$821M in 2005 Loans on Houston Galleria Mall Prepaid

The Galleria in Houston, Texas.

The Galleria, a 2.3 million-square-foot mall that is Houston, Texas’ most visited attraction, has prepaid $821 million in debt at the start of an open prepayment period, Mortgage Observer has exclusively learned.

The CMBS loan that constituted a hefty portion of the debt—$290 million—was conservatively underwritten, with a 47.5 percent loan-to-value ratio and debt service coverage ratio of nearly 2.73, according to data from Trepp.

Indeed, in January, the CMBS data service had warned that “if this loan can’t refinance, the entire CMBS market will be licking its wounds in 2015,” as the “Wall of Maturities,” approached. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Jet Stream: Life Companies Land in Europe


Slowly but steadily the European financing landscape is moving towards a U.S. model of lending, where banks are no longer the dominant lenders.

Life insurance companies are among the lenders that have been active in the U.S. for a long time, but only in the last few years have emerged as important players on the other side of the ocean. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Long-Awaited 53rd Street Jean Nouvel Tower Gets $860M Construction Loan

53W53 front

Tower Verre, 53W53, MoMA Tower … the project has gone by many names, and dragged on for many years. But the super skinny Jean Nouvel-designed tower planned for 53 West 53rd Street is finally on the way, having closed on the purchase of needed air rights and an $860 million construction loan this week.

Hines, the Texas-based mega developer and owner that is partnering with Goldman Sachs and Singapore-based developer Pontiac Land Group on the 82-story residential condominium tower, closed the massive loan with a foursome of Asian banks, according to a statement.  Read More

Wired City

7 Bryant Park Receives WiredNYC Certification

7 Bryant Park.

WiredNYC, the New York City-based organization that focuses on helping buildings improve infrastructure across the city, issued its coveted Wired Certification to 7 Bryant Park. The 470,000 square-foot building owned by Hines earned a platinum certification from the group, the highest certification a property can receive.

The purpose of the program, developed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, is to provide information about technology in commercial buildings across the city while helping property owners upgrade wiring and infrastructure for technology that caters to today’s tenants. Read More


MoMA Files $1.6M Plan to Raze Folk Art Building

45 West 53rd Street

The Museum of Modern Art has filed an application with the city’s Department of Buildings for what amounts to a $1.6 million demolition job at the former American Folk Art Museum site on West 53rd Street.

The major alteration application, filed last Friday, calls for a series of jobs including removal of all above-grade stories, plumbing fixtures and piping as well as the mechanical equipment. The DOB plans come about a year after the museum announced its intention to demolish the folk art building, at 45 West 53rd Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas. Architecture firm The Mufson Partnership, led by designer Christina Powaday, is handling the project. Read More

Lease Beat

Hedge Fund Expands at 600 Lexington Ave


Element Capital has signed a 10-year expansion deal at SL Green’s 600 Lexington Avenue, doubling its space to 13,500 square feet on the 33rd and 34th floors of the building, The Commercial Observer has learned.

The hedge fund will pay rent starting in the mid-$70s per square foot, according to data from CompStak. Element first signed a lease at the building in 2009 when starting rent for the 34th floor space was in the low-$70s per square foot. Read More

The Lobby

WX to Honor Marjorie Tsang as Woman of the Year

Ms. Tsang

Marjorie Tsang of the New York State Common Retirement Fund is to be honored by WX New York Women Executives in Real Estate as Woman of the Year. A long-time member of the association, Ms. Tsang previously served on the WX board of directors and aided in the development of the association’s scholarship initiative.

“It is truly a humbling experience,” Ms Tsang told The Commercial Observer of her nomination. “What clicks immediately is the cause, which is to support the scholarship program that WX has championed.” Read More

Sales Beat

Sale of 425 Lexington Tops $664 M.

425 Lex (Credit: Hines)

A group of institutional investors advised by JPMorgan Asset Management has closed on its purchase of 425 Lexington Avenue for more than $664 million, city records show.

The 31-story office tower was auctioned off by the international real estate investment firm Hines, which put the 27-story office building at 499 Park Avenue up for sale Read More


The Return of the Mega Deal


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

Hines Properties to Be Sold in $1 Billion Deal

425 Lexington Avenue

Hines has selected buyers for its properties at 499 Park Avenue and 425 Lexington Avenue. The properties, part of the Hines U.S. Core Office Fund, are set to be acquired by American Realty Advisors and institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, respectively, for a combined total of over $1 billion.

“New York has demonstrated a capacity for large scale capital transactions,” Tommy Craig, senior managing director at Hines, told The Commercial Observer. “That has been validated [in these transactions.]” Read More

The Sit-Down

Catching Up With Hines


Hines has been busy on the investment and development side over the past few months. After breaking ground at 7 Bryant Park in February, officials at the 56-year-old firm announced in March that they would put up for sale its properties at 499 Park Avenue and 425 Lexington, both part of the Hines Core Fund. Read More


Power 100 Heat Map


From a Taconic Investment Partners project in Hunts Point to the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, power in New York real estate circles has increasingly expanded from the comfortable confines of Midtown Manhattan to the fringes of all five boroughs. While large developments such as the Related Company’s Hudson Yards often dominate the conversation, Brooklyn, Queens and even the Bronx continue to grow in stature.

Long Island City is fast becoming a focal point for the real estate industry as Rockrose and other residential developers tap into the growing Queens neighborhood. In the Bronx, Taconic Investment Partners, formerly the owners of 111 Eighth Avenue, is in the process of a significant capital improvement plan at the BankNote Building on Lafayette Avenue in Hunt’s Point.

Below, a sampling of where power thrives in New York City in 2013. Read More


Developers Break Ground at 7 Bryant Park

Rendering of 7 Bryant Park

Developers broke ground at 7 Bryant Park yesterday, with a consortium of public officials including Mayor Michael Bloomberg gathering to pitch the trophy office tower as a boon for the city.

Politicians are touting the planned 28-story, 470,000-square-foot steel and glass tower, slated for completion in the first quarter of 2015, as a magnet for good jobs, talent and companies.

“The best days are still to come to Bryant Park – a place the city has worked hard to bring roaring back to life,” Mr. Bloomberg said at the ceremony, adding that the project will bring “more top-tier, cutting-edge commercial space, and more leading companies and their tax revenue to Midtown Manhattan.” Read More