Men At WeWork: Talking to WeWork Co-Founder Miguel McKelvey

WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey

Late last year, WeWork—the communal workspace company, which was founded in 2008—was valued at $5 billion. This co-working giant has been swallowing up hundreds of thousands of square feet of New York office space, and is only planning more. (It was reported last week that they’re even bringing the concept to residential as well as commercial space.)
It is fair to say that this company is standing the traditional office on its head. How did that happen? Where will they strike next? And (because this is in a Midtown South issue), how ripe is Midtown and Midtown South for expansion? We posed these questions—and a few others—to Miguel McKelvey who co-founded the company with Adam Neumann. Read More


Market Share: With Companies Looking to Cut Costs, Office Shares Are All the Rage

One of the shared space companies taking NYC is PivotDesk.

The powers that be in New York City have done a great job of attracting startups—keeping them, however, is another issue.

But an up-close view of the Empire State Building is increasingly becoming a viable option for young businesses. Why? Co-working companies—which offer cut-rate office space so long as tenants are willing to share—are rushing into the Midtown South market, and beyond. Read More


Downtown Developers Are Keeping an Eye On the Water

Adam Goldberg standing next to the AquaFence.

A few days after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 Jonathan Resnick was at 199 Water Street, assessing. “It was the Wild West down there,” he recalled. Eight-million gallons of water; disaster recovery experts randomly handing out cards; building owners and tenants trying to make sense of it all. “There was a real feeling of helplessness. There was nothing to do but stand, arms crossed, watching the water flow.”

After hours of watching, the president of Jack Resnick & Sons began to walk. He walked down South Street to 55 Old Slip to 125 Broad Street, where he encountered John Santora. The CEO of Cushman & Wakefield was doing what everyone else was doing: watching the water. Read More


The British Are Coming! Inside the English Invasion of Gotham

One of the U.K. brands scoping out space in New York is Primark.

While the New York City-born mayor of London, Boris Johnson, threatens (again) to renounce his U.S. passport, United Kingdom-born businesses are moving in the opposite direction, signing leases all over town.

Attracted by a common language, similar retail opportunities, a large national playing field with essentially one set of laws and great freight system (expansion to other states can be easier than, say, European expansion) and a favorable exchange rate, British investment and leasing activity are growing. Read More


Gaul in: The French Affair With NYC Real Estate Is in Full Flower

HOLLANDE TUNNEL: With a weak euro, a 75 percent taxation rate and Socialist François Hollande leading the country, many French investors think the time is right to put their money in New York City.

New York City is getting a French kiss from Gallic investors looking to park their money in commercial real estate.

France’s 75 percent income tax rate, anti-Semitism, political unrest and the declining value of the euro have been prompting more French citizens to invest abroad.

“The political climate has not been good the last two years with taxes rising up,” said Rémy Raisner, the founder and chief executive officer of Proteus Capital Management. He said France’s Socialist president, François Hollande, ran a campaign on increasing taxes and since his election in May 2012, “the economic outlook hasn’t been great.” Read More


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