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Varsity Letters: Chris Lee and Matt Salem on KKR’s Debt Strategies

Global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. was founded in 1976—so the story goes—when Henry Kravis and George Roberts dined together at (the now defunct) Joe and Rose restaurant on Third Avenue between East 46th and East 47th Streets. Today, KKR has $168 billion in assets under management (as of Dec.31, 2017).

The firm has had a private equity real estate strategy in place since 1981, but more recently it is being recognized as an increasingly powerful force in the debt space,  too.

The firm has two debt strategies; KKR Real Estate Finance Trust (KREF)—an externally managed real estate investment trust (REIT) that originates senior commercial mortgage loans—and KKR Real Estate Credit Opportunity Partners (RECOP), which purchases junior tranches of commercial mortgage-backed securities.

“What takes several people years to build, in terms of size and breadth, they’ve accomplished in a couple of years,” said A.J. Sfarra, a managing director at Wells Fargo Securities. “They’ve raised a $1 billion B-piece fund and a mortgage REIT.”

KREF currently has a total market capitalization of $1.1 billion and a total portfolio size of $2.5 billion. It originated $1.5 billion of loans last year alone—$800 million in the tristate area—playing in the large loan, transitional and value-add space and competing with private lenders such as Square Mile Capital Management, Blackstone and TPG.

In November of last year, it raised a $1.1 billion fund for its RECOP strategy and is the most active buyer of CMBS B-pieces in the market, with an impressive 35 percent of market share. In 2017, it bought junior tranches on 12 deals, comprising $10.9 billion in principal balance. For all transactions,  KKR satisfied either a portion or the entire risk retention requirement, retaining $949 million in face value of the bonds.

Chris Lee and Matt Salem, the firm’s co-heads of real estate credit, lead KKR’s debt business from the company’s headquarters at 9 West 57th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas.

A “frustrated Cowboys fan,” Lee hails from Dallas. After studying economics at Emory University he got his industry start with a summer internship at J.P. Morgan Chase Securities, which then led to him to join Goldman Sachs’ commercial mortgage group as an analyst in 1990. He remained there until 2009 when he moved to Apollo Global Management, then to KKR in 2012.

“I like the competitive nature of it, where you’re out competing every day against very savvy investors to create transactions,” Lee—who turns 40 next month—said of his draw to commercial real estate. “I also like the personalities in real estate. You meet a lot of colorful people, and it’s one of the industries where you continuously interact, whether on the finance side or the development side.”

Jeff Fastov, a senior managing director at Square Mile Capital Management, was co-head of lending at Goldman Sachs when the young Lee joined the bulge-bracket bank, and Lee’s first boss out of college. “His raw intelligence is immediately apparent, and he’s incredibly personable and well-liked,” Fastov said of his protégé. “So when you put these two [attributes] together he’s a formidable competitor because people really like to do business with him.”

Salem, 44, is also a New York City transplant. A Kansas City native (and die-hard Kansas Jayhawks fan), he studied economics at Bates College in Maine and—bucking the traditional route of most Wall Street programs—moved back home after college instead to seek employment.

After “being turned down a bunch of times,” by local banks in his hometown, Salem took a job at Midland Loan Services in 1996. Its platform was growing and it was hiring college kids to assist in its expansion, he recalled. Three years later, he took a position at Travelers Insurance—owned by Citigroup at the time—and moved to New York City. It was there that Salem was tasked with investing in high-yield real estate debt and early mezzanine loans, before segwaying—serendipitously, perhaps—into buying CMBS B-pieces.

When Citi sold Travelers, Salem tried the sell side out for size, working at Morgan Stanley, before joining Goldman Sachs in 2006 as a CMBS trader and ultimately running CMBS trading for the investment bank through the crisis. In 2011, he joined Rialto Capital Management to build out its performing businesses, including high-yield lending platforms—such as preferred equity and mezzanine loans—as well as CMBS B-piece investing.

mattandchris 149 Varsity Letters: Chris Lee and Matt Salem on KKRs Debt Strategies
Matt Salem. Yvonne Albinowski/For Commercial Observer

Meanwhile, over at KKR, Lee and KKR’s head of real estate, Ralph Rosenberg, were planning the next iteration of the firm’s real estate business.

“When I got here in 2012 we were figuring out where we wanted to start the business, so we started it in opportunistic real estate because we thought that would be the area we could differentiate ourselves the most,” Lee said. “The goal was to have an integrated business as a solutions provider where we could provide both equity and debt.”

KKR raised its first equity value-add fund—the $1.5 billion KKR Real Estate Partners Americas, or REPA—at the end of 2013. (“We bought a number of hotels in that fund as the hospitality recovery was starting to take hold,” Lee said. “So a lot of it was a buy-fix-sell strategy where we were buying assets that had broken capital structures or broken operations, fixing them then selling them.”) And it raised its $2 billion successor, REPA II, last year.

But Lee and Rosenberg wanted to further expand the business that KKR had evolved to include a credit business. They already knew that Salem was the man for the job.

“Matt had demonstrated the ability to lead and manage a team,” Lee said. “Rialto had a very active business across multiple products and we had very complementary skills. There was a view that we’d be able to do one plus one equals three if we put our different backgrounds together.”

Salem joined KKR, along with nine members of his Rialto team, in 2014.

“I thought it was an absolutely perfect move for him,” Sfarra said of Salem’s move to KKR, “and in way I couldn’t see him anyplace else. KKR is a world-class organization and he fits that mold perfectly.”

Since then, Lee and Salem have been off to the races, finding opportunity in the heightened regulatory environment and leveraging off KKR’s existing infrastructure.

“We both had a very consistent view of where the market opportunity was, and that was direct, transitional lending,” Salem said. “We didn’t think the banks were in a place to commit that capital anymore, and we thought that we had a different approach in being fully integrated into a global asset manager, and being able to draw not only from an experienced bench of private equity and credit professionals but also from those focused on real estate equity within our own team.

“We think like property owners and we can be flexible,” Salem continued. “So there was a great opportunity to commit capital both from a relative value perspective for our investors as well as differentiating ourselves in the market to our clients who are borrowers and property owners.”

KKR’s lending portfolio is heavily weighted toward office and multifamily assets (the opposite is true for hotels, which comprise less than 5 percent of KKR’s business) and it’s carving out a niche for itself in value-add plays in acquisitions as well as construction loan take-outs where leasing is taking longer than expected.

“We have tremendous range in our business,” Lee said. “This year we’ve quoted loans from $40 million up to $400 million and from Libor plus mid-200s to Libor plus 400. Borrowers are buying different properties and executing different business plans so being able to deliver a range of solutions across what they’re doing in their platform helps us to build that relationship and have more connectivity with them, as well as provide us with a better opportunity to prove our experience.”

Recent transactions include a $180 million loan on PIMCO and Zeller’s Fifth Street Towers—a 1.1-million-square-foot Class-A building in downtown Minneapolis. Like most of KKR’s loans, the deal included an initial funding component, in this case $130 million in upfront funding and $52 million in future funding. PIMCO purchased the building in 2015 and had implemented its business plan with some success but leasing was a little slower than expected and—midway through its business plan—it didn’t have access to additional capital to continue to lease the property. KKR stepped in, refinanced the existing loan and gave PIMCO the capital and runway to lease the building up further, closing the deal within three weeks.

The financing was arranged by Eastdil Secured, which has worked with KKR on multiple transactions.

“Chris can understand risks in a transaction very quickly,” said Grant Frankel, a managing director at Eastdil. “He’s very good at understanding the transactions where it makes sense to stretch, and which ones have the quantitative or qualitative intangibles that—as a lender—you may be willing to push a little harder on. He has a very good sense for that.”

Frankel said that the KKR team is easy to work with, too. “Chris and Matt’s originators are very collegial, very smart and they are all pleasant people,” he said. “They’ve built a really good culture. We [at Eastdil] have a similar culture from a collegiality perspective, so it works well.”

Closer to home, KKR made an inventory loan on the Zaha Hadid-designed apartments at 520 West 28th Street to Related Companies. The $200 million loan was collateralized by the property’s 30 remaining condos that were unsold at the time.

“It’s a very special project,” said Greg Gushee, an executive vice president at Related. “KKR quickly understood the structure, the value and our business plan and were extremely flexible in structuring something that would allow us to pursue that plan.”

Flexibility is one of Salem and Lee’s key selling points in making KKR stand out from the herd, Gushee said.  “Some lenders get very fixated on their loan documents when there’s a twist or turn in a deal,” Gushee said. “Chris just says, ‘Okay. Let’s see what makes sense to do here…’ He’s always flexible and open to doing what makes sense for the asset.”  

And, “they can come up with a structure very quickly, get a term sheet to you within days and they can close within 30 days, easily,” Gushee said. “[KKR is] the place to go if you want great execution. They look at the situation and they can customize the solution.” 

Like everyone else in the debt space today, KKR is having to compete with a variety of capital sources for deals.

“It’s competitive, we wouldn’t argue with that, but it’s still a relationship business and it comes down to how you can help your borrower achieve their goal,” Lee said. “A lot of our borrowers aren’t looking to finance a property that is already stabilized; they’re looking for help to execute a business plan. Because we execute a lot of these business plans ourselves we can be very constructive in helping them to solve a capital issue.”

And while relationships are important, so are the cost of funds—something that definitely works to KKR’s advantage.

“Being part of a global asset management firm is extremely helpful for us and we think we have top-tier cost of capital in terms of what we receive from our lending counterparties,” Lee said. “We also have other ways to enhance returns because we have access to different tools at our disposal in terms of the way we finance ourselves, through our capital markets team and our $45 billion corporate credit business. A lot of those synergies accrue to the benefit of our company, KREF, and its shareholders. But that’s how you compete—on borrower experience and on price.”

Salem sees KKR’s speed of execution as the biggest differentiator in its segment of the market: “We’re a small team and not as rigid as [other lenders] so you don’t have to go through layers and layers of investment committee approvals and bank processes to get things changed if business plans evolve,” he said. “Things change in these buildings and they need flexibility and a lender that’s going to be able to work with them through these changes.”

KKR’s other vertical in its debt business, CMBS B-piece buying, has Salem’s name written all over it as a veteran in the space. Most recently, at Rialto, Salem had led a dominant team in the space.

The opportunity was driven by Dodd-Frank and risk retention regulations in the CMBS fixed-rate conduit market, specifically the carve-out that allows banks to pass some of  their risk retention to a third-party purchaser. 

mattandchris 058 Varsity Letters: Chris Lee and Matt Salem on KKRs Debt Strategies
Chris Lee. Yvonne Albinowski/For Commercial Observer

“We thought it was a great opportunity because the banks weren’t going to want to hold that risk and we have the expertise to do it,” Salem explained. “We can create a retention vehicle with our relationships with like-minded, long-dated investors. Combining the institutional client base of KKR with our broad internal underwriting resources across private equity, corporate credit and real estate works well. We draw from all these resources and do all of the underwriting and diligence, which makes us very credible investors in the space.”

Sfarra has known Salem for 15 years. He first met Salem when he was at Citi and buying B-pieces from Wells Fargo. Sfarra hired Salem at Morgan Stanley and sold him B-pieces at Rialto and KKR. Additionally, Wells Fargo took KREF mortgage REIT public last year, leading the underwriting group. “He’s been a B-piece buyer, he’s been a colleague, he’s been a client and he’s a really good friend as well,” Sfarra said.

Further cementing their relationship, Wells Fargo also sold KKR its very first B-piece. “We’re really thrilled to support their business,” Sfarra said. “What they’ve done is built a really successful B-piece business in a really short period of time and the only way you can really do that is by having the capital to do it and by having great relationships. Their word is their bond so people want to transact with them and they’re very smart guys.”

Fastov met Salem when he was on the mortgage desk at Goldman Sachs. “He’s an incredibly smart guy, and very straightforward,” he said. “The B-piece business is one part real estate and one part capital markets which is why he’s so effective at buying CMBS B-pieces because you need both of these skills.”

And while KREF and RECOP continue to have success, so does KKR’s real estate equity business. The opportunity has evolved since 2011 from investing in broken capital structures coming out of post-crisis distress to more thematic investing, with KKR finding macro themes of interest and applying them through the real estate sector.

It also presents opportunities to lend to some of its competitors in the debt space.

Square Mile and KKR teamed up last June on a California office deal, with Square Mile providing a $92 million loan for KKR’s acquisition of 180 Grand—a 15-story, 279,000-square foot-office building located in the Lake Merritt submarket of Downtown Oakland.

“There was a lot of trust that we could deliver on the terms we offered and that we’d focus on what mattered in the transaction,” Fastov said. “When we agreed to do the deal together, Chris said, ‘Let’s stay in touch if there are any real issues in the documentation,’ and guess what? There were none. It’s an example of KKR doing a lot of different things, just as we are, and there are opportunities to be lenders to each other.”

Maybe it’s that out-of-state charm, but—as well as being highly respected deal counterparties—Lee and Salem are known for being all around good people and family guys.

Frankel describes Lee as “a good guy, smart and pretty cerebral. He’s a straight shooter and just a pleasant person you enjoy doing business with.”

“I get Chris’ holiday card every year and his kids are exceedingly cute. If Matt would send me his holiday cards I could comment there, but he doesn’t. So…that’s an issue,” Fastov said, laughing.

As for the future of KKR’s real estate credit business, “I think there’s a lot of growth ahead of us,” Salem said. “We’re one of the newer businesses at KKR. The firm views real estate and real estate credit as strategically important and a growth initiative, and so we’ll have resources and capital available to us to grow.” O.K., KKR.

Source: commercial

Sterling Flips High-End Rodeo Drive Property in $110M Sale to LVMH

Sterling Organization, a private equity firm based in Palm Beach, Fla., doubled its money on the sale of a 7,634-square-foot parcel at 456 N. Rodeo Drive  in Beverly Hills. Sterling netted a cool $110 million for the property—which includes a 6,200-square-foot vacant single-story building and a 1,500-square-foot parking lot between Santa Monica Boulevard and Brighton Way—in the heart of the so-called “Golden Triangle,” one of the country’s most sought-after locations for luxury retail, according to an official release from Sterling. Last week’s sale came a mere day after Sterling closed its purchase of the property from The Karl B. Schurz Trust (Schurz Trust) for $55 million.

The purchaser of the property, a subsidiary of Paris-based, multinational conglomerate LVMH originally considered  leasing space at the property, but the company alternatively expressed an immediate interest in acquiring it. LVMH, which counts Louis Vuitton and Loewe among its portfolio of upscale brands, owns two other stores in the area at 319-323 North Rodeo Drive and 420 North Rodeo Drive, according to The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of the sale.

LVMH declined to comment on the purchase.

Sterling’s acquisition of the property resulted from a highly structured off-market transaction, when it signed a 30-year ground lease with rights to purchase on Oct. 26, 2017.

Last week’s sale transferred the 456 N. Rodeo Drive  property to the luxury goods behemoth for approximately $17,750 per square foot.

Retail agent Robert Cohen, a vice chairman at RKF in Los Angeles, commenting on the deal, said the move for LVMH was a “very smart move” and part of an overall trend of European retailers investing in brick-and-mortar real estate in top U.S. shopping districts.

“This is a trend we’ve seen more and more of, which is personified on Rodeo Drive for several reasons, the least of which is that it’s only three-blocks long, an easy market and low-density. These retailers don’t have to worry about offices, residential or hotels, which is more difficult,” he said.

“Rents have gone up historically. It’s held its value. Europeans are very smart because they have not only the ability but they understand buying is better long-term than leasing. You control your own destiny.” (This is a trend that WSJ recently noted in Manhattan.)

Cohen pointed out that while $17,000-plus a square foot is high considering the comparables, over time, it works out to make good business sense. Average asking rents per per square foot on Rodeo Drive ranges from $600 to $1,000, Cohen said, so, say, over 20 years, the price paid averages $850 per foot. “You’re at the middle of the market, but now you own the property. Not only are you not paying rent, but you have an asset that is increasing in value,” he said.

Indeed. Rents on this stretch of Rodeo Drive, home to luxury retailers including Hermes, Chanel, Celine, Tiffany & Co. and Givenchy, rank among the highest in the nation. Retail rents on Rodeo Drive were $875 per square foot in 2017, according to statistics from Cushman & Wakefield’s 2017 year-end Los Angeles retail report, making the locale the second-highest in the nation. (Upper Fifth Avenue—49th Street to 60th Streets—in New York City still dominates, the C&W data indicate, closing 2017 at $2,982 per square foot.)

Negotiations for 456 N. Rodeo Drive began in July 2017 between Jonathan Mendis, Sterling’s senior vice president of investments for the Western United States, Brian Kosoy, Sterling’s president and CEO, and the trustee for Schurz Trust. The months of negotiations culminated in the October 2017 ground lease execution and purchase of the fee interest.

“When a circumstance presents itself to acquire a Rodeo Drive property, you aggressively pursue it, regardless of the complications involved in getting a deal done,” Kosoy said in prepare remarks. “This was a win-win-win for all three parties involved with each securing what they desired. The deal round-tripped a lot faster than we projected, and we are extremely pleased with the exceptional financial results we were able to provide to our investor partners.”

Kosoy told Commercial Observer his firm flipped the property because it felt it was in the best interest of its investor partners.

“Part of the opportunity in the commercial real estate sector pertaining to retail is that the passive observer, analysts, as well as much of the media, seem to repeatedly throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Kosoy said. “There are many areas that are immune to the woes of retailers today and Rodeo Drive is one of them. Great retail real estate is not under assault as many believe.”

He foresees Rodeo Drive real estate going in only one direction value wise: higher. “Continued limited and static supply and high demand assures such,” Kosoy said.

Cohen concurred, calling Sterling’s flip, “a brilliant play.”

“It’s an amazing story,” he added. “From a real estate perspective, they tied this up to a ground lease with an option to purchase, obviously purchased, it and to turn this around in a day and sell it, to basically double your money— that shows how voracious an appetite some of these people— these retailers have for real estate.”

Source: commercial

Lightstone Pays $60 Million for LIC Hilton

Lightstone Group has purchased a Hilton Garden Inn at 29-21 41st Avenue in Long Island City for $60 million, according to property records filed with the city today.  

Lightstone took out a $35 million mortgage from Western Alliance Bank to purchase the property, records show. A spokesman for the developer didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

A group of investors that includes Sagamore Capital and Ranger Properties sold the hotel. They bought the 6,700-square-foot site it sits upon for the bargain basement price of $6.3 million in 2010.

The 16-story, 183-key hotel was completed and opened in 2015, Brownstoner reported at the time.

The Hilton will be Lighstone’s fourth hotel in New York City, after developing millennial-focused Moxy hotels at 485 7th Avenue, 105 West 28th Street and 112 East 11th Street. And it’s not Lighstone’s only property in the neighborhood. In November 2017, the firm finished a 428-unit residential tower, the ARC, at 30-02 39th Avenue.

Source: commercial

Google Closes $2.4B Acquisition of Chelsea Market

Google, which already occupies a significant portion of the 1.2-million-square-foot Chelsea Market building, has sealed a deal to buy the mixed-use property from Jamestown for $2.4 billion. The transaction was finalized today, according to a press release from Jamestown.

Jamestown will continue to manage the retail and food hall at Chelsea Market, a former Nabisco factory at 75 Ninth Avenue that occupies the full block between Ninth and 10th Avenues and West 15th and West 16th Streets, the release indicates. And according to The Wall Street Journal, Jamestown will retain the branding rights and intellectual property connected to the Chelsea Market name outside of Manhattan.

“For Jamestown, this is the highest-profile example to date of our unique approach to creating value, but it’s consistent with transformative projects we’ve successfully undertaken across the country,” Michael Phillips, the president of Jamestown, said in a statement. “It’s a combination of identifying underutilized locations, creative and visionary repositioning, value-creating management, rigorous financial analysis and patience.”

Jamestown purchased a 75 percent stake in Chelsea Market in 2003 for $280 million, according to property records. Then it bought out its partners in 2011, spending a total of $795 million, records indicate. Office tenants in 75 Ninth Avenue include Google in 400,000 square feet, as well as Major League Baseball and the Food Network.

Google has been growing its footprint in Chelsea. In 2010, the tech giant bought 111 Eighth Avenue from Jamestown, Taconic Investment Partners and the New York State Common Retirement Fund for $1.77 billion. That property, which houses Google’s headquarters, is across from Chelsea Market. Last year Google expanded by 60,000 square feet to 240,000 square feet at 85 10th Avenue between West 15th and West 16th Streets, as CO previously reported. And at Pier 57, Google plans to tack on 70,000 square feet for offices and 50,000 square feet for public engagement space to the 250,000 square feet it has already leased.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., said in an official statement: “This purchase further solidifies our commitment to New York, and we believe the Manhattan Chelsea Market will continue to be a great home for us and a vital part of the neighborhood and community.”

Cushman & Wakefield‘s Douglas Harmon, Adam Spies, and Kevin Donner represented Jamestown in the deal. Harmon declined to comment. Darcy Stacom of CBRE represented Google. Stacom’s assistant said the broker is on vacation.

Source: commercial

Thor, Premier Equities Sell Three-Story Meatpacking Retail Condo for $87M

Thor Equities and Premier Equities have closed a deal to sell their three-story retail condominium at 412 West 14th Street for $87 million, sources with knowledge of the deal told Commercial Observer.

The buyer is Union Investment, the investment arm of DZ Bank, as The Real Deal reported last month when the deal was in contract.

Lexus leases the entire 16,500-square-foot condo, plus 5,500-square-foot rooftop at the property between Ninth Avenue and Washington Street via a 10-year deal that expires in April 2024, the sources said. The luxury carmaker is still building out the space for a concept store.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Adam Spies, Kevin Donner and Marcella Fasulo represented Thor and Premier. A spokesman for Thor declined to comment, as did Spies. A Premier representative wasn’t immediately reachable. RKF’s Brian Segall represented the buyer. Segall declined to comment.

Premier and Thor bought the commercial condo in April 2012 for $18 million.

Source: commercial

Gatsby Enterprises Buys Harlem Commercial Building for $19.5M

Real estate investor Nader Ohebshalom’s Gatsby Enterprises has acquired a Harlem office and retail building at 75 West 125th Street from owner and sole tenant Carver Federal Savings Bank for nearly $19.5 million, Commercial Observer has learned.

Gatsby is paying just shy of $700 per square foot for the four-story, 27,933-square-foot property between Fifth and Lenox Avenues, which currently houses Carver Federal Savings Bank’s headquarters in its office portion and a bank branch in its ground-floor retail space. The two sides entered contract late last year and closed on the transaction on Feb. 22, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.

The bank is expected to vacate its offices at the building before the end of this year but maintain its retail presence on the ground floor by leasing back the space, sources said. The arrangement allows Gatsby to re-tenant the office space at higher rents while removing the risk of having to find a new street-level tenant in a challenging retail environment.

In addition, the Harlem property features unused development rights that take its total buildable square footage to around 70,500 square feet, the sources added—enabling Ohebshalom’s firm to potentially redevelop the site into a larger building in the future.

Gatsby was represented by broker Joshua Nazar of Venture Capital Properties, while a Colliers International team of Eric Yarbo, Christopher Turner and Sam Hamlin represented Carver.

Representatives for both Colliers and Venture Capital Properties confirmed the transaction but declined further comment. Neither Gatsby nor Carver Federal Savings Bank returned requests for comment.

Source: commercial

Intercontinental Bets Big on Burbank

Boston-based Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation, a national real estate investment, development and management firm, acquired Connexion Burbank for $123.5 million in mid-February, according to an official release.

Intercontinental’s purchase—on behalf of its managed fund U.S. Real Estate Investment Fund—includes a three-building urban campus totaling 337,904 square feet in downtown Burbank. It marks the fourth office investment and sixth overall investment for Intercontinental in the Los Angeles area. Previous office deals for Intercontinental were the Apollo at Rosecrans in El Segundo, Bristol 61 in Culver City and 6300 Wilshire in Miracle Mile.

Jessica Levin represented Intercontinental in-house. NKF Capital Markets’ Kevin Shannon, Rob Hannan, Michael Moll and Laura Stumm represented the seller—a joint venture between Lincoln Property Company and Angelo Gordon—along with Kent Handleman of Lincoln Property Company and Doug Marlow of CBRE.

Shannon told Commercial Observer that the property was attractive to Intercontinental Real Estate corporation because it provided newly renovated creative office product—a hot property type in Los Angeles—and the likelihood that it will benefit from the “Blackstone Effect” from Blackstone’s 2017 recapitalization of Jeff Worthe’s extensive Burbank portfolio. Between Blackstone’s “mini-monopoly” and a vacancy rate at less than 10 percent in the area (9.4 percent), Shannon said he expects market rents in Burbank to increase.

According to CBRE’s Greater Los Angeles office report from the fourth quarter 2017, asking rents in the Tri-Cities market, which includes Burbank, Pasadena and Glendale, average $3.04 a square foot.

The Connexion sale comes four months after Blackstone paid $1.7 billion for a majority ownership of six office properties totaling 3.3 million square feet in Burbank’s media district. Blackstone said it wanted to be in one of the key cradles of content creation, especially as big Web-based firms such as Amazon and YouTube’s owner, Google, are rapidly expanding their entertainment businesses.

Located at 303 North Glenoaks Boulevard, 333 North Glenoaks Boulevard and 300 East Magnolia Boulevard, the properties were built in 1983, 1978 and 1984, respectively. They recently underwent a major capital renovation and rebranding, which totaled nearly $8 million, and included an extensive plaza renovation, new common areas, significant upgrades to all three lobbies and the addition of two outdoor decks. The buildings are situated on just over three acres of land and provide direct access to an abundance of walkable amenities within downtown Burbank.

Collectively, Connexion Burbank is 91 percent occupied by a diverse set of tenants like Turner Broadcasting (Cartoon Network), Regus, Citibank, Blackmagic Design and University of Redlands.

“With a foundation of long term credit tenancies and a diverse mix of media/entertainment, legal, healthcare, government and non-profit firms, the property currently benefits from excellent proximity to a wide variety of amenities and a creative labor pool,” Levin said. “The building will continue to perform well due to its central location within downtown Burbank, and we expect it to outpace the market as a result of numerous development plans underway nearby.”

The business plan for the property includes minor updates to the lobby and other common areas of the building, she said, but declined to provide how much was earmarked for the purpose.

Source: commercial

TIAA Selling HQ Building at 730 Third Avenue

National financial services organization the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, also known as TIAA, is putting its Midtown headquarters building at 730 Third Avenue on the market, Commercial Observer has learned. The decision to sell is purely financial, according to a source briefed on TIAA’s plans but not authorized to discuss them publicly.

An investment sales broker who is not involved with the property weighed in on the building’s value.

“I would say, off the cuff, without knowing the [net operating income] or occupancy, it should trade for more than $600 per square foot and even as high as $850 a square foot given its proximity to the [United Nations],” the broker said. That amounts to as much as $462.5 million.

TIAA, known as TIAA-CREF until 2016, is expected to keep its headquarters at the 1959-built 28-story, 665,110-square-foot office structure between East 45th and East 46th Streets. TIAA bought the property in January 1973, property records indicate. The source said that the company intends to remain in the building after the sale.

Tenants include Roosevelt Investments, law firm Tofel & Partners and retailer Men’s Warehouse.

A spokesperson for TIAA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: commercial

Super Fi Emporium Opening Second East Harlem Supermarket

Super Fi Emporium is opening its second full-service supermarket in East Harlem, Commercial Observer has learned, after spending $10 million on a commercial unit yesterday.

The new market will span the entire 12,750 square feet of ground-floor retail space at HAP Investment’s new 2211 Third Avenue at the corner of East 121st Street. The market is participating in the city’s Food Retail Expansion to Support Health, or FRESH, program that provides savings to owners and increases the availability of affordable, healthy food options in areas of high need.

“We are thrilled to be the retail tenant at 2211 Third Avenue,” Anthony Reynoso, one of the owners of SuperFi Emporium, said in a statement. “2211 Third Avenue is a great addition to the area, and we look forward to being the go-to supermarket for the tenant community as well as the rest of the East Harlem neighborhood.”

Super Fi has a location 1635 Lexington Avenue between East 103rd and East 104th Streets which it reopened in June 2013, also via the FRESH program.

Douglas Elliman Faith Hope Consolo and Arthur Maglio represented both sides in the deal, and is working on another deal for Super Fi Emporium in Harlem. “They believe in Harlem,” Consolo said. “For East Harlem, this is a nice push. Harlem needs the same options in food that is all over the city.” The new market will open in spring 2018.

HAP hosted a ribbon cutting and opening ceremony for the completion of the 108-unit building, known as Hap Ten, on Nov. 7. It was designed by Fischer + Makooi Architects.

“With the addition of SuperFi Emporium, we are certain the building will be the most sought after rental destination in East Harlem,” Eran Polack, the chief executive officer of HAP Investments, said in a prepared statement.

Monthly residential rents at 2211 Third Avenue range from $2,100 for a studio to $3,750 for a two-bedroom, according to information provided by HAP. The building features doormen, elevator, fitness center, roof-deck, terraces, private storage, bike room, on-site parking and in-unit washers/dryers.

“This is a win-win for Harlem and it’s a win-win for [Super Fi],” Consolo said. “And it’s a wonderful amenity for the building.”

HAP Investments acquired 2211 Third Avenue, 214 East 121st Street and 216 East 121st Street from Tahl-Propp Equities in May 2014 for $13 million, according to property records.


Source: commercial

ShopOne Centers REIT Buys NJ Mall for $26M Cash

Real estate investment trust ShopOne Centers REIT has paid $26.5 million for a shopping center in South Plainfield, N.J., Commercial Observer can exclusively report.

The cash purchase of the 140,000-square-foot mall was made possible by a new credit facility that ShopOne obtained from KeyBanc Capital Markets in November, according to Michael Carroll, the REIT’s chief executive officer. Last month, CO reported that the credit would be used both to replace existing debt and to acquire new shopping centers.

The latest purchase, Oak Park Commons, at 913 Oak Tree Avenue, is 98 percent occupied with 22 tenants, anchored by an outlet of supermarket chain Acme Markets. The shopping center, which appears to have been previously owned by Pennsylvania-based WP Realty, also hosts a CVS, a McDonald’s and two automotive stores.

WP Realty did not immediately return a request for comment.

“The purchase of Oak Park Commons aligns with our strategy of acquiring well-located shopping centers in densely populated, fundamentally strong markets across the country,” Carroll said in a statement. “This property is particularly attractive considering its prime position in a major transportation corridor and the opportunity to unlock incremental value through operational and capital improvements.”

In an uncertain moment for retail, New York City-based ShopOne touted the favorable demographics of the community surrounding Oak Park. South Plainfield, 25 miles southwest of Downtown Manhattan, boasted a median household income of nearly $92,000 in 2016, according to U.S. Census data. Retail sales per capita in the town topped $20,000 in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available.

“There is strong demand from tenants for strong, well-located shopping centers,” Carroll wrote in an email to CO. “The center features everyday necessity goods and services including grocery, drug, banking, restaurants and medical.”


Source: commercial