Real Estate Stories in The Observer’s Print Edition: 7.22.09

On Monday, the rare-maps dealer W. Graham Arader III was in the passenger seat of his black Mercedes SUV, thinking about all the wealthy people who have not bought his 12,000-square-foot, 22-room, 10-bedroom townhouse at 1016 Madison Avenue. “People have been clubbed to death by recent events,” he said. “The seals in Alaska had it better under the fur traders that came up and clubbed them to death. They’ve been clubbed to death.”

His mansion’s tag was cut in February from a city-leading $75 million to $65 million. Last month, records show, it quietly left the market. More here.

2 East 67th via PropertyShark.

More than three months into an impasse over the financing for the World Trade Center, officials and executives involved with the project are increasingly contemplating a new scenario: a long-term stalemate in which private developer Larry Silverstein does not build his office towers.

The fight has led the Port Authority, which owns the site, to craft a plan to essentially build around the private developer should two of his 85-foot-deep sites stay fallow. More here.

auburnxc via flickr.

Gary Barnett wrote a letter. It was nine paragraphs and it circulated earlier this year to people like Michael Bloomberg, David Axelrod and Larry Summers.

“Even someone with a good job today is afraid to spend, because he is afraid he will not have a job a few months down the road.”

Mr. Barnett, the prolific president of development concern Extell, then offered a policy prescription for encouraging business amid what was just starting to be called the Great Recession. It was a business philosophy that sought to encourage activity rather than mere survival: a three-year extension on all current mortgages; federal subsidies for 30-year mortgages; a law forbidding firms with more than 500 employees from lay-offs they could show an urgent need. “This is just not the time to do it. A) Have a heart, b) be a patriot," he later said. "The wave of firings breeds more firings, and more firings, and we could spiral into an extremely serious depression." More here.

Michael Nagle.

Ever since Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch in the woeful days of September 2008, the New York real estate world has remained riveted by speculation: Would it entirely abandon the Merrill space at Brookfield’s World Financial Center, consolidating all of its offices at the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, thus leaving a gaping vacuum at the center of downtown’s office market?

The real estate folks at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch are finally making some decisions (though not the decision we’ve all been waiting for).

Bank of America has renewed its lease for 114,000 square feet at 717 Fifth Avenue. More here.



Steak lovers, rejoice! (Cow lovers, mourn.) Bobby Van's Steakhouse which New York describes as “not as good as Peter Luger, but better than most of the rest,” largely thanks to its awesome service and low-key atmosphere, has extended for five years its 4,000-square-foot lease at 230 Park Avenue, where it has been serving the lunching midtown set since 1996. It renewed its 1,000-square-feet of office space on the mezzanine level for 15 years. The steakery was repped by Dana Moyles of Dana Moyles Real Estate, and landlord Monday Properties’ by its own Craig Panzirer. More here.

601 West 26th Street via PropertyShark.

Steve Roth has been trying to cap the Port Authority Bus Terminal with a giant office tower since the start of Rudy Giuliani’s second term.

The pugnacious, golf-loving chairman of mega-landlord Vornado Realty Trust, Mr. Roth won the bid to build a tower from the Port Authority in 1999. But his initial plans fell apart in 2001, when a tenant backed out; a lawsuit followed, and over time he gradually revived the deal.

Now, once again, the idea of a tower atop the bus station is on track… to getting shelved. At least for the most part. More here.

28 dreams via flickr.

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