Legal Disputes

Durst Organization Sued by U.S. Attorney’s Office Over Inaccessible Buildings

The Helena, which the federal government claims is inaccessible.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed suit against The Durst Organization, the second major New York developer to come within the cross hairs of the federal government in a dispute over what does and should constitute accessible housing. The federal government alleges that Durst “has engaged in a pattern and practice of developing rental apartment buildings that are inaccessible to persons with disabilities.” Also named in the suit are The Helena Associates and FXFOWLE Architects, who designed the Helena, a 595-unit rental building in Hell’s Kitchen that is at the center of the lawsuit. Read More

Lease Beat

Big East Conference Moving to Big Apple

Providence forward Kadeem Batts (10) dunks on Xavier's Matt Stainbrook (40). (Credit: Frank Victores, USA TODAY)

The Big East Conference is betting on the Big Apple to help usher in a new era.

The reconfigured conference has chosen The Durst Organization’s 655 Third Avenue in Midtown as its official headquarters after cutting a 10-year, 13,742-square-foot lease across the seventh floor of the 30-story property. Read More


Top 1WTC Security Officer Resigns


The Durst Organization is reportedly looking for a successor to replace a top security official who resigned following a series of incidents that exposed seemingly gaping holes in security at 1 World Trade Center.

David Velazquez, assistant security director at the site, will not leave the firm until The Durst Organization has found a replacement. Read More

Year in Real Estate

How 1 World Trade Center Officially Became the Tallest Building in the U.S.


When construction workers hoisted the final crown atop 1 World Trade Center back in May, it reached its symbolic 1,776 feet. Flags
waved, onlookers cheered, and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey proclaimed it the “tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.”

But great controversy regarding whether the tower would in fact dethrone Chicago’s Willis Tower ensued. The looming question: antennae or spire? The latter would solidify the accolade the Port Authority already touted, but the former would not. Last month, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat official ruled that a spire—not an antennae—sits atop the 104-story tower.

After the jump, a step-by-step guide to measuring a tall building and some key factors that played into the ruling at 1 WTC, as told to The Commercial Observer’s Al Barbarino by officials with the Council on Tall Buildings.

Read More


World Gets First View of 1 World Trade Center Model Offices


For the first time since construction workers topped off 1 World Trade Center in May, the Durst Organization this morning unveiled a crisp, white-walled model office space that tenants could be replicating as early as next year. Replete with floor-to-ceiling windows and unobstructed views of the city, office spaces below the 64th floor will command $75 per square foot.

“This is the beginning of a big year for us as we begin our transformation from a construction site to an office building,” said Jordan Barowitz, director of external affairs for Durst, before introducing the project’s director of leasing, Eric Engelhardt.

“What we’ve done here is taken the first and biggest step in being able to showcase what the office space can look like for tenants,” Mr. Engelhardt added. Read More

2013 Owners Magazine

The 2013 Owners Magazine


When The Commercial Observer first set out to survey New York City’s most venerable commercial real estate owners in our inaugural Owners Inquisition last year, the old guard at some of Manhattan’s largest public relations firms pushed back, presuming their clients might wilt in the face of questions about their personal role models, biggest fears and Read More


REBNY Retail Deal of the Year Awards, Minute By Minute


About 200 retail real estate specialists gathered at 101 Park Avenue’s 101 Club last Tuesday for the Real Estate Board of New York’s 15th annual Retail Deal of the Year Awards cocktail party.

Brokers flocked to a bountiful buffet and an open bar with generous pours. In a lonely corner, an ignored PowerPoint presentation summarized the nominees. Here’s what went down as the assembled waited to hear which of the nine submitted transactions would take home the evening’s two big honors. Read More


Power 100 Heat Map


From a Taconic Investment Partners project in Hunts Point to the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, power in New York real estate circles has increasingly expanded from the comfortable confines of Midtown Manhattan to the fringes of all five boroughs. While large developments such as the Related Company’s Hudson Yards often dominate the conversation, Brooklyn, Queens and even the Bronx continue to grow in stature.

Long Island City is fast becoming a focal point for the real estate industry as Rockrose and other residential developers tap into the growing Queens neighborhood. In the Bronx, Taconic Investment Partners, formerly the owners of 111 Eighth Avenue, is in the process of a significant capital improvement plan at the BankNote Building on Lafayette Avenue in Hunt’s Point.

Below, a sampling of where power thrives in New York City in 2013. Read More

The Sit-Down

1.5 Million and Counting: Robert Becker of The Durst Organization on Leasing Remaining Space at 1 WTC


Robert Becker, senior leasing manager at The Durst Organization, joined the company eight months ago. Having previously worked closely with the firm as an executive with Bank of America’s global real estate transactions and leasing operations team, Mr. Becker jumped on board with inside knowledge of the firm’s pivotal role in shaping the landscape of Read More


The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing: 20 Years Later


When terrorists detonated a monster bomb in the underground parking garage at the World Trade Center’s North Tower on February 26, 1993, it shook the city with seismic strength.

Six people died and 1,042 were injured in the bombing.  But it came before the widespread understanding, blunt as it was, that terrorists wanted to kill Read More