Imagine, if you will, the landscape of New York City 15 years hence. A drive to Citi Field in Willets Point takes you past a pleasant if overpriced cluster of residential buildings, rather than seedy chop-shops. Roosevelt Island is home to a sprawling $2 billion applied-sciences campus spinning out an army of developers to populate ping-pong-table-clad start-up clusters from Dumbo to Union Square. On Manhattan’s far West Side, the rezoned stretch of Hudson Yards offers millions of square feet for office space, housing and retail and 14 acres of open public space. You can already see traces of a more built-up, scrubbed-down New York in Luna Park’s freshly-painted Scream Zone, the first new roller-coasters Coney Island has seen in 80 years, and the rapidly-metastasizing arena at Atlantic Yards, which will soon play home court to the rebranded Brooklyn Nets.
It’s hardly a scenario Seth Pinsky could have imagined in September 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed just seven months into his tenure as president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), a not-for-profit arm of the Mayor’s office charged with fostering economic growth across the five boroughs.
At the time, Mr. Pinsky was a 36-year-old former lawyer and investment analyst, only a few years removed from a private sector gig refinancing real estate deals for the big banks as an associate at Cleary Gottlieb. He had one big win under his belt—jump-starting the World Trade Center redevelopment project—but he didn’t have “a political bone in his body,” as one insider put it. “People kept saying to me, ‘Wow, you’re the head of the Economic Development Corporation? We’re in an economic meltdown!’’ Mr. Pinsky told The Observer.
“At the time it meant, ‘You must be really crazy.’”
While leasing activity for much of New York City in the past few months has been more lackluster than blockbuster, a sizable chunk of available space –sizable in the, say, 6 million square foot range– is on the cusp of hitting the market, The Wall Street Journal reports.
New developments like 1 World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center, and Edward Minskoff’s 51 Astor Place, are all slated to hit the market in 2013. The last time NYC had this much new space becoming available was in 1989, said Cassidy Turley’s Robert Sammons.
The Neverending Story
It’s the day after the Port Authority released an audit of the agency and Chris Ward is sitting calmly in his new office above Bryant Park.
Coming off of more than three years as its top New York executive, Mr. Ward has no illusions how the bi-state agency is run.
The audit last week cited mismanagement at the Port Authority and spiraling costs at the World Trade Center site, findings that aren’t exactly revelatory. Swelling budgets have been a long-running problem at the complex site and criticisms have been lobbed before at the sprawling agency’s byzantine structure.
So maybe it wasn’t a bombshell after all, the “news” yesterday that Larry Silverstein might not be able to finish 3 World Trade Center all the way, leaving it instead as a seven-story retail and mechanical stump for the time being. In a statement, the downtown don insists he will find a tenant, and he has about two years to do it before he must truly pull the trigger and decide to cap the tower or to keep building.
Construction at 3 World Trade Center could be capped at seven floors if developer Larry Silverstein can’t find enough tenants to pre-lease the tower’s first ten floors, Crain’s New York reported.
It was a typical evening at the Real Estate Board of New York’s annual gala as John Cardinal O’Connor stepped up to the dais to address a crowd of several thousand of the city’s most ambitious commercial real estate brokers and owners.
But in a ritual repeated more or less each year, the archbishop of the New York archdiocese’s 2.37 million Catholics and one of the Vatican’s most forceful spokesmen in the United States during the 1980s, was summarily ignored by a brokerage community far more interested in making deals than in hearing the Gospel.
Since it started with a roll call of 27 members in 1896 with the goal of “facilitating transactions in real estate,” the Real Estate Board of New York has indisputably been the city’s most influential real estate organization, with its annual gala being to brokers what the Vanity Fair Oscar party is for Hollywood: If you’re there, it means you’re somebody.
Sure, some may lovingly write it off as a veritable men’s club (men are thought to outnumber women five to one), chide it as “The Liar’s Ball” (each year is a broker’s best year, no matter how wretched the marketplace) and speak ill of the food (nearly everyone avoids the chicken and filet mignon).
But the REBNY gala is as essential to a real estate person’s reputation and status as the buildings and bricks he works with. A dozen of the city’s most legendary players spoke to The Commercial Observer about the blurry nights and boom years that helped make the event what it is today.
In the strongest sign yet that 80-year-old Silverstein Properties chief executive Larry Silverstein is seriously considering a succession plan, a former president of Artisan Real Estate Ventures has been tapped as the World Trade Center owner’s co-chief executive, it was announced last week.
To seasoned retail brokers, the very concept of the next big neighborhood in a city that has been developed several times over is, well, naïve. Still, as The Commercial Observer recently learned, most are still looking for a reason to believe.
Silverstein Properties has appointed a leasing team from the real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle to handle deals at 1177 Avenue of the Americas.
A lot appears to be riding on the assignment.