Read More

Growth Equity Gets $50M Investment from Google Capital

L to R: Monte Koch, Jeff Frieden, Rob Friedman

Google Capital, a growth equity fund backed by internet giant Google, has invested $50 million in The investment values the online real estate marketplace at $1.2 billion. 

Google Capital joins a list of prominent shareholders in, including Starwood Capital Group, Starwood Property Trust, Stone Point Capital and funds managed by Fortress Investment Group. As part of Google Capital’s investment, a representative of the fund will join’s Board of Directors and an additional representative will assume a board observer position. Read More


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

The Sit-Down

Tucker Reed Won’t Sleep Until Downtown Brooklyn Becomes a 24/7 Community

Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Tucker Reed is sweet on Brooklyn—big time. A resident of Prospect Heights who enjoys frequenting the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mr. Reed is a champion of the city’s most populous borough. He is a ball of energy as he talks about all of the work the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has done with him as president for the past two years, from supporting the technology sector with the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Coalition to establishing Downtown Brooklyn as New York City’s college town. About a year after Commercial Observer conducted the Sit-Down interview with Mr. Tucker, we wanted to check in and see how the nonprofit has been doing with the reinvention of Downtown Brooklyn. Read More

Cover Story, Feature

As Cornell begins to rise on Roosevelt Island, tech industry ponders future

Aerial  rendering of Cornell NYC Tech (source: Kilograph)

Even as the construction process commences on a marquee Roosevelt Island technology project, some tech companies are uncertain about how the industry will fare now that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a staunch advocate for tech, is out of office. 

As Cornell NYC Tech, the engineering school slated for Roosevelt Island, makes its way through the development process and the city welcomes a new administration, it prompts a question: Will the sustainable applied science and engineering campus—and tech in general—get the same level of attention from Mayor Bill de Blasio as it did from his predecessor, Mr. Bloomberg? Read More

The Sit-Down

Kevin Hoo’s Tweet Victory

Kevin Hoo

Kevin Hoo’s prior experience with UBS AG and later Tishman Speyer allowed him to slip seamlessly into a role as a vice president at Savanna in 2011, where as an asset manager he handles everything from financing acquisitions to choosing building finishes, leasing them up and handling day-to-day operations. “We run a fairly lean team here,” he said. “My role has been to play the jack of all trades.” At Tishman Speyer, Mr. Hoo’s acquisition, development, design and construction roles saw him focusing on properties as iconic as Rockefeller Center and the MetLife Building, but as he tells it, Savanna’s recent repositioning of 245 and 249 West 17th Street, now home to Twitter’s New York City headquarters, is the most exciting endeavor he has been a part of. Read More


Google Saves $21 M. in Taxes After ‘Highly Unusual’ Assessment

111 Eighth Avenue

The city’s Finance Department reportedly overruled property assessments on Google’s sprawling Chelsea office building at 111 Eighth Avenue twice over the past two years, resulting in $21 million in tax savings.

In February of 2012, an assistant commissioner ordered a reduction in an $816 million appraisal for the building to $628 million, reducing Google’s taxes by about $8.7 million, according to a report from the Daily NewsJuan Gonzalez, which quoted sources who called the reduction “highly unusual.” Read More

Venture Capital

Real Estate Startup Gets $7M in Venture Funding

VTS Screenshot (Courtesy: View the Space)

View the Space, the real estate startup that collects leasing data and creates virtual space tours, has secured a $7 million round of venture funding.

The funding, provided primarily by Trinity Ventures of Menlo Park, Calif., will allow View the Space to expand into new markets and build the next generation of the service, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

“We believe that real estate has been, like some industries, underpenetrated by information technology,” said Noel Fenton, a general partner at Trinity, in an interview with the Journal. “There is an opportunity there to help owners and brokers execute their job more efficiently through online facilities.”

Read More

Cover Story

Midtown South: Hitting the Ceiling

51 Astor Place

“I’ll be honest with you,” Gregg Weisser said. “It caught me by surprise.”

Mr. Weisser, the senior vice president and director of commercial real estate at the Moinian Group, was discussing the dramatic rise of Midtown South as a real estate, tech, media and fashion powerhouse. But he likens the fast-paced big-city success story to a leisurely drive upstate.  Read More

Wired City

Google Helpouts Could Be an Asset to Brokers

Google Helpouts

Google has a new service on the way: Helpouts, a program that allows users to connect with experts in real-time on a variety of topics. In his article for Inman, Paul Hagey predicts that Helpouts could become an important tool in the fee-for-service real estate model, helping agents deliver their services faster.

So could it be useful took for commercial brokers? Our experts weigh in.

Read More