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Deals & Dealmakers, Headline »

[30 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]
Gloves off in energy espionage fight

Some of the city’s biggest landlords could be dragged into a multi-million dollar cyber-hacking lawsuit filed by a now-defunct energy company.

Genergy, a local company that helped New York property owners track and manage electrical costs for thousands of buildings, is suing a rival for hacking into its computers and stealing sensitive information.

The espionage ultimately drove the firm out of business, says a federal lawsuit field by Genergy, which worked with companies such as Vornado, Mack-Cali and Swig Equities.

Deals & Dealmakers, Headline, Retail »

[23 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]
Flatiron foot traffic outpacing Fifth Ave.

An ABS leasing team is marketing retail space in a Flatiron corridor that has outstripped Fifth Avenue as the hottest spot for foot traffic.

John Brod and Gregg Schenker, of ABS Real Estate, commissioned a pedestrian traffic study at 915 Broadway, where the duo is marketing an 8,000 s/f ground-floor flagship space.

“I think this is a condition in the marketplace that very few retailers and real estate professionals are aware of and makes for a unique opportunity for tenants and brokers to be ahead of the curve with this knowledge and take advantage of,” said Schenker.

Deals & Dealmakers, Headline »

[16 Jul 2014 | One Comment | ]
Investors betting on Atlantic Avenue

If Brooklyn is becoming more and more like Manhattan, Atlantic Avenue is its Bowery.

While surrounding brownstone neighborhoods like Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights have become rapidly gentrified and are seeing a growing number of expensive new condos, the famous thoroughfare has been slow to catch up.

But there are signs that Atlantic Avenue beyond Barclays Center might, finally, be on the verge of a makeover.

Developer RXR Realty recently bought the long-term lease of the 650,000 s/f office building 470 Vanderbilt at the corner of Atlantic and Vanderbilt Avenues for $200 million in partnership with American Landmark Properties.

RXR’s executive vice president Seth Pinsky said he hopes the building, which is mostly leased, will serve as one of the catalysts for the avenue’s development.

Deals & Dealmakers, Headline »

[11 Jul 2014 | One Comment | ]
Robert Durst makes big profit with Brooklyn deals

Robert Durst, estranged scion of the Durst clan and confessed killer, appears to have made a hefty profit with his Brooklyn real estate investments.

Two multifamily buildings Durst reportedly bought in November 2011 for a total of $8.65 million now sold for $21.15 million.

BCB Property Management, a firm run by Robert Durst’s wife, Debrah Lee Charatan, announced the sale of the properties at 234 Union Avenue in Williamsburg and 250 Pacific Street in Carroll Gardens.

BCB claims to have owned the buildings and Durst was not mentioned in the press release, but court filings from April 2013 revealed that he bought the properties in November 2011 with money from his $43-million dollar trust fund, as DNAInfo previously reported. The two buildings haven’t changed hands since then, according to public records.

Headline »

[9 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]
Brokers bask in summer leasing boom

Amid strong leasing in the second quarter, Manhattan’s office availability has fallen to its lowest level since 2008, reports by commercial brokerages Cassidy Turley and Cushman & Wakefield show.

Manhattan’s availability rate fell to 10.1 percent, according to Cassidy Turley’s Second Quarter Manhattan Office Report – down from 10.4 percent in the first quarter.

The decline was accompanied by one of the largest total leasing volumes in recent decades.

Deals & Dealmakers, Finance & Accounting, Headline »

[2 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]
Loose lending sparks fear of cash crash

Real estate lending is making a triumphant return, but not everyone is happy about it.

A growing number of observers openly worry that the recent uptick in commercial lending activity is being accompanied by a return of the lax underwriting that helped cause the 2008 crash.

“There is a deterioration of underwriting standards independent of what is happening to (market) fundamentals,” said Sam Chandan, an economist who follows the U.S. real estate markets. “Lenders have good reason to be concerned right now about some of the trends we are observing.”

Brokers and economists warn that lending is growing at a faster pace than market fundamentals in many parts of the U.S., spurred by laxer underwriting standards. The most visible symptoms include rising loan-to-value ratios, shrinking interest rate spreads, a growing appetite from lenders for riskier markets, and the return of interest-only loans.

Headline, Retail »

[25 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]
Emirate chain planning big US roll-out

A Dubai-based fast-food chain is setting its sights on the U.S. retail market and expects to open 50 stores in New York City.

Just Falafel, a middle-eastern “fast casual” restaurant chain based in Dubai, announced earlier this year that the company was planning a massive American rollout, having already sold nearly 120 franchises, according to the company.

“Our goal is to become an authentic global aggregator of Mediterranean street food which fits with our brand’s core values of serving authentic, wholesome food with old-world flavors,” said a company spokesperson.

Deals & Dealmakers, Headline »

[17 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]
Cloudy forecast for Midtown

Amid delayed and piecemeal rezoning, the city’s largest developers and brokers are growing increasingly pessimistic about Midtown East.

“My prediction is that Midtown will lose some large tenants in the foreseeable future,” Dennis Friedrich, CEO of Brookfield Office Properties, said at Crain’s Real Estate Conference on Tuesday.

“If you look at pockets in Midtown East, particularly those further away from Grand Central, there’s a compelling reason for users to look at Hudson Yards or Downtown,” Friedrich said. He repeated the common argument that these emerging neighborhoods offer newer, better buildings for less – or at least not much more – rent.

Headline »

[16 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]
Spinola to step down as REBNY President

Steven Spinola will step down as REBNY President at the end of 2015 after almost 30 years at the top of the powerful trade association.

After an article in the Financial Times broke the news this morning – apparently without Spinola’s knowledge or blessing – he confirmed the decision in a press release this afternoon.

Spinola, who became REBNY’s head in 1986, has not only been running what is arguably New York’s most powerful trade association, but also became an influential and oft-quoted mouthpiece for the industry. News of his impending departure is bound to rattle the real estate industry and fuel speculation over his succession.

Finance & Accounting, Headline »

[11 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]
Activist investors keeping REITs on edge

Last week’s open letter by Marcato to the management of American Realty Capital Properties (ARCP) has rekindled a simmering debate over the merits and dangers of investor activism in REITs.

Marcato, an investment firm that owns 2.4 percent of ARCP’s shares, criticized the REIT for “engaging in too many transformative transactions too quickly” — in effect urging it to change its strategy.

While some observers and REIT managers see this kind of investor activism as disruptive, others argue that it makes REITs more accountable and efficient.

The debate has become more important in recent years, as a growing number of formerly private real estate companies are turned into REITs — often for tax purposes

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