Obituaries

Real Estate Legend Arthur G. Cohen Passes at 84

Olympic Tower

Legendary real estate developer Arthur G. Cohen, a magnate who formed the Arlen Realty and Development Corporation, passed away on Aug. 9 at his family’s home in Kings Point, N.Y., The New York Times reported on Friday.

Mr. Cohen bought and renovated 15,000 apartment units in the city, formed part of the team behind the mixed-use One Worldwide Plaza on the former site of Madison Square Garden, and combined with Aristotle Onassis on the 51-story Olympic Tower adjacent to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Read More

Zoning

Municipal Art Society Launches Development Rights Map

Municipal Art Society

The Municipal Art Society, a longtime city planning and preservation advocacy group, launched an interactive map that allows New Yorkers to see what sites in any of the city’s neighborhoods can take on extra square footage over their existing footprints, the organization announced last week.

The nonprofit marshaled the Department of City Planning’s MapPLUTO tax lot data into a color-coded, building-by-building map with overlays for parks, historic districts and subway lines. Read More

Lease Beat

Big East Conference Moving to Big Apple

Providence forward Kadeem Batts (10) dunks on Xavier's Matt Stainbrook (40). (Credit: Frank Victores, USA TODAY)

The Big East Conference is betting on the Big Apple to help usher in a new era.

The reconfigured conference has chosen The Durst Organization’s 655 Third Avenue in Midtown as its official headquarters after cutting a 10-year, 13,742-square-foot lease across the seventh floor of the 30-story property. Read More

The Sit-Down

Gale Brewer and the Battle Against 7-Eleven

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in her 1 Centre Street office.

Gale Brewer has lived on the Upper West Side since 1970. She served as the area’s City Council member for 12 years, concluding at the end of 2013, before starting as the 27th Manhattan borough president. Ms. Brewer, who plans to open a ground-floor district office on West 125th Street, joined with city preservationists earlier this month to call for reforms to the landmarking process following the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s refusal to consider landmark status for the Rizzoli Bookstore building at 31 West 57th Street. As Manhattan Beep, Ms. Brewer is tasked with advising the mayor and City Council on borough concerns, providing feedback on all land-use matters, advocating for New York County in the municipal budget process and appointing members of the 12 community boards. Ms. Brewer successfully advocated for the passage of legislation while in the City Council that would compel landlords to fix repeat violations as well as a law that requires all city data be published online. In February, Commercial Observer chatted with Ms. Brewer in her office at 1 Centre Street about adjusting to her new position, her beef with 7-Elevens and the easiest and most challenging developers to work with. Read More

On the Market

Seventh Avenue Retail Space Hits the Market for Lease

425-427 Seventh Avenue. (Credit: PropertyShark)

A potential flagship retail opportunity in the shadow of Madison Square Garden is being marketed for lease by Eastern Consolidated, Commercial Observer has learned.

The two-building space, located at 425-427 Seventh Avenue, boasts 2,400 square feet of space on the ground, basement and second levels, with the third and fourth floors potentially available for a total of 12,000 square feet. The entire property is being marketed as a triple-net lease for $1.9 million per year. Read More

Lease Beat

Burger Joint Smashes into Heavy Traffic Zone

A smashburger

Smashburger has signed a 5,432-square-foot new lease for a retail space at 10 West 33rd Street with plans to move in this coming April.

David Levy, principal of Adams & Co., who represented the tenant and the landlord, struck a concurrent deal for 1,385 square feet of contiguous space for a Dunkin Donuts.

“This is Read More

Year in Real Estate

The Year in Commercial Real Estate

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An astounding 54.3 million tourists are expected to have visited New York City by the end of this year, many of them for the first time. And while, of course, for many of these visitors, a runway at LaGuardia or the back of a cab driver’s head will be their first impressions of the city, the more memorable vision will be the one that has been enchanting tourists ever since 1870, when construction workers topped out the 130-foot tall Equitable Life Assurance Building, long considered the Big Apple’s first skyscraper. Read More

Year in Real Estate

Hold the MSG: World’s Most Famous Arena Gets 10 Years to Find New Home

Madison Square Garden Renewed

There had been rumblings for years.

Ever since the original Penn Station was demolished to make way for Madison Square Garden in the 1960s, commuters and architecture critics alike bemoaned the cramped subterranean train hub and the unsightly arena perched above it.

Then, like a spark, Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times architecture critic, brought the debate to the fore with a column in February urging the City Council to deny Madison Square Garden’s request to renew its permit to operate in perpetuity. With a request set to begin the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, it couldn’t have come at a more pivotal moment.

Read More

Postings

Tending the Garden: An Annotated Look at the New MSG

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Last week, Madison Square Garden unveiled the final stage of its massive $1 billion renovation project to the media and special guests. The following night, the arena reopened to fans for the Knicks final preseason game.

The three-year process has yielded a number of unique new features for the iconic venue, which was beginning to show its age, a ripe 45 years.

Below are some key facts and figures about the newly renovated arena and what fans have to look forward to this season.

Read More

The Sit-Down

Garden State of Mind: Architect Murray Beynon on the Renovation of Madison Square Garden

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Last Thursday, Madison Square Garden debuted the final phase of its three-stage transformation process to the media. The arena has now been thoroughly transformed into a modern facility befitting its self-styled title as the World’s Most Famous Arena. The process, which added two bridges suspended above the event floor, was not without controversy. Many fans, especially those die-hards seated in the arena’s upper bowl, were concerned their sight lines would be obstructed by the innovative additions. The project’s head architect, Murray Beynon of BBB Architects, spoke with The Commercial Observer last week about concerns over the Chase Bridges and insights into the unique challenges presented by creating a modern arena inside a nearly 50-year-old structure.

 

Read More

MSG

Check Out Newly Renovated Madison Square Garden

10 Photos

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Yesterday, Madison Square Garden debuted the third and final phase of the arena’s three-year transformation process to the media. The Commercial Observer was on hand to view all of the latest additions to the venue, including the renovated Seventh Avenue entrance and the Chase Bridges. The Garden will open to fans tonight when the New York Knicks take on the Charlotte Bobcats in the team’s final preseason game. The New York Rangers will host the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night. Check out photos of the arena and Thursday’s media event after the jump. Read More

MSG

Garden Party: MSG Unveils Transformation

Chase Bridges

After three years and $1 billion, Madison Square Garden officials today unveiled the third and final phase of the arena’s transformation, a spectacular attempt to blend the venue’s rich history with modern amenities.

Flanked by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Madison Square Garden Chief Executive Officer Hank Ratner and The Captains, Willis Reed and Mark Messier, Executive Chairman James Dolan introduced the changes to a crowd of hundreds inside the arena’s newly redesigned 7th Avenue entrance.

“I’m a very proud New Yorker today,” Mr. Dolan declared to applause before beginning his prepared remarks. Read More

Postings

Spoiled Sports: NASCAR Isn’t the Only Venue to Bite Dust

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Last week, the International Speedway Corporation sold a Staten Island plot of nearly 700 acres for $80 million, bringing a close to a saga in which the organization had promised to bring an 82,000-seat NASCAR raceway to the metropolitan New York area. The sale of the land for the proposed project, scuttled in 2006 after dissent by local residents, brings to mind a handful of other ambitious plans for other New York sports venues that were never realized.

Below, we take a look at some of the most prominent examples. Read More

The Sit-Down

Sign of the Times: Michael Kimmelman on Madison Square Garden

Credit: Fernando Pereira Gomes

Earlier this year, Michael Kimmelman, the chief architecture critic at The New York Times since 2011, wrote a column addressing Madison Square Garden’s request that its special permit to operate an arena atop Penn Station be renewed in perpetuity. In it, Mr. Kimmelman suggested that the City Council grant the Garden a 10-year permit, enough time for the various stakeholders to plan for both a renovated Penn Station and a new location for Madison Square Garden. In a show of Mr. Kimmelman’s relative influence, the City Council did just that. Now the clock is ticking on finding a solution for the futures of both the “World’s Most Famous Arena” and the city’s busiest rail hub. Nicknamed “The People’s Critic” by New York magazine for his insightful focus on the New York Public Library, redevelopment after Hurricane Sandy and affordable housing, Mr. Kimmelman spoke with The Commercial Observer last week about the viability of a 10-year term and what can be done to convince stakeholders to come to the table.  Read More