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.
Before becoming president of the Municipal Art Society in 2009, Vin Cipolla had founded three companies, presided over the National Park Foundation and been the executive vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. His ability to move between the corporate and public sectors prepared him well for his role at MAS, which is among the city’s most prominent civic preservation groups. Between the proposed rezoning of Midtown East and the sea change under way in Midtown West, the MAS has a full plate. Mr. Cipolla, 56, still had time to talk to The Commercial Observer about those two issues, as well as Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy and the future of Manhattan’s center.
“The ability to socialize and collaborate is one of the founding blocks of creating a tech community,” writes Ashkán Zandieh, director of the creative and start-up advisory division at ABS Partners Real Estate, in the latest edition of his quarter TechStarter report. Mr. Zandieh has been involved with the technology sector for seven years. He created and sold a start-up, has advised several fledgling companies and tracked the field’s real estate activity for the past year. From ABS Partner’s Union Square area office, Mr. Zandieh is well-positioned to observe and dissect the red hot Midtown South tech real estate market and, if he looks south, the growth of the Financial District as a tech and new media contender.
Mr Zandieh spoke by phone with The Commercial Observer.
The Commercial Observer: How is the tech-fueled Midtown South commercial real estate market holding up?
Mr. Zandieh: The average asking rental price per square foot increased from an estimated $38 per-square-foot in 2011 and 2012 to nearly $60 per square foot for Class B buildings in Midtown South in the first quarter of 2013. What’s pretty interesting is that we’re seeing a Class B transition–there’s a fuzzy line between Class B and Class C.
So young companies are still drawn to, and able to afford, the neighborhood?
A lot of the start-ups I’m working with now are down in Soho and expanding by 20 or 30 employees. They’re moving out of Soho and to NoMad, where they can get larger floor plates. By NoMad, I mean 23rd Street to 28th Street between Park and Seventh Avenues.
On the Market
130 years after the historic Chelsea Hotel was marketed for $300,000, Massey Knakal is marketing a nearby hotel/commercial real estate development site at 113-117 West 24th Street for $79 million.
A lot has changed since 1883, the same year the Brooklyn Bridge was completed.
It was well before New York City eclipsed London as the most populous urban area in the world. Modern soda pop was being developed in a lab somewhere, and Coca-Cola wouldn’t hit shelves – with its two key ingredients, cocaine and caffeine – until 1886. It would take a man named Bloomberg — Mayor Michael Bloomberg – 127 years to restrict abundant consumption of the potent elixir and similar tonics.
The city announced yesterday that it will sell two Civic Center buildings at 49-51 Chambers Street and 346 Broadway for nearly $250 million to Chetrit Group and The Peebles Corporation.
Chetrit – in the midst of a buying spree – and Peebles were selected following an RFP issued in April of last year as part of the Bloomberg administration’s plan to reduce underused government office space by 1.2 million square feet by 2014.
The developers plan to restore the buildings and redevelop them as as a mix of hotel, residential and community space.
Things will get hot and slippery in Harlem this summer with the arrival of Unity Yoga, a hot yoga studio set to open July 1 at 311 West 127th Street – but not too hot.
Yoga instructor Sarah Rehman, who lives in the 156-unit residential building, known as The Balton, has signed a 10-year lease for the property’s 2,500-square-foot retail space. She will offer her specialty, a less scorching version of hot vinyasa yoga, along with a café and an industrial vibe, in a neighborhood that she said suffers from a yoga void.
“Yoga is very much a part of my everyday life and I have to go all the way Downtown or even to Brooklyn to take the kinds of classes that I like,” the yoga aficionado, social worker and graduate student at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work said. “But there’s nothing like this Uptown.”
Modular New York
On the heels of a report published by The Commercial Observer highlighting the growing presence of modular design in New York City, the city announced yesterday that the winner of a competition to build an apartment tower on city-owned land will piece it together using 55 modular units.
The city hopes the announcement of the adAPT NYC competition winner will spur further growth of initiatives aimed at addressing the city’s shortage of studio and one-bedroom apartments.
As the year draws to a close, I usually dole out holiday wishes for those who are either directly or indirectly related to the commercial real estate industry in New York City.
However, in a year in which politics has been such a central theme, this year’s focus will take stock of how our elected officials have performed and what Santa should give them.
Year in Real Estate
Just when New York’s traditional geographic dividing lines were beginning to seem quaint, Hurricane Sandy made landfall and brought them back to light.
Downtown, which over the years had become harder and harder to distinguish from uptown, was plunged into darkness, sending the relatively young and vaguely creative well above 14th Street nosebleed territory in search of power. Only the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge stayed illuminated, a stark metaphor for the borough’s slow transformation into a contender.
But in commercial real estate, boundaries continued to disappear. In January, Condé Nast expanded its 1.05-million-square-foot lease at 1 World Trade Center by 138,773 square feet, helping lower Manhattan shed its stodgy finance-centric reputation and prompting slight panic among the owners of Midtown media canteens like Michael’s.
With the long-awaited Barclays Center open and new residential and mixed-use development projects popping up across Downtown Brooklyn, a retail conundrum is growing along the 17-block Fulton Mall.
The national and in some cases high-end retailers moving onto the strip paint a stark contrast to the long list of mom-and-pops, local discounters and jewelry shops that once almost exclusively lined the street.
Codecademy, an online educational platform that offers free coding classes and counts Mayor Michael Bloomberg among its subscribers, is opening its first office on the entire fourth floor of 49 West 27th Street, between Avenue of the Americas and Broadway. The company inked a five-year lease for 8,700 square feet in the building at a rent in the high $30s per square foot.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to spur development in the Grand Central area, Manhattan’s biggest office submarket with almost 44 million square feet of inventory, is winning mixed praise from real estate executives, who say New York may be at risk of losing its preeminence over such business hubs as London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai.
“I think Mayor Bloomberg has this right,” said Stuart Eisenkraft, vice chairman at CBRE and co-chairman of the firm’s global cities practice. “It’s sort of a no-brainer the global economy is here and it’s here to stay.” Developers in Asia, he said, “don’t have the challenge of site logistics or governance that prevents them from building magnificent Class A buildings.”
The new Midtown East district would loosen restrictions in a 78-block area between Fifth and Second Avenues and East 57th and East 39th Streets, where buildings are more than 70 years old on average and have low ceilings and interior columns that are undesirable to Class A tenants, the Department of City Planning said in an overview. Most of the new development would be focused on the area around Grand Central Terminal, because it has the best transportation access and largest concentration of aging office stock, according to the department’s Midtown East study.
Some urban planners, community boards and City Council members have expressed concern that the addition of towers that may be taller than the 77-story Chrysler Building would worsen crowding, The New York Times reported.
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.
On the heels of The Commercial Observer’s report yesterday about all signs pointing to Nordtrom taking space at Extell Development’s project at 225 West 57th Street, the company said today that it has now finalized those plans. The store is projected to open in 2018 and excavation work could begin by the first quarter of 2013. When it opens, it will be the retailer’s New York flagship, and its first full-line store in the city.
Getting the Olympics may not spell guaranteed financial and urban windfall for most American cities, claims one New York University Schack Institute of Real Estate professor.