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Monthly Archive for May, 2012

Manhattan Building Permits Jump 169 Percent

New home sales in April were up 3.3 percent from March and increased 9.9 percent compared to the same month the previous year, the Commerce Department reported. Sales of previously owned homes rose 3.4 percent in April compared to March, according to the National Association of Realtors. Also Toll Brothers reported that its contracts for the quarter ended April 30 jumped 47 percent from the same period in 2011. Confidence among homebuilders in May was at its highest level in five years.

More institutions are investing directly in commercial real estate, rather than investing through outside fund managers. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System is buying from Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. a 90 percent stake in LCOR Inc., which has a portfolio of 14 rental buildings with nearly 5,000 units and plans to develop more commercial real estate. In addition, Harvard University’s endowment, Canada Pension Plan, and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority will be creating in-house divisions to invest directly in commercial real estate.

Building permits in Manhattan have jumped 169 percent, from 13 to 35, in the first four months of the year compared to the same period last year, according to the NYC Department of Buildings. Permits have been issued to build hotels, apartment buildings, an “affordable housing” development, and an art gallery with most of the activity concentrated in Harlem and Hudson Yards. In spite of concerns about turmoil in Europe, the coming U.S. elections and layoffs in the financial-services industry, developers are planning to build because the lack of new construction has created significant pent-up demand for housing.

The New York City Building Congress also is optimistic about residential construction citywide based on recent residential permitting data and is projecting that residential construction spending will reach $4.8 billion in 2012 before climbing to a non-inflation-adjusted record of $6.8 billion in 2013. The Building Congress said that after bottoming out at $2.3 billion in 2010 (down from a peak of $6.4 billion in 2007), residential construction spending increased to $2.9 billion in 2011.

In The Bronx, Prestige Properties broke ground on the Mall at Bay Plaza, a $300 million, 780,000-square-foot enclosed mall that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014. The mall, located at Hutchinson Parkway and I-95, will include a new Macy’s and an existing JC Penney as anchors and an 1,800-car parking garage. The project is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014.

This summer the city will begin a $62 million restoration of the 1,200-foot-long High Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that connects the Highbridge section of The Bronx to Washington Heights. The bridge, which has been closed for around four decades, is scheduled to reopen in 2013 with new lighting, and protective barriers and ramps for bicycles and strollers.

The Brooklyn Public Library and Congregation Beth Elohim, both in Brooklyn, and the New York Botanical Gardens and Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, both in The Bronx, were the top vote getters winners in the Partners in Preservation Program sponsored by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The citywide preservation effort allowed the public to vote online for preservation funding for 40 historic sites in New York City. The Library, Temple, and Gardens were each awarded $250,000 for restoration projects, while the Museum will receive $155,000.

New York’s Private Sector Job Count at All Time High

The State Labor Department reported that New York has regained all of the private sector jobs it lost during the recession and that at 7,319,600, the number of private sector jobs in the state is at an all time high. New York State had a net gain of 115,900 private sector jobs in April 2012 compared to April 2011, and New York City had a net gain of 66,100 private sector jobs in the same period. The state’s unemployment rate in April 2012 was 8.5 percent, unchanged from the previous month. The city’s unemployment rate in April was 9.5 percent, slightly lower than 9.7 percent recorded for March.

Banks have started easing lending standards for commercial real estate and are more willing to increase their commercial real estate portfolios, according to an article by the Costar Group. The article said that Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke noted that large banks have more than doubled their cash and securities holdings since 2009 and increased the credit quality of their assets. Overall, the banking sector has more liquidity.

Streeteasy.com reported that the median listing price of sponsor sales listings marketed on its site increased 10.1 percent to $1.5 million in Manhattan, and increased 19.5 percent to $735,000 in Brooklyn in April 2012 compared to the same month a year ago. Year-over-year, the total number of listings declined 12.4 percent to 1,246 in Manhattan and dropped 27.5 percent to 463 in Brooklyn.

The NYC Economic Development Corporation and Empire State Development have issued an RFP to redevelop a 42,000-square-foot site located in the heart of Harlem’s commercial and cultural core at 121 West 125th Street, between Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and Lenox Avenue. The site is currently used as a 450 space parking garage. The city and state agencies said the site has the potential to create as much as 363,000-square feet of commercial space, including a visual or performing arts facility.

NYC Multifamily Sales Remain Strong in March

Multifamily Month In Review

In March 2012, there were 50 multifamily transactions in New York City comprised of 62 buildings totaling $392.365 million in gross consideration. This represents a 43 percent increase in transaction volume, a slight 6 percent decrease in building volume and a minor 3 percent decrease in dollar volume compared to February 2012, which saw 35 transactions comprised of 66 buildings totaling $404.335 million in gross consideration.

March 2012 figures were up 14 percent in transaction volume, 27 percent in building volume, and 88 percent in dollar volume compared to March 2011, which saw 44 transactions comprised of 49 buildings totaling $208.630 million in gross consideration.

“The March numbers reinforce our belief that 2012 will be a very strong year for the multifamily market,” said Shimon Shkury, president of Ariel Property Advisors. “From rising rents to the availability of financing to the scarcity of product, the scales are clearly tipped in favor of sellers.”

Below are key highlights from the Multifamily Month in Review, NYC:

Manhattan (below 96th Street): Manhattan activity lagged somewhat from February numbers, but March remained a relatively strong month nonetheless. The borough saw 10 trades consisting of 15 buildings totaling $212.827 million in gross consideration. Compared to February (which saw several portfolio sales), this represents a 23 percent drop in transactions and a 50 percent drop in the number of buildings but all together it equals a marginal 3 percent decline in dollar. In contrast, Manhattan’s March 2012 figures represent a tremendous improvement from March 2011 figures.

Northern Manhattan: Northern Manhattan sales activity declined somewhat compared to both the prior month of February and March 2011 figures. For the month there were five transactions made up of six buildings totaling $32.668 million in gross consideration. Notably absent from recent multifamily sales has been the neighborhood of East Harlem as trades have been highly concentrated in Central Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood.

The Bronx: With 12 transactions consisting of 13 buildings totaling $59.270 million in gross consideration, The Bronx also showed significant improvement from a lackluster February, which saw only three transactions consisting of five buildings totaling $13.7 million.

Brooklyn: For the month, Brooklyn was most active in terms of transactions, leading with 22 buildings trading across 18 transactions totaling $68.999 million in gross consideration. This was a major improvement from February figures as it represents more than double the transaction/building volume and nearly three times the dollar volume seen in the prior month. March 2012 Brooklyn figures were also well above those seen in March 2011.

Queens: After two strong months of sales, Queens multifamily activity eased up a bit in March. The borough saw five transactions comprised of six buildings totaling $18.6 million in gross consideration.

Trailing 6-Month Sales Averages: For the six months ended in March 2012, average monthly transaction volume went up for the second consecutive month, coming in at 37. This is the highest level since April of 2011, a very active period for the market. The 6-month average dollar volume remained steady at $376 million in March 2012, the third month in a row that this figure has hovered around this level.

Please refer to our Comp-Trak application for a full list of transactions across the five boroughs.

Our Observations For the Week

Investors in New York City real estate will be pleased to learn that New York has once again emerged as the “most economically powerful metropolitan” area in the world, according to an article in The Atlantic, which used estimates from the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. One reason New York secured the top spot is “it is the world’s most open and diverse large city.” London came in second, Tokyo third, and Chicago fourth.

The Atlantic published 53 historic photos of New York City that were among the 870,000 released by the city’s Municipal Archives. The photographs include old favorites such as Grand Central Terminal, Coney Island, Times Square, Yankee Stadium, and the New York City skyline.

Century 21 has agreed to open a new 125,000 square foot store at DeKalb and Flatbush in downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall in the fall of 2015. The department store will serve as an anchor for the City Point development, which will feature 675,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and 690 new market-rate and affordable apartments. Ground breaking for the bulk of the City Point development is scheduled to take place this summer.

Manhattan’s Community Board 10 has approved a preservation plan for Harlem that could add as many as nine additional historic districts to the current two-Mount Morris Park and Striver’s Row. Currently 28 buildings have been landmarked in the district, but other buildings are being considered for the designation.

Developers in The Bronx cut the ribbon on the Crotona Park Apartments, a 64-unit, low- to moderate-income project at 1800 Southern Boulevard, and broke ground on La Preciosa, a seven-story affordable housing project at 1070 Washington Avenue in the Morrisania section. The projects are reserved for tenants making less than $23,000 for studios to more than $80,000 for two-bedrooms. Some residents of The Bronx, however, maintain that what the city considers affordable is unaffordable for many.

Bethex Federal Credit Union closed on the largest loan in its 42-year history. The $1.2 million loan to a member enabled him to buy a South Bronx building that houses his two retail stores-New Orleans 99 Cent Store and Soundview Laundromat. The $30 million credit union was named by Crain’s as one of the top SBA lenders in 2011.

Study Shows Large NYC Rental Buildings Burdened with Highest Property Taxes

Large rental apartment buildings in New York City “bear a disproportionate share of the city’s overall property tax burden,” according to the 10th annual edition of the State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods released by NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. The study showed that large rental buildings are taxed at “five times the rate for one- to three-family homes,” and condo and co-op buildings also are taxed at a lower rate than comparable rental buildings.

The U.S. economy added 115,000 jobs in April, according to the Department of Labor’s monthly release. Employment rose in professional and business services, retail trade, and health care, while transportation and warehousing lost jobs during the month. The unemployment rate fell from 8.2 percent in March to 8.1 percent in April, the lowest level since January 2009. Economists, however, said the unemployment rate declined because discouraged workers have dropped out of the workforce.

The New York City Rent Guidelines Board adopted proposed increases for rent stabilized apartments. Proposed increases for one-year leases range from 1.75 percent to 4 percent, and proposed increases for two-year leases range from 3.5 percent to 6.75 percent. The board will vote on the guidelines on June 21. The new rents will take effect on October 1.

The New York City Council approved the Zone Green Text Amendment, which will remove zoning restrictions for owners making energy efficient improvements to their buildings. The new rules will allow external insulation for existing buildings, external sun control devices and awnings, solar panels, rooftop greenhouses, and wind turbines. New Yorkers spend $15 billion annually to heat and power buildings, which are responsible for 80 percent of the city’s carbon emissions.

The New York Supreme Court denied the Katan Group’s motion to block CPC Resources from allowing its lender, Pacific Coast Capital Partners, to become an equity partner in the Domino sugar factory residential development in Williamsburg. The Katan Group claimed in a lawsuit that it was left out of negotiations and that the deal will reduce its share in the project. The Katan Group, a partner in the entities created to acquire and develop the Domino site, also charged in the lawsuit that that CPC Resources mismanaged the Domino sugar development for eight years.