WSJ: Plots & Ploys: Banking On It

On November 18, 2014.

SL Green Realty Corp. has taken a big step forward with plans for a giant skyscraper by Grand Central Terminal by cutting a deal with an anchor tenant.

TD Bank has signed a lease to take 200,000 square feet of office and retail space at One Vanderbilt Ave., giving a big boost to the landlord’s proposed 1.6 million square-foot building.

The Toronto-based bank, which has a number of offices in various Manhattan locations, believes the tower would “offer an outstanding experience and great brand visibility for our employees and our customers,” Christopher Giamo, regional president for TD Bank’s Metro New York market, said.

SL Green has some hurdles to clear before it can build. The city is rezoning the block owned by SL Green to allow for the tower, an action that is opposed by the owner of air rights over Grand Central but generally supported by local officials.

Also, the developer hasn’t said how it plans to finance the building, and it is unclear if it would be able to move ahead with only the TD Bank commitment. SL Green said it intends to complete the tower by 2020.

—Eliot Brown

More Money for Startup
CompStak Inc., a startup technology firm that uses crowdsourcing to compile detailed data on office rents and other lease terms, has completed its third round of funding, raising $4.4 million from about a dozen investors.

Led by venture-capital firm Canaan Partners, the funding round also included executives in the brokerage, appraisal and real-estate investment businesses. “We used this round, in particular, to bring in strategic people who would be useful in broadening our reach,” said Michael Mandel, CompStak’s chief executive.

The round increased CompStak’s funding to $10 million. The firm collects hard-to-get data on specific leases through a crowdsourcing system in which brokers and others report data in exchange for access to other CompStak information.

The new investors include top executives of Rubenstein Partners, a Philadelphia- based real-estate private-equity fund with close to $1 billion under management. Jeremiah Kane, head of Rubenstein’s New York office, said he and others at the firm decided to invest partly because they use CompStak’s data and are impressed with its quality. “You need good information to make good decisions,” Mr. Kane said.

—Peter Grant

On the Waterfront
Fifteen years after being designated developer of a 26-acre swath of waterfront land in East Boston, Mack-Cali Realty Corp.’s Roseland division is gaining traction in its three-phased residential project.

Roseland, known for its Port Imperial mixed-use community on the Hudson River waterfront in New Jersey, just opened the first building in its Portside at East Pier project on Jeffries Point, which until recent years had been a gritty dockland. Marshall Tycher, Roseland’s president, said the developer hopes to break ground on the next phase—which includes two buildings with 264 apartments—in the third quarter of 2015.

As a pioneer on the East Boston waterfront, Roseland still has its work cut out for it, though. A few weeks after launching leasing efforts, the building has found tenants for just 24 of its 176 apartments. Roseland, which Mack-Cali Realty Corp. acquired two years ago, is still negotiating with several restaurants to take the 3,500 square feet of retail space in the building.

But East Boston is clearly going through a resurgence as demand grows among young workers for downtown living and more conventional parts of Boston become more pricey. The Maverick Square area, which is a short walk from the Portside development and has a stop on Boston’s subway, has seen numerous new stores and restaurants open lately.

“It’s a good time to be building apartments,” Mr. Tycher said. “Rates are low, and Boston has good job growth.”

—Peter Grant