Cover Story

Cover Story, Feature

Why a Merger Wave Washed Over Manhattan CRE in 2014

TOP DOGS: Savills Studley’s Mitchell Steir; Massey Knakal Realty Services’ founders Paul Massey and Robert Knakal; 
and Peter Hennessy, the president of the New York Tri-State Region at Cassidy Turley (from left).

On New Year’s Eve, Cushman & Wakefield closed on its acquisition of Massey Knakal Realty Services, thereby finishing the last big commercial real estate merger in a 2014 full of them.

Other large-scale takeovers included DTZ’s acquisition of brokerage Cassidy Turley (which followed private-equity firm TPG Capital’s takeover of DTZ, a property services firm); and London-based brokerage Savills’ acquisition of New York tenant-rep brokerage Studley. CBRE, the city’s biggest commercial brokerage, also acquired 10 different firms worldwide, including real estate consultancy IVI International, which is based in White Plains. Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Midtown’s Transit Hubs Revamp Retail on Grand Central Model

Grand Central Terminal

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority shuttle train from Grand Central to Times Square delivers riders across Midtown in just two minutes, by Commercial Observer’s watch. Yet the two vast hubs that hundreds of thousands of commuters and tourists stream through every day exhibit retail options as far apart as the 15,000-square-foot Apple Store on the east balcony of Grand Central Terminal and Adam Chowdury’s 600-square-foot family music and electronics outlet underneath Eighth Avenue in the Times Square-42nd Street Station.

But that disparity between the retail at Grand Central and those at other bustling Midtown transit stops at Times Square, Penn Station and Columbus Circle won’t last forever. Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Transformed Factories Prosper in LIC’s Development Boom

Brandon Medieros

The renowned Scalamandre Silks company once dyed silks for the Kennedy White House and the Hearst Castle where Scott Kushner and his 10 employees now produce videos and reality shows. At the start of this year, after working out of Manhattan for 20 years, Mr. Kushner moved MediaPlace into a section of the bottom floor of the industrial warehouse developer Time Equities has fashioned into today’s Silks Building in Long Island City.

And his company boasts enough floor area in three spaces at the property for soundproof labs, cubicles, stages, collaborative desks where staffers edit videos at computers, and a spacious office where Mr. Kushner, 55, the chief executive officer of MediaPlace, displays pictures of his younger days in the music industry working with bands like Hall & Oates and Judas Priest. (Mr. Kushner has no relation to Jared Kushner, owner of Observer Media Group, parent company of Commercial Observer.) Read More

Cover Story, Feature

High Tide in Greenpoint

Greenpoint along the East River. (Michael Nagle)

Greenpoint may not be as sleek as Williamsburg, and the neighborhood is still a (diminished) Polish stronghold, but it’s gaining more attention now as residential developments, many stalled during the recession, prepare to dot the still-scrappy waterfront.

“It’s just a matter of evolution,” said Ofer Cohen, the founder and president of Brooklyn commercial brokerage TerraCRG, Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Leading Beyond LEED: NYC Buildings and the Evolving Fight to Consume Less Energy

803 Knickerbocker Avenue.

One of the country’s first hyper-efficient affordable multifamily passive houses was failing a basic evaluation early this month and nobody on architect Chris Benedict’s Architecture and Energy Limited team could figure out why. When the innovative foam-and-stucco structure at 803 Knickerbocker Avenue in Bushwick couldn’t hold up to the blower door test that’s a standard Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Etsy Takes Brooklyn

(Sergio Herrera/Flickr)

Up on a hill, yet down under the Brooklyn Bridge overpass, sits Dumbo Heights, a collection of manufacturing buildings including the former Watchtower buildings. Once owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the properties were home to printing presses that churned out the religious organization’s pamphlets and Bibles, as well as corporate offices and dry-cleaning services for members of the delegation.

Last October, the Witnesses sold six of these buildings to Kushner Companies, Invesco, LIVWRK and RFR Realty for $375 million. They joined forces to turn the properties into perhaps the largest and most advanced creative technology hub in New York, a campus meant to rival even the legendary campuses of Silicon Valley. LIVWRK’s chief executive officer, Asher Abehsera, branded the campus Dumbo Heights and a new kind of New York City development was born. (Kushner Companies CEO Jared Kushner is the publisher of Commercial Observer.)  Read More

Cover Story, Feature

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

Cover Story, Feature

Tower Power Play: Up Close and Personal with the World Trade Center Amid Roiling Debate


The springtime breeze is nice on the 57th-floor outdoor terrace of 4 World Trade Center. With a vista stretching from the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building and across the East River to Queens, the building will reward employees of whatever company snaps up the available 34,000-square-foot floor with a break room in the clouds.

But far down below that rarefied air, there’s intense scrutiny of a potential construction loan to complete one of the six new towers at the site. The same goes for the memorial park, the transit hub, the retail center and the performing arts center that will also one day adorn the spot where the 9/11 tragedy destroyed the twin towers and their surroundings 13 years ago. Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Retail in the (East) Bronx Is on Fire

Proposed shopping center at Gun Hill Square.

Up until the late 1980s, people in the East Bronx had to drive to Westchester to find the closest mall. Then, in 1988, Bay Plaza Shopping Center was built, and now has  more than 50 department and specialty retailers ranging from J.C. Penney to Daffy’s to Applebee’s. Now, the mall’s developer, Prestige Properties & Development, is expanding the center with what it boasts is the first new, suburban style enclosed fashion mall in the New York City area in four decades.

And that’s just one aspect of an emerging retail scene in the East Bronx, as more young professionals and families flee Manhattan for less-expensive properties in Bronx County. Other retail projects in various stages of development in the East Bronx—the area includes Throggs Neck, Morris Park, Van Nest, Country Club, Co-op City, City Island, Pelham Parkway and Pelham Bay neighborhoods—are the Throggs Neck Shopping Center, a Gun Hill Square open-air retail center and an outlet center at the Whitestone Multiplex site. Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Home Field Advantage: The Impact of Yankee Stadium and Citi Field

Yankee Stadium.

Baseball has long been considered a rite of spring. The sound of bat on ball has for decades been associated with those fledgling days of warm weather when New Yorkers in the Bronx and Queens embrace the early games of baseball season with a sense of renewed hope that this may just be the year.

It may also be a time of renewed hope for the neighborhoods the Yankees and Mets call home. Five years removed from the openings of the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, the areas around both young stadiums are set for rebirths. Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Start Me Up: Young Tech Companies on Real Estate

Berlin Startup Tour

In an independent survey conducted earlier this year, approximately 50 New York start-ups in varying stages of funding were asked how important they considered real estate.  Of the respondents, none labeled real estate “very important” while only five considered real estate “important.”

The vast majority—36 respondents—considered it “not important” and eight admitted to never having thought about real estate at all. Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Breaking Barriers: Richard Bernstein and Peter Hennessy on Cassidy Turley’s Star Turn

Richard Bernstein and Peter Hennessy. (Photo: Mike Nagle)

“If I could knock this wall down I would,” said Peter Hennessy, pointing through a glass enclosure that separates his office from a row of open workstations within the 42nd floor of Cassidy Turley’s 277 Park Avenue offices.

Mr. Hennessy, the tristate president at the firm, will likely get his wish if Cassidy Turley continues to literally and figuratively break down the barriers that once separated its business lines by expanding the consulting practice that he and Richard Bernstein, the firm’s executive vice chairman and principal, said is crucial to the company’s future. Read More

Cover Story, Feature

Midtown Caters to Hungry Office Workers, Shoppers with Proliferation of Gourmet Food Courts

Gotham West Market

Come next spring, Columbus Circle will be home to a 14,750-square-foot food market lined by 10- to 20-foot-wide open storefronts just outside of the busy subway station. On the East Side, Urban Space, the food hall manager behind Mad. Sq. Eats, Broadway Bites and Dekalb Market, recently signed a long-term lease for 10,000 square feet of retail space at the Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue. And late last year, Gotham Organization opened Gotham West Market, a 10,000-square-foot Chelsea Market-like food hall in Hell’s Kitchen, to considerable fanfare.

Why are so many food courts—once synonymous with suburban shopping malls and dreary office atriums—not only popping up in Midtown, but luring forward-thinking chefs and adventurous diners? Read More

Cover Story, Feature

285 Madison Transformed

A rendering of 285 Madison Avenue.

In December 2011, 41-year-old advertising executive Suzanne Hart began an average Wednesday by entering the elevator in the lobby of her firm’s 285 Madison Avenue headquarters. As she stepped inside, the elevator suddenly leaped upward, tragically trapping Ms. Hart between the elevator and the wall of the now 88-year-old building. Two other elevator passengers, powerless to help, could only look on. Read More