Winston Fisher, Fisher Brothers

After decades of operating as one of New York’s most recognized family-run commercial real estate developers, Fisher Brothers and its four operating partners, Arnold, Kenneth, Steven and Winston, have become far more active in high-end residential construction.

“Fisher Brothers currently has more than 1.5 million square feet of residential under development and is excited to further contribute to the New York skyline,” Winston Fisher, the youngest brother in the partnership, told The Commercial Observer via email for this year’s Owners Magazine issue.

In the past year, Fisher Brothers and its partner, the Witkoff Group, acquired development sites at 123 Greenwich Street and 101 Murray Street in Manhattan to construct two residential buildings totaling more than 400,000 square feet. The joint venture paid $150 million to purchase the Greenwich Street property, a former New York Stock Exchange building, from Michael Steinhardt in September 2012 and $223 million to purchase the Murray Street property from St. John’s University in July. Groundbreaking on both properties is scheduled for 2014, Mr. Fisher said.

Fisher Brothers also recently broke ground on a 400-unit residential development at 701 Second Street NE in Washington, D.C., and began the initial phases of design work on a 300,000-square-foot residential development to be built at East 40th Street, a site that the family owns.

The 98-year-old firm, which controls more than 5 million square feet of commercial space among its five primary New York office buildings as well as its Station Place office building in Washington in D.C., is considered one of the “royal families” of New York real estate, alongside the Dursts, Roses, Rudins and Tishmans.

In early August, a state anti-corruption committee subpoenaed Fisher Brothers along with Silverstein Properties, Extell Development, Thor Equities and Friedman Management, anonymous sources told Crain’s New York Business at the time.

The committee formed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is investigating whether there are any ties between the developers’ campaign donations and the big tax breaks they were granted on the luxury apartment towers they are building.

The Fisher Brothers partners were reportedly subpoenaed for records related to their residential tower in the works at 86 Trinity Place at the 123 Greenwich Street site. The family-run real estate company last month declined to comment on the status of the investigation into that deal.

When asked about the biggest challenges faced within the past year, Winston Fisher, who directs the company’s financing activities and property acquisitions and oversees all new development initiatives, hinted at the growing competition among owners and developers to acquire assets in New York that aren’t encumbered by zoning laws, other city regulations and a sheer limited amount of space.

“Like many New York City developers, our biggest challenge is finding and acquiring prime developments sites that offer us the flexibility to design world-class buildings,” he told The Commercial Observer via email. —Damian Ghigliotty

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