CIM City: Mystery California Land-Eater Devours New York City Next

CIM HAS BEEN circling the city for more than a decade, waiting for an opportunity to land. Much like they once did in L.A., they’ve moved quickly. “They’ve been very aggressive on good locations,” said Alan Miller, a top broker at Eastern Consolidated, “and made a splash.”

But rather than going it alone, in a savvy move, they’ve also partnered with prominent local developers, such as the Sapirs and Harry Macklowe.

“You’re a New Yorker,” said Mr. Fasulo, of Real Capital. “It can get complex here, and it can help to have someone with local expertise to navigate you through the project.”

But it remains to be seen how much the locals are still in it, said other people, or if CIM is instead just the puppet master. At the Drake site, for example, CIM has privately dismissed one-time owner Harry Macklowe as “a good architect.” Publicly they call him a “consultant” on the project. But keeping local fallen stars like Mr. Macklowe and the Sapirs involved has worked brilliantly so far, capturing the hearts of local media anxious for a dramatic comeback story.

Whether CIM, one of the most active newcomers in the incestuous world of Big Real Estate, can pull it off is anyone’s guess. Said Mr. Fasulo: “Their strategy is not for the faint of heart.”