Mortgage Observer

Sam Zell: Cut U.S. Regs in Half, Invest in Colombia

Sam Zell (left) and Thomas Flexner

Sam Zell, chairman of private investment firm Equity Group Investments, presented the keynote for the Commercial Real Estate Finance Council‘s annual conference, held this week at the New York Marriott Marquis. Interviewed by Thomas Flexner, global head of real estate for Citigroup Global Markets, Mr. Zell addressed topics from the challenges the commercial real estate finance arena faces to where he thinks the best international investment opportunities are.

When asked what “keeps him awake at night,” Mr. Zell said it’s “the cliff that’s coming in financing.” Even with many borrowers locking in 10-year mortgages, it’s hard to think that rates will not go up, he said. “I believe the cost of capital is materially lower than the inflation rate, and I just don’t think that can go on for any long period of time without a major alteration.” Read More

Mortgage Observer

Blackstone Mortgage Trust Execs Talk Growth, Strategy at New Commercial REIT on Heels of 2Q13 Results

Blackstone Mortgage Trust

In early July, Jonathan Gray, Blackstone’s global head of real estate, appeared on CNBC in an exclusive interview with the network. Dubbed Most Powerful Man in Real Estate—this ran in a banner during the 12-minute segment—Mr. Gray outlined the strategy behind Blackstone’s recently launched mortgage REIT, Blackstone Mortgage Trust.

With a mid-summer rising of rates at the front of most minds, Mr. Gray explained what, at the heart of it, apart from the Blackstone name, makes the endeavor a safer bet. “Blackstone Mortgage Trust is a floating rate lender,” he told David Faber, the co-anchor of Squawk on the Street. “Rising rates for this vehicle are better.”

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Cover Story

The Art of the Deal: Brokers Look to Arts to Draw Tenants

Barbara Kaz Paley (Credit: Fernando Gomes)

New York City real estate is typically focused on the new. Ascendant tenants. Emerging neighborhoods. Fresh construction and radical renovation.

Barbara Koz Paley appreciates the new. But the founder and chief executive officer of Art Assets also trains her well-practiced eye on the old. “I’m a recycler,” Ms. Paley said. “The old and tired excite me.”

She’s referring to the commercial spaces that her 21-year-old art consulting firm helps reinvigorate with sculptures, paintings, installations and performances. Art Assets injects culture into what might have been antiseptic corporate lobbies and retail rooms, drawing in passersby (and prospective tenants) and defining the visual environment for existing users. Read More

Lease Beat

Brooklyn Fixture Khim’s Millennium Market Coming to Downtown Brooklyn High-Rise

A glance inside Khim's 324 Graham Avenue location (Credit: The Best New York)

Khim’s Millennium Market – until now a fixture only in Williamsburg – has signed on to occupy the ground floor retail space at the base of Brooklyn’s tallest residential building, The Brooklyner at 111 Lawrence Street, The Commercial Observer has learned.

The organic grocery inked the deal for the roughly 7,000 square feet of space and roughly 70 feet of frontage with Equity Residential following an intensive polling and vetting process by the building manager to find the right tenant, brokers involved with the deal said. Read More


133 Greenwich Sells for $27.9 Million

133 Greenwich Street

A development site in Lower Manhattan that investor Sam Zell tried to purchase two years ago has be acquired by Hidrock Realty for $27.9 million, The Commercial Observer has learned.

The vacant parcel, located at 133 Greenwich Street, can accommodate up to about 135,000 square feet of hotel or commercial development. According to sources, residential space can also be built but the density of the development must be reduced for that type of project according to the zoning at the site. Read More

Roth, Zell, Mack to Real Estate Tykes: Chin Up!

At the beginning of a panel entitled “The View From 10,000 Feet,” part of the N.Y.U. Schack Institute of Real Estate’s 15th Annual REIT Symposium on Thursday afternoon, the always outspoken Steve Roth had a question for moderator Robin Panovka.

“Is there press in the room?” asked Mr. Read More