Sunday Summary: Hail the Conquering Eric Adams!


Remember how you thought that after Jan. 20 you wouldn’t have to ever think about politics again?

Oh, you’re adorable!

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Another first Tuesday in November, another election. This time it was for the mayoralty of New York City. And, in this politically and economically fraught moment, real estate developers took an active interest in the outcome.

They were very, very happy with the result.

Eric Adams trounced GOP nominee Curtis Sliwa (as was expected), and, in an unscientific poll that Commercial Observer conducted prior to the election of some of the city’s top landlords and developers, this was exactly what they wished for.

They did not do well at hiding the disdain that they felt for the current mayor, Bill de Blasio. There was “no issue too large to ignore,” one unnamed real estate exec told CO, “no issue too small to screw up.”

Ouch. And slightly unfair. The mayor certainly had his bumps along the way, but the full evaluation of his record shows universal pre-K and significant strides on affordable housing. And, while some have painted him as an unhinged leftwing nut, de Blasio was a lot more pro-growth than he’s given credit for. He championed the transformational rezoning of Midtown East and lobbied to get Amazon (AMZN) to Long Island City, Queens. (Of course, many of you will have stopped reading when we said: “And slightly unfair.”)

Nevertheless, the city’s CRE set seems to want to make a brand-new start of it with Adams.

Adams will have his work cut out for him: empty office space, an affordable housing crisis, spluttering rezonings, resurgent crime, ailing tourism and anemic hospitality will all be loaded onto his plate. (And, we must admit, he got off to a little bit of a weird start saying two days after his election that he wanted his salary to be in … bitcoin?)

Of course, it wasn’t just New York that had an election on Tuesday. There was also a contentious one in Virginia. (We’re not sure if real estate issues ever came up in that one as we heard much more about Toni Morrison. We suspect real estate might be more of a focus in 2022’s Washington, D.C., campaign.)

And there were a number of local elections in South Florida, which seemed to go real estate’s way with a slate of pro-development candidates getting the nod from voters, including corporate America’s favorite mayor, Francis Suarez.

Those who have an eye on statewide elections should note that Gov. Kathy Hochul, who’s up for reelection next year, unveiled her scaled-down version of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s grand plans for Penn Station. We’re fairly certain that this will make certain constituents happy. So start getting ready for Nov. 8, 2022!

Can we please get to the real estate? Please?

The appetite for studio space is not slackening in any way. It was reported this week that Brookfield Properties is about to buy the headquarters for DreamWorks Animation from Hana Asset Management and Ocean West Capital Partners in a transaction valued at $297 million.

In D.C., JBG Smith (JBGS) is shelling out $205 million for The Batley, a 432-unit development in the Union Market neighborhood that was recently completed.

Leases are happening, too. In New York City, Microsoft (MSFT) scooped up 150,000 square feet at 122 Fifth Avenue. And biometric screening company, CLEAR, clocked in another 120,000 square foot lease at 85 10th Avenue.

And one of the most important names in finance was revealed this week: Michelle Herrick has taken over the real estate banking division at JPMorgan Chase (JPM), a role made available after Chad Tredway exited it earlier this year to start his own private equity firm. To know more about the Cincinnati-born Herrick read CO’s exclusive interview with her.

It was a pretty interesting week for retail

Has retail finally gotten past the worst? We’re not sure but we saw some interesting moves, all over the country.

One of the biggest stars of the dining world, Tel Aviv restaurateur Eyal Shani, is going into business with Major Food Group (which owns such luminary spots as Carbone, Parm and ZZ’s Clam Bar) with a new haute Israeli restaurant at 404 Washington Avenue in Miami.

Shani is not the only Israeli restaurateur making moves in the Magic City; the fast-casual Motek Cafe is signing leases and undertaking a major expansion.

Moving north, another Amazon Fresh store was announced in Northern Virginia, and, speaking of Amazon, District Dogs (a pet care company) and RĀKO Coffee signed the first leases at HQ2 in National Landing.

Going even farther north, Target is taking a whopping 90,000 square feet at Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Mill Basin, Brooklyn.

And, while it wasn’t a lease, retail watchers will note that Onni Group laid out $136 million to buy the 1.2 million-square-foot Burbank Town Center in L.A. This strikes us as a wildly confident signal of faith in the future of retail.

Shvo Soup for You!

An excellent piece of New York City real estate-restaurateur tattle unfolded this week.

The high-flying Michael Shvo apparently cannot stomach the wait for a table at Balthazar, according to a story in The Real Deal. The enfant terrible developer seated himself, according to an Instagram post by Keith I-will-suffer-no-prima-donnas McNally, at the best table in the house, Table 60. (Table 60?? We were told the best was the one right by the bathroom!)

Shvo’s wife told a slightly different story on Instagram: She said that it had been a cold day and they didn’t have a baby carriage … so they went in and stood by the only empty booth in the joint. A hostess then said, “Happy you found your table, Mr. Shvo.”

Either way, it’s difficult to tangle with McNally. He has not shied away from public spats in the past like with Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter. (McNally eveng used some pretty choice language to describe Carter in “Page Six.”) You don’t want to have to rely on the White Castle fry-bot.

Looking to the future

This week was an important one for CO: It was time for our annual Young Professionals issue! This is where we single out the brightest and most promising brokers, bankers, architects, engineers and contractors.

The list dropped on Tuesday but it’s the perfect thing to linger over on a Sunday morning. These are the people who will be running things soon. Best to get to know them now!

See you next week!