I.C.E. Hot: The Brand New Culinary School at Brookfield Place

Kitchen equipment worth $1 million was purchased for I.C.E.

“Look at these striking views of the Marina, the river, Jersey City,” said Rick Smilow gesturing at the floor-to-ceiling windows in what will be the student lounge of the Institute of Culinary Education when it relocates from the Flatiron District to Brookfield Place in mid- to late-March.

Mr. Smilow, ICE’s president and chief executive officer, is clearly smitten. He picked this location after a labor-intensive search with a team of Savills Studley brokers that he recalls involving at least 70 buildings. “There were places that would have cost less but wouldn’t have been as spectacular,” he said. Read More


Le Opening: Le District is Opening in a Month, Part of Downtown’s Culinary Revolution

OOH LA LA: Le District of Brookfield Place should be a French version of Eataly (Photo: Emily Assiran/Commercial Observer.

Hear ye, hear ye, Downtown office workers: Plan on loosening the notches on your belts in the coming months, because by the end of March (or the beginning of April), Downtown Manhattan’s dining options are about to go into the stratosphere.

The 30,000-square-foot French-themed market and 520-seat dining zone, Le District, will be opening at the newly renovated Brookfield Place in Battery Park City. It will also include a 25-seat fine dining chef’s table concept, set to open in May. Read More


Five Things That Will Have New Yorkers Sailing to SI Next Year


Informally nicknamed “the forgotten borough,” it sometimes feels like Staten Island doesn’t get the respect it deserves. We don’t know whether it’s the fact that it’s mainly accessible by ferry, the fact that we find it hard to forget the odors of Fresh Kills Landfill (even though there’s been an effort to reclaim the landfill and turn it into a park that started in 2008) or what, but for some reason the borough of Richmond doesn’t excite developers—or Manhattan dwellers—the way that, say, Kings County does.

But, hopefully, that’s all about to change. Staten Island is breaking ground on several major projects that seek to put the island on the map with attractions that will appeal to locals and tourists alike. Amidst the projects big and small, here are the top five things we’re most excited about: Read More


South Street Seaport Approaches Its Moment of Truth

South Street Seaport

New York City’s centuries-long relationship with its 500 miles of shoreline has always been fraught with tension between practical use and aesthetics. Instead of treasuring the waterways as an asset that raised New York above other Northeast port cities in the nation’s earliest years, multi-lane highways were paved along its banks, billowing factories dotted its Read More


How a Teacher’s Pension Fund Became a Real Estate Giant

Philip McAndrews is at the helm of a real estate empire.

One of New York City’s most prominent real estate empires traces its origins to the financial well-being of professors rather than to a family patriarch. TIAA-CREF, which stands for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association College Retirement Equities Fund, entered the city’s real estate market in 1944 with the purchase of a Montgomery Ward store in Flushing, Queens, and a six-story office building at 3 East 44th Street.

Around 40 years later, the financial services firm financed the construction and operations of the original 7 World Trade Center and owned the Seagram Building for a dozen years, Philip McAndrews, its chief investment officer of global real estate, told Commercial Observer. Read More


Three Women Lead Successful New Development Projects in New York City

34 Greene Street.

It is rare to see women running real estate development projects, but there are three in New York City that have received significant attention in recent years for smart, distinguished projects that have generated strong sales. One came from a real estate dynasty, another pivoted from wealth management into development and another left a career in property management to start renewing property in her own vision.   Read More


The Boys’ Club: Are Men From Mars and Women from Venus When it Comes to NYC CRE?

Scale of women is heavier on the residential real estate side.

It’s not easy working in New York City real estate, but it’s even more challenging for women, especially on the commercial side.

“I can tell you all the times I say, ‘I’m a real estate developer,’ ” said Abby Hamlin, the president of real estate development company and civic consulting studio Hamlin Ventures. “They say, ‘You sell apartments?’ Then I say, ‘I guess I sell apartments, but first I build them.’ [Laughs] ‘Oh, you mean you’re an architect?’ ‘No, I’m a developer.’ ” Read More


The Colleges That Ate New York

Manhattanville campus under construction

For a moment there, it appeared as if three mammoth university construction projects slated for New York City might never get on the rails. New York University’s 2-million-square-foot expansion in Greenwich Village got tied up in court over the use of park areas during construction, until an appeals court this past October ruled in the school’s favor. Columbia University’s planned 6.8-million-square-foot campus in Manhattanville also faced legal hurdles before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 allowed the school to take over property in the blighted community in West Harlem. Finally, Ithaca-based Cornell University is developing the 700,000-square-foot Cornell Tech, an engineering school that will occupy the southern end of Roosevelt Island.  That project initially drew the ire of pro-Palestine protestors because of its affiliation with an Israeli university called Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Now that all three developments are moving forward, Commercial Observer examines what the projects mean for New York City’s real estate landscape. Read More


NoMad is No Longer Virgin Territory for Trendy Hotels

The NoMad Hotel at 1170 Broadway.

It may have once been considered a tweener and a mecca for discount clothes and goods, but now North of Madison Square Park, a k a NoMad, is a neighborhood in its own right, and is awash with high-end residential condominiums and some of the city’s hippest hotels.

Hotels first started budding in the area—which extends loosely from 23rd Street to 34th Streets between Lexington Avenue and Broadway—when the pioneering Ace Hotel New York at 20 West 29th Street opened in 2009, followed by Gansevoort Park Avenue at 420 Park Avenue South at 29th Street, Flatiron Hotel at 9 West 26th Street near Broadway and the NoMad Hotel at 1170 Broadway at 28th Street. Read More


Retailers Ring in Holidays While Trotting Out the New

Rockefeller Center

Like visions of sugarplums dancing before a retailer’s eyes, cash-dripping tourists are streaming into the city this holiday season. And these shopkeepers are offering the tourists a few visions of their own.

From the window displays of the big-name department stores to the Union Square Holiday Market and the latest new offerings in Soho, ‘tis the season to be jolly for New York City retailers. Read More


How Safe Are Buildings in Lower Manhattan?

Safety in Lower Manhattan remains a top priority for stakeholders.

Thirteen years after Sept. 11, 2001, stakeholders, elected officials and security personnel in Lower Manhattan remain acutely aware that the 1.7-square-mile area south of Canal Street is still vulnerable to terrorism. Because safety concerns for people and property remain paramount, unprecedented steps have been taken to ensure preparedness in the event of an emergency.

“We continue to evaluate Read More


Nonprofits, Others Getting Into the Commercial Condo Game

633 Third Avenue.

Nonprofit organizations in Manhattan have been cashing in on the strong investment sales market by selling off buildings they own and scaling back with office condominiums.

Last month, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies was eyeing a $13 million, 33,000-square-foot condo at 40 Rector Street after going into contract on the sale of its headquarters at the Church Missions House at 281 Park Avenue South for $50 million earlier this year. Big Brothers and Big Sisters, which pairs children with mentors, sold its townhouse at 223 East 30th Street for $6.75 million. It also terminated a lease at 245 Fifth Avenue and then consolidated with a 25,711-square-foot office condo it purchased for $10 million at 40 Rector Street. Vocational training organization FedCap Rehabilitation Services sold its longtime headquarters at 211 West 14th Street for $26.75 million and then purchased a 44,000-square-foot office condo at 633 Third Avenue for $26.5 million. Read More


Billion-Dollar Retail Listing


When the renderings become realities and the cranes give way to condos, the new towers along 57th Street will give rise to a soaring enclave of extreme wealth perhaps unlike any in the world. The tallest building along what some now call Billionaires’ Row, Extell Development’s Nordstrom Tower, will climb to 1,775 feet.

But how is the coming influx of super-rich tenants affecting the ground level—that is, the bustling corridor’s retail scene? Read More


The Tide is High: Jamaica, Queens Could Become a Destination in its Own Right

Sutphin Boulevard, Jamaica, Queens

Ask the average New Yorker about Jamaica, Queens and you’ll likely hear an answer about its rail station or proximity to J.F.K. airport. Despite the development boom occurring west of the neighborhood in Astoria and Long Island City, Jamaica continues to feature more prominently in the minds of many city residents as a stopover en route to more glamorous locations.

But since the neighborhood was rezoned, local stakeholders have become increasingly optimistic that the perception of Jamaica as a gritty transit and discount shopping hub can change.

“We see the downtown [area] as a regional center of many activities that if concentrated here would have a high public purpose,” said Carlisle Towery, the president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, the area’s economic development entity. Read More