Moinian’s Main Man: Gregg Weisser on Columbus Circle and Young & Rubicam

You’re going to the Moinian Group. They own a ton of properties across New York, but what are the challenges

You’re going to the Moinian Group. They own a ton of properties across New York, but what are the challenges working for a group that is somewhat prolific in New York City and is known to buy and build new buildings at a fairly steady clip?
The Moinian Group owns roughly 20 million square feet of space nationally. They have another 10 million square feet of development-ready sites across the country, 4.5 of which are in New York.

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There’s a beautiful site on 42nd Street and 11th Avenue called 605 West 42nd Street. Joe has a vision of putting in 100,000 feet of retail on the ground floor and lower floors and putting a residential tower above. He also has a site on 34th Street and 11th Avenue, which we believe to be the best site of all of Hudson Yards, which is where the 7 train comes right up into the building at 34th Street and sits on the northeast corner of what will then be Hudson Street, and it runs an entire block.

So there are no buildings butted up against it, and there will be breathtaking views all the way around. Joe wants to put in office use. He wants to put in retail use. He’s thinking of a hotel. He’s an extremely creative guy.

My job is more limited to running the commercial and retail aspects of leasing real property. So while my expertise in other areas can be useful, and I’m often pulled into some of these meetings and some of these adventures, mostly what I focus on on a daily basis is to create and add value to the properties and make sure they’re rented up properly. That’s what I think my key performance measure is: How well are the buildings rented?

And how well are the buildings rented?
Well, I’m glad you asked [laughs]. Each one is in a different marketplace, so certain markets are hotter than others. For example, there is a claim that suggests that midtown south is probably one of the hottest real estate areas in the entire country, and fortunately Joe Moinian, who is a visionary and thinks about this stuff years and years ahead of anybody else, has four properties within that area. We have two of the four buildings nearly completely leased up, and the other ones are on their way to being leased up, and we have marketing campaigns for both of them and I think we’re doing pretty well.

The problem that I have is I have very high expectations and I would like to see these buildings leased 100 percent at all times.

There are a couple of opportunities to achieve better occupancy, and one of them is 535-545 Fifth Avenue. It’s a pair of buildings that butt up and they’re two blocks from Grand Central Station. The lobbies were renovated just a few years ago. They’re wonderful properties, they’re right on Fifth Avenue, and on those lower floors, we could break through the two buildings to create a 33,000-foot floor plate, which is very, very rare for a Fifth Avenue location near Grand Central Station in a reasonable class-A type of building, so that’s very cool.

Moinian’s Main Man: Gregg Weisser on Columbus Circle and Young & Rubicam