Cover Story

Sky-High Ferris Wheel, Massive Outlet Stand to Transform SI

The New York Wheel. (NYCEDC)

Every year some 2 million tourists ride the Staten Island Ferry to get a better look at the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the New York City skyline. Yet the vast majority of those sightseers spend little time on Staten Island itself, preferring instead to do the “Staten Island shuffle” and mill about the ferry terminal before catching the next boat back to Manhattan.

A group of investors are betting big that those travelers—and New Yorkers from the other boroughs—can be persuaded to extend their stays on the island’s North Shore. From the city’s first outlet mall to the world’s tallest observation wheel, ambitious plans are in the works to make the “forgotten borough” a destination all its own.  Read More

Postings

Spoiled Sports: NASCAR Isn’t the Only Venue to Bite Dust

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Last week, the International Speedway Corporation sold a Staten Island plot of nearly 700 acres for $80 million, bringing a close to a saga in which the organization had promised to bring an 82,000-seat NASCAR raceway to the metropolitan New York area. The sale of the land for the proposed project, scuttled in 2006 after dissent by local residents, brings to mind a handful of other ambitious plans for other New York sports venues that were never realized.

Below, we take a look at some of the most prominent examples. Read More

Year in Real Estate

Above and Beyond Hurricane Sandy

East Coast Begins To Clean Up And Assess Damage From Hurricane Sandy

FEMA spokesperson William Rukeyser described the ad-hoc, jumbled feel of the company’s impromptu space in the Forest Hills Tower like a scene from a hard-hit neighborhood, with hanging wires, antennas strapped to the ceiling, Post-It notes and sheets of paper with various instructions scattered about, and impromptu folding tables holding printers and other office equipment. Most seemed at a loss for words when assessing damages.

“It’s—It’s—It’s just a mess,” Durst Organization spokesperson Jordan Barowitz told The Commercial Observer less than a week after the storm hit, struggling to describe the destruction in Lower Manhattan. Read More

Lease Beat

Staten Island Welcomes Harbor Freight Tools

Courtesy of Massey Knakal

Harbor Freight Tools has inked a deal for a location in Staten Island.

The nationwide tool and equipment retailer is set to open a new store within proximity to Home Depot and Lowe’s on 2295 Forest Avenue.

“Harbor Freight targets a similar customer base, [so] this was one of the big factors in their decision Read More

Machers

The Ups and Downs of Rich Marin, the Ex-Banker Building the World’s Biggest Ferris Wheel

(Victor Juhasz)

Rich Marin is big. For more than three decades, he dominated Wall Street, creating some of the industry’s most exotic investments, making billions for his clients, and millions for himself. One of his minions blew a hole in the side of Bankers Trust, a firm Mr. Marin helped transform into a derivatives powerhouse, and still he held on for the ride, becoming the youngest managing director ever at the bank. It all came crashing down five years ago, when the hedge funds he oversaw at Bear Stearns imploded. The rest of the world followed within the year. But there was Mr. Marin, standing amid the wreckage, helping rescue an overzealous Israeli diamond magnate who had plowed $3 billion into prime U.S. real estate just as the frothing market froze over. He rescued the firm, only to be unceremoniously fired two years to the day after he joined.

Now Rich Marin wants to build the world’s largest ferris wheel—in Staten Island, naturally—and the mayor just gave him his blessing.

Did we mention he is big? At the announcement of the project last Thursday, Mr. Marin absolutely dwarfed Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Chuck Schumer, along with the other dignitaries gathered at the ferry terminal. But despite his imposing size—he stands 6-foot-5 and is built like an offensive lineman—Mr. Marin is probably one of the gentlest people on the Street. Were he a real bear, rather than having worked for one, Mr. Marin would be not a grizzly but a teddy. This may help explain his turbulent career. Read More

Green Apple

ABCs and Net-Zeros: City’s First No-Energy School

Over the past decade, no one has built more “green” buildings than the city’s School Construction Authority. Even before Local Law 86 required all civic buildings to be built to sustainability standards, the department had been using such measures–light sensors, efficient heating and cooling systems, recycled materials, etc.–to build healthier instiutions that also save money Read More