Bob Knakal Explains the Rise and Sale of Massey Knakal

Robert Knakal (Kristy Leibowitz) is now the chairman of New York investment sales for C&W.

I sit here writing my Concrete Thoughts column for the first time as a member of Cushman & Wakefield. My new title is chairman of New York investment sales for C&W following the sale of Massey Knakal on New Year’s Eve (I cannot say more about the sale at the present time). My friend Peter Grant at The Wall Street Journal described the transaction as “a fairy-tale ending” for the firm which Paul Massey and I started quite a while ago. I disagree. This transaction more acutely represents not an ending but a wonderful new beginning.

During the past couple of months, knowing that this transaction was likely to happen, thoughts about my life at Massey Knakal have been running through my mind with vivid clarity—particularly the early days. Massey Knakal was started on Nov. 15, 1988, and the sale closed 26 years and 46 days later. So how did we get here? Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Why a Merger Wave Washed Over Manhattan CRE in 2014

TOP DOGS: Savills Studley’s Mitchell Steir; Massey Knakal Realty Services’ founders Paul Massey and Robert Knakal; 
and Peter Hennessy, the president of the New York Tri-State Region at Cassidy Turley (from left).

On New Year’s Eve, Cushman & Wakefield closed on its acquisition of Massey Knakal Realty Services, thereby finishing the last big commercial real estate merger in a 2014 full of them.

Other large-scale takeovers included DTZ’s acquisition of brokerage Cassidy Turley (which followed private-equity firm TPG Capital’s takeover of DTZ, a property services firm); and London-based brokerage Savills’ acquisition of New York tenant-rep brokerage Studley. CBRE, the city’s biggest commercial brokerage, also acquired 10 different firms worldwide, including real estate consultancy IVI International, which is based in White Plains. Read More

2014 Owners Magazine

Real Estate Leaders, Administration Look for the ‘Grand Bargain’

De Blasio affordable housing plan

When Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen outlined the de Blasio administration’s new requirement for affordable housing in all residential rezonings at last month’s Massey Knakal Realty Services Brooklyn summit, murmurs rippled through the audience of 700 real estate insiders. But Ms. Glen felt positive vibes, she told reporters after her appearance at the conference.

“Nobody stormed out, so that seems like a good thing,” she said. Read More

The Sit-Down

ClearRock Properties Flips Buildings for Billions

ClearRock Properties

With a direct staff footprint of only five people working in space the company subleases from a law firm in Midtown, ClearRock Properties packs an outsized punch in office markets where big time partners afford the firm a much larger indirect staff. The boutique firm that Doug Winshall, a 53-year-old married father of two, and Steve Grant, a 49-year-old father of two, started five years ago boasts a portfolio of 15 buildings in the northeast, including an assemblage of properties in the South End of Stamford, Conn.’s transit-oriented Harbor Point development and a planned mixed-use residence at 331 N Street NE near Union Market in an upcoming neighborhood of Washington, D.C. But Commercial Observer quizzed the self-described “media-shy” executives on their impressive recent deals in the Manhattan office market and their business approach.   Read More

On the Market

Co-op Asking Combined $5.2M for UES Retail Spaces

Madison Avenue frontage

Carlyle House, an Upper East Side Co-op, has tapped Massey Knakal Realty Services to find new tenants or a new master lease starting in May 2016 for the co-op’s 6,956-square-foot retail spaces that front Madison Avenue between East 76th and East 77th Streets, Commercial Observer has learned.

The co-op, which sits next to the Carlyle hotel, will deliver the spaces on the basement, first and second floor of the building fully vacant with a total asking price of $5.2 million per year when the hotel’s lease on the currently-divided stores expires on April 30, 2016 in the locations on the bustling street, said Massey Knakal broker Jill Lovatt. Read More

Sales Beat

Boerum Hill Atlantic Avenue Site Sells for Record Price

472-484 Atlantic Avenue.

A site in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn has sold for a bit over $18 million, or $373 per buildable square foot, Commercial Observer has learned. It represents “the highest price per buildable square foot ever paid for a large development site of this size in Brooklyn,” said Stephen P. Palmese of Massey Knakal Realty Services. He exclusively handled the transaction.

The one-story building, at 472-484 Atlantic Avenue at the corner of Nevins Street, contains 16,100 square feet, with 150 feet of frontage on Atlantic Avenue, 40 feet of frontage along Nevins Street and 70 feet of frontage along Pacific Street. The site is home to a vacant laundromat, Atlantis Super Wash Center. Read More


CMBS Delinquencies Down for 15th Straight Month: Fitch

CMBS delinquencies dipped below 6 percent for the first time since before the recession, according to new data released Monday by credit ratings agency Fitch. Non-payments dropped for the fifteenth straight month, the new numbers show.

Nonperforming CMBS were down 10 basis points to 4.87 percent of all outstanding loans tracked by Fitch, from 4.97 percent in May.  Read More

Sales Beat

Cumberland Farms Offloads Brooklyn Gas Station Site for $3.1M

157 Empire Boulevard. (Massey Knakal)

Massachusetts-based convenience store chain Cumberland Farms has sold the site of its Gulf gas station at 157 Empire Boulevard to Life Storage for $3.1 million, according to property records.

The property, on the border of Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens, is zoned for up to 32,000 square feet of buildable space and is expected to be redeveloped. Illinois-based Life Storage is a developer and operator of storage facilities. Read More

Sales Beat

Hudson Square Warehouse Sells for $52M Cash

537 Greenwich Street

537 Greenwich Owner LLC snapped up a six story, 57,500-square-foot warehouse in Manhattan’s Hudson’s Square neighborhood for $52 million in an all cash transaction filed Tuesday, according to city property records.

The warehouse at 537-545 Greenwich Street currently houses industrial tenants and an art showroom, but the property offers 100,000 square feet of buildable space under new zoning rules, according to a press release from Massey Knakal Realty Services, whose broker Robert Burton represented the building’s former owner, Stuart Minton, in the transaction. Read More

Mortgage Observer

CIT Finances Former J&R Music World Transformation

Former J&R store at 34 Park Row

A classic city block is getting ready for a big change. CIT Real Estate Finance provided a $25 million land loan on two non-contiguous retail buildings at 23 and 31 Park Row in Lower Manhattan, sources familiar with the transaction told Mortgage Observer exclusively. The buildings are both former J&R Music and Computer World stores.

The three-year financing was provided to a joint venture between J&R co-founder Rachelle Friedman and the prolific multifamily developer L+M Development Partners. L+M, co-founded by Ron Moelis, acquired its stake in the two buildings for $36.2 million on April 10, the same day the loan from CIT closed, public records show. Massey Knakal Realty Services brokered the financing. Read More

Lease Beat

J. Crew Paying $90 PSQ Plus $3.5M in Improvements for W’burg Store

234-236 Wythe Avenue.

Global apparel chain J. Crew has signed a 6,000-square-foot lease in Williamsburg at $90 per square foot and has agreed to pay millions of dollars in significant improvements to the property, a source with knowledge of the deal told Commercial Observer.

The New York-based chain is bowing in a single-story warehouse building at 234-236 Wythe Avenue, near North 4th Street. There is speculation that the retailer will build a multi-level store as it did in Cobble Hill. Read More

UWS Loehmann’s Getting Primo Attention


Madison Capital, which acquired all of the real estate assets of bankrupt department store Loehmann’s, is primarily focused on the discounted designer goods retailer’s Upper West Side store, company founder Richard Wagman said. Mr. Wagman talked about Loehmann’s while on a retail panel at Massey Knakal Realty Services‘ Commercial Real Estate Investment Summit yesterday. Read More