Midtown’s Westward Expansion Offers a Modern Crack at Manifest Destiny


Like the westward expansion that gripped the nation during the early to mid-1800’s, the expansion of Midtown Manhattan offers the city’s commercial real estate pioneers a modern crack at manifest destiny.

The trajectory of Midtown’s new building stock over the last seven decades tells a story of westward expansion that most recently struck Midtown West with the Hudson Yards development project.

“Hudson Yards really is the last frontier,” said James Delmonte, principal and vice president of research at Avison Young.  “Firms are looking for newer product and larger floor plates, largely because there really is no available land on the east side.” Read More


Retail Brokers ‘Kicking and Screaming’ as Landlords Skip the Middle Man

Joe Sitt

Some commercial real estate brokers are “kicking and screaming” about the audacity of some city landlords who they claim are disregarding their “exclusives” with retailers by attempting to land tenants on their own.

The idea of “skipping the middle man,” once thought of as a tool for efficiency, is enraging some brokers, who tell The Commercial Observer that large retail owners including  Joe Sitt, Jeff Sutton and Joe Moinian, are steering out of their way – but digging deep under their skin.

“Totally not kosher,” one perturbed president of a top city brokerage wrote in an email to The Commercial Observer.  “It puts the retail brokers in a difficult spot and it is morally incorrect.” Read More

Power Broker

On Top of the World: SL Green’s Steve Durels on Last Year’s Viacom Deal and the Projects Reshaping Manhattan


When Viacom pulled the trigger on its 1.6-million-square-foot renewal and expansion at 1515 Broadway last year, SL Green Realty served up a stinging rebuke to swirling rumors that the media giant would relocate.

But company executives with the city’s largest landlord were well aware that the firm’s most coveted tenant had toyed with the idea Read More


Group Grades The Moinian Group With a Big Fat “F”


Things could get rowdy when a consortium of elected officials including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn rallies near City Hall this afternoon to issue a report card to Joe Moinian’s The Moinian Group for alleged failings as a real estate developer and landlord.

The report card grades the developer – with letter grade “F” across the board – on tenant relations, safety, financial stability, vendor relations and the creation of good jobs.

“It’s going to be rowdy – we’re expecting hundreds of people,” said Jessica Ramos, a spokesperson for Build Up NYC, one of the groups spearheading the effort.  “We want to create public support and awareness for them to be a responsible developer and build buildings with good jobs that actually help the economy.” Read More

Cover Story

Reaching for the Sun: Is It Possible to Own Too Much Real Estate?


When the credit crisis hit and the real estate market all but collapsed, news of disgraced developers became commonplace, their tales more often than not layered with intrigue.

Take Kent Swig, who, after being divorced by his wife, filed an affidavit in May responding to a lawsuit filed by his ex-father-in-law, industry luminary Harry Macklowe, arguing that Mr. Macklowe embarked on a “vendetta” aimed at “starving” him of every last penny.

But as the downfalls of real estate tycoons like Mr. Macklowe, Shaya Boymelgreen, Bruce Eichner and Larry Gluck stack up like so many new developments across Manhattan’s skyline, analysts and the city’s landlords themselves have begun to wonder aloud if there’s a limit to how much real estate can be accumulated.

“A developer’s function is to develop property, and sometimes they develop and develop until they can’t develop anymore,” said appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and consulting firm based in New York City. “Where people fell short was that the market was more powerful than them … the market is brutal, and it has no compassion.” Read More


Attorney Stephen Meister Sues Former Client Joe Moinian

stephen meister

Real estate litigation attorney Stephen Meister has slapped landlord Joe Moinian with a lawsuit alleging Mr. Moinian stiffed him on $230,000 in legal fees.

Mr. Meister, a well known attorney in the city, has represented Mr. Moinian in a number of cases, including at the office building 3 Columbus Circle. In that suit, Mr. Meister battled back the real estate magnate Stephen Ross from foreclosing on the property, buying Mr. Moinian time to recapitalize the property with SL Green in what was one of the highest profile litigation cases in the industry last year. Read More

The Sit-Down

Moinian’s Main Man: Gregg Weisser on Columbus Circle and Young & Rubicam

Gregg Weiser.

Gregg Weisser knows how to handle a hot house. The newly anointed executive managing director of the Moinian Group, and volunteer fireman with the Kismet Fire Department in Fire Island, New York, is no stranger to putting out fires, be it a burning beach house or as a director of leasing across some of the city’s most notable addresses. As the real estate director of JPMorgan Chase, where he had worked for over 20 years, Mr. Weisser closed a million and a half feet of empty space in 1 New York Plaza.

Read More

Power Broker

The brouhaha behind the Ground Zero mosque introduced Adam Leitman Bailey to the world. So what’s next for real estate’s most public attorney?

Adam Leitman Bailey.

Adam Leitman Bailey strode into the lobby of his lower Manhattan law firm dressed in a dark blue suit and blue shirt, his extended cuffs all but dangling from his jacket. No sartorial misstep, Mr. Bailey would explain. The cuffs protruded noticeably beyond his jacket sleeves for a reason.

“It’s essential,” said Mr. Bailey, the attorney who last year garnered national attention as counselor for the Ground Zero mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal. “I’ve studied everything about the court room. It’s a subconscious thing, but this shows a jury you have nothing to hide.”

As if to prove his point, Mr. Bailey awkwardly tucked the sleeve of his shirt back inside his jacket. “See?” said the attorney, who takes the nuances of his dress code so seriously that every new associate at the law firm shops for their first suit with him so that he can personally give them a lesson in proper courtroom attire. “You’re hiding something.” Read More


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


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