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Category ArchiveSavills Studley

Euro Retailers Sense Opportunity Here While US Brands Look to Old World for Salvation

Last week, while JLL retail pro Michael Hirschfeld was in London for business, he learned of three U.K. retailers collapsing.

Those were the U.K. arm of Toys “R” Us, which went into insolvency administration, Maplin Electronics, which failed to find a buyer to get it out of administration, and dining chain Prezzo, which is being restructured. In addition, the 600-fleet London fashion chain New Look is looking to make deals with landlords to close underperforming stores and reduce rents.

The news sounds eerily similar to headlines in the U.S. as bankruptcies, e-commerce and the popularity of discount department and specialty stores have impacted the retail business on both sides of the pond.

“I think the retail challenges are universal,” said Hirschfeld, a vice chairman of national retail tenant services at JLL who spends 80 percent of his time bringing retailers from Europe to the U.S. and vice versa.

This comes, however, with a big caveat.

It is often said that what happens in the U.S. market will then follow in Continental Europe and Great Britain. But JLL warned in a retail report comparing the U.S. and Europe at the end of 2017, “we shouldn’t assume markets automatically mirror each other.”

In Europe, and the U.K. in particular, retailers braced themselves for the change in shopping patterns due to e-commerce faster and earlier than did their U.S. counterparts, according to the JLL report.

And beyond the internet, there are clear differences between the two markets.

One of the big ones is the sheer amount of retail space available in the U.S., in large part due to an excessive number of shopping centers. In the U.S., there is 13,713 square feet of leasable shopping center space per 1,000 people, JLL determined at the end of last year. In the U.K., by contrast, there is 3,175 square feet per 1,000 people, and in Europe as a whole, there is 2,335 square feet.

And the European retailers smell the opportunity—many view the U.S. as if “it’s on sale,” Hirschfeld said. “You’re seeing rent levels that you could achieve in the financial crisis. It’s a very opportune time. The demand is super strong.”

Hirschfeld brokered deals to bring British clothing company Superdry to various cities in the U.S. and is working on a deal for British toy store Hamleys to come to New York City. Accessories brand Furla, which comes from Milan and already has a store in Manhattan, is expanding with a new lease in Aventura Mall in Miami, Fla. (one of the top malls in the country), and one in the Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas (another top U.S. mall) with likely another three or four more in major markets, he said of his client.

Susan Kurland, an executive vice president and a co-head of global retail services at Savills Studley, said that the difference between retail in Europe and the U.S. is the vacancies.

“The difference is their spaces are filled,” Kurland said. “You walk down our Madison Avenue, and almost every store on Madison Avenue is available.”

She is working with a high-end Chinese-owned Milan-based company, which is looking to enter the U.S.

“[The owner] feels the only places to expand are China and the U.S. as those are the two most important markets,” the broker said. “They’re in…the exclusive places in China. They’re on the important street in Milan. He feels that the U.S. is really important for his expansion.”

While there will be more store closures in Europe, JLL determined that the continent is “unlikely to experience the sheer volume of closures currently being forecast in the U.S.”

Another distinction between the U.S. and Europe is that most of Europe employs a high-street model rather than a shopping-center model. Furthermore, in shopping centers, the U.S. has relied on department store anchors (which have been one of the worst victims of e-commerce and commoditization), JLL noted. In Europe, on the other hand, shopping mall owners have been quick to switch gears with their anchor tenants, often turning to food-and-beverage concepts, and they are more diverse in their offerings.

Yet another important difference between European and U.S. leases is the rent structure. In the U.S., when a tenant signs a lease it knows what the rent is for the entire term. In the U.K., for example, you may sign a 10-year deal, but every couple of years you go through a fair-market rent review process, Hirschfeld said, so you don’t know your rent.

But one thing both places have in common is that consumers have so many options for how they want to shop.

“We’re seeing across the board a fragmentation of distribution,” said Betsy McCullar of Hilltop Alliance, who develops and executes marketing and strategy solutions for brands and businesses. “Western Europe is even more fragmented than the United States because, for example, the U.K. and Germany—and France, to some extent—have a big mature structure of department stores. But Italy and Spain are still dominated by one-off specialty stores.”

Among the European brands that are on the fast track in the U.S. are fast-fashion brands Swedish Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), Zara from Spain and the U.K.-based Reiss Ltd., The Wall Street Journal reported in May 2017. Amsterdam-based Scotch & Soda is also popping up in the U.S. with 28 free-standing retail stores, with a store at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, N.Y. opening on March 30. European discounters like German grocer Aldi, German competitor Lidl and Irish clothing company Primark are on a tear in the U.S., Bloomberg Gadfly pointed out last October. International cosmetics companies like Rituals from Amsterdam are taking New York City by storm. Plus there are food chains like Wagamama, an Asian food concept that actually hails from London, that has set up shop in New York City and Boston.

When entering the U.S., European retailers focus on major cities for entrée.

Since they’re used to high streets at home, European retailers want to rent on a U.S. high street. And they generally enter by way of one of the gateway markets of New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Las Vegas, Hirschfeld said. They often choose a U.S. location that is most similar to where they hail from, Hirschfeld said.

“Brands usually like to do either the East Coast or the West Coast initially, and I believe that most start on the East Coast first,” said Robin Abrams, a vice chairman of retail at Eastern Consolidated, with New York City being a priority due to its tourist population, ease of navigation, walkability and great public transportation. For U.K. retailers, New York is logical, Abrams said, “because it is more similar” than other places in the U.S.

Interestingly, CBRE’s most recent annual global retail report highlighted Philadelphia as a target city for international retailers in 2016. That year, Italian furniture company Natuzzi Italia and Superdry set up shop in Philadelphia, the fifth-largest city in the U.S. The market was appealing, the report said, because of its increased millennial population, income growth, new multihousing developments, burgeoning food and retail scene and reputation as a tourist destination.

But there’s no refuting that New York City often is the beau ideal market for European retailers looking to expand abroad.

21 Euro Retailers Sense Opportunity Here While US Brands Look to Old World for Salvation
SUITING UP: EUROPEAN WOMEN’S STORE SUITSTUDIO HAS FARED WELL IN BROOKFIELD PLACE SINCE OPENING LAST NOVEMBER. Photo: Brookfield Property Partners

“Retailers looking for a first or second opportunity look at New York,” said Mark Kostic, a vice president of retail leasing in the U.S. at Brookfield Property Partners. “Everyone’s next step is a global flagship in New York.”

Kostic worked on the deal to bring European suitmaker Suitsupply to Brookfield Place. The brand has fared well since the men’s store opened about a year ago, and the women’s store Suitstudio opened this past November, he said.

Jason Pruger, an executive managing director at Newark Knight Frank, said he will be helping Black Sheep Coffee expand from London into the U.S. come springtime. He anticipates that Black Sheep will enter the country by way of New York City.

“We are looking to expand in the U.S. because we have be inundated with customer requests, particularly in the last few months—mostly Americans living in the U.K. or who came across Black Sheep while visiting the U.K.,” said Gabriel Shohet, one of the co-founders of Black Sheep Coffee. “New York City has many Black Sheep fans but is one of four U.S. cities [including Chicago, Washington, D.C.. and Atlanta] we have shortlisted as a potential starting base for a U.S. market entry.”

Faith Hope Consolo, the chairman of Douglas Elliman’s retail leasing, marketing and sales division, said that New York City is “the shopping capital of the world, and the No. 1 leisure activity in this country is shopping. Yes, New York City is the center of the world. Companies are willing to risk everything to make it here. Just like the song goes, ‘If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.’ ”

Going the other way, U.S. retailers often start in London for their European expansion, where English is the native language. Indeed, companies from the U.S. marked the majority of new international retail entrants to London in 2016, according to CBRE’s global retail report. (Hirschfeld called London “probably the retail capital of the Europe in many ways.”)

But London is desirable for just about any retailer looking to make an entrance on a global stage. “Overseas brands continue to see London as the pathway to greater expansion” in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, or EMEA, the CBRE report said. London was the second most-targeted market globally for international retailers entering new markets in 2016 (behind Hong Kong) and 10 markets in EMEA made the list of 19 global cities with the greatest international retailer presence. And this was the year of the Brexit vote for the U.K. to leave the European Union, so presumably the vote did not rock anybody’s faith in London retail.

At the end of last year, New York-based high-end fitness brand Equinox opened its first standalone E by Equinox location—an even higher-end Equinox—in central London. “Opening our first standalone E by Equinox in one of the most esteemed neighborhoods in London was only fitting,” Gentry Long, the managing director of U.K. operations for Equinox, said in a press release in December 2017. “We’re thrilled to introduce an elevated take on the private members’ establishment with fitness at its core.”

Some in-demand cities for U.S. retailers going abroad are Germany’s Munich, Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfort for fashion brands and food and beverage brands, Hirschfeld said. And there’s Paris, France and Milan, Italy. He has not seen a lot of demand for a Spain brick-and-mortar location.

In the last coupe of years, Hirschfeld’s team has brought Detroit-founded Shinola watch, bicycle and leather company to London. And his team brought Seattle-based outerwear company Filson to London.

“What you must look at when you’re looking throughout Europe, or Asia or South America is products that are transferrable to other markets,” Virginia Pittarelli, a principal of Crown Retail Services whose clients have included Sephora and Godiva, told Commercial Observer late last year.“That’s really the key.”

Source: commercial

Changes Afoot at Savills Studley 

There’s a bit of musical chairs going on at Savills Studley, Commercial Observer has learned.

Facing retirement within the next few months, John Pantazis has stepped down from his COO post at the firm and has become an executive vice president and director as the firm transitions to a new COO, Mitchell Steir, the chairman and CEO of Savills Studley, told CO. Savills Studley former CFO Al Petrillo has become the COO.

No new CFO has been named, but Vic Russo, who was the senior vice president of finance under Petrillo, has assumed his former boss’ duties, Steir said.

“These are just personnel changes that happen within a company,” Steir explained.

The firm has also promoted Patrick McGrath to a newly created position of CIO and head of client technologies. He was the head of cross-border transactions at Savills Studley, executing traditional commercial real estate transactions and developing best practices, technology solutions and analytic tools for companies with multi-national footprints, a company press release about the new position provided exclusively to CO indicates.

In a more sweeping measure, Savills Studley—which came out of the 2014 acquisition by international real estate adviser Savills of U.S.-based tenant representation firm Studley—has promoted 87 professionals throughout the United States in all service offerings. Of them, 39 were made vice chairman, 17 of them in New York City, a spokeswoman said. One broker speculated that this move was done to try and retain its talent. Steir said that he didn’t think a title would “lead anyone to stay some place they don’t want to stay.”

Steir said the 800-person company is always promoting people, and naming people vice chairman for the first time “in many ways was long overdue.”

He added: “The vice chairman promotions is because if you look around at our peer group you’ll notice that there are hundreds of vice chairman that are employed and we have had none. So, the fact that we haven’t had any has been the anomaly. “

On the West Coast, Savills Studley suffered a blow with the loss of a big retail investment sales broker.

At the end of January, power broker Bill Bauman, who co-headed Studley’s national retail services group in Los Angeles, left for Newmark Knight Frank, as The Real Deal reported. He took with him his four team members, including Kyle Miller, according to Mark Sullivan, the regional manager of Savills Studley in Southern California. (Bauman and Miller didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.)

Sullivan explained the Bauman team, which specialized in retail investment sales, as such: “It was a self-contained, self-sufficient team who for the most part worked together, closed deals together [and] didn’t have a lot of interaction with other professionals in the company.”

The team has already been replaced.

“The hole we need to fill was [retail] investment sales and we have filled that hole,” Sullivan said. The five “replacement” agents hail from CBRE and Colliers International.

Source: commercial

Financial Services Firm StepStone Group Takes 30K SF at 450 Lex

StepStone Group, a financial services firm, has signed on for 30,000 square feet at RXR Realty’s 450 Lexington Avenue between East 44th and East 45th Streets, Commercial Observer has learned.

The tenant will occupy the entire 37th floor in the 39-story, 910,273-square-foot building via a 10-year lease, a spokeswoman for RXR indicated. The asking rents in the top of the tower, where RXR has rolled out prebuilts, range from $115 to $130 per square foot. StepStone will replace JLL Partners when the new tenant moves from the Lipstick Building at 885 Third Avenue on Aug. 1.

RXR picked up the property via a ground lease in September 2012 for $720 million, property records indicate. The seller was Istithmar World, the Dubai-based investment firm, as CO reported at the time. Tenants include David Polk Wardwell.

RXR’s Lauren Ferrentino represented the landlord in-house along with CBRE‘s Michael Affronti, Silvio Petrillo and Ryan Alexander. Affronti said in a prepared statement provided by RXR: “45o Lexington Avenue is an exceptional asset, and the success we continue to achieve certainly comes as no surprise. The building’s close proximity to Grand Central, panoramic views, high-end installations and strength of ownership are just a few of the components that continue to attract prominent firms to 450 Lexington Avenue.”

Savills Studley’s David Carlos represented the tenant in the deal. A spokeswoman said he was out of the country.

Source: commercial

Construction Pros Disappointed With Trump’s Infrastructure Plan

The Trump administration has proposed a plan to repair the nation’s “failing infrastructure” that calls for $200 billion in federal spending over the next decade, according to a press release from the White House.

The president hopes the spending will foster $1.5 trillion in funding from states, cities and private companies for infrastructure projects, practically pushing the bulk of the country’s capital expenditure outlay onto local governments and private companies.

Of the federal money, $100 billion would be set aside for an “incentives program,” in which states, local governments and private companies would compete for funds for their infrastructure projects. Fifty billion dollars would be dedicated to build and modernize rural areas.

Twenty billion dollars would be allocated for the “transformative projects program,” and focus on giving federal aid to projects that could have positive impacts on states, cities and localities “but may not attract private sector investment,” the release says. Another $20 billion would be earmarked for existing federal infrastructure financing programs for rail, water and utilities. Finally, $10 billion would go toward purchasing property for federal government use and reducing “inefficient” leasing of properties.

Many construction experts responded that it was unreasonable that cities, states and private companies would have to shell out $1.5 trillion while the federal government would only provide $200 million.

“While we believe $200 billion is a good starting point, our national infrastructure systems will need a much larger investment from the federal government just to bring them up to a state of good repair and accommodate for future growth, let alone begin the transformative projects our country desperately needs,” Carlo Scissura, the president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, said in a statement.  

Moreover, there is a fear that without enough federal funds, the president would end up assigning more public work projects to private companies, which may not utilize union workers or serve the best interests of the public.

“The American people need investment in our crumbling roads and bridges, schools, public transit and affordable housing but President [Donald] Trump’s plan does little to address this need and is a giant privatization scheme to line the pockets of the wealthy,” Héctor Figueroa, the president of property service workers union 32BJ SEIU, said in prepared remarks. “It could also roll back decades of progress on labor standards and may open the door to wages and benefits being slashed.”

The plan was also concerning to some because it doesn’t detail how private companies would benefit from partnerships with local governments (such as giving them tax credits). And private dollars are likely to become harder to obtain in the future due to rising interest rates.

Heidi Learner, the chief economist at Savills Studley, told CO that private companies are not going to be jumping at the chance to contribute toward the $1.5 trillion for infrastructure with rising interest rates and a lack of clarity in the president’s proposal.

“This [plan] is already on the backdrop of rising interest rates, so the cost of any funding that any private sector is putting forth to be invested in these projects is likely to increase, so the return on projects would have to likely increase,” Learner said.

Louis Coletti, the president and CEO of the Building Trades Employers’ Association of New York City, who welcomed spending for infrastructure was also displeased by the amount the administration has pledged. He suggested the infrastructure spending could have been tied with the recent tax reform legislation. The new tax change dropped corporate tax rates and rates on individuals, as CO previously reported.  

“We support the president’s proposal and focus on infrastructure but are disappointed in the lack of federal dollars to support these efforts,” Coletti said in an email to CO. “An opportunity to provide that funding was missed in not including [it] in the tax bill provisions that would have committed some of the funds companies were getting to bring their overseas profits back to the United States as a basis for an infrastructure bank.”

Source: commercial

Gay Men’s Health Crisis Takes 110K SF for New Garment District HQ

Nonprofit HIV/AIDS health care provider Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) is moving its headquarters to 307 West 38th Street in the Garment District, where it has agreed to take 110,000 square feet of office space at the George Comfort & Sons-owned building.

GMHC will occupy six floors—the second through fifth, seventh and eighth levels—at the 20-story, 300,000-square-foot property between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, the organization announced on Wednesday. GMHC plans to move into its new offices by the end of July from its current location at Brookfield Property Partners5 Manhattan West on the Far West Side, where it has operated since 2010 in a 129,000-square-foot space comprising the entire sixth floor.

Rents in the deal were not immediately clear. Savills Studley’s Ira Schuman and Stephan Steiner represented the tenant in the transaction, while George Comfort & Sons’ Se Kyung Kim handles leasing in-house for 307 West 38th Street. A spokeswoman for Savills Studley declined to comment, while a spokesman for George Comfort & Sons did not immediately provide comment.

The Real Deal first reported news of the lease.

In a press release, GMHC said the new space will “be flexible enough to allow for future growth” and will make its services “even more accessible to its more than 12,000 annual clients living with or affected by HIV and AIDS.” The nonprofit, which was founded in 1982 as the world’s first HIV/AIDS service organization, provides treatment and prevention services as well as research and advocacy work “with the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic.”

“We’re excited to move our headquarters to a more central, accessible location that will also better accommodate our operations and the services we offer,” GMHC Chief Executive Officer Kelsey Louie said in a statement, adding that the new offices “will have an efficient, welcoming layout.”

The West 38th Street location will include a dining room for the organization’s clients; rooms dedicated to counseling, wellness services and group meetings; substance abuse and mental health clinics; and staff offices. GMHC will also have access to a rooftop space that will be able to accommodate events.

George Comfort & Sons refinanced the Garment District property last year with a $70 million loan from J.P. Morgan Chase, as Commercial Observer reported in December.

Source: commercial

Rock On! This Isn’t Your Father’s Rockefeller

Standing tall at 33 stories high, 75 Rockefeller Plaza was originally built for the Standard Oil Company and known as the Esso Building; it was later renamed the Time Warner Building, serving as the media conglomerate’s headquarters until its lease expiration in 2014. The building’s iconic address and its newly blank canvas was too great an opportunity to pass up for RXR Realty, the owner with a dominant presence in midtown including Class A assets such as 1330 Avenue of the Americas, the Helmsley Building, 450 Lexington Avenue, and 1285 Avenue of the Americas.

When RXR acquired “75 Rock,” it embraced a vision to restore and fully reposition the building to meet the needs of tenants seeking a trophy address and the world-recognized Rockefeller name. Cushman and Wakefield’s Chairman of Global Brokerage, Bruce Mosler, comments on RXR’s completed vision, “This is a building for those seeking both exclusivity and a contemporary environment for their employees. The level of service from lobby experience to overall property maintenance is exceptional.”

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75 Rock was originally constructed with a structural steel frame, concrete slabs, and a limestone façade –  a New York City landmark of the mid-century era. The owner was quick to recognize existing challenges that could warrant typical market pushback – ceiling heights, T-shaped base floor plates, as well as some compromises in views for certain floors.

A holistic renovation plan, including both structural improvements and lifestyle innovations, was needed to attract tenants and produce a building worthy of 75 Rock’s stature and location. To address this, RXR created and deployed a $150 million redevelopment plan. The first step was restoring the building’s limestone façade, staying true to the building’s original design. The same limestone is found in the through-block lobby connecting entrances between 51st to 52nd Streets and also includes terrazzo floors, an elemental designed 24’ ceiling, a skylight, bronze concierge desk, and gallery space for public art.

RXR also set out to increase the efficiency of the building by reconfiguring its core, making it more efficient and spacious for tenants. 12 new passenger high-speed elevators with marble interiors have been equipped with a destination dispatch system to minimize wait-times, and new HVAC and electrical systems were installed to continue the building’s modernization.  RXR addressed the environmental impact of the asset during the renovation process, implementing new optimized windows. The property anticipates LEED Gold designation.

Additional features that continue to create leasing traffic at 75 Rock include extensive terrace opportunities on the tenth floor with a dramatic floor-to-ceiling solarium, as well as modernized mechanical systems that increase finished ceiling heights above 9 feet throughout the tower.  Building-wide fiber optics, an internet-based tenant work order and visitor processing system, bike storage, augmented loading dock, and messenger center all contribute to the functional modernization that satisfies today’s tenants. Tara Stacom, Executive Vice Chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, praised RXR’s work, “the impact of the significant renovation is immediate and apparent upon entering the lobby and carries throughout the entire building.”

The progressive ownership of RXR goes beyond making physical improvements, offering a service model far ahead of the competitive set – one that is tailored to the profile of its buildings and the tenant mix within them. At 75 Rock, RXR hosts a lively integrated art program, punctuated by the permanent 7ft by 90ft Markus Linnenbrink installation of poured resin, an invigorating use of color. The attention-grabbing Paparazzi Dogs, the four bronze sculptures by celebrated contemporary artists, Gillie and Marc, engage both tenants and the plethora of people walking through. Above the lobby, 75 Rock’s pre-built full floors and marketing spaces also include an array of contemporary art.

RXR’s ownership comprehensively addresses all of the signature elements of being in a world-recognized business and tourist destination at the crown of Rock Center, and tenants like Bank of America/Merrill Lynch have taken notice. The institution’s Wealth Management division occupies 185,000 square feet in the base with multiple terraces. Responding to the tremendous foot traffic, and more specifically, the family foot traffic from Rockefeller Center, RXR staged a major retail coup, bringing American Girl Doll off of Fifth Avenue, and into its rejuvenated 40,000 square foot retail experience.

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75 Rockfeller Plaza

The remaining retail space is experiencing a surge of traffic by “world-class dining and ‘foodie’ establishments,” states Michael O’Neill, Cushman and Wakefield’s Senior Director of Retail Services. “With popular bridge retail such as Warby Parker and Blue Mercury now on Avenue of the Americas, the success of the Baccarat and new boutique hotels like The Whitby, interesting, desirable retail and dining options are peppering midtown side streets. 75 Rock has a triple-threat advantage being amid prime shopping, business, and tourism, as well as luxury mixed-use and residential towers.” The strategic and fully segregated through-block entrances for office tenants also keeps dense shopping foot traffic away from the office occupants.

“Office activity has been extremely strong,” explains Mosler, “the full floors in the tower satisfy many of the boutique financial firms migrating from Fifth and Park Avenues. Ownership is committed to making deals happen and is efficient in the process.”

Contributing to the robust pick up in interest at 75 Rock is RXR’s own office expansion onto two full floors, signaling the management team’s support for the asset and its fully modernized, ultra-equipped office environment, and an address synonymous with status. It has been noted that other tenants in the area have vocalized the personable nature of the building staff when entering or passing through the building.  Mosler continues, “Today, ‘state-of the-art’ goes beyond the physical improvements. Tenants pay up for the amenities and service model, which – when done well – requires hands-on, dedicated ownership to see it through.”

While Manhattan’s midtown trophy towers see the ebbs and flows of market interest, tenants at 75 Rock are meeting ownership’s pricing due to the quality of the physical asset and the level of service. Ira Schuman, Vice Chairman of Savills-Studley, explained, “our clients recognize that beyond the successful transformation and major redevelopment of the property, the building has so many practical advantages – proximity to east and west transportation lines, excellent management, and access to first-class amenities.”

Leading the way in employee well-being and professional success, RXR is currently working with Convene to launch a new concept at 75 Rock, which combines Convene’s existing conferencing amenities on one full tower floor, with a private member experience to drive business networking, wellness and education series, and one-of-a-kind dining experiences on the building’s entire top floor. Michael Burke, Convene’s VP of Real Estate and Development explains the collaboration, “today’s office tenants demand a more evolved workplace, and even the most iconic real estate must adapt. Convene is thrilled to expand on our partnership with RXR as a driving force for the re-imagined employee experience at Rockefeller Center.” This partnership will benefit both co-working entrepreneurs, and the usual suspects of Fifth Avenue financial institutions.

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Paparazzi Dogs by Gillie and Marc

“The building is an ideal fit for foreign banks, wealth management, and boutique financial users,” according to Schuman, who recently represented Austria’s leading bank, Erste, in leasing the entire 12th floor. “Tours are impressive to prospective tenants and RXR is terrific through the transaction process.” RXR’s commitment to customer service and meeting the expectations of future decision makers is apparent.

“Ownership is breathing a new spirit and energy into a Class A trophy building, making it approachable and desirable to the new shifting users and office cultures,” asserts Mosler. RXR’s adoption of forward-thinking leasing and marketing trends further demonstrates management’s foresight surrounding tenant psyche. Pronouncedly so, the current marketing campaign emphasizes the changing face of today’s female executive and speaks to the many female decision-makers touring space at the building. 75 Rock also features a newly completed pre-built collection ranging from 4,000 to 7,500 square feet utilizing a high-end and hospitality-inspired design palette. Management recognizes the demand for such space and anticipates building more of it. Tara Stacom affirms, “the economic value of this level of turnkey space outranks competitive availabilities in the market.”

On a final note, RXR recently completed a $300 million refinancing with TH Real Estate – another piece of the plan to adapt this marquee asset for today’s tenant. The modernization of 75 Rockefeller Plaza demonstrates the power of an owner and developer when it is committed, not only to leasing space today, but to investing in the holistic success of its tenants tomorrow.

Source: commercial

Fast-Growing Flatiron Health Inks 108K-SF Deal in Relocation to Soho

Flatiron Health, a health care technology company focused on cancer research, has signed an 108,000-square-foot lease at One Soho Square, the tenant’s broker Savills Studley recently announced.

The company will occupy four floors of the 15-story east tower of the two-building One Soho Square, which is owned by Stellar Management and Imperium Capital. The company plans to relocate in the spring from its current address at 200 Fifth Avenue between West 23rd and West 24th Streets. A spokeswoman for Savills Studley declined to provide the asking rent in the 10-year-deal. But reported asking rents for previous tenants in the building have ranged from $80 to $120 per square foot.

Flatiron Health has a range of technology platforms to help researchers and medical professionals collect clinical data from cancer patients, which it hopes will advance the understanding of how to best treat cancer. Launched just six years ago, Flatiron Health has grown to nearly 500 employees, including an oncologist, software engineers, quantitative scientists, product managers and designers.

“Flatiron Health has grown rapidly and needed a large block of space in a prime location with all of the attributes and amenities that today’s technology companies know and expect,” Savills Studley’s Zev Holzman, who handled the deal for Flatiron Health with colleagues Brad Wolk, Herman Dodson and Brian Scharfman, said in a statement.

Empire State Development will give Flatiron Health up to $6 million in tax credits, via its Excelsior Jobs Program, in order to encourage the company’s growth in the state. Flatiron Health is valued at $1.2 billion and has plans to create 300 jobs in the next five years, according to Business Insider, which first reported news of the lease.

Designed by Gensler, One Soho Square features a glass-encased lobby that connects the east tower to a 13-story west building. Together the structures—at 161 Avenue of the Americas between Spring and Vandam Streets and 233 Spring Street between Avenue of the Americas and Varick Street, respectively—boast 768,000 square feet and nine new passenger elevators.

“Flatiron Health’s decision to expand and relocate their headquarters to One Soho Square is a testament not only to the continued desirability of the neighborhood but to the building itself,” Ryan Jackson, a principal at Stellar Management, said in prepared remarks.

Newmark Knight Frank’s Brian Waterman, Andrew Peretz, David Malawer and Brent Ozarowski, who represented the landlords, did not immediately return a request seeking comment via a spokesman.

 

Source: commercial

New York Liquidation Bureau Inks 43K-SF Lease at 180 Maiden Lane

The New York Liquidation Bureau (NYLB) has agreed to take more than 43,000 square feet of office space at 180 Maiden Lane in the Financial District, Commercial Observer has learned.

The state agency signed a deal earlier this month to take 43,138 square feet comprising the entire 14th floor and part of the 15th floor at the 41-story, 1.2-million-square-foot office tower between Front and South Streets on the East River waterfront, according to sources with knowledge of the transaction.

The NYLB, which is responsible for taking over impaired or insolvent insurance companies on behalf of the state, will be relocating at least a sizable chunk of its current offices at nearby 110 William Street. According to CoStar Group data, the agency presently occupies nearly 120,000 square feet across four floors at 110 William Street but plans to reduce its footprint at the Savanna– and KBS Realty Advisors-owned office building by more than 74,000 square feet before the end of this year.

Asking rent for the space at 180 Maiden Lane was in the high $50s per square foot, while CoStar identifies the length of lease as 15 years, slated to commence in June. Savills Studley‘s Jarod Stern, David Goldstein, Matthew Barlow and Brad Wolk represented the NYLB. The landlord, a partnership between MHP Real Estate Services and Clarion Partners, was represented by Cushman & Wakefield‘s Tara Stacom, Robert Lowe, Frank Cento and Justin Royce and the MHP in-house team of Richard Doolittle, James Tamborlane and Jesse Rubens.

Representatives for MHP and Savills Studley declined to comment on the transaction, while representatives for C&W could not immediately be reached for comment.

Other office tenants at 180 Maiden Lane include the New York City Department of Investigation—which agreed to take 276,000 square feet at the building, as CO reported last August—law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and television production company True Entertainment.

The likes of business compliance software firm Behavox and specialty merchant financier CFG Merchant Solutions have also recently committed to office space at 180 Maiden Lane—agreeing to leases for more than 12,000 square feet and nearly 8,000 square feet, respectively, as CO reported.

Source: commercial

How Steven Levy Reinvented Kamber Management’s Decades-Old Real Estate Legacy

Kamber Management is a 77-year-old company that, with a Manhattan collection of four properties, sought a larger play.

So Steven Levy, the president and CEO of the Manhattan-based, third-generation family firm, acquired Tower 45, a 40-story, 458,000-square-foot office building at 120 West 45th Street, for $365 million from SL Green Realty Trust in September 2015. The building is currently in the midst of a years-long redesign that will make it the jewel in the Kamber crown.

At the time, Kamber held a 95-year leasehold on the 1.1-million-square-foot 1407 Broadway that the firm’s founder, Abraham Kamber (Levy’s grandfather) had originally acquired from developer William Zeckendorf. As the leasehold passed its 65-year mark, Levy felt the time frame had become too short to maintain its value and sought to sell the asset, hoping to instead find a property that would allow the company to hold a fee position.

“At some point [in the leasehold], the owner has less incentive to invest capital, and tenants find the lease term too short for their sense of stability,” Levy said. “Once you’re below 25 years, you can’t borrow money on it. If there’s a big capital investment to be made, you’re kind of scratching your head, thinking, do I really want to do this.”

Kamber sold the leasehold to Shorenstein Realty Services for $330 million in 2015 and used the proceeds to help finance the acquisition of Tower 45. (Also helping: the company’s September 2015 sale of 18 and 20 West 33rd Street to a partnership of the Carlyle Group and 60 Guilders for $111 million.)

Once the purchase was done, Kamber had its work cut out for it, as the building needed significant renovations, which Levy put in the $10 million range. The building’s atrium and lobby are being completely redesigned by the architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, and all of the building’s mechanicals are being updated with several innovative systems being installed. These include destination dispatch, a system that routes passengers into the building’s elevators more efficiently, and an atmosphere air filtration system that gives the building some of the cleanest indoor air in New York.

“Destination dispatch is the new computer algorithm you find in new buildings,” he said. “It makes elevator usage much more efficient and quicker for the passenger. The elevators won’t be completed until the end of 2018, but we’ll be turning that on at the beginning of the year.”

As for the air filtration system, Kamber was the first developer in New York to install it, giving Tower 45 arguably the cleanest air in New York. This designation only lasted several weeks, though, as over 10 other buildings have installed the system since.

“It scrubs the air in the building according to three measurements—small particulate, large particulate and one for anything you can smell,” Levy said. “Small particulate tends to be bacteria or viruses—organic matter. Large particles tend to be dust and dirt. The filtration system cuts down the presence of those three by about 50 percent.”

Every floor of the building has sensors to measure air quality, which Levy can monitor in real time on a smartphone app. He said the system has been found to save $2,300 a year per employee in terms of sick days avoided and increased productivity.

With floor plates between 10,000 and 13,000 square feet, Levy sees Tower 45 as filling an essential niche in the New York office market.

“We are a small boutique building,” he said. “If tenants like the neighborhood and aren’t large enough to command the presence of a full floor in [larger buildings on Avenue of the Americas], they can be in a state-of-the-art, beautiful building with tenant amenities and a location that can’t be beat. We think we distinguish ourselves on that level.”

Richard Baxter, a vice chairman of New York capital markets and investment sales for Colliers, represented SL Green in the Tower 45 sale while still at JLL and has known Levy for 20 years.

“Steve’s decisive. When he wants to acquire something, he goes for it very aggressively,” Baxter said. “The Tower 45 deal was a very competitive transaction. There was competitive bidding to buy the building, and he was able to pre-empt the bid process. He’s a gentleman and a man of his word, and when he says he’s going to do something, he does it. You could do business with him on a handshake.”

The publicity around Tower 45 since the purchase has brought increased and much-desired attention to Kamber and Levy, who said he’s being brought more deals to consider as a result. While Levy is a broker, he’s spent most of his time in real estate as more of a steward of the family office, handling Kamber’s investments.

Levy, 62, grew up on the Upper East Side. His grandfather, Abraham Kamber, founded the company that bears his name in 1940, but Levy said that he and his grandfather never discussed business. Rather, his father Stanley, an attorney who didn’t work in the business, told him all about it instead.

Levy attended Connecticut College in New London, Conn., where he was allowed to design his own major, and graduated in 1977 with a bachelor’s in the American founding and the enlightenment. He scored his first job in real estate as a leasing broker at Julien J. Studley (now Savills Studley). 

“It was highly unusual then to be able to design your own interdisciplinary major. I’m still an amateur historian,” he said.

“A couple of years into working at Julian Studley, I went out to lunch with my boss, Mike Soloman. He said, ‘Steve, do you know why we hired you?’ I said, ‘Actually, Mike, I have no idea.’ He said, ‘Because you had that crazy major on your résumé. I figured if you could be that creative, you might be able to do something.’”

Levy, who said that seeking a job in real estate after graduation was more of a natural inclination, given his grandfather’s position, than a marked decision about his future, didn’t find success as a leasing broker, finding a more natural fit in sales.

He later worked at Wm. A. White & Sons, managing the firm’s Manhattan properties, and realized that his future would include a broader range of duties than simply sales. As he was looking over some of his company’s proposed sales, he inadvertently caught the development bug.

“We had these incredible deals for sale,” he said. “I went to my boss, and I said, ‘You know, let’s not sell this one, [referring to a building at 40 Worth Street]. Let’s raise some money and buy it.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Steve, we don’t do that here. We’re brokers.’ So I realized I was not long for that office. I realized the point was to own.”

Kamber, meanwhile, had been somewhat dormant at the time. While the middle of the 20th century found the firm owning a slew of prestigious properties throughout Manhattan, including One and Two Park Avenue, the Astor and Manhattan Hotels, and the Hearst Building, many of these were sold in the upmarket of the mid-1960s. By the time the elder Kamber died in 1977, the company, while still a fee-collecting entity with assets of its own, had basically stopped any new deal activity.

After the stint at White & Sons, Levy joined Kamber in 1986. (His brother, Peter, joined the firm three years later and remains today as a principal in charge of the daily operations of Kamber’s properties.)

His father had much of the paperwork related to the family business, and Levy poured through the documents, learning all he could. 

“I studied everything and thought, ‘This can’t be that difficult. How do you improve the building’s operations? How do you make it more attractive to tenants?’ ” he said.

Levy said Kamber’s status as a family firm made his duties a bit different than the head of your average real estate firm. While still a broker and actively seeking deals, Levy described his top priority as managing the “family office,” by which he means serving as the steward of the family’s many long-standing investments.

“We have an investment imperative,” he said. “We have everything organized into different types of investments. So I’m not just in real estate. I run a ‘family office’ now. That’s a term that refers to the disparate interests of families that have holdings of various kinds. Real estate is most of what we do but not all. We also have alternative investments. We do quite a bit with energy, rail cars, all kinds of things.”

At first, Levy built the company back to the point where it could manage family properties that had been run by outside firms. This included writing all the operational software for the company, which would remain in use for almost the next two decades. He also sold off shopping centers the company owned around the country, because, he said, “I wasn’t crazy about the asset class.”

For much of his time since then as Kamber’s president, his priority has been increasing the desirability of his family-owned properties and determining the best ways to maximize asset value. Selling off an expiring leasehold, as he did at 1407 Broadway, is one example of this. Another was his handling of a Section 8 housing project the family owned in Groton, Conn., the 446-unit Branford Manor Apartments. While the property had become “tremendously valuable,” Levy said, its effective management over the long run was beyond the company’s expertise, and Levy sold it.

He perceived a better opportunity in the purchase last month of three parking garage condominiums at 80, 100-120 and 220-240 Riverside Boulevard in Manhattan. Kamber purchased the properties, which total 916 parking spots over 248,000 square feet that Levy believes will be “a great long-term asset,” from the U.S. arm of a foreign-based for $50 million. He’s also continuing to manage a 16-story, 143,000-square-foot office building Kamber owns at 15 West 37th Street, a job that includes installing new dual burning boilers and the destination dispatch elevator system.

For later in 2018, Levy aims to see Kamber add another building—as yet undecided—to its portfolio.

“We prefer office, but we’ll look at anything,” he said. “One idea is more of an industrial logistics kind of use somewhere in the metropolitan area, and we’ll be looking to place about $55 million at that time.”

In addition to working on maintaining the business, Kamber, who lives in Greenwich, Conn., with his wife of 33 years, Leora, Levy is a third-generation contributor to the United Jewish Appeal/Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. The couple has three sons, twins David and Michael, 28, and Benjamin, 24.

“The UJA was started around 1938 to rescue Jews in Europe,” Levy said. “The federation is just finishing its 100th anniversary year, and they merged in 1986. Grandpa had always been very involved with that and other institutions, and we continue to contribute a major gift there. Now my boys will be fourth generation, as they’re getting involved in UJA.”

For all the different aspects of his responsibilities at Kamber, Levy said he still sees himself as a broker first and foremost and believes this grounding has played a large part in driving his success—and now, Kamber’s— and will continue to do so in the years ahead.

“I would argue the basis of my success in my business has been my brokerage training, the focus on closing a deal,” he said. “That training has focused me on mastering everything that needs to be done, not relying on others to get a deal closed, following up, and dealing with people in a way that keeps them engaged.”


Source: commercial

Direct Mail Startup PebblePost Inks Deal to Quadruple Its Offices

PebblePost, a direct mail marketing startup, recently signed a 19,644-square-foot deal at 400 Lafayette Street to nearly quadruple the size of its offices, Commercial Observer has learned.

The company, which uses its software to learn consumers’ computer search habits and target them with printed advertisements for products, moved into its new digs earlier this month and is occupying the entire second floor of the five-story building, which is located at the corner of East 4th Street in Noho.

The asking rent in the deal was $75 per square foot, according to information provided by ABS Partners Real Estate

“400 Lafayette Street offers large, open floor plates that allow businesses to build  offices that foster creativity and encourage collaboration,” said ABS’ James Caseley in prepared remarks, who represented landlord Sand Associates with colleagues Charles Conwell and Joseph LaRosa. “The second floor provided the ideal amount of space for PebblePost, which is in the midst of an explosive expansion.”

PebblePost relocated from nearby 36 Cooper Square between East 5th and East 6th Streets, where it had 5,000 square feet.

Since PebblePost’s founding in 2014, the company has raised $63 million, according to Crunchbase. This year alone it raised $47 million with a combination of equity and debt.

“PebblePost was in immediate need of a larger space to accommodate its rapidly growing staff,” Savills Studley’s Craig Lemle, who represented PebblePost with colleague Nick Zarnin, said in a prepared statement. “The space at 400 Lafayette provides PebblePost the ideal location, size and buildout to move in quickly and continue to grow in a space that is in line with the company’s culture and business objectives.”

Existing tenants at 400 Lafayette include event ticket marketplace SeatGeek, advertising and technology company TripleLift and La Colombe Coffee Roasters.


Source: commercial