For much of the past decade the only hope for a broker looking to make money off of Downtown office space was to do a deal like 70 Pine Street: Take a lavish 62-story Art Deco headquarters that was once owned by a spectacularly failed financial firm like AIG and turn it into opulent apartments where bankers would rather live than work.
Deals like 70 Pine Street, which instantly wiped off one million square feet from Downtown’s commercial real estate inventory when it was sold for $200 million in 2011, have been propping up statistics for the neighborhood’s office space market for years. Ever since large banks and financial companies started fleeing offices in the financial district, an influx of young families and bankers wanting to live Downtown, rather than just work there, have kept the vacancy rate from tanking even further by reducing the math on the supply end.
Now, say the brokers who have long suffered the horrors of Downtown’s commercial market, those residential conversions are starting to also pay off on the demand side. A flurry of infrastructure and amenities building to keep up with the new residents in the neighborhood is also making the area more enticing for large corporations to move in.
“It’s a chicken-and-egg scenario,” said Mark Shapses, executive managing director at Studley. “Downtown is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”