Sales Beat

Savanna and Feil Sell 21 Penn to TIAA-CREF

21 Penn Plaza

Financial services company TIAA-CREF has purchased the 16-story, 378,547-square-foot 21 Penn Plaza building from Savanna and the Feil OrganizationCommercial Observer has learned.

While representatives for both sides of the deal declined to state the purchase price of the renovated Class B building that sits one block west of Penn Station, the owners placed the property on the market this summer with an asking price of about $250 million, Crain’s New York Business reported. Savanna and Feil inked 225,000 square feet of leases and implemented $5 million in building upgrades to deliver the property to TIAA-CREF with 98 percent occupancy, said Robert Knakal of Massey Knakal Realty Services. Read More

Trading CRE

ETRE Financial Files for IPO


On Monday, ETRE Financial filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of ETRE REIT (proposed ticker is ECAV) on the NASDAQ exchange. Operating as a limited liability corporation, ETRE REIT would allow public investment in individual commercial real estate properties with the properties held as separate real estate investment trusts. Read More

On the Market

Junior’s Brooklyn Location on the Block

Junior's at 386

Junior’s Most Fabulous Cheesecake and Desserts has put its 386 Flatbush Avenue Extension location in Downtown Brooklyn on the market.

The site boasts 102,500 buildable square feet and is expected to be converted into a luxury residential building by the eventual buyer with a Junior’s location returning to the base of the property. In the meantime, Junior’s is looking for temporary space to relocate the business while simultaneously exploring a second permanent Brooklyn location. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Outlook for 2014: Early Indications Positive

It’s a new year, and experts in the commercial real estate sector are assessing how factors like New York City’s newly inaugurated mayor and elements of financial reform coming online may impact business. Here, Mortgage Observer spoke to several to get their takes on what the year ahead holds for the economy, banking, financing and New York City as a whole. Read More

Power Broker

Silver Foxes: Massey Knakal Turns 25

Messrs. Knakal and Massey at their firm's 275 Madison Avenue headquarters. (Credit: Will O'Hare)

In the midst of the Savings and Loans Crisis of the early 1990s, Massey Knakal, a three-year-old commercial sales brokerage, was facing the prospect of going out of business for the second time in a matter of months.

By late 1990, the commercial sales market had all but dried up. Rather than pounding the pavement closing deals, Paul Massey and Robert Knakal were instead sitting in the office cold calling and playing solitaire—not on a computer but with a real deck of cards. Things got so bad that the firms’ partners had to fill out applications for numerous credit cards—$60,000 worth—to make ends meet. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Experts: Commercial Real Estate Has Returned to 2007


It is hard to believe that it was just a few years ago—specifically in 2007—when a perfect storm of positive events was taking place in the financial and real estate markets. The S&P 500 reached record highs, CMBS transactions grew to nearly $770 billion, the Blackstone Group completed its $39 billion purchase of Equity Office Properties Trust and then sold eight buildings in the Equity Office portfolio to Harry Macklowe for $7 billion, foreign investors were purchasing commercial real estate at record levels and everyone was purchasing residential condominiums. In short, happy days were here again.

Read More

ICSC 2013

Minute By Minute: The First Day and a Half at the International Council of Shopping Centers RECon Expo


On Sunday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber made the fans squeal and the paparazzi snap. But just off the strip, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the real action got underway with the start of RECon. Below, The Commercial Observer’s
reconnaissance work at The Global Real Estate Convention, where 35,000 registered attendees are helping to shape the future of retail real estate. Read More


New Columnists, More Opinions, Now!

If you hadn’t already noticed, The Commercial Observer late last night added seven new columnists to its already formidable roster of real estate thought leaders.

Indeed, along with veteran prognosticators Robert Knakal, Sam Chandan, Richard Persichetti and Robert Sammons (back from a short hiatus), we’re now happy to welcome David Greene, Christopher Havens, Barry LePatner, Kenneth McCarthy, J.D. Parker, Joshua Siegelman and Scott Spector. Find web-exclusive columns along the right rail of our website every week. Read More

concrete thoughts

Manhattan Leads All Boroughs in Sales


The Manhattan investment sales market typically serves as a lead indicator for the sales market citywide, and in the first quarter of 2013, it was once again.

The Manhattan submarket (defined as south of 96th Street on the East Side and south of 110th Street on the West Side) led the way in the first quarter of 2013 with $5.5 billion in investment sales transactions. This represented 85 percent of the $6.5 billion citywide total. Read More

concrete thoughts

2013 Investment Property Sales Well Below 2012 Levels


The first quarter of 2013 saw investment sales activity slow down, leaving many in the industry unhappy and frustrated.

However, we were all feeling great in 2011—and that year’s pace is what 2013 resembles so far.
As we anticipated at the end of 2012, the spike in sales activity caused by capital gains tax policy last year has led to a slowdown in activity this year. Read More

concrete thoughts

Every Day Interest Rates Stay Low Is a Good Day


I received many emails and calls about the last sentence of last week’s column. That sentence read, “Low rates have been the rocket fuel for a sales market that is currently white-hot and, as long as rates continue to stay low, will continue to be, notwithstanding that this condition is completely artificial.”

Many of the responses contained examples of how fundamentals have rebounded and how the recovery in the commercial real estate sales market is based upon much more than a low interest rate environment. Many comments also revolved around how we are in a new normal in which interest rates are low and will stay low for years and years.

Read More

concrete thoughts

Another Disappointing Jobs Report


Last Friday’s jobs report was yet another indication of weakness in the broader economy as our sluggish recovery continues to be uneven and lackluster. The silver lining of this news for those of us in the commercial real estate investment sales arena, however, is tangible. More on that later.

In March, the economy added just 88,000 net new jobs, a disappointing result from almost every perspective. The consensus among economists was that 190,000 jobs would be added, on the heels of 268,000 net new jobs in February. Unfortunately, the result in March was less than one-third of February’s total and the lowest monthly result in almost a year. It also reversed the recent trend of incremental monthly improvement. Read More