In 2005, CBRE broker Mary Ann Tighe told The New York Times that there had never been a “phenomenon quite like Bob Alexander.” What’s more phenomenal is that the 58-year-old chairman of the firm’s tristate region still ranks among its top brokers, having landed some of the city’s highest-profile deals this year as a lead broker representing Related Companies at Hudson Yards. Mr. Alexander sat down with The Commercial Observer to talk about bringing Coach, SAP and L’Oréal to Hudson Yards, the leasing and construction timeline for the rest of the project, the city’s changing economic and real estate landscape, how he stays both mentally and physically sharp—and how much longer he plans on doing it.
Mr. Alexander: If you look at Hudson Yards as an overall development, both the eastern and western yards, it is the most significant development in Manhattan probably since the 1930s. The relative scope and size of it is greater, really, than what’s going on at the Trade Centers right now—because of the residential, the mixed-use, the retail, et cetera. So it’s as an important a cog to the city as Downtown—and Larry [Silverstein] has obviously done a fantastic job down there—and probably the next hub of commercial activity in Manhattan.
How will that development impact development across the city?
The anchor of Related’s development there will cause a spinoff relative to the development further north of Hudson Boulevard, which the city has planned out right now with multiple sites. To the south at 30th [Street] and 10th [Avenue], there’s a big residential component that’s already 30 stories that Related is creating there. So you can already see the spinoffs that are going on.
We also believe that Brookfield [Properties] is going to have a successful project over at Midtown West—it’s a great company, and they’ll do a nice job over there ultimately. So if you look at the whole scope of what we’re talking about here, it’s probably over 20 million square feet, which is massive. Midtown supply is 220 million square feet. So it’s almost 10 percent of the “square footage of Midtown.” That is one monstrous development. It’s got to be the biggest in the U.S. right now.
The SAP and L’Oréal leases at Related’s South Tower were announced together. Was that planned?
CBRE and Related coordinated the signing of those leases with the ultimate purchase by Coach. All of this was executed simultaneously, which as far as I know has never been done in the history of New York real estate—to have major corporations sign major leases like that and a major corporation make that purchase. A lot of people get credit for that—from the legal side, the CBRE side, the bankers and certainly from the Related side. When Related threw a “thank you” cocktail hour, there must have been at least 85 people in the room that were directly involved in those deals—and that’s just unheard of.
The South Tower is approximately 1.7 million square feet. So if you take a step back and see what’s transpired, Coach has bought 750,000 square feet, and with the L’Oréal and SAP deals, there’s about 390,000 square feet remaining.