During the last days of 2014, the Jewish Business News published a recap of the top ten biggest real estate stories for the year. The rankings were based on a culmination of factors, which of course included the property’s sales price, but the primary determinant was the overall significance of the story.
1- The Durst Organization’s One World Trade Center
At the top of this list is the Durst Organization’s new famed One World Trade Center tower; with 104 floors, the building stands 1,776 feet tall.
The Twin Towers’ replacement finally opened for business 13 years after the tragic 9/11 attacks. The media firm Conde Nast leased 25 floors in the building for $1.3 billon, and already moved in 170 of their employees at the beginning of November. The company plans to have a staff of 3,400 working there down the line.
It was a long wait, but many believe it was worth it.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “One World Trade Center serves as a symbol of the resilience of the people of New York. Today, as we open its doors for the first time, we remember that strength and courage will always conquer weakness and cowardice, and that the American spirit, defended by proud New Yorkers, will not be defeated.”
However, not everyone agrees with the idea of a large tower at the same site; afraid that its reconstruction could entice another terrorist attack.
2- The controversy between the Swedish firm Skanska and SL Green
The number two most significant real estate story stems from a disagreement over a unique 34 floor tower, which remains under construction at the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn. The building houses with 336 residential units and sits next to the Barclay Center, and is part of the larger multibillion Atlantic Yards project.
The factory nearby, where the prefabricated parts were constructed, had work halted by Skanska, which accused SL Greene of defaulting on an agreement to use components from the factory in the development of three other buildings.
The two companies sued each other and in the end, Skanska sold its share to SL Green. Since then the project has gone back into motion.
3- SL Green’s One Vanderbilt
Third on JBN’s list is the new 67 story office building that is to be called One Vanderbilt, which SL Green plans to construct across from Grand Central station in Manhattan. The transit station is promised to receive $210 million worth of upgrades by the company.
According to JBN, “TD Bank has signed a long-term lease to become the office and retail anchor of the new tower. It will occupy approximately 200,000 square feet of space in One Vanderbilt, including a flagship retail store on the northeast corner of 42nd Street and Madison Avenue. One Vanderbilt will feature 1.6 million square feet of open and efficient LEED-certified Class A office space on the entire block of Vanderbilt Avenue between East 42nd and East 43rd Street. As part of the development, SL Green will deliver a $210 million package of public transit infrastructure improvements which will create critically-needed transit connections to Metro-North and 4/5/6/7 and S trains, as well as future East Side Access LIRR lines.”
One Vanderbilt is now in the formal public review process by the City, which is scheduled to finish by next spring.
4- Fred Wilpon’s Sterling Equities get go ahead for $3 Billion Willets Point project
At the end of September, Fred Wilpon’s, owner of the New York Mets, Sterling Equities found out that the courts in Queens rejected the local activists’ attempts to stop the $3 billion proposed development of Queen’s Willets Point. Judge Manuel Mendez did not agree with the project’s opponents who claimed the site where Wilpon plans to construct a 1.4 million square foot megamall is land that is reserved for parks. The property is located across from Citi Field, the home stadium for the Mets, and is currently covered in a score of auto body shops.
5- Saperstein’s Fleur de Lys mansion changed hands twice this year
In April, the Fleur de Lys Mansion sold for a record $102 million, then at the end of July sold again for a whopping $125 million. In 2002, the Fleur de Lys estate was custom built by Texas billionaire David Saperstein and his now ex-wife Suzanne, before they divorced.
JBN describes the mansion as having “12 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a 50-seat, satin-lined private cinema, a two story wood paneled library stocked with first-edition books and garage with parking for nine cars. Its gilded ballroom features mirror-clad arches based on those in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, as well as impressive chandeliers and a ceiling fresco.
There is also a gym, Italian marble walls, French limestone floors and gold embossed leather wall coverings, very Versailles. There’s a spa pool with its own kitchen, an ornamental garden, 1,600 yard running track, a championship tennis court and private quarters for as many as ten live in domestic staff. At the entrance, a 200 yard driveway leads into a massive, open courtyard.”
6- Narkash Holdings purchase $90 million Setai Hotel in Miami Beach
The founders of the Jordache fashion empire, the Narkash family, bought the lavish Setai Hotel for close to $90 million, located at 2001 Collins Ave in Miami Beach. Also, included in the price tag is the neighboring residential tower.
Joseph, Avi and Ralph Nakash own Nakash Holdings, which is now in possession of the infamous celebrity hot spot that contains 85 hotel suites for rent and 35 condominium suites.
The Jewish Business News gives the following description of the property:
The Art Deco landmark building was originally built between 1936 – 1938, as the famed Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel. Next to the hotel is its 40-story residential glass tower that, “surpasses all around it in elevation, views and design.” The Setai was voted as the #1 hotel on Miami Beach in 2013 by U.S. World & News Report and the #1 Best Hotel in Miami and Miami Beach, as well as the #2 Best Hotel in Florida by Conde Nast Traveler magazine’s 2013 “Reader’s Choice Awards.”
The hotel’s website states, “Serene and intimate, The Setai is an experience all its own. An oasis of tranquility amidst the energy of South Beach. Its design and vision artfully combine the rich architectural history of South Beach’s Art Deco District with the multi-faceted cultural history of the International Art Deco movement, particularly its influence in Asia.”
7- Jeffrey Berkowitz’ SkyRise Miami tower
Real estate developer Jeffrey Berkowitz revealed plans at the end of the summer for a new $430 million SkyRise tower in Miami. General Growth Properties teamed up with Berkowitz on the development.
The partnership reportedly spent $300,000 to promote the project with Miami’s citizens. This apparently paid off, when their plans for the observation tower were approved by voters with a margin greater than two to one.
The development hopes to transform the Miami skyline, equating the SkyRise Miami tower to New York’s Empire State Building and Paris’ Eifel Tower. The tower is set to stand 1,000 feet, and scheduled for completion by 2018.
JBN reports Berkowitz saying, “Miami is a world class city. And I think an iconic structure downtown will firmly cement Miami on the global stage. It’s going to be Miami’s Eiffel Tower.”
8- Jared Kushner’s Trump Bay Street Tower in Jersey City
Number eight on JBN’s top ten list involves the real estate tycoon Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He made several headline worthy deals this past year, the most significant of which occurred in May, when the 33-year-old member of the famed Kushner real estate family revealed his intentions of partnering with Trump to work on a new Jersey City residential development.
The building will cost an estimated $193.5 million, don the name Trump Bay Street and contain 447 residential units. Before the Kushner and KABR partnership finally purchased the site, it had gone through several owners while the economy was in recession.
The success of the nearby Trump Plaza, led Kushner to incorporate the Trump name. In 2011, they purchased the property’s debt for $6 million; at the time it was valued at $35 million.
According to reports, $38.5 million will be contributed by Kushner-KABR own equity, another $90 million will come via a construction loan, and a mezzanine loan linked to a Federal visa program will provide an additional $65 million.
In June of 2014, for over $4,500 per square foot, Kushner sold a $28 million penthouse in the Puck Building in Manhattan.
9- SL Green buys space in Extell’s Gem Tower for $275 million
Gary Barnett’s Extell Development sold commercial condominium units in the Midtown Manhattan’s Gem Tower located at 55 West 46th Street to SL Green Realty Corp. for $275 million in September.
JBN reports, that SL Green acquired open office space on the tower’s 22nd to 34th floors, a retail store on 46th Street as well as the parking garage for the building and fitness center, all totaling a combined 319,000 square feet of space. Included in the contract is the option for the seller to get an additional 28,000 square feet on the 2nd floor for an extra $20 million.
The iconic building is described on the Extell Development website as “an environmentally sustainable, cutting-edge tower filed with abundant natural light and breathtaking views that complement the building’s column-free interiors, 10′ perimeter ceiling heights and floor-to-ceiling windows.
55 West 46th Street has been designed to cater to the demands of today’s leading businesses while providing the finest conveniences of the modern workplace, including high-speed destination dispatch elevators, a private health & fitness center, on-site valet parking and state-of-the-art security.”
10- Gary Barnett’s Extell develops site of Habonim Synagogue in Manhattan
Number ten on JBN’s list of significant Jewish real estate stories that occurred in 2014 also involves Gary Barnett’s Extell Development. The company purchased the property located at 44 West 66th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, for $45 million.
Habonim Synagogue currently resides on the site, which sported 75,000 square feet of development rights. Following this deal, Extell borrowed $96 million from Natixis Real Estate Capital to develop the three adjacent properties on West 66th Street.
According to JBN, the sale of its building left Habonim with a total of $75 million, which consisted of a $30 million stake in the project and a new location for the synagogue that is scheduled to open by 2019.
The project’s site contains further pieces at 36-40 West 66th Street that account for an additional 74,880 square feet of development rights.
The new construct could contain as much as 180,000 square feet of space; however specifics have not yet been disclosed. The Jewish Guild Healthcare, a nonprofit organization, possesses another neighboring property, which if sold to Extell could raise the available square footage to as high as 400,000 square feet.