Office Rents are Through the Roof for Downtown Manhattan

If you were paying attention to office leasing activity and increased rents last year, you might say there’s no finer place than Downtown—even though it’s still a bargain compared to Midtown.

Total average rent for Class A office space in Lower Manhattan last year hit $51.65 per square foot, according to new market research by Savills Studley provided exclusively to Commercial Observer. It marks the first time since the recession that the area had rents above $50 per square foot. And rents are expected to climb as the available space gets tighter and leasing activity will slow down as a result. Read More


Hard Climb: Property Taxes Are on the Way Up


If taxes are on the brain, that’s only normal this time of year. They’re on everybody’s brain. Especially the good people of Transwestern, a privately held real estate company that does everything from development to structured finance.

In preparation of the dreaded zero hour, Transwestern compiled figures published in “The City of New York, New York—Comprehensive Annual Financial Report of the Comptroller for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2014,” which explained in one neat chart five reasons why New York City property taxes continues to climb. Read More


By ‘Downtown’… What Do You Mean?

Illustration by Boris Séméniako (Tribute to Saul Steinberg)

Is it 14th Street? Canal Street? Somewhere in between? It turns out that demarcating where Downtown begins is a mind-bending brain teaser, even for some seasoned New York real estate professionals. We posed the question to a handful of the most notable members of the city’s real estate community. Here’s what they had to say: Read More


The State of Staten Island Hotels

SUITE ESCAPE: Staten Island got competition from New Jersey.

For a while there, a big surge could be found in the hotel market of … Staten Island?

It’s true. Back in 2013 the hotel market got a big boost. But it doesn’t look like this will be sustained.

STR, a global provider of competitive benchmarking, information services and research to the hotel industry, recently released their annual historical trend and pipeline reports that take a close-up look at how hotels fared in the five boroughs, and what’s in store. Read More


What Happens in Fight Club Isn’t Staying in Fight Club

Chris Kwiatkowski, at left, faces-off against Spencer Grekoski. (Steve Ferdman) 

More than 500 real estate executives hung out ringside for the biannual Real Estate Fight Night at Madison Square Garden on a recent Friday night to see amateur Muay Thai master Chris Kwiatkowski of J.D. Carlisle face-off against Spencer Grekoski. Their fight was just one of 20 Muay Thai or Mixed Martial Arts fights scheduled for the night.

The bloody and violent bouts began at 6 p.m. and culminated with the main event after midnight featuring Messrs. Kwiatkowski and Grekoski. Mr. Kwiatkowski lost in a knockout in the second round. Read More


Go West, Young Man, Go West to ICSC NY

JUMPIN’ JAVITS?: True, there are no slot machines and blackjack tables at NYC’s ICSC conference at the Javits Center on the Far West Side.

New York City’s commercial real estate professionals are movers and shakers. And at perhaps the city’s large annual retail conference, most of the attendees are involved in the moving of tenants in some capacity.

So perhaps it’s fitting that this year, International Council of Shopping Centers’ New York National Deal Making Conference has made some moves of its own. Read More


Postings: Icon Candy

Rockefeller Center.

While more firms are focusing their office space searches on Midtown South and Downtown, Midtown saw its 17th consecutive quarter of increased asking rents in the third quarter to $70.29 per square foot from $69.81 per square foot a quarter earlier, according to JLL’s third-quarter report.

With that in mind, Commercial Observer decided to look at a few of Midtown’s most prestigious addresses to see what rents they are seeking from tenants on a per-square-foot-basis. Read More


The Imaginative Lobbies of TAMI-heavy Midtown South [Updated]

Chelsea Castle

Landlords looking to woo the next generation of tenants in the trendy and tight Midtown South district have embraced imaginative designs in their front lobbies and reception areas as the district takes on a “cultural indicator” status previously held by more heralded traditional office properties on Park and Madison Avenues, said Thomas Vecchione, the design director and principal of the Gensler architecture, design and branding firm. “Lobbies are starting to engage communities so that there’s a community of like-minded tenants there,” Mr. Vecchione explained. “They’re not about the big corporate presence anymore; they’re about the cultural touch points.”

Commercial Observer collected a snapshot group of six office buildings in Midtown South where landlords or tenants have implemented novel approaches to greeting employees and visitors in their lobbies, including two from Gensler. Read More


Postings: Manhattan (and Brooklyn) Transfers

Atlantic Avenue Long Island Railroad station.

New York City’s subterranean transportation system is a vast labyrinth of subway lines, and straphangers are always angling for better and improved access to it. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey have undertaken major underground transportation projects, which have started to and will continue to impact how people travel around the city. Below, Commercial Observer takes a look at some of the transit projects that have or will transform the city. Read More


Postings: Tech, Creative Deals Put Dumbo on the Office Map

Jane's Carousel. (Jane's Carousel)

Once little more than a manufacturing district, Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood has evolved in to one of most popular neighborhoods in New York. Populated first by artists and today by Brooklyn’s loft and stroller set, Dumbo is also emerging into a prominent office location. The Watchtower portfolio, a group of buildings once owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, is being transformed into an office destination for tech and creative companies. Rebranded Dumbo Heights, the development’s landlords have already signed online retailer Etsy to a lease. Below, Commercial Observer maps out Dumbo Heights and other prominent developments in the neighborhood.  Read More


Minute by Minute at the REBNY Deal of the Year Awards

Richard B. Hodos

The Real Estate Board of New York doled out prizes for the Most Ingenious and Most Significant Retail Deals of 2013 in a ceremony at Club 101 at 101 Park Avenue last Tuesday night, and Commercial Observer came out to sample the open bar, scope the 18 nominees and gather snippets from the 250 brokers and insiders who showed up for the event. Read More


Real Estate Super Bowl Picks Are a Mile High

AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Denver Broncos

The odds makers in Vegas traded Seattle for Denver as Super Bowl favorites just hours after the conference championship games ended. And the Broncos remain a tenuous two-point favorite for the big game at the time of writing. The New York real estate industry doesn’t like an underdog story, it seems, as all but one respondent to The Commercial Observer’s request for picks opted for the Broncos.  Read More


All of the Lights: Famous Illuminated Signs in the New York City Skyline


In the lead-up to New Year’s Eve last week, The New Yorker reported that the largely vacant 1 Times Square—the home of the ball drop—makes $23 million, or 85 percent of its annual revenue, from advertising signage that bathes Times Square in a neon commercial glow. Signage is a sought-after prize of the New York skyline. Here are a few of the most famous illuminated signs around town. Read More


Come Fly with Me: The Economic Impact of NYC’s Airports


Last week, just ahead of the Thanksgiving travel rush, the Global Gateway Alliance, an advocate for airport infrastructure improvement chaired by real estate developer Joseph Sitt of Thor Equities, released an economic impact report on the New York metro area’s major airports: J.F.K., LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty. The findings were promising. Over the past decade, jobs created by the region’s airports increased by nearly 100 percent, with the three hubs collectively employing close to 500,000 jobs in the region.

“These numbers confirm what we’ve long know to be true: New York’s metropolitan airports are incredible economic drivers,” said Mr. Sitt. “When studies like this are released, it is clear to everyone the role the airports play in supporting the region economically.”

Below, The Commercial Observer lays out some of the key facts and figures from the report.

Read More