REBNY 2014

The Shape of Things to Come: REBNY’s 2014 Agenda

Grand Central Terminal.

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.

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Sammons Says

Staying Relevant on Park Avenue

To hear some people talk about it, every building in the heart of Midtown is in danger of collapsing as the average age is, gasp, 63 years.

But there are a number of major properties in this part of Manhattan that are doing just fine. Many have undergone or are undergoing significant capital improvements to Read More

concrete thoughts

The Midtown East Rezoning Dilemma

There has been a lot of talk about the recent proposal to change the zoning in Midtown East, and there are three reasons why this initiative would be great for New York City.

The first is the jobs the new development would create. The second is the new tax revenue that this new wave of Read More

Midtown East Rezoning

Grand Central Owner Argues Air Rights are Undervalued

Grand Central Terminal

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. Read More

Midtown East Rezoning

Public Review for Midtown East Rezoning Begins

Graybar Building.

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.

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Midtown East Rezoning

In the Zone: Midtown East Rezoning Faces Challenges, Some Warn


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.” Read More

The Sit-Down

Preserving Manhattan: Municipal Art Society’s Vin Cipolla

Vin Cipolla (Credit: Sasha Maslov)

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. Read More

The Sit-Down

CBRE Tristate President Matt Van Buren on the Megadeal’s Comeback and the Post-Sandy Summer

Matt Van Buren

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. Read More

concrete thoughts

To REBNY With Love


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. Read More