The Ghost in the Shell

We have heard a lot lately about undesirable characters from overseas who come to the United States—particularly Manhattan—and buy very expensive residential real estate in a handful of projects targeted to billionaire buyers. Typically these purchasers, it is said, will live in their expensive new residences no more than a couple of weeks a Read More


MaryAnne Gilmartin Named Co-Chair of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Board

MaryAnne Gilmartin

MaryAnne Gilmartin, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, and tech leader MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis will serve as the new co-chairs of the board of directors of the nonprofit Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

“When the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership launched in 2006, Downtown Brooklyn looked, felt and served a very different role than today,” Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Tucker Reed said in a statement. “Now, new firms and families are choosing to be here because of the neighborhood’s strong foundation and rich history. MaryAnne and Bre embody a new generation of Brooklyn entrepreneurs, and I am delighted that we’ll be able to tap into their experience and wisdom.” Read More

Midtown 2013

New Tricks for Old “Times” Building

Former AIG Head Reportedly Considering New York Times Takeover

When the information database developer 10Gen was on the hunt for office space last year, it initially focused its search around Midtown South’s tech-industry hotbed. In December, the company inked a deal for 29,400 square feet at 229 West 43rd Street, the old New York Times headquarters.

The deal suggested a shift among youthful companies that for years had sought nontraditional loft-like offices in and around the Flatiron District, Union Square and Soho.

A post-recession spike in activity and rents was welcome, but even more encouraging was the fact that cutting-edge tech and new media firms were generating significant activity in the prime neighborhood so often associated with starchy law firms and corporate users. The fact that the former headquarters of an archetypal old media giant was drawing new media (and tech) blood was an intriguing development. Read More


Midtown’s Westward Expansion Offers a Modern Crack at Manifest Destiny


Like the westward expansion that gripped the nation during the early to mid-1800’s, the expansion of Midtown Manhattan offers the city’s commercial real estate pioneers a modern crack at manifest destiny.

The trajectory of Midtown’s new building stock over the last seven decades tells a story of westward expansion that most recently struck Midtown West with the Hudson Yards development project.

“Hudson Yards really is the last frontier,” said James Delmonte, principal and vice president of research at Avison Young.  “Firms are looking for newer product and larger floor plates, largely because there really is no available land on the east side.” Read More

Lease Beat

Al Jazeera Reportedly Turned Off By ‘Too Many Columns’ at Former Times Building

Interior at 229 W. 43rd St. boasts lofty feel but perhaps too many columns

Bad breath.  Body odor.  Too many columns.

Al Jazeera reportedly eyed the former New York Times building at 229 West 43rd Street as a potential headquarters for its expanding U.S. operations, but the news agency may have been turned off when it saw “too many columns,” The Wall Street Journal reported today.

Though the building has drawn interest from numerous tech and creative firms, which place great value on lofty, open workspaces, even a single column can pose a big problem for large TV studios.

“Most studios require large areas of column free space, in addition to high ceilings,” Jason Schwartzenberg, a corporate managing director at Studley who focuses on creative tenants, told The Commercial Observer. Read More


Eight New Stores to Hit Chelsea Market Next Month

Chelsea Market

Ownership at the Chelsea Market is reportedly renovating 5,700 square feet of space to make way for eight new vendor kiosks, where cooking and food preparation will be on display for its 120,000 weekly visitors.

Most of the space was created when Amy’s Bread moved part of its operations off-site, and the rest will come from the renovation of a loading dock and an office, the New York Times reports.

Leases are currently being negotiated and rates will run in the $200 to $400 per square foot range, and the stores, to be delivered in plug-and-play condition and geared towards start-ups and “less-established” businesses, will be operational as soon as mid-February, said Michael Phillips, COO of Jamestown Properties, according to the Times. Read More


Ada Louise Huxtable, Astute and Feared Architecture Critic, Dies at 91


Ada Louise Huxtable, who in 1963 became the first full-time architecture critic at an American newspaper, died yesterday in New York at 91-years-old.

Ms. Huxtable was named architecture critic by the New York Times at a time when steamrolling urban planners–most famously Robert Moses–were doing battle in the court of public opinion with members of the burgeoning preservation movement like Jane Jacobs, whose seminal book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, was published in 1961.

Ms. Huxtable sided with the preservationists as she redefined modern architectural journalism. Read More

Lease Beat

152 West 27th Street Welcomes Vaunte

Courtesy of Emporis

Vaunte will soon be calling 153 West 27th Street home.

The fashion company has signed a deal to take a 1,350-square-foot office at Justin Management‘s 153 West 27th Street.

“This is their first official office as they just launched the portal,” said Pedro Carrillo, a broker at SBC Associates. The portal, an invitation-only shopping site, Read More


Watching the City’s Window Washers


The vast number of glass towers rising in the New York City skyline–think 1 World Trade Center, One57, 7 Bryant Park–and a recent New York Times article on the subject got The Commercial Observer wondering about the city’s window washers. 32BJ SEIU, the trade union that represents 70,000 building works in New York City and Long Island, among them window cleaners, provided some details about the industry. As the square footage of their workspace continues to expand–1 World Trade Center’s podium, alone, will include more than 4,000 glass fins, measuring 13 feet 4 inches by two feet–these workers dangle dozens of stories up, suspended by safety belts and one New York State Department of Labor rule. After the jump, New York City’s window washing industry, by the numbers. Read More


Vivan Toy Named Deputy Editor of New York Times Real Estate Section

Peter Sigal.

Peter Sigal, the well-respected deputy editor of The New York Times’ Sunday real estate section, has accepted a position at The New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune in Paris, according to an announcement by email sent earlier today to writers (this one included).

Mr. Sigal oversaw the paper’s residential coverage in the Sunday paper as well as commercial coverage on Wednesdays.

His replacement will be none other than Vivian Toy, known primarily for writing the section’s On The Market page.

After the jump, the email to former and current writers. Read More

Lease Beat

C. Wonder Deal Inked at Time Warner Center

Time Warner Center. (Courtesy Property Shark)

C. Wonder, the preppy apparel and accessories retailer launched last year by designer Tory Burch’s ex husband, Christopher Burch, has signed on for a space at Time Warner Center, according to sources familiar with the deal.

The store, which opened another Manhattan store last October in Soho, will take about half of the roughly 15,000 square feet formerly occupied by the now-defunct bookstore chain Borders on the retail complex’s second floor. Read More

WTC Fight and the NYT

The back of Thursday’s Times A-section is torn over the World Trade Center fight.

There is a Times editorial defending the Port Authority and saying it should not be using its money to back financing on a speculative office tower, as the city and developer Larry Silverstein have demanded.

On the opposite Read More