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


Head of the Class: Teachers Retirement Fund TIAA-CREF Making Waves in New York

8 Spruce Street

Though not a traditional owner-operator, TIAA-CREF has begun to draw the attention of the real estate industry in recent months for a bevy of deals, including its acquisition of a stake in the Frank Gehry-designed building at 8 Spruce Street and a joint venture with Norges Bank Investment Management.

The asset management firm’s steady persistence in the real estate market during the downturn has led to a realization of gains, and recent deals could lead to the redeployment of capital in key markets going forward, said analysts familiar with the firm’s strategy going into 2013.

“TIAA is one of the investors that was pretty active in the depths of the market in 2009 and 2010, and some of those investments have turned into significant home runs,” said Dan Fasulo, managing director and head of research at Real Capital Analytics. Read More


The Retail Picture Comes Into Focus

Elbow your way through the throngs in Times Square to the tune of a dozen foreign languages and you may understandably reach one conclusion quickly: Retail is back, baby.

Some claim the biggest spending slump in decades has ended, as confirmed by a 6.4 percent surge in Black Friday sales across the Read More