Cover Story

Etsy Takes Brooklyn

(Sergio Herrera/Flickr)

Up on a hill, yet down under the Brooklyn Bridge overpass, sits Dumbo Heights, a collection of manufacturing buildings including the former Watchtower buildings. Once owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the properties were home to printing presses that churned out the religious organization’s pamphlets and Bibles, as well as corporate offices and dry-cleaning services for members of the delegation.

Last October, the Witnesses sold six of these buildings to Kushner Companies, Invesco, LIVWRK and RFR Realty for $375 million. They joined forces to turn the properties into perhaps the largest and most advanced creative technology hub in New York, a campus meant to rival even the legendary campuses of Silicon Valley. LIVWRK’s chief executive officer, Asher Abehsera, branded the campus Dumbo Heights and a new kind of New York City development was born. (Kushner Companies CEO Jared Kushner is the publisher of Commercial Observer.)  Read More

Lease Beat

Etsy Signs Lease to Anchor Dumbo Heights

117 Adams Street. (Dumbo Heights)

Online shopping site Etsy has signed a 200,000-square-foot lease to anchor the Dumbo Heights development in Brooklyn. The company is expected to relocate its headquarters to space at 117 Adams Street and 55 Prospect Street by 2016.

Etsy’s space will be divided between 172,000 square feet at 117 Adams Street and 26,500 square feet in an adjacent building at 55 Prospect Street, according to an announcement from the tenant’s brokers. The two units are connected via a sky bridge. Read More

Big Moves

Lori Shabtai Departs Winick, Mulls Next Move

Lori Shabtai

Broker Lori Shabtai has left Winick Realty Group, where she started her real estate career in 2005, Commercial Observer has learned.

She said she left of her own accord and is contemplating her next career move while penning a series of books about her life. She said she has been in talks with people in various industries about job opportunities, but declined to elaborate.  Read More

Masters of Real Estate

Developers Optimistic at 5th Annual Masters of Real Estate Conference Despite Political Uncertainty

The New York Observer- Masters of Real Estate

There’s “something major” happening in every submarket in the city, but will gridlock in Washington and the impending mayoral election thrust the city back into recession – or even into a backdrop of crime and bankruptcy reminiscent of the 1970’s?

Not a chance, said a group of the city’s top real estate developers at Observer Read More

Watchtower

Partnership Behind Watchtower Buy Taps CPEX to Lease Retail Space

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The partnership behind the $375 million acquisition of the Watchtower portfolio in Dumbo has appointed Brooklyn-based real estate services company CPEX to lease the development’s retail space, The Commercial Observer has learned.

The deal, which ranks as the largest so far this year in Brooklyn, could feature a variety of retail opportunities including food hall concepts and gym facilities, in addition to its office campus use. Read More

Wired City

City Launches Wireless Corridor Challenge and WiredNYC

(Photo: Celeste Sloman)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced two new tech initiatives to expand the city’s access to wireless and broadband connectivity, one of which encourages the deployment of leading broadband technologies across its commercial real estate buildings.

The Wireless Corridor Challenge will establish free public WiFi corridors in each of the five boroughs, while WiredNYC, described as LEED Read More

Sales Beat

CIM Group Pays $104 M. for 5 Hanover Square

hanover

An affiliate of Los Angeles-based CIM Group has purchased 5 Hanover Square from Savanna’s The Savanna Fund II REIT for $104 million.

The 25-story, 330,000-square-foot building, located on the northern side of Hanover Square, between Pearl and Beaver Streets in Manhattan’s Financial District, also contains roughly 7,500 square feet of retail on the ground floor. Read More

Sales Beat

RFR and Kushner Companies to Acquire Watchtower Dumbo Properties

90sands

RFR Realty and Kushner Companies have agreed to acquire a six-property portfolio in Dumbo from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York for $375 million. The sale is the latest in a series of transactions for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are in the process of transitioning their headquarters from Brooklyn to Orange County, New York.

“We are delighted to partner with Kushner Companies and team with LIVWRK to become the new stewards for these exceptional properties in this burgeoning neighborhood,” said Jason Brown, head of acquisitions at RFR, in a prepared statement. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Cartier! Versace! Vuitton! Financing Next Gen at Crown’s Ritzy Retail Focus

Chera brothers.

One day in the late 1980s, three Brooklyn brothers in their teens—Isaac, Haim and Richard Chera—followed their grandfather, Isaac, and their father, Stanley, on a trip to Manhattan. While not in school, the brothers would spend much of their spare time in the Fulton Street children’s clothing store that their grandfather had opened in 1948, in a space formerly occupied by a hat store, Suzette Millinery Shop. At the time, lacking the money to replace the previous banner, Isaac Chera simply tweaked it, naming his business Suzette Kiddie Store. Only later, after having expanded to several other stores, did the family change the name to Young World. Soon, the elder Isaac Chera started to invest in real estate. The best advice he gave to his family, according to his grandson, Haim, was to always buy the building where they had a store. Read More

Shameless Promotions

Masters of Real Estate Event Breaks Record

Jared Kushner.

Featuring an all-star line up of the city’s most formidable real estate professionals, this year’s annual Masters of Real Estate fetched a record 450 RSVPs, The Commercial Observer has learned.

Observer Media Group executives began preparing for the event, now in its third year, six months in advance with an eye toward creating an eclectic mix of speakers. Larry Silverstein of Silverstein Properties, Michael Fascitelli of Vornado, William Rudin of Rudin Management, Jeff Blau of Related Companies and Glenn Rufrano of Cushman & Wakefield are all scheduled to appear. Rob Speyer of Tishman Speyer bowed out.

Jared Kushner, the owner of The Commercial Observer and president of Kushner Companies, will lead the event with remarks. Read More

Post-Tropical Storm Sandy

Prepare They Did, Yet Property Owners Hit Hard by Sandy

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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

Lower Manhattan

Sale of City Hall Buildings Snagged

City Hall submarket.

A city proposal to sell three lower Manhattan buildings, potentially converting 750,000 square feet of outmoded office space into luxury housing or hotels, has run into objections from community representatives in the City Hall area, who argue that the plan should have included provisions for a school, community center or affordable housing.

The City Council’s subcommittee on planning, dispositions and concessions plans a hearing next week on the disposal of the properties at 22 Reade Street and 49-51 Chambers Street. Disposition of the third building in the package, at 346 Broadway, was approved in 1998. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the sale in January as part of a drive to make the city more efficient by consolidating its office spaces. Read More