Year in Real Estate
Last year ended in disappointment for the Real Estate Board of New York when the New York City Council struck down Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s sweeping Midtown east rezoning proposal.
The plan, which would have transformed 73 blocks surrounding Grand Central Terminal, had been viewed as vital modernization of an area deemed structurally obsolete by many in the industry.
REBNY is undeterred in 2014, however, and is as determined as ever to push through not only Midtown east rezoning but a number of other development projects and legislation it deems critical to the future of the city’s infrastructure.
Largely ignored by the general public, the east Midtown rezoning plan was, for months, a debate between the real estate industry and preservationists.
That is, until early November, when it began to look like Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s last significant public initiative was about to fail to gain approval.
Midtown East Rezoning
Within days, the City Council will vote on the plan to rezone the Midtown East area of Manhattan. Like most major rezoning, there has been no shortage of opinions and ideas from many quarters. However, there are a few points on which everyone should be able to agree.
First, the building stock in Midtown East Read More
Midtown East Rezoning
Andrew Penson, president and founder of Argent Ventures, owner of Grand Central Terminal, is fighting back against the Midtown East rezoning plan, which Mr. Penson argues undervalues the 1.3 million square feet of transferable development rights acquired along with the rail station, Crain’s New York reported.
As part of the rezoning proposal, the city is planning to charge $250 per square foot for development rights allowing developers to build larger towers in the Midtown East submarket. The city’s price, Mr. Penson argues, is half of what Argent values the air rights at.
Midtown East Rezoning
New York City is beginning the public review process for the proposed rezoning of Midtown East, it was announced yesterday.
“Our East Midtown plan provides zoning incentives for the development of a handful of new, state-of-the-art sustainable commercial buildings over the next 20 years,” said Amanda Burden, city planning commissioner, in a prepared statement. “This will enable this iconic district to build on its distinguished building stock and maintain a spectrum of commercial space for different business needs, including tenants seeking modern Class A offices.
Capital requirements and the debate over building preservation are just two of the roadblocks the Midtown East rezoning plan faces on the path to approval, real estate professionals say.
Market participants anticipate a significant review process before any ground is broken, despite the plan’s potential benefits.
“I think it’s a work in progress,” David Greene, principal and president of brokerage services at Murray Hill Properties, told The Commercial Observer. “I think it will, eventually, after lots of public review, have a substantial meaning for the Grand Central area and north.”
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.
It will be two years ago this summer that Matt Van Buren succeeded Mitch Rudin as CBRE’s tristate president. The Commercial Observer spoke with Mr. Van Buren about the state of the region—and of the Yankees—as the area prepares to emerge from its long, cold winter of discontent.
Since taking over as CBRE’s tristate president, what has been your biggest accomplishment and biggest setback?
I took over for a tristate region office that was in really good condition following Mitch Rudin’s presidency. The biggest accomplishment has been keeping that momentum going forward. When you’re number one, the goal is to stay number one. And we’ve been able to do that. Staying number one is one of the great unsung stories of the world. That’s why I respect the 2000 Yankees so much. [Laughs]
You run CBRE’s offices in Midtown, Downtown, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut. Do the fortunes of the different metro area hubs often diverge or does a rising tide lift all boats?
To a certain degree it does. Although the highs are higher and the lows are lower in Manhattan. If you look at rents and availability statistics, Connecticut, Westchester, New Jersey and Long Island vary in a fairly narrow range even from boom to bust.
Frankly, New York will always have lower availability. But the prices will fluctuate high and low if you took a percentage off of a norm.
If you are a regular reader of Concrete Thoughts, you know that I think networking is extremely valuable for participants in our commercial real estate market.
One of the main benefits of networking is getting to meet people face-to-face and developing relationships that are lasting and lead to business opportunities. One of the best trade organizations through which to network is the Real Estate Board of New York.
This week, REBNY is holding its 117th annual banquet, so I thought it appropriate to recognize the tremendous work that the board does on behalf of our industry. Not only does REBNY provide tremendous networking opportunities, it’s also a leading advocate for our industry.