Two weeks ago, the Metropolitan Transit Authority announced it had tapped Columbus Development to build, curate and manage Shop//Stop, an unprecedented 27,000-square-foot retail concourse at the 59th Street-Columbus Circle subway station.
As part of the plan, the developer will invest $6.5 million in capital improvements to the concourse, through which 21 million commuters pass each year. Columbus Development Principal Susan Fine, who previously worked on retail projects at the World Financial Center and Grand Central Terminal, spoke to The Commercial Observer last week about the unique challenges and opportunities presented by this public-private project.
“We’re trying to create a family of stores—a curated group of stores—which will both serve the transit rider and the population on the street,” she said.
Social media giant Twitter is in talks to take up to 100,000 square feet at 51 Astor Place, Edward Minskoff’s “spec” tower, according to a report.
Twitter, the micro-blogging site, is in discussions over a long-term deal with rents in the $90s per square foot, according to a report by Crain’s New York. The company, which celebrated a successful initial public offering earlier this month, opened its first New York office at 340 Madison Avenue in 2011.
Plaza Construction has announced the opening of a new entry pavilion at the recently renamed Brookfield Place (formerly the World Financial Center) that can hold an estimated 100,000 commuters each day.
The Entry Hall Pavilion, which is part of the first phase of landlord Brookfield Office Properties‘s $250 million renovation of the property, allows PATH and subway commuters easy access to Brookfield Place and Goldman Sachs headquarters. The ambitious renovation plans also include a marketplace and food vendors that have drawn comparisons to Mario Batali‘s Eataly.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Brookfield Property Partners, which spun off from Brookfield Asset Management earlier this year, has offered to buy the remaining shares of Brookfield Office Properties it does not already own in a transaction valued by the company at $5 billion.
In the planned tender offer, BPO shareholders would receive $19.34 per share–a 15 percent premium on the stock’s price at Friday’s market close and a 17 percent premium to the 30-day volume-weighted average price. Shares in BPO traded up over 16 percent to $19.54 in early morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Pranks and Parodies
A new Twitter handle mocking the absence of tenants at 51 Astor Place has popped up under hashtag “Destroyer of neighborhoods. Unloved. Empty inside. Midtown South,” reads the satirical description on the page, which has racked up 51 followers so far.
The person or persons behind the handle poke fun at Edward Minskoff’s Read More
Sprinkles Cupcakes has signed a 7,000-square-foot lease extension and expansion at 780-782 Lexington Avenue, giving the shop an additional 1,000 square feet for the launch of an ice cream undertaking next to its existing Manhattan cupcake operation.
An “ATM machine” outside the shop will allow customers to order cupcakes 24 hours a day, according to Read More
The dark glass walls lining 51 Astor Place are modernistic, if not futuristic. Some critics have claimed that its developer’s asking rents, at upward of $115 a foot, are from the future too.
Others have argued that Edward Minskoff took a gamble in erecting the structure without an anchor tenant—a so-called “spec tower.”
But for Mr. Minskoff, who has developed close to 37 million square feet of property in 10 cities around the country—maintaining patience as a virtue—the term takes on a positive connotation.
“A spec tower means that we started the development with the confidence that if you build it they will come, and with the confidence necessary to lease the building,” Mr. Minskoff told The Commercial Observer. “If you’re going to plan a building and you don’t start it until a tenant comes walking along, you can be sitting on the dirt for 10 years.”
While the story in Midtown South over the past two years has inarguably been Class B and, to a lesser extent, Class C buildings and their increasing cachet among tech startups, the story in lower Manhattan is still all about Class A properties. With approximately five million square feet of new inventory coming online next year with the completion of 1 World Trade Center, the market will boast some of the most efficient and modern space in all of Manhattan.
More immediately, however, approximately two million square feet of space at the World Financial Center is expected to be made available by next month, thanks to lease rollovers by Nomura and Deloitte, among other major tenants. With such availability of Class A space, no wonder the asset class saw a 30 percent uptick in leasing from last February. Jonathan Mazur, director of research at Cushman & Wakefield, clued The Commercial Observer in on some other big statistical changes in lower Manhattan last week and gave us a sense of what’s to come in 2013.
Ed Hogan is the national director of retail leasing for Brookfield Properties and has a lead role in signing food vendors and retail tenants at the World Financial Center, soon to be renamed Brookfield Place. In the past month, Brookfield has inked deals with eight vendors and confirmed that the restaurateur Peter Poulakakos will operate the facility’s new marketplace. Mr. Hogan spoke with The Commercial Observer last week about his vision for Brookfield Place, the thought process behind choosing food and retail tenants, and how Brookfield Place will fit into lower Manhattan’s evolving landscape.
The Commercial Observer: What is your vision for Brookfield Place?
Mr. Hogan: Our vision is to create the most exciting, dynamic neighborhood in Downtown Manhattan. Brookfield Place is situated on the edge of the Hudson River, facing the New York Harbor and Statue of Liberty, and is truly one of the most special places in the city, with unparalleled views. Given the transformation that Downtown’s undergoing, we just view it as a great opportunity to create a dynamic neighborhood that is indicative of the people living, working and visiting Downtown today.
Everybody Go Downtown
After the storm, things are looking brighter for the lower Manhattan real estate market.
Even with construction scaffolds clogging the district’s narrow streets in a reminder of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, Downtown office leasing activity jumped 73 percent in the first two months of the year, according to Cushman & Wakefield.
Platinum Underwriters Reinsurance signed a 10-year, 26,206-square-foot lease at 140 Broadway, The Commercial Observer has learned. The deal will bring the company to the entire 42nd floor of the building from its current space at Brookfield Place (formerly the World Financial Center), where it had been a tenant for over 10 years.
Studley Senior Managing Director John Johnson and Executive Managing Director Marc Shapses represented the tenant. Cushman & Wakefield Executive Director of brokerage Bob Constable and Willard Overlock represented the landlord, 140 BW LLC. Mr. Constable said that asking rents were in the mid-$50 per square foot range.
“The property is very well-located for mass transit, and having the entire floor was very appealing to Platinum,” Mr. Shapses said. “Also, the views are phenomenal. All in all it was the right fit in a Class A building.”
TD Ameritrade has signed a 10-year, 9,509-square-foot lease for the ground floor and lower level at 100 Broadway, The Commercial Observer has learned.
The corner retail space in the 24-story office building features more than 170 feet of frontage along Broadway and Pine Streets.
“It’s a great corner space in the heart of the Financial District and steps from Wall Street, which lends itself well to a prominent financial institution like TD Ameritrade,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s Gene Spiegelman, who represented the landlord Madison Capital with Michael O’Neill.
Food & Drink
Restaurateur Peter Poulakakos has signed on to run the 30,000-square-foot marketplace at Brookfield’s World Financial Center, the New York Post reported yesterday.
Poulakakos is perhaps best known as operator of coffee chain Financier Patisserie but also oversees downtown restaurants Harry’s Café, Harry’s Steak, Adrienne’s Pizza Bar, Ulysses’ and Bayard’s.
“We met with everyone who has the expertise and desire to open a world class market in Manhattan and we were really blown away by Peter’s vision for marketplace,” Edward Hogan, Brookfield’s national director of retail leasing, told The Commercial Observer.
It will be two years ago this summer that Matt Van Buren succeeded Mitch Rudin as CBRE’s tristate president. The Commercial Observer spoke with Mr. Van Buren about the state of the region—and of the Yankees—as the area prepares to emerge from its long, cold winter of discontent.
Since taking over as CBRE’s tristate president, what has been your biggest accomplishment and biggest setback?
I took over for a tristate region office that was in really good condition following Mitch Rudin’s presidency. The biggest accomplishment has been keeping that momentum going forward. When you’re number one, the goal is to stay number one. And we’ve been able to do that. Staying number one is one of the great unsung stories of the world. That’s why I respect the 2000 Yankees so much. [Laughs]
You run CBRE’s offices in Midtown, Downtown, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut. Do the fortunes of the different metro area hubs often diverge or does a rising tide lift all boats?
To a certain degree it does. Although the highs are higher and the lows are lower in Manhattan. If you look at rents and availability statistics, Connecticut, Westchester, New Jersey and Long Island vary in a fairly narrow range even from boom to bust.
Frankly, New York will always have lower availability. But the prices will fluctuate high and low if you took a percentage off of a norm.
Office provider Regus completed a transaction to acquire 54,991 square feet, the entire 24th floor, at 3 World Financial Center, according to Jerry Larkin, director of leasing at Brookfield. Mr. Larkin declined to discuss terms of the deal.
Regus will build out the space to their current office standards, Mr. Larkin said.
“What attracted them was obviously the numerous renovations to the center, the quality of the dining and shopping that will be coming to Brookfield Place,” Mr. Larkin added. The World Financial Center will be renamed Brookfield Place in fall 2013.