The Madison Square Garden Area Is Starved for Upscale Dining Options

Onyx Equities is bringing a new three-story retail space to the market at 210 West 31st Street.

Robin Abrams was planning to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden one night two weeks ago and was at a loss searching for a restaurant where she and her husband could meet their out-of-town friends pre-concert.

Some trendy eatery with the name Batalli on the menu? Or Jean-Georges? Perhaps a Colicchio’?

No such luck. She and her pals settled on Europa Café before the concert—then Au Bon Pain by the Long Island Railroad afterward, so the friends could make their train. Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Midtown’s Transit Hubs Revamp Retail on Grand Central Model

Grand Central Terminal

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority shuttle train from Grand Central to Times Square delivers riders across Midtown in just two minutes, by Commercial Observer’s watch. Yet the two vast hubs that hundreds of thousands of commuters and tourists stream through every day exhibit retail options as far apart as the 15,000-square-foot Apple Store on the east balcony of Grand Central Terminal and Adam Chowdury’s 600-square-foot family music and electronics outlet underneath Eighth Avenue in the Times Square-42nd Street Station.

But that disparity between the retail at Grand Central and those at other bustling Midtown transit stops at Times Square, Penn Station and Columbus Circle won’t last forever. Read More

Lease Beat

Publicis Takes 114,000 SF at 1 Penn Plaza

1 Penn Plaza

Advertising firm Publicis, while in the process of merging with Omnicom to form what will reportedly become the largest media conglomerate in the world, has signed a temporary five-year lease for 113,947 square feet at 1 Penn Plaza.

Publicis, expected to take occupancy in April, will take over space occupied by media firm Direct Brands. Read More


‘The Launcher’ is Alive at Brookfield’s Manhattan West

Manhattan West Platform JOB #124158

Ladies and gentlemen, meet “The Launcher,” a giant yellow machine that is currently hard at work constructing a prefabricated platform upon which Brookfield Development’s Manhattan West project will rise.

The pictures contained herein, sent exclusively to Commercial Observer, show the custom-designed mechanical marvel that so far has completed one of 16 precast concrete bridge panels Read More

Lease Beat

Engineering Firm Relocates to Times Square

(Credit: CoStar)

Engineering firm Simpson, Gumpertz & Heger, Inc. has signed a seven-year, 11,695 square-foot lease and relocation to 550 Seventh Avenue.

The full, 10th floor space will be used as the company’s New York City headquarters after its relocation from its West 34th Street offices, where the company was leasing several floors. The new space features Read More

The Sit-Down

Sign of the Times: Michael Kimmelman on Madison Square Garden

Credit: Fernando Pereira Gomes

Earlier this year, Michael Kimmelman, the chief architecture critic at The New York Times since 2011, wrote a column addressing Madison Square Garden’s request that its special permit to operate an arena atop Penn Station be renewed in perpetuity. In it, Mr. Kimmelman suggested that the City Council grant the Garden a 10-year permit, enough time for the various stakeholders to plan for both a renovated Penn Station and a new location for Madison Square Garden. In a show of Mr. Kimmelman’s relative influence, the City Council did just that. Now the clock is ticking on finding a solution for the futures of both the “World’s Most Famous Arena” and the city’s busiest rail hub. Nicknamed “The People’s Critic” by New York magazine for his insightful focus on the New York Public Library, redevelopment after Hurricane Sandy and affordable housing, Mr. Kimmelman spoke with The Commercial Observer last week about the viability of a 10-year term and what can be done to convince stakeholders to come to the table.  Read More

Sammons Says

The Next Hot Submarket?

Human nature keeps us searching for the Next Big Thing. And when it comes to New York real estate, Lower Manhattan certainly comes to mind based on the dramatic changes underway. But there is another area farther north that has as much going on and then some – Penn Station. Of course the primary reason Read More


Christine Quinn Calls for 10-Year Permit for MSG


City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn has announced her support for a new Penn Station in a letter to Madison Square Garden President and CEO Hank Ratner, suggesting the Garden be granted a 10-year special permit to operate an arena of more than 2,500 seats.

In her letter to Mr. Ratner, Ms. Quinn contrasted the “thrilling moments” experienced by New Yorkers at Madison Square Garden against the congested commuting experience at Penn Station. Read More

Post-Tropical Storm Sandy

Building Congress to Propose New Post-Sandy Storm Regulations


The New York Building Congress will issue a series of recommendations today that would go “a long way” toward mitigating the risk associated with future storms like Hurricane Sandy.

A task force made up of 43 local experts found that insufficient power and telecommunications reliability, “uneven emergency response,” vulnerable infrastructure and antiquated building systems contributed Read More


Four Ace Architects Boldly Go Where Penn Station Has Never Gone Before, Displease MSG

10 Photos

The Municipal Art Society this morning unveiled plans by four elite architecture firms for a revamped Pennsylvania Station. Diller Scofidio + Renfro, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, SHoP Architects, and Skidmore Owings & Merrill all presented big, futuristic designs for the notoriously dingy, dated and overcrowded transportation hub.

When we spoke with MAS President Read More

Lease Beat

Summit Business Media Takes 17,000 SF at 469 Seventh Avenue

(Credit: 42 Floors)

Summit Business Media has signed an eight-year relocation and expansion for the 17,000-square-foot 10th floor at 469 Seventh Avenue, where Colliers International continues to market several full floors that include a “building-within-a-building” option for a potential anchor tenant.

Summit, a media company that caters to the insurance, financial services, legal, and investment advisory markets, is relocating from Read More


City Planning Proposes 15-Year Limit for MSG Special Permit


At a meeting yesterday, the City Planning Commission proposed a 15-year term for Madison Square Garden’s application for a special permit to operate an arena of more than 2,500 seats. The proposal, some way short of MSG’s request the permit be renewed in perpetuity, is still a small victory over previous suggestions of a 10-year limit.

Opponents of Madison Square Garden’s request point to the need for a renovated Penn Station, a process which is inhibited by the arena’s location. A term limit, they say, provides ample time for both Madison Square Garden to find a new location and for plans for a new Penn Station to be drawn up. Read More

Renovation and Repositioning

Vornado Eyeing Tech in Penn Plaza


Vornado Realty Trust is planning renovations to some of its properties around Penn Station, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. The plans are partially motivated by the desire to attract technology and media tenants to the properties, according to the report.

“We benefit from spillover from the Chelsea and Park Avenue South submarkets, which are flooded by tech firms and workers who don’t wear ties,” Steven Roth, newly named chief executive officer, wrote in a recent letter to shareholders. Read More

Lease Beat

University of Oxford Tops Off String of Leases at 500 Fifth Avenue

500 Fifth Avenue

Cushman & Wakefield represented ownership at 500 Fifth Avenue in a 10,346-square-foot lease renewal to The University of Oxford, completing a string of five recent leases at the building.

The Oxford lease and four other recent leases arranged at the 680,000-square-foot Class-A skyscraper total roughly 20,000 square feet and are reflective of the building’s flexibility, which attracts a range of tenant types and a blend of the old with the new, brokers said.

“They all have a different story,” said C&W’s Harry Blair, who represented 500 Fifth Avenue Inc. with Sean Kearns in the transactions.  “500 Fifth Avenue offers tenants a prestigious Midtown Manhattan address combined with high-quality space with plenty of natural light and spectacular views of Bryant Park.” Read More