Print Edition Real Estate Stories: 8.26.09

Newish investment bank Moelis & Co., founded in the prelapsarian days of July 2007, when Big Real Estate blithely believed that the city would somehow escape the ravages looming darkly west of the Hudson, is expanding, signing a robust 10-year lease for about 96,000 square feet at 399 Park Avenue, according to industry sources.

An investment bank, you say?

That’s a promising morsel of news for the city’s commercial real estate industry, which has watched with muted horror as its main tenant—the financial services industry—has torn itself asunder in the credit crisis. More here.

PropertyShark.

In April 2007, during those blindered days of economic bluster, The Observer published an article naming New York’s 10 most expensive towers, according to prominent real estate professionals. They agreed on the most valuable single building: the GM Building. That rocket of marble and black glass, considered then and now the most coveted skyscraper in Manhattan, if not the country, was, said one, “worth $4 billion–plus.” 

Sure! Why not? The building sits at that delicious juncture of midtown and the Upper East Side, at the southeast corner of Central Park, above the Apple Store, and across from the Plaza and Peter Schjeldahl’s favorite piece of New York public art: Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ statue of William Tecumseh Sherman astride a horse.

At the time, the shimmering mirage of wealth was owned by one Harry Macklowe, a developer who was being lauded as a genius for once again rising to the acme of New York’s real estate firmament.

Reality could use some manners. More here.

Getty.

The Sapir Organization has finally let go of 100 Church Street, the beleagured 21-story commercial tower it bought in 1997. SL Green, one of Sapir's creditors, took over leasing and management of the building about a week ago, after the Sapirs withdrew a suit filed earlier this month against them and another debt-holder, Gramercy Capital, said SL Green executive vice president Steve Durels. “We’ve got about 650,000 square feet to lease up,” he said, though SL Green has not started marketing just yet. “Right now, we’re getting our arms around the details of the building... and interviewing respective agents in the brokerage community.” More here.

PropertyShark.

Number-crunching firm Stein, de Visser & Mintz PC has signed a seven-year lease for 6,500 square feet on the 14th floor of 29 West 38th Street, where the asking rent is $42 a square foot. CB Richard EllisClyde Reetz repped the accountants in talks with landlord Murray Hill Properties. More here.

PropertyShark.

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Location: In February 2008, Dolly Lenz, the massive mega-broker whom Dennis Kozlowski dubbed 'Jaws,' was named the top individual broker at Elliman, and you won the top group award. You were openly upset about not being named the top overall broker, even hinting you might quit. What happened?

Ms. Teplitzky: They suddenly changed the rules. I’m all about ethics, and I’m all about being straightforward, honest, cards on the table. If you tell me the game is played one way, I play the game. If you change the rules in the middle of the game, then I really get very, very upset. Until that day, there were no ‘groups’ and ‘individual’ winners. More here.

Shravan Vidyarthi.

The year’s most wildly frothed-over piece of plump New York real estate isn’t officially on the market. It’s not even one of those quiet listings, like the philanthropist Courtney Sale Ross’ duplex at 740 Park Avenue, which was mutedly made available late last year for more than $60 million.This co-op is six floors below hers. And it’s even nicer.

Apartment 6/7B at 740 Park belongs to the disgraced financier J. Ezra Merkin, whose clients lost around $2.4 billion in the Madoff Ponzi scheme. Brokers are talking; enquiring; circling. “I keep hearing, ‘It’s going to come on, it’s going to come on, it’s going to come on,’” one Brown Harris Stevens managing director said this week, “but nothing concrete, nothing solid.”

“I keep looking for Merkin,” another Brown Harris director offered. “And I keep after it.”

“For sure, that thing is coming. It’s not if, it’s when,” a Sotheby’s agent said. They think Mr. Merkin will have no choice but to sell—and that he would reap more than the $32 million that a neighbor got in the building last year. More here.

Proper Upper East Side brokers are a calm crowd. With nice posture and even tones, they’ll tell you that luxury New York real estate is doing just fine, even if there’s fiery chaos outside. But this autumn there may be reason to actually share in their confidence.

If a few elephantine, long-simmering, high-profile properties can manage to sell at half-reasonable prices this fall, when activity tends to pick up, they’ll have an outsize effect on the city’s roughed-up ego.

To be sure, the only thing that will really rekindle those bubbly realty glory days is hordes of absurdly wealthy people spending absurd sums of money again. If that actually happens, it won’t be for a while. “Time is the new four-letter word,” the appraiser Jonathan Miller said Monday. More here.

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