Monday, April 8, 2013


The Frick Collection Autumn Dinner


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The NEW YORK project

The NYC Department of Buildings increased in 2014, with a total of 20,329 units authorized in 1,513 buildings. This is an 11% increase from 2013 and an 84% increase from 2012. 37% of those units were in Brooklyn, giving it the highest number of permitted units for the third consecutive year, Real Estate Weekly reports. These numbers are still below 2005 to 2008, when the DOB issued permits for more than 30,000 units a year. Kings County also had four of the city's top 20 project starts, three in Downtown Brooklyn and one in Williamsburg. Meanwhile, Manhattan had 14 of the top 20 new residential projects, including the Jean Nouvel-designed MoMA Tower at 53 W 53rd St and Extell's Nordstrom Tower on W 57th St. [REW]


Photo credit:  Air Pano

A.  The average price per square foot in Manhattan’s luxury market — defined as the top 10 percent of sales — climbed to a record $2,735 during the second quarter, up more than 36 percent from $2,006 last year, according to real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel.
The average sales price, $7.25 million, and median sales price, $4.97 million, were also up year over year.
B.  Wealthy foreign investors flooded New York’s real estate market in recent years thanks, in part, to the popularity of the EB-5 visa program, which gives investors a green card in exchange for $500,000 and a commitment to create 10 jobs.
But as of late last month, the program’s annual quota of 10,000 visas was exhausted.
Practically speaking, investors cannot apply for EB-5 visas until the new federal fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
But because investors from a single country can’t hold more than 7 percent of the visas issued, investors from China — where the program has been exceptionally popular — are already lining up in force to get a piece of next year’s action. That will create a backlog among Chinese investors

Crown Building

The Crown Building on Fifth Avenue has hit the market, seeking between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.

The other three corners of the intersection are occupied by luxury retailers Bergdorf Goodman, LVMH and Tiffany, making this property a retail sweet spot. 

The 400,000 square-foot tower is currently owned by the Winter family and the Spitzer family, now headed by former Governor Eliot Spitzer. Building tenants include talent and literary agency ICM, private-equity firms KKR and Apollo Global Management, men’s designer Ermenegildo Zegna, Bank of America, Piaget, Bulgari and Mikimoto.  - 2014 Dec 5 NEW YORK POST

Helmsley Building on Park Avenue

The owners of 230 Park Ave. are expected to put the office tower on the market for at least $1.5 billion, sources say.

The ornately topped office building that boldly straddles Park Avenue and was once one of the crown jewels of the portfolio of New York's most famous landlord may be up for grabs. Sources say that 230 Park Ave.—whose glistening crown, set alight at night by high-tech, multi-color LEDs, makes it one of the most prominent sights on the city's most expensive office corridor—will likely hit the market for at least $1.5 billion in the coming months.
The building is owned by a partnership between Monday Properties, Invesco and South Korea's National Pension Service. The 1929 building was designed by Warren & Wetmore, the architect of Grand Central Terminal just to the south. More recently, after a major renovation, it became the first prewar building in the city to receive LEED-Gold certification from the U.S. Green Buildings Council.
The trio partnered in the property in 2011 when NPS bought out a stake owned by Goldman Sachs in the 34-story, 1.4 million-square-foot tower, which was built in 1929.
The property was long owned by Harry Helmsley, who was once one of the biggest landlords in the city, and it came to be known as the Helmsley Building.
If the owners put the tower on the market, it would be one of the largest New York City office buildings offered for sale this year. In recent weeks, the Blackstone Group put 1095 Sixth Ave., a 41-story, 1.3 million-square-foot building overlooking Bryant Park up for sale for over $2 billion.   -- 2014 September 3  CRAINS

The Chinese Acquisitor

The scandalous revelations from Vanity Fair reporter Vicky Ward’s new book, “The Liar’s Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World’s Toughest Tycoons” just keep on coming. Here are five eye-catching facts about the GM Building via the Economist. 

1. The building’s developer Cecilia Benattar – known as the “housewife tycoon” — was so wrapped up in high-stakes deal-making in the building that it took her six months to name her first child. At the time, Benattar was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the North American wing of the vast British holding company London Merchant Securities PLC. 

2. Master of self-promotion Donald Trump was the first to push rents over the magic $100 per square foot figure in the building. Recently, Donald Trump – as he is wont to do – trumpeted his take on the book []. No surprises, Trump didn’t like it, calling it “poorly written & very boring.” 

3. The late founder and CEO of Starrett City Associates, which owns Starrett City in Brooklyn, Disque Deane literally “broke bottles over heads” while making high pressure deals at the building. Deane, who the Economist calls “a uniquely unpleasant financier,” was unhappily married three times. He took his second wife Marjorie Angele Schlesinger, then Chairman and Publisher of the Tobe Report, to Bermuda to obtain a divorce – the best way to avoid having to pay her a fair share of his wealth. 

4. Harry Macklowe got his hands on the block-sized building in 2003, paying a record $1.4 billion, only to lose it five years later – he had used it as collateral for the ill-advised purchase of seven other buildings. But Macklowe’s reflection on his extraordinary loss is remarkably zen: “Business turns. Business always turns,” he says. 

5. Today, the skyscraper is owned by Boston Properties and Chinese and Brazilian interests. Moreover, it is estimated to be worth more than twice what Macklowe paid for it a decade ago. [The Economist] 

Cracks in the Luxury Market?
luxury-cover-jumpNew York City’s luxury residential market has, for the last few years, been firing on all cylinders.
But there may be cracks in the veneer.
Top brokers said they’re seeing some skittishness and price sensitivity at the highest reaches of the city’s residential market. And frenetic building in certain pockets of the city (most notably the Midtown corridor and the neighborhood surrounding the High Line) has some brokers concerned that developers could overload the market with luxury condo projects.
There’s no doubt, of course, that trophy apartments are still trading for astronomical prices: This spring alone saw two $70 million record co-op sales. And during the second quarter, the average price per square foot among the top 10 percent of residential sales in Manhattan hit a new record of $2,735 — a 48 percent spike from five years ago.    -- September 2014  REAL DEAL

Prestige Residences
French ambassador's NY home on sale for US$48m - sold for $71.3 million in September 2014
740 Park Avenue is said to house more billionaires than any other property in America. - PHOTO: AFP

The French ambassador to the United Nations lives in a sumptuous, 18-room apartment at one of New York's most exclusive addresses - but not for much longer

Belts are tightening, and the French government has put the stunning Park Avenue duplex on the market for a whopping US$48 million, hoping to reap a profit from New York's property boom.
The decision to sell up was announced last year by the Quai d'Orsay - France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs - looking to save taxpayers millions of dollars by selling properties deemed too opulent or dispensable.

Flats with Central Park views only billionaires can afford

57th Street: This stretch will see two more ultraluxury towers after two developers made a deal to end their seven-year tussle. -

[NEW YORK] The transformation of a once dowdy stretch of 57th Street into Billionaires' Row reached new heights on Tuesday, as two of New York City's leading developers reached a truce that paves the way for two more ultraluxury towers on the northern edge of Midtown Manhattan.
Like five others under development in the neighbourhood, the two new towers will feature apartments selling for tens of millions of dollars and promising spectacular Central Park views.
Taken together, the seven high-rises promise to remake the skyline and to redefine what it means to be rich in a city that is a cradle of capitalism and not so long ago was an emblem of urban poverty.
For seven years, the two developers, Gary Barnett and Steven Roth, blocked each other from moving forward with his respective superluxury project. But the men decided the time had come to settle, and on Tuesday they signed a deal ending the feud.
Mr Barnett, president of Extell Development, is already building One57, a 1,004-foot tower, where the penthouse is under contract for US$90 million. To the east, the penthouse at the 1,396-foot skyscraper under construction by Harry Macklowe and the CIM Group is selling for US$95 million, or more than US$11,000 a square foot.
Now, Mr Barnett plans to erect a tower of at least 1,400 feet on 57th Street, just east of Broadway. Directly to the north, Mr Roth, chairman of Vornado Realty, will proceed with a 65-storey (roughly 900 feet tall) residential tower.
Under their accord, Mr Roth shifted the site of his building slightly to the west, while Mr Barnett edged his eastward, so that both skyscrapers could capitalise on what may be their most lucrative features: Central Park views.
"That's the money shot," Mr Barnett said.
But with the surge in construction of apartments at prices only a billionaire could afford, is there a fear of saturation?
"Price really has no relevance," said Nancy Packes, a real estate consultant and marketing executive. "High net worth individuals look at real estate today not as a place to live but as an investment. It's more stable than currency, bonds or stocks. And there are only a handful of cities around the globe where they invest: London, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York."
There seems to be no shortage of billionaires. The Forbes 2013 list of the world's billionaires had 1,426 names, up 200 from last year.
But Thomas Bender, a cultural historian at New York University, said the ultraluxury towers represent a flouting of the social distribution of wealth.
"These are the kinds of buildings that the robber barons built," Mr Bender said, "but it's also what you see in rapidly developing societies where billionaires seek to distinguish themselves in the midst of poverty."
As is the custom, all of the new luxury towers in Manhattan have celebrity architects, including Rafael Viñoly, Christian de Portzamparc and Robert A M Stern. They incorporate chic amenities, like studios for staff and personal wine cellars.
But it is the views that matter.
"Height is where the profit is," said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants. "There's a premium for views and floor levels. The higher you go, the higher the price you can get."
Michael Stern of JDS Development is planning a very thin 1,350-foot-tall residential tower only a few doors east of Mr Barnett's One57. Not far away, a group led by developer Steve Witkoff is buying the Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South for US$650 million, with plans to demolish the building in favour of a sleek tower with apartments averaging US$7,000 a square foot, according to real estate executives.
Over at East 60th Street, William and Arthur Zeckendorf plan to build a 51-storey building with park views and 30 apartments selling for US$8,000 a sq ft, or US$48 million for a 6,000 sq ft unit.
A century ago, the beauty of the 840 acres that make up Central Park inspired another boom in ultraluxury housing: Millionaires' Row. The Astor, Vanderbilt, Frick and Whitney families built mansions along Fifth Avenue.
But the new luxury towers are not aimed exclusively at New Yorkers or even Americans. The website for Mr Macklowe's project provides information in Chinese, Russian, French, Italian and Portuguese.
It is the lure of enormous profits in a soaring residential market that eventually led Mr Barnett and Mr Roth to end their dispute.
In June 2005, Mr Barnett bought the first of a number of parcels for a high-rise project between 57th and 58th Streets, near Broadway. Two months later, Mr Roth of Vornado purchased a rental building at Central Park South whose lot extended to 58th Street.
Fearing that the Vornado building would block the views of his planned tower, Mr Barnett sought a bargaining chip by quickly buying the lease from the garage operator at the site and a small parcel that sat in the middle of Mr Roth's planned development.
Over the ensuing years, Mr Roth bought out all of the tenants in the building's rent-regulated units and fought unsuccessfully in court with Mr Barnett, whose lease on the garage will eventually expire. They each had something the other wanted.
Several months ago, the two sides began negotiating a deal from which they could both profit. On Tuesday, Vornado said it had paid US$194 million for Mr Barnett's parcel and additional development rights that will allow it to build an even taller tower.
With the two developers shifting their towers in opposite directions, Mr Barnett will go forward with his second ultraluxury building on 57th Street. But he still has one more deal to finalise. Several years ago, he agreed to pay his 57th Street neighbour, the Art Students League, US$23.5 million for its unused development rights. Mr Barnett is now offering to pay the league another US$25 million for the rights to cantilever his tower over its four-story building.
The cantilever would ensure that more of the apartments in Mr Barnett's building would have clear views of Central Park. If the league turns down his offer, Mr Barnett said he would raise the height of the tower to 1,500 feet from 1,400 feet.
Speaking of Tuesday's deal, he said: "This clears the way for the development of two great buildings that will enhance the skyline and contribute greatly to the economy of New York City." - NYT  Oct 17, 2013

Japanese Seller | Buyers

Canadian Firm Buys 450 Park Ave. Tower

A Canadian investment firm has agreed to pay $575 million for a 33-story office tower at Park Avenue and 57th Street in the latest indication of a soaring real estate market spurred by foreign investment.

The tower, 450 Park Avenue, is in Midtown East, a neighborhood where chic retailers pay some of the highest rents in the world and developers are now erecting tall, slim buildings with $95 million condominiums. The sale price for 450 Park, whose tenants include hedge funds, private equity companies and law firms, represents a remarkable comeback for a building that last sold for a record $509 million in 2007, a year before the market collapsed after a debt-fueled real estate boom.

Oxford Properties Group, the real estate arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, emerged from a hotly contested auction on Monday evening to sign a contract to buy the building from Somerset Partners and the Michael Tabor family trust.

It will be one of the highest prices ever paid for a Manhattan office building, over $1,700 per square foot. But Oxford is betting that the property will become more valuable when the developer Harry B. Macklowe completes the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere, a 1,398-foot skyscraper next door at 432 Park Avenue.

“It’s one of those irreplaceable locations,” Dan Fasulo, a managing director of Real Capital Analytics, said. “This could be a unique deal where both the seller and the buyer end up winning.”

The sale of the trophy tower at 450 Park follows other high-profile deals last year that attracted bidders from around the world, including the $1.1 billion sale of the Sony Building on Madison Avenue, the $1.36 billion sale of 650 Madison Avenue and the $1.54 billion sale of 7 Times Square.

“A lot of pension funds, Asian companies, sovereign funds and other investors are increasing their allocations for real estate,” said Douglas L. Harmon of Eastdil Secured, the broker on the Park Avenue deal. “If you do that, the first place you want to be is Manhattan.”

Oxford has been an active investor in New York. The company is a partner with Related Companies in a $15 billion commercial and residential development over the rail yards on the West Side of Manhattan.

Chinese companies, like Fosun International, which bought Chase Manhattan Plaza last year for $725 million, have gotten a lot of attention. But Canadian companies, Mr. Fasulo said, are by far the most active foreign buyers in the city.

The fate of 450 Park did not always look so good. Somerset and Mr. Tabor set a record — the highest price on a square-foot basis — in summer 2007 when they paid $509 million for the 334,404-square-foot building.

Over the next year, the economy collapsed, severely wounding most investors who had bought buildings with mostly borrowed money at the height of the real estate boom.

But unlike other buyers, Keith Rubenstein, a principal at Somerset, said his company had borrowed only 30 percent of the purchase price for the deal. They had poured most of their profits from the 2007 sale of 85 10th Avenue for $425 million, $136 million more than they had paid in 2005, into the purchase of 450 Park.

Mr. Rubenstein said the company then bought out the leases of its small retail tenants and then signed a lucrative deal with the auction house Phillips de Pury & Company to lease all of the ground floor space.
More recently, Somerset brought in Mr. Harmon, Adam Spies and Kevin Donner from Eastdil to handle the sale of the property. Mr. Harmon’s team is on a roll, having sold the Sony Building, 650 Madison and the office space at Time Warner Center. Ultimately, more than a half-dozen finalists bid for 450 Park.

“We survived because we only had 30 percent leverage,” Mr. Rubenstein said. “It turned out to be one of the best investments we ever made.”

Other Significant Transactions:

Carrie 太太 has the exclusive listing in New York of Lehman Art House at 7 West 54th Street and the price has been reduced by 25%.   Its spectacular, we promise.    >>  MORE   

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