Go Ahead, Call Him Crazy! Meet Mogul Alex Sapir

sitdown alexsapir1h Go Ahead, Call Him Crazy! Meet Mogul Alex SapirLocation: Let’s start with 100 Church Street. You announced major improvements for it in 2006. Why the need for improvements?

Mr. Sapir: Well, the building was built in 1958. We bought it in 1997. Over 10 years’ time, things deteriorate and technology comes into play. So we’re bringing the building up to what a Class A 2008 building should be. We’re modernizing all the elevators, the electrical upgrades, HVAC—all the necessary things to compete with the best buildings downtown and in the immediate area.

What’s the timeline on the improvements?

We should be done in less than 12 months. Certain aspects may be done a little later, but as far as HVAC, mechanical, electrical—all the real necessary things for tenants—[they will] be there. The building is already advertised—[Mr. Sapir’s cellphone rang.] Let me put that on vibrate. Just a second … It was Ivanka.

Seriously?

Yeah …

Back to 100 Church.

New York City Law Department has been there since the 1970’s. And Niche Media just signed, and they’re going to be moving their headquarters there, and that’s a really exciting deal for us.

How much space are they taking?

Forty-five thousand feet—a whole floor.

And that will bring occupancy up to what?

It’ll bring occupancy to 40 to 45 percent. So, right now there’s a lot of activity. We’ve hired CBRE [CB Richard Ellis].

I wanted to ask about that. You originally hired Cushman & Wakefield to handle leasing at 100 Church. And then, in June, you switched to CB Richard Ellis and Stephen Siegel. Why the switch?

CBRE, they’re the best.

What’s the goal at 100 Church? Obviously, you want 100 percent occupancy, but what about rents?

We’re asking for the lower floors, the lower part of the building, the lower $40’s [a square foot annually]. The upper part of the building we want the high $40’s.

The Freedom Tower’s going up right next door to 100 Church. Does that bother you at all?

No. I actually think it’s good. You know, originally, the World Trade Center site’s office space was supposed to be for the city and for governmental agencies. Now, because of the demand for downtown, the city and the governmental agencies might not even move in at all because there’s so much demand for that space.

I think it’s great. I think that after the tragic event, we really showed the world what New York is made of, and we’re building it bigger and better. And then we’ve seen an amazing market—not only in the commercial, but in the residential side as well. This summer was the best residential market New York City had ever seen.

Now, Trump SoHo. Some people say it’s a condo in the guise of a condo-hotel. In other words, the people who will buy there will live there year-round—

No. Incorrect.

Why do people assume that, though?

I think that people like to make their comments, for whatever reason. I think some people don’t like the idea of a 45-story building anywhere in the world. I think it’s great for SoHo; I think it’s great for the neighborhood. It’s a hotel. … I mean, you’ve stayed in a hotel and you’ve lived in an apartment. Do you live in an apartment?

Yes.

So, you’ve lived in an apartment and you’ve stayed in a hotel room. Would you live in a hotel room? Not by choice, right? So, we’re building hotel rooms, and I don’t know why people think people would want to live there year-round.