NYC Real Estate News

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 12:28

Leases

Largest office landlord nabs more Midtown leases

Address: 461 Fifth Ave., Manhattan
Landlord: SL Green Realty Corp.
Tenant: Certified Moving & Storage Co.
Lease size: 11,232 square feet
Lease length: 15 years
Asset type: Office
Brokers: Colliers' Robert Tunis and Sam Einhorn represented the tenant. 

Newmark's Brian Waterman, Scott Klau, David Waterman and Kevin Sullivan represented the landlord.

Address: 461 Fifth Ave., Manhattan
Landlord: SL Green Realty Corp.
Tenant: Centaur Fund Services US
Lease size: 6,933 square feet
Lease length: Five years
Asset type: Office
Brokers: CBRE's Hugh McDonald and David Katz represented the tenant. Newmark's Brian Waterman, Scott Klau, David Waterman and Kevin Sullivan represented the landlord.

Sales

Investor acquires multibuilding, prewar rental complex in SoHo

Address: 188-192 Sixth Ave., Manhattan
Seller: Eugene Brodsky
Buyer: Derby Copeland Capital
Sale price: $24.1 million
Asset type: Mixed use

Rockaways 100-unit development site changes hands

Address: 60-14 Beach Channel Dr., Queens
Seller: Rajive Maret
Buyer: Zev Mayer
Sale price: $7.8 million
Asset type: Multifamily

Financings

Landlord obtains acquisition loan for Williamsburg walkup building

Address: 141 Ross St., Brooklyn 
Owner: Moses Karpen 
Lender: Bridge City Funding 
Loan amount: $10.7 million 
Asset type: Multifamily

Kensico Properties refinances luxury hotel on Upper East Side

Address: 28 E. 63rd St., Manhattan 
Owner: Nabil Chartouni
Lender: Bank of America
Loan amount: $16 million
Asset type: Hotel

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 12:03

As the MTA’s first Chief Accessibility Officer, who also happens to be living with a permanent physical disability, and the MTA’s first board member who is a medical doctor, and who also happens to be living with a significant visual disability, we work in partnership to ensure we represent the diverse voices of the community  when important decisions are being made at the MTA.

Accessibility is more of a priority for the MTA than it’s ever been before, and yet we know better than most how far we have to go. We have many more subway and rail stations to make accessible, thousands of bus and rail cars that need better visual and audio announcement systems, and entire swaths of our city that would benefit from expanded subway service. 

The community that benefits from these investments is so diverse — from wheelchair users to those with limited-to-no vision, to the millions of seniors, parents, and tourists who rely on transit to navigate New York every day. To build a system that works for all of these groups — with improved vertical access, enhanced multi-sensory commutations, and better leveraging technology to tackle access barriers — we need capital investment. It’s those capital dollars that allow us to continue enhancing accessibility, and keep our transit system in a state of good repair so it can continue to function safely and reliably for millions of users every single day. 

For the first time, the MTA has a roadmap to get to systemwide accessibility, but we need to keep our foot slammed on the accelerator to get there — not get stuck in traffic ‘congestion.’ Finally launching congestion pricing — a program approved by our state legislature 5 years ago – is critical to achieve these goals, ensuring the MTA can continue investing in the system and setting the transit equity standard that moves all of us New Yorkers and those that visit our city for work, fun, or top-quality healthcare. 

Congestion pricing will truly unlock New York, bringing faster bus and Access-A-Ride (AAR) service, cleaner air for all, faster emergency vehicle arrival times and much, much more. These benefits are huge, real, and critical for many of the groups we work with most closely. 

New York City and our transit system are complex — always changing for the better — and this program is no different. We expect it will transform and improve over time and we know disability advocates will push for that; and we as board members are responsible for ensuring the MTA is transparent in reporting on the program, including the use of exemptions for vehicles transporting people with disabilities.

We all need congestion pricing to ensure our buses and AAR trips run faster and to help us in our journey to build a more accessible and inclusive subway and rail system. We know more work will be critical to get this program right, including the disability exemption, but we have a strong framework in place with a roadmap that is logical, pragmatic and rigorous. Now let’s get to work!

Quemuel Arroyo is the MTA's chief accessibility officer. John-Ross Rizzo is a physician-scientist-leader at NYU Langone Health.

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 09:30
When Dr. Kerry McBroome and her partner decided to leave Chicago, her goal was to start a private therapy practice in Brooklyn geared towards the LGBTQ+ community. They had to downsize to fit into their new two bedroom. Here’s Kerry’s story as told to Kelly Kreth.
Fri, 04/12/2024 - 08:00
Construction continues to rise on 395 Carroll Street, a two-tower mixed-use development in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Designed by Hamish Whitefield Architects and developed by Rabsky Group with $92 million in construction financing from G4 Capital, the 226-foot-tall project will span 526,000 square feet and yield 298 condominium units with an average scope of 1,365 square feet, as well as 51,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, a cellar level, a 40-foot-long rear yard, and 52 enclosed parking spaces. President Union LLC is the owner and Sky Construction NY Inc. is the general contractor for the project, which is alternately addressed as 325 Bond Street and bound by Union Street to the north, Carroll Street to the south, the Gowanus Canal to the east, and Bond Street to the west.
Fri, 04/12/2024 - 07:30
The Garden State Community Development Corporation, working alongside the Wells Fargo Foundation and local developer Cara Squared LLC, announced the commencement of construction on 307 Bergen Avenue, a $6.3 million housing development in Jersey City's Greenville neighborhood. The project, which was designed by Inglese Architecture & Engineering, aims to convert a former parking lot into a 12-unit residential condominium complex, intended specifically for low-income families earning 70 percent or less of the area median income.
Fri, 04/12/2024 - 07:00
The affordable housing lottery has launched for 60 Cedar Street, an 18-story mixed-use building in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Designed by S. Wieder Architects and developed by Louis Handler of BTE, the structure yields 145 residences. Available on NYC Housing Connect are 42 units for residents at 130 percent of the area median income (AMI), ranging in eligible income from $106,458 to $198,250.
Fri, 04/12/2024 - 06:30
Permits have been filed for a five-story residential building at 222 16th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, the lot is near the Prospect Avenue subway station, serviced by the R train. Shia Unsdorfer is listed as the owner behind the applications.
Fri, 04/12/2024 - 06:03

To passers-by, a building that’s considerably shorter than the ones around it may be little more than a curious feature of a streetscape.

But the odd-fitting structure could also be a shrewd real estate strategy. Indeed, landlords often depend upon under-built real estate to serve as a type of placeholder until a block appreciates in value. Making the wait easier is the fact that rents collected from the spaces, usually retail berths, are often just enough to cover basic costs — hence the industry term for such sites: “taxpayer buildings.”

A low-slung site giving way to an apartment complex in the East Village at East Second Street and First Avenue may show the taxpayer approach at work.

Romah Management Corp., an investment arm of the Ashourzadeh family, acquired the three buildings that make up the corner, Nos. 33, 35 and 37 First Ave., in 1984 for $282,000, according to the city register. Although the neighborhood was considered rougher-edged back then, the price can still seem rock-bottom cheap even when adjusting for inflation. It is equivalent to about $850,000 today.

Slightly different pizza-makers and masseuses have leased the addresses’ spaces. But true to taxpayer form, the sites haven’t changed much at all in the four decades since.

That’s not to say that the surrounding area hasn’t sharply transformed, however. Decades of gentrification, assimilation and investment have turned a neighborhood that was a first-stop for immigrants in the early 20th century and later a low-cost bohemian enclave into one of Lower Manhattan’s trendiest neighborhoods today.

And the reinvention has unsurprisingly powered a rise in real estate values, even in recent years. The East Village’s current median sale price is $1.2 million, a 75% bump from 2010, the oldest year available, according to StreetEasy data. Rents, too, have shot up over the same time period, to $3,800 a month from $2,500 a month, a gain of 50%, the site said.

Recognizing how much the East Village has evolved since the Reagan years, Romah might have decided that its holdings at Nos. 33-37 should be taxpayers no more. (Not every structure on the site is a taxpayer, however. No. 37, which Romah will also raze, is a five-story former rental building.)

In the last few weeks, the firm began prepping the site for a 22-unit development that will be a market-rate rental, said Romah principal Manouchechr Ashourzadeh, who goes by Manny, in a brief interview. But he otherwise declined to comment on the history of the site, which will now have the address 88 E. Second St. and also feature a storefront. Most notably, perhaps, the project at seven stories will clock in at roughly the same size as its neighbors.

It’s not Romah’s only effort to cash in on its taxpayers. The firm is attempting a similar makeover at a nearby parcel at East Fifth Street and Avenue D. That multi-lot corner site, which Romah started acquiring in 2007, includes a single-story building that once contained a supermarket. Romah wants to redevelop it into a 9-story, 64-unit apartment building, according to a permit application filed with the Department of Buildings in March.

33 First Ave.

In the mid-19th century, a fire devoured a soap factory that once stood here. A few years later, in 1878, an elevated subway line went up along First, casting shadows and possibly discouraging development. The short building on this corner, more diminutive than nearby structures, seems to date to sometime after the subway’s arrival. (The elevated tracks, part of a Second Avenue line, which confusingly ran its trains along First downtown, was demolished in 1942.) In recent years, a laundry leased No. 33’s ground floor while a massage parlor called Waterfront Spa rented its upstairs level. In early April, wrecking crews had reduced the building to brick walls, as landlord Romah Management Corp. prepares to raze the structure and two others on the block to develop a 7-story, 22-unit apartment building. Romah, a real estate entity associated with the Ashourzadeh family, appears to have pursued a classic “taxpayer” strategy with the site: collect rents for a bare-bones space to cover property costs while holding out until a neighborhood improves, then take advantage of allowable zoning for a new development.

35 First Ave.

Landlord Romah does not know why the northwestern corner of East Second Street and First Avenue is under-built compared to its surroundings. But a major event in April 1863 appears to have altered the face of the block. The Allan Hay & Co., a block-sized factory that said it made “family soaps of superior quality and uniform finish,” suffered from a fire that caused $200,000 in damages and destroyed its block-long, multi-story site, according to news reports from the time. Tenement-style apartment buildings seem to have quickly filled in most of the holes on the block left by the burned buildings. But for unknown reasons, the corner was not similarly developed back then. In the 1940s, No. 35 housed an A&P grocery store, photos show. Decades later, a series of pizza shops leased the narrow single-story structure. In March, city officials gave Romah the green light to raze the building.

37 First Ave.

This building, which is also part of Romah’s development site, will perhaps represent the biggest loss when it goes. A five-story former tenement, No. 37 once had eight apartments, even though none appear to have been rent-stabilized, according to state housing records. The last to rent, in 2021, was a studio that asked $1,700 a month. Back in 1984, when the neighborhood was far less gentrified, Romah bought the building and three others near it for $282,000, according to the city register. For many years, a Chinese restaurant, New Double Dragon, occupied its sidewalk level berth. But in the mid-1970s, the narrow space housed an Indian restaurant, one of many to emerge from a hub of Indian cuisine centered on East Sixth Street (though most were owned by immigrants from Sylhet, Bangladesh). In 1968 the Ahmed family opened the first such spot, Shah Bagh at 320 E. Sixth St., which today features Japanese eatery AOI Kitchen. Similarly, most of the two-dozen curry-centric restaurants that packed the area in its 1990s heyday are gone. Meanwhile, the Department of Buildings approved No. 37 for demolition on March 18.

84 E. Second St.

This 5-story, 8-unit Italianate-style rental building is owned by the same developer now busy at the corner, Romah Management Corp., which bought it from the firm Divot Co. in 1984 as part of its bulk purchase that also included Nos. 33, 35 and 37 First Ave. Stretching a deep 60 feet into its lot, No. 84 appears to offer peeks of the nearby New York City Marble Cemetery from its upper floors. A two-bedroom, one-bath unit in the walkup building was asking $4,300 a month last summer. In 1940, the building’s two retail spaces offered a men’s clothing store and grocery, according to a photo of No. 84 taken as part of a Great Depression-era program to document every single New York building. In recent decades, the westernmost berth appears to have been colonized as an apartment, a not uncommon occurrence during the neighborhood’s hardscrabble past. But a vintage clothing store opened about a decade ago, and a sushi restaurant is there today. The right berth, meanwhile, appears to be used by Romah as an office. This year, city tax officials put No. 84’s market value at $4.6 million, meaning it would likely sell for $9 million if put up for sale. That is down from No. 84’s $5.4 million valuation in 2022, records show, though on par with its pre-Covid price.

60 E. Second St.

Discovering nearly an acre of tranquil green space in the middle of a city block may seem like the stuff of urban fantasies. But the grass and trees that beckon through the wrought-iron fence posts at this address are no dream. They are part of the New York City Marble Cemetery, which was incorporated in 1831 and became an early beneficiary of local landmark protections in 1969. Though the walled-off oasis has a bit of a trapped-in-amber feel, the organization is still active. Its most recent internment happened on July 7, 2020, when Helen D. Roosevelt, a Covid victim, joined several previous members of her well-known clan. (Born Helen Sparrow, Roosevelt married John Roosevelt, a relative of former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt, in 1959.) Other Roosevelts have bounced around a bit, like James Roosevelt, who was buried at Marble Cemetery from 1863 to 1876 before being relocated to Midtown’s Roosevelt Hospital (now Mount Sinai West), only to be re-interred in the Village again in 1995, according to the nonprofit organization’s own meticulous history. Others with White House ties, though, left never to return, like James Monroe, the fifth U.S. president, who was at Marble Cemetery from 1831 to 1858 before being packed up for Virginia. Monroe lay in vault 147, which is near the center aisle, about four rows back.

29 First Ave.

Designed by William Jose, a locally prolific German-born architect who was also behind Avenue A’s Pyramid Club, this five-story brick-and-terracotta building opened in 1871, according to historian Francis Morrone. In 1918, when its neighborhood was awash in waves of European immigration, the ground-floor retail space welcomed a hardware store that’s currently the appliance emporium Gringer & Sons; later expanding, it today also vends fridges, ranges and air conditioners in next-door 27 First as well. The store’s striking ruby-and-cobalt neon sign was the work of Charles Karsch, a Russian immigrant who also lent his touch to the shimmering shingle hanging at the West Village’s White Horse Tavern. The Forman family owned the site for years, according to the city register, but sold the property in 1982 for $150,000 (about $500,000 in 2024 dollars) to developer Mobile Realty Co., which converted the upstairs rentals into co-ops, records show. But the 22-unit elevator building, which uses the address 87 E. Second St., has sold slowly, as some units change hands only after longtime renters depart. In fact, a renovated two-bedroom unit long owned by the sponsor traded this winter for $1.2 million, according to StreetEasy.

24 First Ave.

Some sites seem to embrace the status quo for generations. Others cram a whirlwind of existences into a short span. The modest mid-block prewar building that formerly stood at this site was a Russian bath house in the mid-20th century, and a few decades later, it had become Gordon’s, a sort of pool-themed single-room occupancy hotel. Cots, which could be rented for $10 a week, were popular with “truck drivers, dock workers and drifters,” according to a 1964 article in The New York Times. The Club Baths, which served a gay male clientele, flourished afterward in the 1970s and 1980s, before Hayne Suthon bought the property, which angles through to East Second Street, for $3 million in 1986. Suthon, a tax lawyer turned restaurateur, opened the Ancient Rome-themed restaurant Cave Canem (Latin for “beware of dog”) a year later. But Suthon’s follow-up act, as of 1993, was probably the site’s highest-profile occupant: Lucky Cheng’s, an Asian eatery staffed by drag queens and trans women. Downstairs was a bar, Stella’s, where one of the old baths was reinvented as an oversized goldfish bowl. In 2018, Brooklyn-based Rybak Development purchased the entire property for $11.5 million, according to the city register, and razed it for The 101 Condo, a 7-story, 22-unit offering completed in 2022 that earned Rybak $43 million, according to its offering plan. A high-end Indian restaurant, Bungalow, opened on its ground floor in March. Lucky Cheng’s, meanwhile, has rotated through different homes in Times Square since Suthon died in 2014 and currently lends its name to a dinner-and-drag show at Laurie Beechman Theater on West 42nd Street.

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 05:33

The City Council passed two bills Thursday that aim to better protect Fire Department of New York emergency medical service workers from violence on the job.

The bills, both sponsored by Council Minority Leader Joseph Borelli of Staten Island, would require the FDNY to provide employees with body armor, de-escalation and self-defense training. Borelli told Crain’s the legislation is necessary because the number of attacks on EMS workers is steadily growing. According to the fire department, there were 363 attacks on emergency medical technicians and paramedics in 2022, more than double the amount in 2018. EMS workers responded to just over 30,000 life-threatening medical emergencies in fiscal 2023.

“I don't know if we could have prevented these incidents,” Borelli said. “But I can tell you for certain that these types of incidents will happen again. And these folks should not be an afterthought. They’re a critical part of our first responding system.”

According to the text of one bill, the de-escalation training would help workers recognize and understand signs of mental illness and distress, communicate effectively with individuals they respond to and ease conflict. The department would need to offer the training at least once per calendar year.

The other piece of legislation, Borelli said, would ensure the body armor meets ballistic and stab resistance standards. Employees would be prohibited from keeping the armor after they left the FDNY or moved to a position that didn’t require emergency medical work. According to the bill’s fiscal impact statement, the body armor would not have any impact on the department’s revenue or expenditures because the agency would use existing resources for the EMTs.

Peter Spencer, a representative for Borelli’s office, added that the FDNY already does some self-defense training and has some vests available, but they are not always new or up to standard. He added that the agency supports the legislation; FDNY representatives declined to comment. At a hearing in February, Oren Barzilay, a veteran of FDNY emergency medical services and president of a union that represents the workers, urged the committee to pass the legislation as attacks increased.

Both bills will now move to Mayor Eric Adams for approval. They would both take effect immediately after becoming law and the armor would need to be provided within one year after that date.

Fri, 04/12/2024 - 05:33

After a years-long fundraising dry spell, New York’s digital health firms may be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, a new report shows.

Twenty-nine health tech companies in New York raised $914 million in the first quarter of 2024 – more than the previous two quarters combined, according to a report released Thursday by Digital Health New York, an organization that tracks deals among local health tech companies.

Digital health funding has lagged in New York City in recent years, falling from a pandemic-era boom. City-based tech companies raised $2.9 billion in 2023, down from the record-breaking $9 billion they raised in 2021.

The uptick in funding in the first quarter of this year is a “very good sign” for health tech companies seeking funding in 2024, said Maria Gotsch, president and chief executive of the Partnership Fund for New York City, the $180 million venture arm of the Partnership for New York City. But she cautioned that venture markets are nowhere near the strength they had two years ago.

“People are cautiously optimistic that we are trending the right way,” Gotsch said. “But we are not fully back.”

Gotsch added that it’s too early in the year to make any conclusions about what the funding landscape has in store. Last year at this time, digital health companies had raised about $1 billion, before ending the year on a sour note.

She said that during “in-between” periods for funding, health investors look to markets with a large selection of both entrepreneurs and scientists — New York is a case in point.

In the first quarter, health tech companies developing products focused on health insurance raised more money than other sectors. Insurance and health benefit firms raised 27% of total funding, signaling interest in products that simplify health insurance and claims processing.

Financial District-based pharmacy benefit management firm Capital Rx raised $115 million in a Series D round led by Prime Therapeutics to expand its artificial intelligence-based technology that processes prescription drug claims and handles reimbursements. Healthee, based in Midtown, also raised $32 million in an early-stage funding round to grow its health benefits navigation platform, a solution that aims to give employees more information about their medical costs.

A. J. Loiacono, chief executive of Capital Rx, said that there’s a lot of investor interest in companies that can upgrade decades-old systems that process insurance claims – a system that’s comparable to the U.S. electrical grid, he said. He added that he expects to see solutions that attempt to address security vulnerabilities in insurance claims as well, which was evident in the recent Change Healthcare attack.

Fundraising last quarter wasn’t limited to startups focused on simplifying insurance; companies aiming to help patients navigate care also topped the list of firms raising money. Fabric, which is headquartered in Chelsea, raised $60 million to expand its health navigation platform to more hospitals.

Biotech companies raised 17% of all funds in the first quarter, led by companies like OnCusp and Claris Bio, which develop oncology and ophthalmology therapeutics, respectively. Mental health companies raised 8% of the total funding in the first quarter, and women’s health firms raised 4%.