Big Real Estate
It’s not just the biggest real estate conference no one has heard of. It’s the biggest real estate conference period. And, yes, most real estate professionals, at least in New York, haven’t heard of it.
Next week 19,000 guests from 90 countries will descend on Cannes, France, for MIPIM, a four-day event that roughly translates as “International Market for Real Estate Professionals” featuring speaking panels and networking opportunities that allow developers to shop major new projects to prospective tenants and investors.
Paramount Group is the buyer set to acquire a 49 percent stake in 900 Third Avenue from Investa Office Fund, sources told The Commercial Observer. That stake was IOF’s final US property. The sale is set to close in late March 2012 and was announced in mid-February with a sale agreement of $172.7 million, though IOF didn’t disclose the buyer at that time.
“The sale of IOF’s interest in the New York asset will complete the fund’s exit from the US market in line with our stated strategy, at an overall premium of 9.4 percent to June book value,” IOF Fund Manager Toby Phelps said in a prepared statement.
A self-described car guy, Woody Heller, executive managing director and head of the Capital Transactions Group at Studley, sees parallels between automobiles as hard assets and commercial real estate investment sales velocity in New York. Apart from the obvious luxury to be found in cars and Class A buildings alike—his 33-million-square-foot transaction volume likely doesn’t include a jalopy—both markets have also lately been bolstered by similar factors.
“With debt available and with interest rates so incredibly low, it encourages one to buy because money is so cheap,” he said. “If the asset class is in favor compared with what much of the alternatives are—if borrowing costs are incredibly low—it continues to steer people to want to invest in hard assets like real estate.”
Broadway Dance Center has expanded its lease at 321 West 44th Street to about 30,000 square feet.
The school and studio, which has its entrance on the 230,000 square foot building’s 45th Street side entryway, which goes by the address 322 West 45th Street, offers both classes for beginners and workshops for seasoned dancers alike taught by acclaimed professionals.
Kushner Companies has named a team from the real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield as the new leasing agent for 321 West 44th Street, the asset that houses The New York Observer.
Arthur Mirante, C&W’s former chief executive who is now a top dealmaker at the firm, will lead leasing at the property along with C&W executives Jeff Lichtenberg and Joshua Goldman.
C&W will be replacing a team from Colliers International.
Lease of the Week
It would have been easy for Lou D’Avanzo and his Cushman & Wakefield leasing team to rest on their laurels.
While Condé Nast’s million-square-foot lease at 1 World Trade Center last year has become a dominant emblem of downtown’s resurgence as a popular destination for office tenants, the C&W group’s lease-up of 77 Water Street has also etched its way into recent lore in the neighborhood.
New York landlord Charles Cohen says he’s not concerned about opening vacancies in his portfolio.
In the past year, two large tenants relocated from buildings Mr. Cohen owns.
“For us, we had to do something different,” said Donald Trump Jr. last week, his voice rising with excitement.
Freshly tanned from a recent visit to Mexico, where he was overseeing a new project, the slicked-back scion grew steadily more enthusiastic as he discussed 40 Wall Street, an office tower that, with its rising and falling tenant roster, has contributed to the Trump Organization executive vice president’s growing reputation as a competent steward of the family name, a reliable fixer and successful dealmaker in his own right.
Lease of the Week
Endurance Reinsurance needed more office space. But growing wasn’t going to be as easy as just tacking a few new floors onto its existing footprint.
The firm had split its operations between two closely located buildings on Third Avenue, 750 and 767 Third Avenue. A quick perusal of the former revealed that only a tantalizing scrap on the building’s 10th floor was available. Alone, it wasn’t going to cut it. Endurance, a roughly 60,000-square-foot tenant at the time, was looking to grow by about 50 percent or more.
Speeches were casually ignored, drinks were spilled and bonds were formed at last Thursday’s 116th annual Real Estate Board of New York Gala, which this year drew an estimated 2,000 brokers, owners, advertising buyers and real estate reporters to the New York Hilton for an evening of conviviality, honorifics and hushed deal making. Among the fray was Commercial Observer staff writer Daniel Geiger, who during the course of the evening saw his stenopad tossed by an irate real estate broker and who unabashedly accosted Studley’s Woody Heller in the hotel’s bathroom, all for the sake of the story. Below, a timeline of gala comings and goings, from the innocuous gossip down to the downright obnoxious.