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

Are there any new developments in the works for Moinian? Actually, yes. We’re building a building over on Eighth Avenue

Are there any new developments in the works for Moinian?
Actually, yes. We’re building a building over on Eighth Avenue in the 50’s and we think that’s going to be hotel-oriented. A lot of what we’re doing, a lot of what I see we’re doing, is we’re recapitalizing the assets, we’re trying to position them properly in the marketplace, that is what I see.

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Joe could probably build buildings for the rest of his life without having to buy something, which to me is also very amazing.

Considering your feet are still wet, what type of deals have you worked on since joining the firm in October?
I can tell you that I am very pleased to be part of the group that’s going to see the 3 Columbus Circle building finally get finished, 1775 Broadway. When Joe bought this thing, it was an older building, it was not positioned in the marketplace properly. He was smart enough to bring his partner, SL Green, into the picture, who does most of the heavy lifting these days. But to be candid with you, it’s a team effort, and I’m just glad I’m on the team to finally see this property get realized the way Joe envisioned this thing when he first got into it.

Did you work on the Young & Rubicam deal?
Not prior to joining Moinian. I mean, I know all those guys pretty well because I was a tenant, and WPP, which owns Y&R, a lot of tenants tend to know each other very, very well in the marketplace. This was a very creative deal, and I would tip my hat to SL Green for really driving this one home.

This is a Madison Avenue mainstay, and to go over to 3 Columbus Avenue—let’s be honest, it had its fair share of bad press, or, at least, its financial troubles were well reported on. How did the deal come about?
I can tell you that when this thing started up, it went very, very quickly, and CBRE (CBRE), who was representing their interests, pushed very, very hard to get this accomplished.

I can only tell you that 3 Columbus offered the most compelling argument of all to Y&R. By the way, the Columbus Circle area is full of media-type advertising tenants. This is a new hub, if you will, of tenancy. The Time Warner Center, Time Warner Cable, you have a lot of communication companies over there, so I think it’s almost natural for Y&R to want to be up there. I don’t see that as sort of a queer location. I see it as a normal course of events in a big city like this.

What’s been the Y&R effect? Are you starting to see a lot of other media companies visit 3 Columbus?
Yes, we are, and we’re looking at a lot of other opportunities. In fact, another lease was just signed yesterday that I can’t talk about for another floor at the building, so the building has real momentum going for it.

We are negotiating right now with a three-floor tenant. We’re going to be moving over there, so I’m told, now that 530 [Fifth Avenue] is no longer owned by us. So there are only going to be a couple of floors left.

Again, just to be party to a real successful project like that is really a great thing. Over my career, I’ve had an opportunity to be involved in some real winners, for instance 1 New York Plaza: Chase owned the building. And when we moved to Metrotech, when Forest City Ratner built those two buildings for us and we moved over there, the building was over a million and a half feet of empty space in a two-million-square-foot building. I was tasked with the responsibility—awesome responsibility—of leasing that building up, and it took me almost two years.

But you know what, we leased it up, and we turned it around, we turned the asset around and we sold it for almost double [the amount] that we paid for it. Those are the things that you kind of live for, that’s what I love.

drosen@observer.com

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