Office lenders looking for an off-ramp

JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Barclays exploring debt sales

National /

November 11, 2022 04:00 PM

TRD Staff

JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, Deutsche Bank's Christian Sewing and Barclays' Nigel Higgins (JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Getty)

JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, Deutsche Bank’s Christian Sewing and Barclays’ Nigel Higgins (JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Getty)

Is the other shoe about to drop on commercial real estate?

Just in case it is, prominent lenders for commercial properties, especially offices, are exploring sales of their loans in cities with low demand, including New York, Bloomberg reported. JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and Barclays are among them.

In a sign of how motivated lenders are to offload debt, some are offering discounts ranging from 3 percent to 25 percent. Many of the talks around selling debt have been held behind closed doors, and debt deals are largely being kept out of the public eye.

The risks lenders face include that the properties secured by their loans will not generate enough revenue for their owners to pay the debt service, and the assets’ value will fall below the loan balance.

“Office in particular is a dirty word for lenders,” Jeff Kaplan of Meadow Partners told the publication.

Read more

Selling loans is a normal course of business for banks. What’s not, however, is the struggle they are having finding buyers. Hence the discounts.

Lenders issued $316 billion in commercial loans across the country in the first half the year, according to the Federal Reserve. But rising interest rates and distress for certain commercial property types has lenders reversing course.

Many have become hesitant to originate debt, fearing rising rates and inflation will reduce the value of those loans in the future. Some commercial real estate players are taking out variable-rate loans rather than lock in fixed-rate loans at high interest rates.

Commercial lenders are responding to declining property prices across the sector. Commercial prices are down 13 percent from a May peak, according to the Green Street Commercial Property Price Index. Shopping malls have taken the biggest hit with a 23 percent drop, but even industrial prices are down 17 percent since May.

In the long term, office landlords may have it the worst. A study by NYU’s Arpit Gupta and Columbia University’s Vrinda Mittal and Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh estimated that by 2029, New York City’s office stock will fall in value by 28 percent, or $49 billion.

— Holden Walter-Warner

Why Jersey City Is Becoming New York City’s 6th Borough

A little liberty goes a long way

By Scott Beyer 

October 12, 2022

The major cities of the Northeast have faced a paradox of high demand and low overall growth. Businesses still want to locate, for instance, in New York City, and people still want to move there, but a combo of taxes, high home prices and quality-of-life problems often discourage moving to the city itself. But across the river a different city—and a general area—has embraced urban growth where New York City eschewes it. Jersey City and others along the North Jersey shore have grown at a faster rate this last decade, creating what could be thought of as the 6th borough.

This starts with permits; Jersey City and neighboring cities build substantially more housing than most of the New York metro area at large. According to the Citizen’s Budget Commission, Hudson County overall permits well over double the rate of housing that New York City does (51 units/10ks residents vs. 22 units/10k residents). For this reason Hudson County is growing faster than New York City (7% vs 3% from 2011-2020) and the percentage growth rate since then is a whopping 18% for Jersey City. 

Many renters move to Jersey City; it was one of the top 10 destinations for renters in the U.S. This includes New York City renters in particular, suggesting they can find a similar lifestyle across the river. Jersey City does have a high average rent price, at $3,821 for a 2-bedroom apartment, but it’s cheaper than New York City’s overall average of $4,927. Furthermore, the money stretches further along the west side of the Hudson River. As a local realtor stated:  “In Jersey City you can purchase a brand-new construction condo with three bedrooms, two baths, private outdoor space, parking, laundry and roof deck with NYC views for less than $1 million. In many parts of New York City, this same condo would be upward of $2 to 3 million.”

What’s perhaps more notable are rents around Jersey City. Union City, NJ, is one of the densest municipalities in America. The average rent per 1-bedroom apartment there is $1,700 and the median household income is below $50,000. In Bushwick, a Brooklyn neighborhood noted for its gentrification, median incomes are similar but the average rent is $2,700. From 2014 to 2022, rents increased by 32% in Union City, but this was 6% lower than Bushwick’s rate. To be sure, lower home prices typically run along a gradient the further one searches from a central area. But Jersey City, where the finance industry grew 500% between 1993 and the present day, is arguably central in its own right. And it’s likely that high density construction there has made both Jersey City and neighboring suburbs like Union City more affordable. 

New York’s housing production is anemic relative to demand, both in the city and surrounding non-Jersey suburbs. Notes the Citizen’s Budget Commission: “counties like Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, and Suffolk have some of the lowest housing production rates in the country.” Despite being known for density more than any other U.S. city, New York has in fact downzoned in recent decades. A 2010 NYU study found that out of 180,000 parcels, “14 percent had been upzoned, 23 percent downzoned, and 63 percent had not had their development capacity changed by more than 10 percent” the prior decade, reported Politico

Jersey City, by contrast, encourages high-rise construction. According to SkyscraperCenter, the city is the 10th “tallest” in the United States (and 13th in North America). While Manhattan is famous for its skyscrapers, this is mostly a legacy from more permissive past eras, and now anti-height NIMBYism is common. By contrast, Jersey City has allowed a whole new skyline, with 35 of its 43 tallest towers getting built since 2000.

Jersey City also embraces other urbanist bona fides, often with a free-market twist. Several of the private ferries serving New York City stop along the Jersey City waterfront, providing connections to Midtown and Lower Manhattan, as does the PATH train, which provides 24/7 service, and a light rail line to points throughout the North Jersey suburbs. Interestingly, Hudson County also embraces private bus transit, with jitneys making trips throughout the day within North Jersey and to Manhattan, charging cheap fares. The city is also among those which have launched a subsidized microtransit service, supplementing other transit services.

But Jersey City is not just a bedroom community for New York commuters; jobs in the city itself have grown. Numerous financial district firms have opened satellite offices in the city dating back to the early 1990s. Tech interest and employment is also growing, with one software firm leasing tens of thousands of square feet even amid the pandemic.

Jersey City—and the larger Hudson County urban oasis that includes Union City, Hoboken, Bayonne and more—could make its case as a proverbial “6th Borough” of New York City. While it could always do more to liberalize its land use and other fiscal policies, it has done a much better job than New York City proper of accommodating the region’s population demands. As a result it has become a very different city the last decade, while much of the rest of the region stagnates under an anti-growth mindset.

Albanese closes $70 million land deal in Jersey City, eyes 670-unit apartment tower

OCTOBER 11, 2022

The Albanese Organization is planning 670 luxury apartments at 286 Coles St. in Jersey City, as depicted in this rendering by Marchetto Higgins Stieve Architects — Courtesy: Grid Real Estate

By Joshua Burd

A developer has acquired nearly two acres in Jersey City with plans to build 670 luxury apartments on the property, in a recently completed deal by Grid Real Estate.

The Albanese Organization, a Garden City, New York-based firm, paid $70 million for the 1.83-acre parcel at 286 Coles St., where it joins a growing list of builders involved in revitalizing a neighborhood near the Hoboken border and just west of the Holland Tunnel. The firm reportedly plans to break ground early next year, with approvals in place and plans calling for the project to span the entire block between 16th and 17 streets.

Grid’s Bob Antonicello and Bobby Antonicello Jr. represented Albanese in the deal, noting that Hoboken Brownstone Co. previously owned the land. Eugene Paolino and Jeff Rich of Genova Burns LLCwere also involved in the transaction.

“We are excited to play a part in the redevelopment of 286 Coles Street,” Bob Antonicello said. “The Albanese team has designed a world-class mixed-use property that will be a welcomed addition to the downtown/Hoboken residential market.”

Part of a large redevelopment area, the Albanese project would rise alongside thousands of other units that have helped transformed the longtime industrial neighborhood at the northern end of Jersey Avenue. The area is also home to the recently opened Coles Park as a result of a $2.5 million investment by Manhattan Building Co., which has delivered nearly 800 apartments in the neighborhood since 2013 and had another 350 under construction when it broke ground on the park in late 2019.

Albanese, for its part, has other projects in Jersey City, including the Hendrix, a 482-unit property at 184 Morgan St., and the proposed 6th Street Embankment project.

One Madison Avenue’s Tower Expansion Begins Steel Assembly In Flatiron District, Manhattan

Rendering of One Madison Avenue Expansion. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox

BY: MICHAEL YOUNG AND MATT PRUZNICK 8:00 AM ON SEPTEMBER 20, 2022

Construction is rising on One Madison Avenue, a 27-story commercial expansion in the Flatiron District. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and developed by SL Green, the National Pension Service of Korea, and Hines, the project involves the gut renovation and expansion of a former eight-story structure and will yield 1.4 million square feet of office space. AECOM Tishman is the general contractor for the property, which occupies a full block bound by East 23rd and 24th Streets and Madison Avenue and Park Avenue South.

At the time of our last update in mid-June, the core for the tower expansion was just beginning to rise above the gutted podium. Since then, the reinforced concrete volume has risen steadily as work on the surrounding steel frame has begun to take shape. Based on the pace of progress, the core should top out before the end of the year, with the framing following shortly behind.

O

One Madison Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

Two tower cranes are busily hoisting steel into place for the tower’s frame. Nearly all of the new windows are in place on the lower floors, arranged in a grid of vertical columns.

One Madison Avenue. Photo by Michael Young

The new tower will yield 530,000 square feet with floor plates spanning up to 35,000 square feet each. The glass curtain wall will provide occupants with abundant natural light and panoramic views of Madison Square Park, the Flatiron Building, and the surrounding neighborhood. The tenth and 11th floors will feature 22-foot ceiling spans and provide access to an open-air rooftop deck. Additional outdoor terraces will sit atop the podium between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue South.

Office amenities at One Madison Avenue include a 15,000-square-foot artisanal food market, a 9,000-square-foot tenant lounge, a three-level fitness center, bicycle storage, and a 13,000-square-foot high-tech event space with a capacity of 800 people. The closest subways from the property are the R and W trains at the 23rd Street station to the west along Broadway, and the local 6 train to the west along Park Avenue South. It was last announced that IBM has signed on as the anchor tenant with plans to occupy 328,000 square feet across five floors.

One Madison Avenue is slated for completion by the end of November 2023.

Kohl’s looking to cash in on $8B real estate portfolio

Retailer ended deal talks with Franchise Group


National / Fortis Staff

July 01, 2022 02:30 PM

Kohl's CEO Michell Glass (Kohl's, iStock)

Kohl’s CEO Michell Glass (Kohl’s, iStock)

Sale talks between Kohl’s and Franchise Group are off. A sale of Kohl’s massive real estate portfolio, however, may be on.

The retailer said it is ending the exclusive negotiating period with Franchise Group for the business, instead continuing to operate as its own company. A Friday announcement on the move pointed to “reevaluating monetization opportunities for portions of the company’s real estate portfolio,” which is valued at $8 billion.

Ditching its real estate in leaseback transactions hasn’t appealed to Kohl’s in the past, CNBC reported, marking a strategic shift in how the retailer may move forward.

Kohl’s has some experience in recent leaseback deals, including e-commerce fulfillment and distribution centers in San Bernardino, which netted the company $127 million. Leaseback sales allow companies to realize funds quickly while maintaining use of its properties.

A drawback to the deal is a possible burden to companies stuck in leases with onerous terms or the chance to be left off the opportunity to lease the property at all down the road.

Read more

Activist investors have spent more than a year pushing Kohl’s to get rid of some of its real estate. Macellum Advisors GP, Ancora Holdings, Legion Partners Asset Management and 4010 Capital called on Kohl’s last year to hire directors with retail experience and consider sale-leaseback deals while reducing inventory.

Kohl’s said at the time it was already considering some of the ideas. Macellum, the most prominent of the activist investors, didn’t respond to the outlet’s request for comment.

As of late January, when the $8 billion valuation came down, Kohl’s owned 410 locations. It was also leasing 517 locations and operated ground leases for 238 of its stores.

In addition to moving on from the Franchise Group, Kohl’s is moving forward with a $500 million accelerated stock buyback program. The company also reduced its revenue guidance for the fiscal second quarter due to diminishing demand linked to inflation.

CNBC — Holden Walter-Warner

Fortis Investment Group to test the first of several senior living facilities in southeast

                 article provided by Fortis Investment Group administrative staff             June 16, 2022                        

                                   

Dunn Avenue Senior Living

                                     150 Unit Independent Living & Assisted Living Care Facility

                                                        Jacksonville, Florida

Dunn Avenue Senior Living in Jacksonville Florida

The project is a mixed-use Senior Housing development. It will be located at 3641 Dunn Ave. just east of the I-295 junction with Dunn Avenue in Northwest Jacksonville. It will be the newest and most modern complete Senior Living project in Jacksonville. It will contain 55 independent living units (located in 26 individual duplexes and 1 tri plex buildings), & 95 assisted living suites. The main structure housing the assisted living units will be a three-story building. The total square footage of the project will be approx.139,700.

The project will be designed with residential style finishes and furnishings to attract all levels of income seniors who desire to live in a community with a residential experience and elevated level of quality service. Given the vibrancy and rejuvenation of the Jacksonville area, this is a sorely needed service provided not only for retirees in the area, but also family brought in to live closer to relatives and friends in the Jacksonville area.

It will incorporate the latest innovations in senior housing with the assisted living care and will provide the residents with a resort style setting with a full amenities package. “Dunn Avenue Senior Living will have a competitive market advantage by being able to integrate all levels of retirement needs” stated Dom Marino, Managing Partner at Fortis Investment Group in NYC. “From independent to assisted and, in the future, even long-term care” he added. In addition, a full range of social services, and recreational activities will be offered. The project will be a high quality, modern, fully equipped, and staffed property to provide a superior home and living experience for all residents.

Times Square lands Manhattan’s biggest loan deals in April

Edge Fund Advisors, Jamestown nab combined $1B in Midtown; Rabina’s 5th Ave tower also a top recipient


By Orion Jones May 31, 2022 11:30 AM

520 Fifth Avenue, 1450 Broadway and 1 Times Square (Kohn Pedersen Fox, 1450 Broadway, Bernt Rostad from Oslo Norwayedited by Yarl CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

520 Fifth Avenue, 1450 Broadway and 1 Times Square (Kohn Pedersen Fox, 1450 Broadway, Bernt Rostad from Oslo Norwayedited by Yarl CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The 10 largest Manhattan real estate loans recorded in April totaled about $1.7 billion, a good $500 million over March’s total and nearly double last April’s amount.

Times Square was the center of some of last month’s biggest deals, including a refinance of the former Bertelsmann’s building and an extension of One Times Square, where the New Year’s Eve ball drops.

Below are more details on the borough’s largest real estate loans in April:

1. Timely refresh in Times Square | $445 million

Edge Fund Advisors and HSBC, owners of 1540 Broadway, the 44-story former Bertelsmann Building in Times Square, received $445 million to refinance the senior loan for the office portion of the building. The lenders were Apollo Global Management, Michael Dell’s MSD Partners and Monarch Alternative Capital. The loan included $96 million of new debt, for a total refinancing package of $590 million.

Developed by Bruce Eichner in the late 1980s for the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann, the project fell into bankruptcy in the early 1990s but its owners recently spent $40 million on amenities and energy-efficiency upgrades. Vornado Realty Trust owns the retail portion of the building.

2. Mixed-use muscle | $410 million

Bank OZK provided $410 million, including $300 million in construction loans, to Rabina for its 70-story tower underway at 520 Fifth Avenue in Midtown. Carlyle’s Global Credit business contributed $130 million at the mezzanine level, for a total amount of $540 million. The debt from Bank OZK replaces an acquisition loan used by Rabina to buy the land for $205 million in 2019. The tower will be Fifth Avenue’s second-tallest after the Empire State Building and will include 98 residences across 16 floors, plus offices and retail.

3. Party hats on | $290 million

JPMorgan Chase loaned $290 million, including $128 million in construction funds, at One Times Square, where the New Year’s Eve ball drops. Developer Jamestown will reportedly spend $500 million renovating the long-empty building thanks to a total debt package of $425 million. The top of the building is set to receive a new viewing deck and 12 floors of the 118-year-old building will be opened to the public.

4. Healing the Hayworth | $160 million

JPMorgan Chase loaned Zeckendorf Development $159.7 million, including $23 million in new project loan debt, for its purchase of the Hayworth, a 61-unit condo project at 1289 Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side. Zeckendorf bought the building from the U.K.-based lender Children’s Investment Fund, which took control of the property from Ceruzzi Development through a foreclosure auction in January.

5. Meatpacking loan | $123 million

German bank Deutsche Pfandbriefbank loaned $123.4 million to Aurora Capital Associates at 809 Washington Street, an office building in the meatpacking district, including $63 million in new debt that will cover a renovation and expansion of the property. The loan replaces debt held by JPMorgan Chase.Read more

6. Sunrise, sunset | $80 million

Fortress Investment Group is now the senior lender at 141 East Houston Street, a new boutique office building on the Lower East Side, after providing a $79.6 million loan package that includes $31.6 million in fresh funds for developer East End Capital to finish construction. The office property replaces the Sunshine Cinema, which closed in 2018.

7. Art Deco refi | $70 million

The real estate lending arm of insurer MetLife provided $70 million in loans to Rose Associates for the refinancing of 21 West Street, a 33-story Art Deco residential building in the Financial District with 293 units. The loan replaces debt held by insurance company Axa Equitable Life Insurance.

8. Chetrit goes shopping | $63 million

Madison Realty Capital loaned $63 million to the Chetrit Organization for its purchase of 275 Cherry Street, a Two Bridges development site also known as 265 South Street, from CIM Group and L+M. Plans call for a two-towered building on the site with 1,300 residential units.

9. Ladder in Soho | $57 million

Ladder Capital plunked down $57 million to take over as senior lender at 446 Broadway, a boutique office and retail building in Soho owned by KPG. The total financing comes to $64 million including additional funding from Heitman. Building tenants include post-production video company Cabin Editing, Danish corporate networking company The Org and online equity investing firm Rally.

10. NoMad world | $47 million

New York Community Bank loaned Stellar Management $46.7 million to refinance its 99,000-square-foot office building at 44 West 28th Street in NoMad. The loan replaces debt previously held by Signature Bank. Artsy poster museum Poster House is the ground-floor tenant.

Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex Rises At 595 Newark Avenue In Jersey City

Rendering of the Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex – Hudson County Improvement Authority

BY: MICHAEL YOUNG 8:00 AM ON MAY 1, 2022

Construction is rising on the Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex, a massive new government building at 595 Newark Avenue in the Journal Square neighborhood of Jersey City, New Jersey. Designed by bridging architect Rafael Vinoly and design-builder Terminal Construction Corporation, the five-story structure will yield 24 courtrooms, jury assembly spaces, and new offices for the Hudson County prosecutor, the surrogate, and the sheriff, among others. The $345 million development will also house a 75-seat public food court, a self-help law library, a children’s play area, training spaces, and a 459-space parking garage. MAST Construction Services Inc. is the general contractor for the facility, which is rising from an extensive plot bound by Central Avenue to the west, Route 139 to the north, Oakland Avenue to the east, and Newark Avenue to the south. The developers are aiming for LEED Silver certification.

Recent photos show the towering concrete columns topped out around the perimeter of the site and the steel superstructure rising within.

From certain angles, the development appears almost like an abstract art installation towering over the nearby homes and commercial buildings. The land on which the building rests had to be cleared of several low-rise structures and consolidated to form one mega parcel. This involved the removal of Cook Street and the widening of Oakland Avenue into a two-way corridor for increased vehicular usage.

The Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex will replace the outdated Administration Building, which will eventually be demolished and replaced by a park using funds from Hudson County.

Renderings below from the Hudson County Improvement Authority provide further perspectives of the Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex and its lateral build defined by a multi-story system of diagonal trusses. New landscaping and tree-lined sidewalks will surround the main western entrance to the property.

The Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex is anticipated to be finished sometime next year.

Renovate or bust: New York’s aging offices face specter of obsolescence

Three-quarters of the city’s office buildings are more than 40 years old. Can they survive the pandemic?

New York Issue /April 14, 2022 07:30 AM By T.P.Yeatts

250 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, rebranded as One Park Place (Amtrust Realty)

New York City’s office market increasingly resembles the demographics of the nation: a land of haves and have-nots, with a shrinking middle class.

Two years after the pandemic sent white-collar workers home, office buildings across the metro area were only 37 percent occupied, according to March 16 card swipe data from Kastle Systems, a popular index for office use. That includes “trophy” spaces occupied by the big banks that have pushed workers hardest to return. 

Landlords don’t expect them to remain empty much longer. Companies still need dedicated workspace, they say, even if it serves a different purpose — as flexible, refined meeting places rather than 9-to-5 holding pens.

Assuming they are correct, there remains an essential problem: The bulk of Manhattan’s office property is ancient. The unweighted average age of office buildings across the city’s roughly 540 million-square-foot market is now “well over” 100 years, according to Colliers. About 75 percent was built before 1980, and 45 percent was built before World War II.

Age alone isn’t the fundamental issue, according to Ruth Colp-Haber, founder of Wharton Property Advisors and a 30-year veteran Manhattan tenant broker. It’s older buildings’ outdated layouts, features and functionality. With some exceptions, older buildings typically lack the column-free floors, high ceilings, gyms and cafes that tenants want in a workplace.

If tenants are going to commit to a long-term lease, they want that space to be special, Colp-Haber said. And while there are gems among the older stock, preference skews to the new and improved. Landlords either have it or they don’t. 

“We’ve definitely never seen anything like this — even remotely,” Colp-Haber said of current office market conditions. “We’re in the midst of a bear market in commercial real estate in New York, and the Class B buildings are going to be bearing the brunt of it.”

Have-nots to haves

The bifurcation between high- and low-quality space has been going on for years; the work-from-home boom only made the contrast more pronounced. Space that was once passable for companies that maintained large offices will no longer do as those firms redefine, and in most cases moderate, their workplace needs.

Among landlords of “value” properties, there is a belief that one can renovate one’s way into the upper echelon. 

“I don’t see Class B as a business I want to be in,” said Jonathan Bennett, president of AmTrust Realty, which is overhauling 250 Broadway across from City Hall to attract a major tech tenant. “I want to be in the Class A business.” 

Tony Malkin, chair and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust, maintains that the distinction between Class A and Class B has been “erroneously oversimplified,” and has framed his company’s largely Class B portfolio as part of the broader “flight to quality.” 

Well-located, energy-efficient buildings with amenities are “critical in all price ranges,” Malkin said on an earnings call in February.

“We offer office space of these important attributes at rents that are accessible to the broadest population of tenants, not just those who can afford or want to pay triple digits for brand-new buildings,” he added.

New York’s creative industries like publishing and architecture, as well engineering firms and nonprofits, have historically been renters of Class B offices. And in recent years, medical businesses have taken up aging space vacated by typical Class A renters like banks and law firms.

Loft-style Class B space is a draw for tech and other tenants in submarkets like Midtown South, Flatiron and Soho. In those enclaves, demand is booming, according to Duval & Stachenfeld’s Eric Menkes, who represents owners like RXR Realty, Savanna and Jamestown in lease deals at B buildings.

“They’re hitting the ball out of the park right now, and that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the buildings are Class B buildings,” Menkes said, declining to offer specifics on rents. “These buildings are not going back to the bank.”

Pronounced softness in other submarkets, like the Garment District and Midtown, including whole stretches of Third Avenue, suggests Class B stock far outweighs demand. 

The glut of space is due in part to downsizing flex-office companies, which took over much of the languishing lower-tier space as the business model boomed over the last decade, only to see demand evaporate during the pandemic, said Frank Wallach, executive managing director for research and business development at Colliers.

Over the last two years, WeWork, Knotel and similar firms have given back more than 4 million square feet of space, most of it Class B, he said.

“The question is, will there be enough demand in the post-Covid era to fill it up?” Wallach said. “What we’re seeing so far is the Class A and newer property is seeing the results first in the post-pandemic increase in demand.”

A “distraction play”

As tenants upgrade their offices, they are also taking less square footage — a consequence of hybrid work plans and column-free floors’ greater efficiency — causing softness in the market for even lower A-grade space in less central locations. Class A vacancy at year-end (17.9 percent) was higher than Class B vacancy (17.1 percent).

David Goldstein, branch manager of Savills’ New York office, described an ongoing “amenities arms race” among landlords below the top tier. On a recent tour of older buildings in Midtown, he and a prospective tenant played at guessing how many times the agent would say “amenity.”

“Agents are spending more time talking about the amenities of the building than the office space itself, because the office space is not that exciting in a lot of these buildings,” he said.

Goldstein called the tactics a “distraction play.”

“The reality is, a lot of the Class B stock has aged perhaps more quickly than anticipated,” Goldstein said. “Certain buildings just have physical limitations that can’t be overcome.”

For owners that could reposition an outdated property, there remains the issue of financing. Rising interest rates and construction and labor costs have made projects that won’t ultimately command top-dollar rents untenable. Lenders, sensing softness in the market, are hesitant to finance projects whose appeal to prospective tenants may be tenuous. 

A possible future for Manhattan’s obsolescent Class B office buildings can be glimpsed in Lower Manhattan, where developers have converted millions of square feet to residential and hotel use over the last three decades. A similar transformation in Midtown would be challenging given the submarket’s larger floor plates, which are not as well suited for residential repurposing due to fresh air and light requirements, according to architect Mark Ginsberg of Curtis + Ginsberg Architects. 

In the meantime, the central problem is demand, which experts say is markedly lower than it was before 2020 due in part to tenant migration outside New York. 

Some Class B tenants became owners during the pandemic, when money was cheap and pricing made buying more attractive, according to Michael Rudder of Rudder Property Group, which specializes in the conversion and sale of New York office condos.

The company helped convert a “weak” Class B building at 35 West 36th Street to a “creative” office condo building during the pandemic, he said. The project was approved in January 2020 and is now effectively sold out. 

“The whole project was a success,” Rudder said. “Had they done a leasing campaign, I think they would be dead in the water right now.”

Here’s where wealthy Russians have owned trophy real estate in the US

Calls for the government to seize assets amplify amid heightened scrutiny of Russian wealth in America

National /March 02, 2022 12:00 PMBy Katherine Kallergis and Adam Farence | Research By Adam Farence

Danil Khachaturov, Roman Abramovich, Vladislav Doronin, Oleg Deripaska (Getty, OKO Group, iStock)

As sanctions intensify against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, so has scrutiny of Russian wealth in America, from yachts, jets and businesses, to, of course, real estate. The U.S. government is moving to freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian businesses and oligarchs, and elected officials are calling for the outright seizure of properties.

“We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday, addressing Russian oligarchs in his State of the Union speech Tuesday. “We are coming for your ill-begotten gains.”

Billionaire Russian businessmen and other members of the country’s elite have grabbed headlines over the last decade by scooping up luxurious properties for top dollar, particularly in New York City and South Florida. Like other foreign buyers, many have concealed their identities by making acquisitions through LLCs or offshore trusts.

“For years Manhattan has been one of the most popular safe harbors for Russian oligarchs to park their cash, especially via ultra-high-end apartments,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine tweeted over the weekend. “It’s time to start seizing their properties.

David Friedman, co-founder of the wealth intelligence platform WealthQuotient, estimates that about 5,500 ultra-high net worth Russian individuals, or less than .01 percent of Russia’s total population, hold about $240 billion in real estate worldwide. That averages out to $43 million in real estate per individual, most of which is likely outside of Russia, Friedman said.

The Real Deal analyzed property records, published reports and other data sources to put together a snapshot of where wealthy Russians have bought and sold top-tier real estate in the U.S. It’s important to note that although some of the individuals listed below have been linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, none, other than Oleg Deripaska, are currently on the U.S. sanctions list.https://afarence.github.io/RussianOligarchMap/Leaflet map created by Adam Farence | Data by © OpenStreetMap, under ODbl.

Roman Abramovich
Townhouses at 9, 11, 13 and 15 East 75th Street and co-ops at 215 and 225 East 73rd Street in New York (sold)
1200 Ridge Wildcat Drive and 303 Aspen Way in Snowmass, Colorado

Roman Abramovich (Getty)

Roman Abramovich, who made his fortune in energy and metals in the 1990s and early 2000s, bought four townhouses on New York City’s Upper East Side, three of which he planned to combine into a megamansion. The mogul, who also owns the London-based soccer club Chelsea F.C., transferred ownership of the New York properties to his ex-wife Dasha Zhukova in 2018 for more than $92 million.

Abramovich also owns two homes in Snowmass, Colorado, near Aspen. Property records show he paid $36.4 million for the larger of the two, a 200-acre estate in the Wildcat Ridge neighborhood, and $11.8 million for the Aspen Way home, both in 2008.

Eugene Shvidler
Co-op at 785 Fifth Avenue in New York

Eugene Shvidler (Getty)

Eugene Shvidler, a billionaire Russian-American gold mining investor and oil tycoon who is reportedly best friends with Abramovich, owns a co-op at The Park V on Fifth Avenue in New York. He paid $24.5 million for the two-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot unit in May 2018. Shvidler, like Abramovich, made his fortune during the privatization of the oil industry in Russia.

Dmitry Rybolovlev
North County Road estate in Palm Beach (sold)
Penthouse at 15 Central Park West in New York

Dmitry Rybolovlev (Getty)

Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev’s known real estate purchases include an $88 million penthouse at 15 Central Park West, which he bought for his daughter, and an over 6-acre oceanfront estate in Palm Beach, which he split into three parcels and sold off. Former President Donald Trump sold the Palm Beach mansion to Rybolovlev in 2008 for $95 million, then a record for Florida residential sales, and Rybolovlev sold the divided properties for more than $108 million in 2016, 2017 and 2019.

The homes were also a major source of contention in Rybolovlev’s divorce with his ex-wife, Elena.

Aras Agalarov
Unit 7064 at Palazzo Del Sol, 7064 Fisher Island Drive in Miami Beach (sold)

Aras Agalarov (Getty)

Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire real estate developer Aras Agalarov, a friend of Putin and former President Donald Trump, owned a condo at Palazzo Del Sol on Fisher Island, an exclusive island in Miami Beach accessible only by boat, ferry or helicopter. Agalarov sold his four-bedroom, 4,738-square-foot unit in 2018 for about $8.5 million, taking a loss on the property he had bought two years earlier for $10.7 million.

Vladislav Doronin
Star Island Drive mansion in Miami Beach

Vladislav Doronin (OKO Group)

Russian-born American billionaire real estate developer Vladislav Doronin lives on Star Island in Miami Beach, where his neighbors include Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Sean Combs, a.k.a. Puff Daddy. Doronin, who said in a statement that he denounced the aggression of Russia on Ukraine, owns the Aman resorts chain of ultra high-end hotels, as well as his real estate development firm OKO Group, which has projects in New York and Miami. Doronin reportedly paid $16 million in 2009 for a waterfront home on Star Island previously owned by NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.

Oleg Misevra
Penthouse at Trump Hollywood, 2711 South Ocean Drive, in Hollywood, Florida

Oleg Misevra (Getty)

Oleg Misevra, described by the Miami Herald as a Russian coal magnate who has earned Putin’s praise, acquired a six-bedroom, 8,170-square-foot penthouse at Trump Hollywood for $6.8 million in 2010, property records show.

Danil Khachaturov
Trousdale Estates mega mansion in Beverly Hills, California

Danil Khachaturov (Facebook)

Russian tycoon Danil Khachaturov, who once held a controlling stake in the country’s largest insurance agency, paid $35 million two years ago for a megamansion in Beverly Hills’ Trousdale Estates neighborhood, according to Dirt.

Oleg Deripaska
Homes at 11 East 64th Street and 12 Gay Street in New York

Oleg Deripaska (Getty)

A Russian oligarch and billionaire founder of aluminum giant Rusal with close ties to Putin, Oleg Deripaska owned two homes in New York at 11 East 64th Street and 12 Gay Street. Deripaska, who has been banned from entering the U.S., had ownership of the two properties transferred to relatives. He paid $42.5 million and $4.5 million for the two homes, respectively. U.S. officials placed him on a sanctions list in 2018 over his alleged involvement in murder, money laundering, bribery and racketeering, officials said at the time. He has also been linked to Russian organized crime, according to a Trump administration report.

Alexei Kuzmichev
33 East 74th Street in New York

Alexei Kuzmichev (LetterOne Group, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Russian billionaire Alexei Kuzmichev, who made his fortune as head of Alfa Group, the owner of Russia’s Alfa-Bank, paid $42 million for an Upper East Side apartment at 33 East 74th Street in New York in 2016. He also bought a unit in the adjacent building for $15.5 million, which he reportedly wanted to connect to the unit next door. It’s unclear whether Kuzmichev still owns the properties.

Kuzmichev is also a co-founder of the Luxembourg private equity firm LetterOne. Alfa-Bank was sanctioned by the U.S. government on Feb. 24.

Keith Larsen contributed reporting.