REIT Beat

REIT-Specific Trading Platform Launched

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In an effort to diversify the real estate investment trust sector and bring shares of individual real estate assets to the market, ETRE Financial has launched the first real estate-specific trading platform. The platform combines capital markets, asset management, trading, and analysis services into a single system.

“Everyone is familiar with portfolio REITs, but the genesis here was to bring single asset REITs to the marketplace,” Paul Frischer, co-founder and chief executive of ETRE, told The Commercial Observer. Read More

Mortgage Observer

The Return of Mezzanine Financing

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Mezzanine financing, filling the gap between first mortgage lending and the equity that investors have to finance, has returned with a vengeance. As Joshua Stein reported in the April 2013 issue of this magazine, “Today, first mortgage lenders want to lend again, but it’s very much not like 2007 all over again. Proceeds are down, conservatism is up, and many borrowers find themselves with a gap between the equity they’re willing to risk in a deal and the first mortgage financing they’re able to find.” Read More

Facelifts

Frank Gehry to Design Facebook’s New Offices at 770 Broadway

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A-list starchitect Frank Gehry will team up with Facebook on the design of the social media kingpin’s “big,” “open” and “cozy” new offices at 770 Broadway in New York.

Mr. Gehry is currently working with Facebook on the expansion of its Menlo Park, California headquarters. The 100,000-square-foot Village office will share certain elements–collaborative spaces, an uncluttered floor plan, an abundance of white boards and videoconferencing rooms–with the West Coast mothership but, per an announcement by Facebook’s New York engineering team site director Serkan Piantino, also “be distinctly Big Apple in design.” Read More

Mortgage Observer

Cartier! Versace! Vuitton! Financing Next Gen at Crown’s Ritzy Retail Focus

Chera brothers.

One day in the late 1980s, three Brooklyn brothers in their teens—Isaac, Haim and Richard Chera—followed their grandfather, Isaac, and their father, Stanley, on a trip to Manhattan. While not in school, the brothers would spend much of their spare time in the Fulton Street children’s clothing store that their grandfather had opened in 1948, in a space formerly occupied by a hat store, Suzette Millinery Shop. At the time, lacking the money to replace the previous banner, Isaac Chera simply tweaked it, naming his business Suzette Kiddie Store. Only later, after having expanded to several other stores, did the family change the name to Young World. Soon, the elder Isaac Chera started to invest in real estate. The best advice he gave to his family, according to his grandson, Haim, was to always buy the building where they had a store. Read More

Lease Beat

Blue Mountain Capital Renews at 280 Park Avenue

Courtesy of the Real Deal

Blue Mountain Capital has extended its lease and will expand at 280 Park Avenue.

The firm had previously occupied a 22,250-square-foot office on the fifth floor of the building where it has been located since 2007. It will relocate to the 12th floor of the building where employees will spread out across the entirety of a 49,541-square-foot floor plate. Read More

Lease Beat

HP Girlswear/BB Active Signs For 61,916 Square Feet of Office Space At 100 West 33rd Street

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HP Girlswear/BB Active signed a lease for a total 61,916 square feet of office space spread over two floors at Vornado Realty Trust‘s 100 West 33rd Street, the Herald Square building that houses the Manhattan Mall.

Arnold Gamberg, a senior executive manager at Murray Hill Properties, represented the tenant.  Vornado was represented in-house by Craig Panzirer, a vice president and director of the firm’s Penn Plaza portfolio, and Jared Solomon, a leasing agent. Read More

Manhattan Market Report

Sevenfold Retail Sales Volume Catapults $13 Billion Q4: Eastern Consolidated

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An unprecedented sevenfold increase in retail property sales fueled the Manhattan commercial real estate sales market’s epic comeback in the fourth quarter – its strongest performance since 2007, according to preliminary data from Eastern Consolidated.

The hallmark quarter, with nearly $13 billion in sales volume – the strongest since record-breaking performances in 2007 (peaking at $19 billion in Q2 of 2007) – was triggered by fears of impending capital gains taxes, which had owners scrambling to unload properties before year’s end.

“This was definitely fiscal-driven growth,” said Barbara Byrne Denham, Eastern Consolidated’s chief economist.  “Sellers wanted to cash out and buyers knew it, so they were eager to come to the table as well.” Read More

Lease Beat

Microsoft Inks 3rd Biggest Deal of 2012

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Months of negotiations between SPJ Properties and Microsoft have finally paid off, with the tech giant signing a 230,000-square-foot lease at its new Midtown headquarters at 11 Times Square – and solidifying one of the top leasing deals of the year.

The company eyed the new space for months, as rumors swirled it would be vacating Vornado’s 1290 Avenue of the Americas, and last month transaction is the third biggest non-renewal leasing transaction of 2012. Read More

Midtown

Google’s Presence in Penn Plaza Draws New Media and Advertising Agencies

Penn Plaza Boundaries.

Penn Plaza, the area surrounding Penn Station, has historically been a hub for firms that rely on transportation, namely the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit. Recent development, however, has taken the district in a new direction.

“We are seeing a wave of social media, advertising, marketing and high fashion tenants taking advantage of the still favorable value differential in the Penn Station submarket,” said Kevin Hoo, the vice president of Savanna. “Google’s presence at 111 Eighth Avenue and the tightening in that market has also begun to drive creative tenants northward into this submarket.

“We think that the transformation of Manhattan’s West Side has already begun and that these new tenants continue to provide increasing momentum in that direction,” Mr. Hoo added. Read More

Cartography

The Gangs of New York: Who Rules Each Manhattan Zip Code

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From Washington Heights to Lower Manhattan, nearly every neighborhood includes at least a little office space.

And while it can be difficult to discern on the ground, most neighborhoods and ZIP codes have a single, predominant landlord who rules the roost.

To determine who controls each of the borough’s nearly 50 ZIP codes, we combed the portfolios of Manhattan’s 20 largest owners and drafted a turf map of sorts. In cases where none of the 20 largest landlords owned office property, such as in the Lower East Side and parts of the West Village, no victor is listed.

Gathered from each company’s official website and media liaisons, as well as the United States Postal Service, the data after the jump includes ZIP codes for single buildings as well, numbered in inset maps. Read More

Sales Beat

George Comfort & Sons Eyes 75 Rockefeller

75 Rockefeller Plaza

George Comfort & Sons is in talks to buy 75 Rockefeller Plaza, several sources with direct knowledge of the deal told The Commercial Observer.

The price nor the structure of the transaction was immediately available. The billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, a former owner of the Britain-based department store company House of Frasier, owns the 600,000-square-foot tower and when he put the property on the market at the beginning of the year had wanted to arrange the sale as a leasehold interest. Read More