Swig on Downtown Transit Woes: Just Rent Mercedes!

SL Green’s Steven Durels lived up to his reputation as a tough dealmaker at the Real Estate Board of New York’s “Crossfire” panel last Wednesday.

“In 2012,” he asked pointedly, “will the market be up, down or sideways?”

Mr. Durels, who co-moderated the panel with Vortex Group’s Frederick Kane Marek, managed to elicit a surprisingly candid consensus that the market is on its way up, but not as quickly as many hope.

Relative newcomer William Elder, of RXR Realty, which recently purchased 340 Madison and 1330 Sixth Avenue, was likewise bullish. He pointed to recent mega-deals by Google and Bloomberg, and well-known searches by Facebook and Twitter, as evidence that the future is heading for New York. He and others noted that planned expansions by Stanford and MIT are particularly good news, as the city is poised to become a major educational hub.

Paul Massey of Massey Knakal said investment sales volume is likely to pick up, with 7,000 to 8,000 properties around the city in distress and plenty of discretionary sellers waiting on the sidelines. George Constantin of Heritage Realty Services said the market will go sideways, and expressed concerns about job growth and the country’s debt load.

Developer Kent Swig was the most bullish: “We are coming off one of the largest rent spikes ever,” so if progress seems slow it must be put in that context. “There are no bad neighborhoods,” he said, but FiDi still seems to be where his heart is at. He brushed aside the transportation problems that famously plague the elbow of the island, noting that for the hundreds of thousands of dollars a large law firm could save on rent, why not just rent all the partners Mercedes?

As for Boston Properties’ Robert Selsam, he addressed “rumors we’re going to start building at West 55th Street,” adding, “I can’t comment.”

lkusisto@observer.com Swig on Downtown Transit Woes: Just Rent Mercedes!