Vacancy is on the decline in downtown Manhattan.
January 14, 2014 | 11:00pm
Photo: Theodore Parisienne
According to broker Cynthia Wasserberger, managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle, this puts the city back on par with the 81 such deals in 2007 and foreshadows a banner year similar to 2008, when 91 leases were signed at over $100 per foot.
While these leases amounted to a tiny slice of the market — 1 million square feet of the total 23 million feet leased last year — Wasserberger says, “These trophy leases are market indicators of the health of the boutique financial-services industry that includes hedge funds and private-equity firms, and indicates growing confidence in their businesses going forward.”
The desire for high-floor trophy offices has also created a sky-high space crunch, with a vacancy rate of just 5 percent for offices above the 25th floor — a big recovery from 2002, when many companies were height-averse after 9/11.
The largest deals over $100 per square foot in 2013 included 112,585 square feet for the Jeffries Group’s future expansion at 520 Madison Ave., a renewal and expansion by Och-Ziff Capital Management Group at 9 W. 57th St. to 95,200 square feet, and a renewal and expansion by Federated Investors at 101 Park Ave. for 52,800 square feet.
“They wanted to remain in place and paid strong rents,” said Wasserberger, who declined to reveal the tenant names (but we obtained them through CoStar and other industry data).
Nine W. 57th St. has the top honors for both 2013 and 2008, at the peak of the market, with a rent of $205 per foot. In 2012, its highest rent was $185 a foot.
With a dozen renewals and new leases, Aby Rosen’s RFR Holdings walked away with the most deals of more than $100 a square foot for its Seagram Building, as it did in 2010 to 2012. The company also chalked up 15 such deals across its portfolio, with Boston Properties signing 14 leases and Paramount Group 11.
One blemish on the numbers is that free rent and Tenant Improvement allowances (known as TI) are much higher today than in 2008. Tenants received an average of 3.8 months of free rent in ’08, versus 6.7 months last year, while the average TI was $30.49 per square foot in 2008 and $61.13 per square foot in 2013. “So while the starting and face rents are back, the net effective rents are well off peak levels,” Wasserberger said.
That’s one reason Cushman & Wakefield’s 2013 report released Tuesday only counted 60 such deals. But while economist Ken McCarthy predicted $100 rents would be reached in 2014 in a market other than Midtown, Wasserberger believes triple digits in the tech-favored Midtown South buildings “will be a hurdle.”
A stalled downtown site at 45 Broad St. between Exchange and Beaver streets where Robert De Niro once planned a hotel could be sold and finally developed as a tall, 264,200 square-foot tower with views to the Statue of Liberty.
“There is no height restriction in the area,” said Nat Rockett of Cushman & Wakefield, who is marketing the site along with colleagues Helen Hwang, Jared Kelso, Karen Wiedenmann and Sujohn Sarkar.
“It truly is an opportunity to create a brand-new and attractive building and redefine the FiDi skyline,” said Rockett.
The group expects bidders will focus on residential condominiums and hotels as units are selling for over $2,000 per foot and the hotel market remains underserved.
The availability in downtown’s Water Street corridor is now getting chipped away, proving the buildings to be stronger than Sandy.
In good news for building owner Jack Resnick & Sons, Allied World Insurance Co., which is a subtenant on two floors of 199 Water St., will convert to a direct tenancy and double its space to 143,297 square feet.
The subsidiary of the Switzerland-based giant now leases the 24th and 25th floors from Wells Fargo and will add floors 23 and 26 when the sublease ends on Jan. 1, 2015. The asking rent was $48 per foot.
Paul Ippolito and Joseph Zona of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank represented the insurance company in the 16-year deal.
John Cefaly and Robert Constable of Cushman & Wakefield worked with in-house agents Brett Greenberg and Dennis Brady of Resnick on behalf of the building, also known as One Seaport Plaza.
Other tenants are now touring five other floors, totaling 180,000 square feet, which will also come available on Jan. 1.
Nearby, Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass signed a 15-year lease for 58,444 square feet encompassing the entire 44th and part of the 45th floors of One New York Plaza.
The law firm is now located in the nearby One Battery Park Plaza. According to CompStak, the starting rent is in the low-$40s per foot and concessions included a year of free rent.
Mound Cotton is currently located in the neighboring One Battery Park Plaza. The attorneys were represented by Lewis Miller of CBRE while his colleagues Peter Turchin, Kenneth Rapp, Michael Rizzo and Adam Foster represented the Brookfield Properties ownership, along with David Cheikin and Duncan McCuaig.
Dallas-based Neiman Marcus is finally lassoing a spot in the city for its off-price LastCall outlet.
This is Neiman’s first foray into Gotham since the company was sold to a group lead by Ares Management last fall for $6 billion, so there’s pressure to increase revenues at the retailer.
LastCall is leasing 16,000 square feet at 210 Joralemon St., a redevelopment of the Brooklyn Municipal Building now owned by Albert Laboz’ United American Land. “This is incredibly huge for Brooklyn,” said Laboz of its first location in the city.
The space includes an 800 square-foot entrance with an escalator up to the entire second floor. Sephora is already open, with It’s Sugar and Yoga Works soon to join them in the 48,000 square-foot project.
The retailer was represented by Howard Dolch and Robin Abrams of The Lansco Corp. Peter Ripka and Jason Pennington of Ripco Real Estate represented United American Land, which had an asking rent of $70 per foot.