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Category ArchiveLightstone Group

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

Lightstone Group Finalizes $51M Deal for Bronx Apartment Buildings

Midtown-based Lightstone Group completed a purchase of four multi-family properties in various neighborhoods in the Bronx on Friday for $50.6 million from Belmar Realty Corp., Commercial Observer has learned.

The developer bought 105 East 177th Street, 2151 Davidson Avenue, 831 Bartholdi Street and 3520 Dekalb Avenue, which collectively have 266 apartments, according to information provided by Marcus & Millichap.

All of the buildings are fully rent-stabilized, save for the 122-unit 831 Bartholdi Street, which is completely free market. The portfolio sold at a 4 percent capitalization rate and deal was $50,000 above its asking price.

“This is a great opportunity for the seller to take advantage of today’s marketplace, and sell to a fantastic buyer in one transaction above the asking price,” said Seth Glasser of Marcus & Millichap, who represented the buyer and the seller with colleagues Peter Von Der Ahe, Joseph Koicim and Michael Fusco.

The Real Deal reported in January that the deal was in contract.

Lightstone Group is looking to upgrade the properties and hold on to them for a medium to long term because they “believe in the appreciation of the assets,” Glasser said.

Belmar Realty also put three other Manhattan properties on the market as part of the same portfolio, 336 West 95th Street on the Upper West Side, 345 East 92nd Street on the Upper East Side and 1975 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Harlem.

The 20-unit property at 1975 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in already in contract, Glasser said, before declining to provide the buyer or the price of the sale. The asking price for that building was $5.7 million.

Source: commercial

George Washington Immigration Group Debuts Loan Platform for EB-5 Debt [Updated]

George Washington Immigration Group has secured the capital to provide $1.25 billion in first-lien construction loans and bridge loans to developers seeking EB-5 financing, Commercial Observer can exclusively report.

The firm declined to specify the source behind the commitment, citing a confidential arrangement.

“We will now be able to provide approved projects with … bridge capital while they seek financing under the EB-5 program,” said Evan Stoopler, a George Washington managing director.

The EB-5 program, administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, offers visas for foreigners who make investments in American enterprises. To qualify, foreign entrepreneurs must invest at least $1 million (or $500,000, if the investment is in a rural area) in projects that stand to create full-time jobs for 10 or more workers.

The arrangements have increasingly appealed to U.S. real estate developers looking for financing of late. Rates tend to be more attractive than those offered by domestic lenders, and foreigners seeking EB-5 visas are often less intent on seeking an equity reward for investment. But it has often difficult to line up foreign investors with shovel-ready projects in time.

That’s where the George Washington company’s bridge loans will come in, said one of the group’s managing partners, Steve Anapoell. His firm plans to use the $1.25 billion pool as interim financing for developers while longer-term EB-5 partners can be matched.

“I am constantly called to ask if I have money to provide as bridge,” Anapoell said. “Developers are hungry for this. [They ask me] ‘can you give bridge? Do you know anyone who can give us bridge?’ They need certainty in the capital stack.”

When George Washington’s short-term financings expire, the company hopes to stand ready to roll those bridge loans over into debt funded by EB-5 applicants. But borrowers will not be bound to refinance through George Washington, Anapoell said.

The company’s members have structured over $2 billion in EB-5 financings, including for Related CompaniesHudson Yards development, for Silverstein Properties30 Park Place, and for Extell Development and Lightstone Group.

Update: This story has been edited to include that the financing will be available for construction loans and bridge loans.

Source: commercial

While Occupancy Skyrockets, NYC Hotel Players See Cause for Concern

Over the past several years, the unofficial motto of the New York City hotel market has been “If you build it, they will come.” The city has seen tens of thousands of new hotel rooms crop up across the city this decade, and there are tens of thousands more in the pipeline due to arrive in the coming years—but despite all that new supply, the rooms keep getting absorbed.

That’s undoubtedly good news for the hotel developers and operators who built those new rooms and plan on bringing more to the market in the near future. But a closer look at the statistics and conversations with hotel market participants reveal a more mixed view of the city’s hotel landscape—one that finds it attempting to strike a balance between the number of rooms sold and the prices being paid for those rooms, and bracing for a variety of headwinds that could make it hard to sustain future development.

The clear, undoubtedly positive story is that while the U.S. hotel industry has struggled recently—with declining tourism figures among the factors that have made it difficult to absorb the roughly 2 percent supply growth experienced nationally last year—New York City has shown little problem handling the 4 percent growth in its supply that it saw in 2017. As Jan Freitag, the senior vice president of lodging insights for data and analytics firm STR, put it, the city’s hotel market is experiencing a dynamic that “doesn’t make sense in any other market but does make sense in New York City.”

The average occupancy of New York hotels in 2017 stood at 86.7 percent, up 1.1 percent from the previous year—with the city now home to more than 119,000 hotel rooms across the five boroughs, according to STR. That 86.7 percent occupancy rate means that nearly nine out of 10 hotel rooms available in the city were sold out through the course of last year—a “stunning” figure given the added supply, Freitag said.

“What demonstrates the strength of the New York market is that all of those hotel rooms are being absorbed in the year that they open,” said Mark VanStekelenburg, a managing director in the hotels division at CBRE. “From an occupancy standpoint, the market is at or near its peak occupancy and is continuing to be, even while we’re experiencing 4 to 6 percent [annual] supply growth. We’ve never really seen something like that in the U.S.”

That should give confidence to the city’s hotel developers, given that room supply will only continue to grow in the next few years; STR tracks more than 22,000 new rooms presently in the city’s development pipeline, including nearly 12,000 that are presently under construction.

But while the city has shown an ability to absorb that kind of supply influx, the underlying economics of doing so—such as the daily rates those rooms are able to command and the revenues flowing into the pockets of hoteliers—are somewhat murkier.

Though hotel occupancy in New York has been on an upward trajectory, average daily rates have not; those slipped 1.4 percent to $255.54 in 2017, according to STR. Room rates in the city have continued to slide since peaking at more than $271 per night in 2014, as has the metric of revenue per available room (RevPAR), which has fallen 4.6 percent to $221.60 in that time.

Market observers attribute this inability to translate high occupancy rates to improved room rates and revenues to a number of factors. Some noted that most of the city’s new hotel rooms fall under the booming limited- or select-service category, where rates are on the lower end of the spectrum (such rooms comprise more than 6,000 of the nearly 12,000 rooms currently under construction in the city, per STR). Others cited the influence of Airbnb, which has forced hoteliers to re-evaluate the prices they ask of consumers who can now choose a cheaper, often more spacious lodging alternative.

Still, despite softening rates and the promise of even more supply to come, it’s not hard to find real estate players willing to bet on the hotel market’s continued viability.

“You can see from our commitment to the city hotel market that we’re still very bullish in our long-term view of hospitality investments,” Mitchell Hochberg, the president of the Lightstone Group, said.

Hochberg pointed to his development firm’s hotel projects around the city, such as its Moxy brand hotels in Times Square, NoMad and the East Village, as examples of Lightstone’s continued faith in the hotel sector. “New York is one of the strongest economies in the country, and it’s a global center for finance and media,” he said. “Although there’s been a supply increase in the last couple of years, the data indicates that demand has kept up with supply.”

1713 pod twin 026 While Occupancy Skyrockets, NYC Hotel Players See Cause for Concern
Guest room at the Pod Times Square Hotel. Photo: The Pod Hotels

But other hotel market players are far less convinced. Richard Born, the co-founder of BD Hotels and the hotelier behind boutique Manhattan brands such as the Mercer Hotel, the Greenwich Hotel, the Ludlow Hotel and the Jane Hotel, espoused his view that, “with some exceptions, by and large the hotel market in New York is terrible.”

He cited a combination of factors including the “erosion” of daily rates (which he attributed to the influx in room supply as well as Airbnb’s vast “shadow inventory”), higher property taxes and operating costs, and the increased influence of third-party booking websites like Expedia and Travelocity (which have brought more transparency and reduced hotels’ “pricing power” while also charging booking commissions that are an additional “line item” for operators).

“Any hotel operator operating today is making a fraction of their net operating income compared to what they were making 10 years ago,” Born said. He added that the operators best positioned to succeed in such a challenging market are the ones capable of differentiating themselves from the more malleable product of their competitors. “There’s a fungibility to the hotel market that makes pricing very difficult because everyone is looking at everyone else’s rates. But the exceptions are the hotels that are not fungible—the ones that are unique, designed and have something different to offer their customers.”

In addition to its higher-end boutique brands like the Mercer, Bowery, Ludlow and Maritime hotels—where rates are on the higher end of the pricing spectrum—BD Hotels has sought to differentiate itself from the landscape with projects like its Pod hotels, which have parlayed the micro-apartment trend into a concept the hotelier terms the “micro-hotel.” With four locations in New York and one in Washington, D.C., the Pod hotels offer nightly rooms of around 100 square feet but also come equipped with food-and-beverage concepts and boutique-minded aesthetics (such as the mural from Brooklyn artist JM Rizzi that adorns the elevator shaft at the recently opened Pod Times Square).

Born pointed to the Pod BK—the brand’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn location—as offering something specifically different from the new luxury hotels that have cropped up in that neighborhood in recent years, such as the Wythe Hotel and the William Vale. “We have a hotel that we don’t think is fungible, in a marketplace where all the hotels are four-star boutiques looking for high rates,” he said.

Hochberg cited a similar rationale behind Lightstone’s Moxy brand; the developer teamed up with Marriott International with the goal of “delivering an affordable product with a lifestyle component to it”—one that offers the sensibilities of a boutique product at a lower price point with smaller rooms and limited-service offerings.

“The industry has introduced many more products and choices for the consumer of the past few years,” Hochberg said. “There’s a whole variety of new genres and brands that are focusing more on the consumer and trying to understand what today’s consumer is looking for.”

Hoteliers may also receive a boost from the fact that, beyond this decade, the city’s hotel development pipeline is slated to slow down significantly, making it easier for the incoming supply to be absorbed and potentially driving up room rates again.

Multiple market observers and participants noted that the supply influx the city is now seeing is the result of plans initiated a few years ago, adding that a variety of factors—from risk-averse lenders shying away from financing new projects to regulatory pressures being placed on the hotel sector by the de Blasio administration—could slow future development significantly.

“When we go out to find financing, there are less people able to provide debt than there were before,” said Eastern Consolidated’s Adam Hakim, a managing director in the brokerage’s capital advisory division. “Lenders control supply and demand; when they give hotel developers money, people build hotels, and when they don’t, they can’t.”

Hakim’s colleague James Murad, a director at Eastern, described the hotel market as “one of the thinnest construction financing markets you can go out for” to procure funds, with lenders mindful about the sheer volume of new supply and how that may affect borrowers’ abilities to refinance in the future.

“That said,” Murad added, “for quality sponsors and the right product, there’s appetite.”

wythe guestroom 4 credit matthew williams While Occupancy Skyrockets, NYC Hotel Players See Cause for Concern
Guest room at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. Photo: Matthew Williams

Jared Kelso, a senior managing director in  Cushman & Wakefield’s global hospitality group, echoed that sentiment. “The last 24 months have been very challenging to find construction financing [for hotels],” he said, attributing the slowdown to lenders being in a “checklist underwriting” mind frame in considering hotel market fundamentals.

But Kelso added that financing is still available to “sponsors with a long and proven track record” with debt funds and alternative lenders also stepping in to fill the void left by the more risk-averse banks. He also noted that the tightening of the financing market is “frustrating for developers but not a bad thing at large” given the impact it will have on restricting supply. “After 2018, the supply pipeline thins dramatically, and that will ultimately be a good thing for the [hotel market] at large.”

And then there are regulatory obstacles that market observers say will impede hotel development in the future. That includes the de Blasio administration’s proposal to limit projects in industrially zoned M1 manufacturing districts by requiring developers to obtain a special permit, as well as the extension of Local Law 50, which prohibits large hotels (150 keys or more) from converting more than a fifth of their rooms to residential units or other non-hotel uses without city approval.

Both measures are perceived by many observers as meant to preserve the interests of the influential hotel workers’ unions and potentially damage the city’s future hotel supply. In the case of the zoning proposal, it will make it harder for developers to find parcels to build on and likely subject those projects receiving a special permit to higher-cost union labor requirements; in the case of Local Law 50, its preservation of existing hotel rooms would dampen the need for new supply in the interest of preserving existing hotel jobs.

According to Hakim, some of the developers behind the current supply pipeline—such as prolific hotel builder Sam Chang of McSam Hotel Group, a client of Eastern’s—are operating on the “thesis that hotel values are going to go up significantly in the next few years. The inventory is going to stabilize, and once it stabilizes, the theory is that you won’t be able to build new ones.” (Chang did not return a request for comment.)

“Twenty-four months from today, in 2020, I think your pipeline of hotels is going to drop to pretty close to zero,” Hakim added. “From there, you’ll see an increase in [room] prices.” But he was also critical of the influence that the current regulatory environment has had on exacerbating this dynamic. “I believe markets should correct themselves properly; you have a lack of [financing], and that’s a correction you’re seeing. But public policy and zoning laws being arbitrarily changed—that’s not how it should work.”

The de Blasio administration, for its part, does not think the proposed zoning regulations will negatively impact the flow of new hotel projects in the city. “We don’t believe the proposed rules will hinder hotel development across the city, which remains strong,” a mayoral spokeswoman said in a statement. “But we do aim to prioritize manufacturing businesses in the zones specifically designated for manufacturing. While hotels have a lot of options for where they can open and operate, these industrial firms don’t.”

The impact of all these various influences could start making themselves felt sooner rather than later, sources said. C&W’s Kelso said that the brokerage believes New York City room rates could start ticking upward as soon as the fourth quarter of this year, while Hochberg said Lightstone projects RevPAR “to be flat to slightly increased in 2018.”

That would be good news for hotel operators in the city—and a testament to its voracious appetite for hotels. Despite all the new supply, the city’s churning economy and robust tourism sector seems to always make room for even more places where people can stay.

“It’s a cultural mecca for the world,” Born said. “Every 14-year-old lives on a handheld device, looking at all this and dreaming of coming to New York, whether you’re in Oklahoma or Bangladesh, to live, work, study and visit here. It’s always going to be a dynamic place for tourism—the issues are going to be the costs of operating and the supply. But we do live in the greatest tourism market in the U.S. and in the world.”

Source: commercial

Mitchell Hochberg Explains Lightstone’s Hotels and Condo Strategy

January and February are slow months in the hotel business.

But you have to hand it to the Moxy, which opened just south of Times Square at 485 Seventh Avenue in the fall—it knows how to spice things up.

Next week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, the hotel is offering a special that includes a drink at the bar, a room for the night and a “curated assortment of sex toys by What’s In Your Box?”

No wonder Moxy has been doing so well!

“We had an extremely strong December,” said Mitchell Hochberg, the president of Lightstone, which is on a spree of opening Moxys, as well as other hospitality and multifamily projects. “We beat our budget by a meaningful amount. January is typically the slowest month—and we beat our budget there, too.”

Hochberg, the 65-year-old married father of two who trained as a lawyer before turning to real estate and started Spectrum Communities before doing stints with Ian Schrager as the COO of his company, invited Commercial Observer to sit down with him in one of the enclosed alcoves off one of the hotel’s five food and beverage venues and have a beer late last year, only two months after the Moxy opened. (We followed up with him last week.) And the 30-year veteran of the hotel business had much to toast.

“Development now has been very, very busy for us—we’re doing just under $3 billion in development in multifamily and hospitality,” Hochberg said. “The majority of it is in New York. We’re doing a project in L.A. and a project in Miami right now as well.”

Please, Mitchell, tell us more!

Commercial Observer: What are you doing in L.A.?1801 co mitchhochberg 108 Mitchell Hochberg Explains Lightstones Hotels and Condo Strategy

Mitchell Hochberg: We’re doing a very large project in Downtown L.A., which is three hotels, 1,100 keys, directly across from Staples Center and the convention center—it’s going to be 23,000 square feet of signage, 50-feet tall. So it’s really going to be Times Square-like. [The properties will consist of] three different hotel in two towers with a lot of food and beverage, restaurants, retail. Part of [why we wanted to be there was] because of the explosion in Downtown L.A. Another is there’s an expansion of the convention center, so right now the downtown market is very underserved from a hotel perspective—plus downtown is obviously growing from a business perspective. [Ground is breaking this year.]

Are these going to be Moxys as well?

Out of the three is a Moxy, another is an AC [both of which are Marriott International brands], and another is a brand we haven’t named yet. [Editor’s note: A Hilton Garden Inn was subsequently named as a third, but this in all probability will be a placeholder.] They will go up concurrently. We’re getting pretty tuned into what’s doing out there, and we probably will do more—we opened an office in L.A., and we’re looking for other projects.

Why do you like L.A. so much?

We tend to focus on major gateway cities. So we gravitate toward New York, L.A., Miami, San Francisco. We just bought a large multifamily project in San Francisco that we’re working on, and we’re developing a Moxy in South Beach as well. In New York we have four Moxys that are under development—three are under construction. This one opened in September 2017. We have a second one that’s opening this summer in NoMad [at 105 West 28th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue]. We have a third that’s under construction in the village at 112 East 11th Street, between Third and Fourth [Avenues], directly across from Webster Hall. There’s a fourth that we’re finalizing on the Lower East Side.

Can the Manhattan hotel market support that? Because I hear there’s been a bit of saturation in Brooklyn and Queens.1801 co mitchhochberg 045 Mitchell Hochberg Explains Lightstones Hotels and Condo Strategy

There’s a lot of product coming on the market in New York. The market has historically been in the high 80s, low 90s occupancy, which is substantially higher than any other place in the country—so long term, if you can build in New York and have a strong basis, you’re going to be fine.

Right now…there’s a bit of a headwind because of a slowdown in travel, partly as a result of the travel ban and also as a result of the strong dollar. But we and all of the experts in the industry—Smith Travel Research, DKF—all project that in ‘18, ‘19, ‘20 the market’s going to start coming back. So we’re long term very bullish—short term, we’re fine in terms of where we think the market’s going. Part of it is the whole premise of Moxy—which is small, cozy hotel rooms—so we’re in at a basis per key which is less, because the size of the rooms is less, but we’re delivering a product and experience that is equal to more conventional, larger hotel room.

Ian Schrager’s doing the same thing at his hotel Public (also a Marriott brand)—is anybody else taking that model?

Yes, there have been brands like Yotel, CitizenM, Pod hotel, Arlo that have done it. We think we’ve done it a little differently, and we like to think it’s a little better in terms of how we approach the design aspects of it, working with Yabu Pushelberg and David Rockwell—and also with how we work the public spaces and the food and beverage. Like, you’re sitting in the lobby here—this is meant as a real communal space. It works in the day as a co-working environment. You’re sitting in our version of a meeting room. We don’t have conventional meeting rooms—our guests are people in the creative arts that need space to sit and talk and have a meeting—not make power point presentations in front of 20 suits.

Hotels aren’t the only things Lightstone is working on, right?

On the multifamily side, we’ve been very fortunate in finding locations that are about to come out—so if you take a look at what we did at 365 Bond Street in Gowanus, [Brooklyn], we were the first ones to do something there. We have almost 40,000 feet of indoor and outdoor amenities in a project that’s not that big. And we focus them on spaces that work for people—not these big cavernous spaces that you see at some projects. So spaces act as living rooms, spaces that act as meeting and co-working spaces. We have in Gowanus and at another [residential] project, ARC [in Long Island City, Queens] a basketball court, we have golf simulators, we have yoga studios. We actually have a greenhouse so that you can plant vegetables and fruit.

In terms of the condominiums, we’re doing two projects: One on the East Side at 40 East End Avenue and East 81st Street, which is a really boutique project that we’re doing with Deborah Berke who’s the dean at the Yale School of Architecture [consisting of 29 units ranging from $3 million to $30 million apiece]. It’s in the mid-$2,000s per foot—because one of the things that we are concerned about is that we think there’s a glut of product in that $3,500 range. That’s ground-up. And we’re doing another project that’s 65 stories at 130 William Street and Fulton Street that’s going to be done with a very high design and also very affordable prices for that area. So that the majority of the units in that building will be under $3 million, which in today’s environment is very neutral.

Where is the condo market right now? It feels like everything is priced so high.

Yeah, it’s tough. What I think has happened is that when we came out of the financial crisis there were a couple of projects that were doing extremely well that were priced at $3,500 a foot. Everybody thought that would be the new market—and that’s just not the case. The market isn’t that deep at that price…It’s going to stop. It’s like musical chairs.

How have these projects been financed?

For us, it has been easy, for a number of reasons. First off, we’re fortunate enough to have our own equity, and everything that we do today we don’t have any equity partners. It’s all Lightstone’s money. So that eliminates one layer of financing.

This Moxy has been open since September. Tell us about it.

We have 612 hotel rooms. There are five restaurants and bars. The average size of the hotel rooms is 175 square feet. So they’re very efficient in terms of how we did it.

Everybody always felt this brand would resonate with the younger traveler, but we felt it would also resonate with the business traveler as well as foreign travelers. Close to half our business is foreign travelers that are used to this [kind of] room quality. They like being in this location. They love having all the food and beverage venues, and for the business traveler, it’s great because again it’s a great location, it’s a very affordable price. It’s very easy to do everything.

You mentioned earlier that you were prudent about the tourism market now but bullish in the long term. What do you think’s going to change?

Well, the only constraint has been the absorption of the product. But the demand is there, and I think the demand will also increase. Clearly, what happens with hotels, as the economy gets better and better, people tend to travel more, and we’ve been in a very bullish economy for the past year, so that’s been a big help. We also think the foreign travelers will start coming back. Taken together it provides a very rosy picture.

What’s your opinion on how the city has been handling Airbnb?

I think they’ve been handling it well. And I’ll tell you something interesting: We didn’t build this in order to go at Airbnb, but the result of what we did really is almost the antidote for the hospitality industry. Because if you take a look at our rates which begin at $149 a night if you have an opportunity to get a room here for $149 a night in the center of Manhattan, make your reservation on the Marriott website and get your rewards points, come through the front door where there’s security, have your bed made every night and have five bars and restaurants at your fingertips—or get an Airbnb out in Queens where you have to take two subways, walk down a dark street, open a door and not know what you’re going to get, it’s a no-brainer. But I think what the city has done is very fair in terms of how they handled it—particularly, the big issue, and I agree with the mayor on this—is taking away from the housing stock. We’ve got a major housing crisis…and anything that you’re doing to take away from that stock is probably not a great idea.

Where does the name “Moxy” come from?

It’s a Marriott brand—Marriott came up with the name. It has some influence by the word “moxie” and having moxie. And it’s a little bit of the attitude of the brand. We don’t take ourselves that seriously. We want it to be a comfortable brand, where you can literally put your feet up on the furniture, have a beer, not feel like you have to be a model and six feet tall, all dressed in black.

It definitely looks cool, too. There’s a cool vibe.

It’s cool without trying to be cool.

Which is the key to being cool, right?

It is. I think there are certain hotels that try too hard. They get a certain crowd. But the vast majority of travelers don’t find it appealing. One of the goals we have with the public space is to attract people from the local community. We think the mixture of local people and tourists is what makes our hotel interesting.

How did you get into the hotel development business?

I’ve always had a passion for hotels. In the 1980s I was working for a real estate investment firm [VMS Realty] that got into the hospitality business, and the first hotel they built was the Boca Raton Hotel and Country Club [in Boca Raton, Fla.] and that hotel was a spectacular property that we ended up redeveloping—and I developed a real passion for hospitality. Over the years I’ve been involved with multiple hotel developments. I love the fact that it’s something you can create, but it’s something that has a life to it. When you’re done creating it you can walk through it and see people enjoying it, using it. It’s a lot different than other types of development.

What’s your favorite hotel that’s not a Lightstone hotel?

My favorite hotel in the world is probably a hotel on Riviera Maya called Maroma, which is owned by Belmond [where he is on the board]. It’s on one of the most magnificent beaches in Mexico, and it’s what people euphemistically call “barefoot chic.” For me, a big part of the hotel is service and hospitality, and particularly the people in Mexico treat you like you’re a guest in their home. And they love what they do. So the service is unbelievable. They have a Mayan spa, which is outdoors, which is incredible. They have one of the most beautiful long-unspoiled beaches. Great food. And it’s incredibly casual. For me, that’s what I love.

What was the worst hotel you ever stayed at?

I’d have to think about that—it doesn’t come as natural as the best.

Source: commercial

Vince Camuto’s VCS Group Moving to 43K-SF Offices at 1407 Broadway

The latedesigner Vince Camuto’s apparel and accessories company VCS Group has signed a 42,748-square-foot lease at Shorenstein Properties1407 Broadway, according to a news release from the landlord’s broker, CBRE.

The company will occupy a part of the third floor of the 38-story building between West 38th and West 39th Streets. The asking rent in the 10-year deal was in the $50s per square foot, according to The Real Deal.   

VSC Group will be consolidating its offices and showrooms from 148 West 37th Street and 141 West 36th Street, both addresses located between Seventh Avenue and Broadway. It hopes to move into the new digs in the spring of 2018.

“VCS was looking to consolidate its operations onto a large, single floor to facilitate collaboration among colleagues,” CBRE’s Peter Turchin said in a prepared statement. “They were attracted by the building’s loft-like feel and incredible sightlines.”

Turchin represented Shorenstein along with Gregg Rothkin, Brett Shannon, Ben Fastenberg, Keith Caggiano and Ross Zimbalist.

Camuto died in January 2015. He was a co-founder of Nine West, which he sold to Jones Apparel Group in 1999 for $900 million, as was reported at the time. Jeffrey Rosenblatt of CBC Advisors brokered the deal for VCS Group’s new offices.

“It enabled [VCS Group] to consolidate into one floor in a full-service building that had been fully renovated,” Rosenblatt said. “It was a great improvement and upgrade. They were on five or six different floors in two different buildings. It made sense.”

Shorenstein purchased the 34-year master lease for the 1.1-million-square-foot tower at 1407 Broadway in April 2015 for $330 million from Abraham Kamber & Company and Lightstone Group, as Commercial Observer previously reported. (Solil Management owns the ground under the property).

The landlord is completing a $30 million renovation of the property, which includes upgrades to the façade as well as a new lobby and elevators.

Source: commercial