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Archive for the 'Market Watch' Category

Appeals Court Rules Rent Regulation a “Local Public Assistance Benefit”

This week we’re highlighting the Court of Appeals ruling, the city’s falling unemployment rate, Fed concerns about inflation, and proposed city development proposals.

The Court of Appeals of the State of New York ruled that tenants in rent-regulated apartments can file for bankruptcy without losing their homes, the WSJ reports. “In the 5-2 decision, the court’s majority found that rent-regulation protection was a ‘local public assistance benefit’ protected from bankruptcy, even though it wasn’t specifically listed in a state law enumerating assets exempt from bankruptcy,” according to the article. At the center of the case is an 80-year-old woman whose rent stabilized apartment was considered an asset by the bankruptcy court after she filed for protection in 2011 to escape credit card debt. The woman, who had lived in the two-bedroom unit in the East Village for 50 years, then sold the rights to her apartment for $140,000 to the owner who agreed to allow her to live there for the rest of her life.

New York City’s unemployment rate fell to 6.4 percent in October from 6.8 percent in September, marking the city’s largest three-month rate drop since the state began keeping records in 1976, according to the NY State Labor Department. The city’s unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in October 2013. Private sector jobs in New York City grew by 2.5 percent to 87,200 between October 2013 and October 2014. New York State’s unemployment rate is 6.0 percent and the U.S. unemployment rate is 5.8 percent.

Although the nation’s job market is improving faster than expected, Fed policymakers plan to keep interest rates at near zero because of concerns that inflation isn’t rising at a “healthy pace” and fears about possible deflation, the NY Times reports. Inflation has been less than the targeted 2 percent for 29 months and recent declines in energy prices are expected to suppress inflation in the near term. Observers believe the central bank will start raising short-term rates in mid-2015.”

City officials are considering asking the NY State Legislature to increase the current 1 percent tax on housing sales over $1 million and using the revenue to fund affordable housing development, the WSJ reports. The current 1 percent mansion tax generated $259 million for the state in fiscal year 2013. However, Housing Preservation and Development Department Commissioner Vicki Been said when she goes to Albany, she will be pushing for changes to the 421-a city tax break for new development and the J-51 tax break for renovating apartment buildings; strengthening the city’s rent laws; and changing certain tax exemptions, the article said.

The Department of City Planning will study upzoning sections of western Flushing in Queens in addition to East New York and the Cromwell-Jerome neighborhood in the Bronx, Crain’s reports. The goal is to identify neighborhoods that would be suitable for affordable housing development. Rezonings will take between two to three years to plan, review, and implement, according to City Planning Commission Chair Carl Weisbrod.

New York City Council issued a comprehensive report that proposes new approaches to reinvigorating New York’s manufacturing districts as engines of economic opportunity. The report proposes the following long-term goals: a specially zoned Industrial Employment District; a Creative Economy District for technology, media, arts, and design; and a Real Mixed-Use District that includes residential. The report notes that “industrial companies currently employ nearly 350,000 New Yorkers-approximately 10 percent of the city’s private sector workforce. In Brooklyn and Queens, jobs in manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, warehousing, and utilities pay an average salary of $51,000 annually – more than double the average salary of service sector jobs.”

Elected officials and community leaders who have been meeting with stakeholders in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn for the last 16 months have released a draft framework called “Bridging Gowanus” that provides a framework for development in the neighborhood. City Councilman Brad Lander reports. “Bridging Gowanus” includes the following five core values: investing upfront in the local infrastructure; creating a manufacturing zone to preserve manufacturing businesses and jobs; creating a new “mandatory mixed-use zone” that will require a balance of light industry, artistic, and cultural uses, retail and housing in appropriate locations; preserving and creating affordable housing and requiring mandatory inclusionary zoning for any new development; and taking steps to ensure responsible growth.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and local Councilwoman Margret Chin continue to oppose a residential tower at the South Street Seaport even though the developer, Howard Hughes Corporation, redesigned the proposed project and reduced its size from 650 feet to 494 feet, or 42 stories, Capital reports. The building could be 350 feet tall without special zoning but the developer said the tower as proposed subsidizes planned infrastructure and public improvements (including affordable housing, a public middle school, extension of the East River Esplanade, a new marina, new piers, restoration of the Tin Building, and a market) and has been reduced to the smallest size possible without jeopardizing the project. The Hughes Corporation is already redeveloping Pier 17 but may abandon the proposed tower next to it if more concessions are demanded, the article said.

Barry Diller has announced that his family foundation will provide $130 million toward building a $170 million park near 14th Street on a platform 186 feet off the Hudson River shoreline with a series of wooded nooks and three performance venues, including an amphitheater, the NY Times reports. The project, which has the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, will receive an additional $39.5 million from the city, the state and the Hudson River Park Trust. Mr. Diller has also agreed to run the 2.4-acre park and cover its operating expenses for 20 years.

Five Bronx projects were among the 10 largest developments filing for permits in New York City in October, the Real Deal reports. Permits were filed for the following large projects: 848 East 149th Street, the Bronx, a 163-unit, 501,764- square-foot, 14-story affordable housing project; 155 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, a three-story 316,608-square-foot commercial building next to the planned Ferris wheel in St. George; 54 Noll Street, Brooklyn, a 403-unit, eight-story residential building, one of the 10-buildings planned for the Rheingold Brewery complex in Bushwick; 123 Melrose Street, Brooklyn, a 385-unit, eight-story residential building, also part of the Rheingold Brewery complex; 948 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, a 166-unit, 10-story residential building with commercial space; 1825 Boston Road, the Bronx, a 108-unit, eight-story affordable housing building with commercial space; 1680 Pelham Parkway, the Bronx; Stagg Group is building a 130-unit, seven-story residential building; 1440 Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan, a 48-unit, seven-story, mixed-use building with retail; 1028 White Plains Road, the Bronx, the NYC School Construction Authority applied for a permit to build a new five-story public school; 1969-1971 Washington Avenue, the Bronx, a 49-unit, 46,597 residential building.

Simone Development Companies officially opened the Throggs Neck Shopping Center in the Ferry Point section of the Bronx at the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and the Hutchinson River Parkway with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by elected officials and community leaders. Anchored by a 165,000+ square-foot Target department store – the retailer’s third Bronx store – the Throggs Neck Shopping Center features over a dozen new stores and restaurants including TJ Maxx, Famous Footwear, Sleepy’s, Petco, Skechers, Metro Optics, BX Sports and Super Wines and Liquors, and coming soon, T-Mobile and Starbucks. Restaurants in the center include Applebee’s, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Subway and Sarku Japan. The shopping center also includes secure free parking for over 600 cars directly in front of the stores.

Luxury residential development that has been part of the landscape of Long Island City, Astoria, and Flushing for years is now moving into Elmhurst, Queens, the NY Daily News reports. Developers Steve Wu and Harry Miller are transforming the St. John’s Hospital site on Queens Blvd. opposite Queens Center Mall into 150-unit luxury rental apartments that they expect to rent for $45 a foot per, which translates to $2,500 for a one-bedroom. Nearby at the Elm East, a luxury rental completed by Pi Capital in 2013 at 85-55 Broadway, all 83 apartments leased quickly at rents of $40 a foot. Across the street, Pi Capital is building Elm West, a $125 million six-story building with 130 luxury apartments. In addition, a 69-unit residential condo tower at 70-32 Queens Blvd., near the Woodside border is being developed by Bayside-based investor Steve Cheung.

Developers aren’t the only ones who have discovered Queens, renters and buyers seeking value are moving there too, the NY Times reports. Rents are $3,831 for two-bedroom apartments in new developments in Long Island City where more than 10,000 units are planned. Although Long Island City lacks retail, young couples and families appreciate the area’s close proximity to Manhattan. Buyers seeking reasonably priced condos are finding them in Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, Flushing, Jackson Heights, and Elmhurst.

New York City Multifamily Dollar Volume Jumps 111 Percent in September 2014 Compared to September 2013

Multifamily dollar volume jumped 111 percent in September 2014 compared to September 2013, and soared 191 percent compared to the previous month, according to Ariel Property Advisors’ Multifamily Month in Review: New York City for September 2014.

Multifamily Month In Review

In September, New York City saw 71 transactions comprised of 138 buildings totaling $1.790 billion in gross consideration, compared to September 2013, which saw 64 transactions comprised of 143 buildings totaling $849.315 million in gross consideration. In August, 85 buildings traded across 57 transactions totaling $614 million.

“Due to an increase in institutional transactions, multifamily dollar volume in September surged, surpassing the July and August totals combined and contributing to a strong third quarter,” said Shimon Shkury, president of Ariel Property Advisors. “We think the September activity is a harbinger for a very strong fourth quarter.”

The following is a breakdown of the September 2014 volume by submarket:

Manhattan. Manhattan spearheaded the city’s strong month with 20 buildings trading across 15 transactions totaling $1.055 billion in gross consideration. Two Upper East Side packages specifically pushed dollar volume. A package of mixed-use elevatored buildings located on East 88th Street and 2nd Avenue sold for $485 million, or $592 per square foot. Another package of elevatored buildings located on East 89th Street and 1st Avenue sold for $270 million, which translates to $749 per square foot.

Queens. A $216 million portfolio sale in Kew Gardens, Queens, contributed to the submarket seeing 27 buildings trade across 9 transactions totaling $273.242 million in gross consideration. Another notable transaction took place in Flushing, where an 86-unit elevatored building sold for $17 million, or $239 per square foot. In Hollis, a four building walk-up portfolio sold for just over $17 million, which translates to $112 per square foot.

Northern Manhattan. Northern Manhattan experienced a solid month as the submarket saw 35 buildings trade across 12 transactions totaling $165.092 in gross consideration. Of note, a Colorado-based REIT sold a 17 building, 259-unit portfolio in Central Harlem for $66 million, which translates to $314 per square foot.

The Bronx. The Bronx had a strong month with 20 transactions comprised of 31 buildings valued at $159.996 million. One significant transaction was a 200-unit East Tremont portfolio that sold for $24 million, or $126 per square foot. Taking a look at pricing metrics, the borough’s 6-month trailing average for cap rate dipped below 6.00 percent for the first time, sitting at 5.99 percent.

Brooklyn. Brooklyn saw 25 buildings trade across 15 transactions totaling $136.550 million in gross consideration. Several portfolio transactions took place including a 52-unit package of walk-up buildings located at 107-113 Greenpoint Avenue in Greenpoint, which sold for $23.75 million, or $616 per square foot. On Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, three mixed-use buildings sold for $4.75 million, which translates to $283 per square foot.

For the six months ended in September 2014, the average monthly transaction volume declined slightly to 66 transactions per month. The average monthly dollar volume decreased slightly to $886.560 million.

The multifamily transactions included in the analysis occurred at a minimum sales price of $1 million, with a minimum gross area of 5,000 square feet, and with a minimum of 10 units.

More information is available from Mr. Shkury at 212-544-9500, ext. 11, or sshkury@arielpa.com. For a copy of the report, please see http://arielpa.com/newsroom/report-MFMIR-Sep-2014.

Our Observations For the Week

In 3Q14, NYC’s Real Gross City Product grew at an estimated 4.0 percent annual rate, the fastest growth since this quarter last year, an analysis by NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer shows. The report highlighted that the NYC private-sector added 47,000 jobs in 3Q14, a seasonally adjusted annualized growth rate of 5.4 percent, a record gain. City Personal Income Tax withholdings rose to $1.6 billion, the highest ever third quarter level. The Manhattan office vacancy rate, including sublease space, fell to 10.2 percent in 3Q14, and new leasing activity totaled over 7.6 million square feet, the best third quarter in eight years. The unemployment rate fell to 7.3 percent in 3Q14, the lowest quarterly average since 4Q08, when unemployment was at 6.6 percent. Local startups are gaining momentum, with record venture capital investment in the New York metro area surpassing $1.7 billion in 3Q14, more than double the $0.72 billion invested in 3Q13. Hotel occupancy in Manhattan averaged 92.6 percent in 3Q14, and over 3 million people attended Broadway shows, 12.7 percent more than in 3Q13.

The City Council’s Land-use Committee approved the 1,700-unit, 2.2-million-square-foot Astoria Cove project in Queens after the developer agreed to increase the number of affordable units from 20 percent to 27 percent. No subsidies will be given to the developer for 25 percent of the affordable units, but the City pledged to fund the remaining affordable units from its capital budget. A family of four making from about $51,000 to $110,000 a year will be eligible for the lower cost units. The City Planning Commission approved the project with 20 percent affordable units, but housing advocates were demanding a 50 percent set aside. Going forward, city officials said each inclusionary project will be tailored to meet the needs of the communities in which they’re located.

The City Council voted to cut greenhouse gas emissions in New York City by 80 percent by 2050. The initiative will build on former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, which called for a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 using tools such as planting trees and retrofitting city buildings to make them more energy efficient.

The Elliman Report released October rental figures for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. In Manhattan, the median rental price increased 3.0 percent to $3,246, and the average rental price increased 3.4 percent to $3,994 percent in October 2014 compared to October 2013. Listing inventory in Manhattan fell 6.5 percent year-over-year to 5,432, and the vacancy rate for the month was 1.96 percent. In the luxury market, the top 10 percent of the Manhattan’s units showed a median rental price increase of 6.3 percent to $8,500, an average rental price increase of 9.3 percent to $10,565, and a 12.3 percent increase in the price per square foot to $74.72. The number of new luxury rentals in Manhattan fell 2 percent to 348 in October compared to the same month last year. Year-over-year, median rents in Brooklyn increased 5.9 percent to $2,858, and average rents increased 2.2 percent to $3,187. Listing inventory in Brooklyn increased 27.4 percent to 1,875 in October. In Queens, median rents increased 3.5 percent to $2,743, and average rents declined 5.2 percent to $2,718 in October 2014 compared to October 2013. Listing inventory in Queens totaled 192.

Foreign investors, estimated to make up about 40 percent of Manhattan’s condo buyers, are changing strategies and looking for residential units outside of core Manhattan, DNA Info reports. In the last six months, the strengthening dollar and rising prices have contributed to double digit increases for new Manhattan developments. Outside of Manhattan, apartment investors are looking in Brooklyn-Downtown, Fort Greene, Bushwick, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens; above 96th Street in Manhattan; in Queens; and in the Bronx. The article noted that for countries lacking political and economic stability, the exchange rate is less important.

The $1.4 billion,180,000-square-foot Fulton Center transportation hub opened at 200 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and Fulton Street. The center will serve up to 300,000 commuters daily and connect nine subway lines to the PATH train at the World Trade Center. More than 65,000 square feet of the Fulton Center will be used as retail and commercial space.

Facebook has opened a New York City office on three floors at 770 Broadway, a building constructed in 1906. The New York City office currently employs 500 staff members in engineering, marketing, news, and recruiting, and will eventually occupy 185,000 square feet of space in the building, which also houses other technology and advertising firms including AOL. Facebook hopes to be a catalyst for the city’s tech industry and is expected to have a positive effect on local retail and businesses.

Simone Development Companies announced that Montefiore Health System, the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, opened its new Hutchinson Campus – a 12-story, 280,000 square-foot multi-specialty care center developed by Simone Healthcare Development. Montefiore’s new campus is one of the largest ambulatory surgery centers in the New York metropolitan region. The tower’s core and shell were constructed by Simone Development to Montefiore’s specifications and Montefiore completed the $152 million interior-fit out of the new facility. The complex offers free parking with more than 1,100 spaces and a free shuttle service to nearby subway lines.

The NY Times profiled the Brooklyn neighborhood of Vinegar Hill, which is nestled between Dumbo, the East River, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and BQE. The neighborhood includes warehouses and industrial buildings, pre-Civil War era brick and frame houses, the “acclaimed” Vinegar Hill House restaurant, and as Dumbo pushes eastward, new condominium developments. Condos average $800 per square foot but one unit at Kirkman Lofts resold last summer for $1,300 per square foot.

City parks, traffic squares, and plazas are attracting encampments of homeless people, the NY Times reports. The homeless population reached a record high in November with 57,676 people living in shelters, and in January the “so-called street homeless” increased by 6 percent to 3,357. In the last month a task force created by the de Blasio administration has identified 25 sites where the homeless are gathering and is dispatching outreach teams to engage them. Also, community groups are working with local authorities to address the issue.

U.S. Economy Creates 214,000 jobs in October; Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.8 percent

This week we’re highlighting the positive U.S. jobs report, the Fed’s latest remarks about when interest rates could rise, and what the recent election results will mean for landlords.

In October, the U.S. economy added 214,000 jobs and in a separate survey the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent, the lowest level since 2008, the Labor Department reported. In September and August employers added 256,000 and 203,000 jobs, respectively. The share of Americans with jobs compared to the total population rose to 59.2 percent in October, up a full percentage point from a year earlier.

“If all goes according to our forecast and the U.S. economy continues to make progress towards the Fed’s dual mandate goals of maximum sustainable employment and 2 percent inflation, the Federal Reserve will likely begin to raise its federal funds rate target off the zero lower bound sometime next year,” New York Fed President William Dudley said in a speech to central bankers in Paris. He warned investors and foreign central bankers to prepare for “some heightened financial volatility” when interest rates rise.

Republicans won control of the New York State Senate on Election Day, which means Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “plan to restore New York City’s authority over its rent-control laws is likely a nonstarter,” the NY Times reports. The Republican majority could also mean that the mayor will face stiff opposition to other parts of his agenda. “In almost every Senate swing district, Democratic candidates lost, despite hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by the mayor and his supporters,” the article said. The “victories were fueled in large part by ads tying Democratic opponents to someone who represents the epitome of big-city liberalism: the mayor of New York.”

Increased water and sewer rates, threats to mandate more investments in energy efficiency, a law to publicly shame landlords, and a 1 percent annual increase in rent stabilized rents, which is the lowest increase since the city created the Rent Guidelines Board in 1969, are among the reasons landlords are unhappy with the de Blasio administration, the NY Times reports. For many landlords, especially small ones, it’s a challenge to maintain their buildings when property taxes, fuel, insurance, and other costs are rising. “Politically, I’ve never seen a climate more dangerous than I’m facing now,” said Jimmy Silber, co-president of Small Property Owners of New York, a landlord advocacy group.

The nonprofit Citizens Housing & Planning Council released a report highlighting five major demographic trends that took place in New York City between 2000 and 2010. 1. By 2010, the low-income Hispanic cluster became the city’s largest population cluster–the only one with more than 1 million people. 2. Between 2000 and 2010, the city saw a 5 percent drop in its black population, with the decrease concentrated among high-income blacks. 3. Citywide, the white population decreased by 3 percent between 2000 and 2010, but the remaining predominantly white population clusters increased in neighborhoods where incomes were higher and homeownership more prevalent. 4. The majority white/high-income singles and non-families cluster had the largest percentage growth with a 44 percent increase in population and a 32 percent increase in geographic area and were concentrated in neighborhoods with new construction like Long Island City, Williamsburg, and Downtown Brooklyn. 5. The Asian population increased from 9 percent of the city’s population to 12 percent in 2010.

Last week, 175 employees of Conde Nast were the first office workers to move into the $3.9 billion, 104-story One World Trade Center. They will be joined by more than 3,000 of their Conde Nast colleagues over the next few months. One World Trade Center overlooks the National September 11 Memorial Museum and the memorial plaza’s reflecting pools in the footprint of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the terrorist attacks more than 13 years ago.

Some developers with a history of building contemporary high-rise residential towers are switching their focus and converting smaller existing structures into luxury condos, the WSJ reports. The reasons include the difficulty assembling development sites in Manhattan and lenders balking on loans for big projects because of high land prices. One development on East 12th in Greenwich Village will feature six units ranging from $9 million to $32 million, and another is a 13-unit condo built next to and over a garage at 21 W. 20th Street in the Flatiron District that will offer two-bedrooms ranging from just under $2.5 million to just over $3 million and four penthouses ranging from $12 million to $23 million.

Broadway Plaza, a two-story, 133,000-square-foot retail development at 5532 Broadway in the Bronx has officially opened. Retailers at the site include the Sports Authority, Party City, TJ Maxx, and Aldi’s Supermarket. Developed by Equity One, the project has already created 200 new full- and part-time jobs and is expected to create another 100 full- and part-time jobs when it’s fully leased.

Two developments in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn were recently completed and 11 more are underway, which will add more than 1,000 apartments to the neighborhood, DNA reports. At 93 Waverly Avenue, 17 rental units have been leased; apartments in the seven-story, 35-unit building at 96 Steuben Street are renting for $2,500 for a one-bedroom to $3,800 for a two-bedroom; the Daten Group is planning a 38-unit, 40,000-square-foot mixed-use building at 840 Fulton Street; two eight-story, 240-unit residential buildings are planned for the former post office at 524 Myrtle Avenue and a site at 492 Myrtle Avenue; a seven-story, 32-unit building at 112 Emerson Place is currently leasing; a four-story, three-unit building is planned for 266 Greene Avenue; a five-story, 38-unit building with 19 parking spaces is under construction at 535 Classon Avenue; plans for a seven-story, 23-unit, mixed-use building have been approved for 978 Fulton Street; a seven-story, 18-unit building is under construction at 516 Classon Avenue; a six-story, 28-unit building is planned for 1047 Fulton Street; a seven-story, 35-unit building is scheduled to be completed in 2015 at 1035 Fulton Street; and the former White Castle site at 533 Myrtle Avenue will be developed into a five-story, 27-unit, mixed-use building.

New York City Multifamily Dollar Volume Jumped 46 Percent in 3Q 2014 vs. 3Q 2013

New York City saw a resurgence of institutional deals in September, propelling 3Q 2014 multifamily figures to the strongest quarterly sales volume since the 4Q of 2012, according to Ariel Property Advisors’ Multifamily Quarter in Review: New York City, Q3 2014.

Multifamily Quarter In Review

Multifamily dollar volume jumped 46 percent to $3.258 billion and transaction volume increased 16 percent to 213 in 3Q 2014 compared to 3Q 2013, which saw 184 transactions totaling $2.234 billion in gross consideration.

Figures in the third quarter also surpassed the second quarter of 2014 showing a 26 percent increase in transaction volume, a 7 percent increase in building volume, and a healthy 74 percent increase in dollar volume in 3Q 2014 compared to 2Q 2014, which saw 307 buildings trade across 169 transactions totaling $1.873 billion in gross consideration.

“Third quarter volume was buoyed by 12 institutional level deals in September at prices over $20 million, including three transactions that were over $200 million,” said Shimon Shkury, president of Ariel Property Advisors. “This is unique in that the summer months were primarily dominated by smaller deals and, consequently, deal flow in the third quarter exceeded our expectations.”

Mr. Shkury continued, “With global instability pushing rates lower and sustained demand meeting constrained supply, we expect this market strength to carry into the remainder of the year.”

The following is a breakdown of the third quarter 2014 volume by submarket:

Manhattan. Several very large institutional transactions took place in the Manhattan, helping spike dollar volume year-over-year and quarter-to-quarter to 40 transactions totaling $1.48 billion. Notable transactions include the sale of two Upper East Side packages; a $485 million package of mixed-use elevatored buildings located on East 88th Street and 2nd Avenue and a $270 million package of elevatored buildings located on East 89th Street and 1st Avenue. These sales translate to $592 and $749 per square foot, respectively. Pricing in Manhattan remains stronger than ever, as the six-month trailing average price per square foot has increased 31 percent from a year ago, from $647 to $844 per square foot.

Northern Manhattan. Volume increased across all metrics in 3Q14 for Northern Manhattan, as the sub-market saw a 41 percent increase in transaction volume to 45, a 29 percent increase in building volume to 88, and a 36 percent increase in dollar volume to $508 million year-over-year. A package of two Central Harlem buildings located at 2053 Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 300 West 112th Street anchored the sub-market’s strong quarter, selling for $30 million, or $465 per square foot. It should be noted that this property also included air rights that can be utilized for future development.

Brooklyn. Brooklyn dollar volume jumped 50 percent to $505 million and transaction volume rose 15% to 54 in 3Q 2014 compared to the 3Q 2013. A 52-unit package of walk-up buildings located at 107-113 Greenpoint Avenue in Greenpoint recently sold for $23.75 million, or $616 per square foot, highlighting the borough’s surge in pricing. In Clinton Hill, a 65,000 square foot building sold for $28.6 million, or $440 per square foot. The new ownership plans to renovate the units in an effort to focus on catering to the nearby student populations of Pratt Institute and Long Island University.

The Bronx. The Bronx continued its strong 2014 in the third quarter, as dollar volume increased 24 percent to $415 million year-over-year and remained steady quarter-to-quarter. A slew of transactions over $10 million, including the sale of2230 Grand Concourse for $10.2 million, or $166 per square foot, solidified the borough’s strong quarter. In terms of pricing, the Bronx has seen an impressive 128 basis point drop in its 6-month trailing average cap rate from last year, decreasing from 7.48% to 6.20%.

Queens. Aided by an enormous $216 million, 1,269-unit portfolio sale in Kew Gardens, Queens experienced the highest increase in both year-over-year and quarter-to-quarter dollar volume of any sub-market, growing 165 percent and 355 percent, respectively, to $347.78 million. A handful of other institutional transactions over $15 million in Elmhurst, Hollis and Murray Hill helped the Queens figures improve as well.

The multifamily transactions included in the analysis occurred at a minimum sales price of $1 million, with a minimum gross area of 5,000 square feet, and with a minimum of 10 units.

More information is available from Mr. Shkury at 212-544-9500, ext. 11, or sshkury@arielpa.com. For a copy of the report, please see http://arielpa.com/newsroom/report-MFQIR-Q3-2014.

Our Observations For the Week

Real gross domestic product -the value of the production of goods and services in the U.S.- increased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter, according to the Commerce Department. The third quarter estimate showed increases in personal consumption expenditures, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending, which were partly offset by a decline in private inventory investment. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 4.6 percent.

The Federal Reserve voted to end its bond buying program this month because of the improved labor market and renewed confidence in the U.S. economy, but plans to maintain short-term interest rates near zero for a considerable time, according to FOMC minutes. “However, if incoming information indicates faster progress toward the Committee’s employment and inflation objectives than the Committee now expects, then increases in the target range for the federal funds rate are likely to occur sooner than currently anticipated. Conversely, if progress proves slower than expected, then increases in the target range are likely to occur later than currently anticipated.”

The share of Americans owning their own homes fell to 64.4 percent in the third quarter, which is the lowest level since 1995, Bloomberg reports. The share of first time buyers fell to 29 percent in September, compared to 40 percent historically, because of tight mortgage standards and slow wage growth. The homeownership rate peaked at 69.2 percent in June 2004 but has fallen since the recession and demand has shifted to rentals.

“We’re not just building housing, we’re building neighborhoods,” according to HPD Commissioner Vicki Been, the WSJ reports. In Brownsville, for example, the city has unveiled a 100-day initiative to create a cohesive strategy for the neighborhood that includes a pop-up market, new bike lanes, a refurbished a playground, and Pre-K slots. The initiative, 100 Days to Progress, is bringing together 19 city agencies as well as the state and federal governments and about a dozen community groups to work on 40 community improvement projects in neighborhoods over several months. Others argue, however, that crime and unemployment are the greatest obstacles to progress in the community.

REBNY’s Broker Confidence Index increased to 8.80 in the third quarter from 8.75 in the third quarter of 2013, but declined from 8.88 in the second quarter. The Residential Real Estate Market Confidence Index in the third quarter of 2014 was 8.23, a decrease from last year’s index of 8.30. Concerns included lack of inventory, specifically for middle-income housing, and the proposed tax on pied-a-terres. The Commercial Real Estate Market Overall Confidence Index in the third quarter of 2014 was 9.38, a small decline from 9.45 last quarter. Growth in the TAMI sector and activity in Midtown South has continued to create strong demand and diminishing supply.

The $1.4 billion dollar Fulton Center transit hub in Lower Manhattan, which will serve 11 subway lines at six different stations, is scheduled to open November 10, the Daily News reports. The “Grand Central of downtown” will include a glass and steel entrance at Fulton Street and Broadway that “features a 90-foot-wide oculus-a circular skylight at the apex of the structure-that allows sunlight to filter down to the two mezzanine levels, below street level.” The center also will include retail and commercial shops.

Apartments in the Bronx that sold for $160,000 several years ago have appreciated to $300,000, but the borough is still a bargain compared to the rest of the city, DNAinfo reports. Buyers that have been priced out of other New York City submarkets are finding affordable co-ops in the Bronx and an excellent commute to Manhattan. The neighborhoods of Concourse and Kingsbridge are among the most popular.

A building permit has been filed for an eight-story residential project at 2351 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard on the site of the old Harlem Renaissance Ballroom building, NY YIMBY reports. The 115,000-square-foot building will include 134 apartments, a 22,000-square-foot community facility to be used as a church, and two commercial spaces totaling 18,000 square feet. Abyssinian Development Corporation bought the property 20 years ago and BRP Development Corporation paid $10 million for it in May.

Young people 25 to 34 are moving to the Ditmars section of Astoria Queens, with young singles renting in multifamily homes and families with young children buying homes, the NY Times reports. About 47,500 residents live in the area bounded by Grand Central Parkway on the south, the East River on the west and north, and La Guardia Airport on the east. New cafes, bars, gyms and boutiques have opened along Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue, with some businesses opening on 24th Avenue. A single-family home runs from $700,000 to $775,000; a two-family from $900,000 to $1.1 million; and a three-family from $1.2 to $1.3 million. Rentals are $1,600 to $1,800 a month for a one-bedroom, $2,000 to $2,500 for a two-bedroom and $3,000 for a three-bedroom.

In recent years, new bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues have joined the Peter Luger’s Steak House on Broadway between Kent and Driggs Avenues just south of the Williamsburg Bridge, the WSJ reports. At 175 Broadway, the old Williamsburgh Savings Bank reopened in late 2013 as an event space. Last year, a 16,000-square-foot upscale grocery store called Urban Market of Williamsburg opened at 11 Broadway on the ground floor of a mixed-income, mixed-use building completed in April 2013 by L+M Development Partners. The price gap between North and South Williamsburg is disappearing and buyers can expect to pay roughly $1.4 million for a two-bedroom condo, and between $800,000 and $900,000 for a one bedroom. Rents average $5,000 for two bedrooms and $3,200 for one.

The Italian developer Est4te Four, which is developing 160 Imlay in Red Hook where studios and one-bedrooms are selling for above $1 million and penthouses for $5 million, is planning a commercial complex in the Brooklyn neighborhood, NY YIMBY reports. The project will include 1.1 million square feet of office space and a waterfront promenade in an area bounded by Coffey, Ferris, and Wolcott Streets, and New York Harbor. The developer has experience with office projects targeting creative companies in London’s Victoria district and in Milan.

NYC Construction Spending Close to Boom Era

This week we’re highlighting the rise in New York City construction spending, increase in existing home sales nationwide, new public health restrictions, and updates on projects throughout the city.

New York City will spend $32.9 billion on construction in 2014, a 17 percent increase from 2013, when spending reached $28.2 billion, according to estimates by the New York Building Congress. Construction spending is expected to increase to $35.3 billion in 2015 and $35.6 billion in 2016. The Building Congress is forecasting residential spending of $10.9 billion in 2014, which is an increase of $4.1 billion from 2013, $11.7 billion in 2015, and $12.4 billion in 2016. While residential spending is expected to rise by 60 percent this year, the number of new units produced is expected to increase by only 22 percent, from 18,400 units in 2013 to 22,500 this year, in part because so much of the new construction is in the luxury market. The Building Congress forecasts a total of 23,250 new units in 2015 and 24,000 units in 2016, compared to 33,200 units built for $5.9 billion in 2008.

Nationwide, existing-home sales reached their highest annual pace of the year in September, the National Association of Realtors® reports. All major regions except for the Midwest experienced gains in September. Total existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 2.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.17 million in September from 5.05 million in August. Sales are now at their highest pace of 2014, but still remain 1.7 percent below the 5.26 million-unit level from last September.

The governors of New York and New Jersey announced that individuals who have had direct contact with Ebola patients in Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea will be quarantined for 21 days after arriving at JFK or Newark airports. Other air travelers from the affected region that haven’t had direct contact the virus will be actively monitored and quarantined if necessary. The new measures were adopted the day after Craig Spencer, a doctor who worked with Ebola patients in Guinea, tested positive for Ebola after taking NYC public transportation and patronizing local restaurants and a bowling alley in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The city will offset rising construction costs and land prices by reducing the time it takes to get a project approved, Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been reportedly said at a recent Urban Land Institute conference. The city will not raise subsidies for affordable housing, the commissioner said, which means land owners will have to adjust their asking prices so new housing can be built. Construction costs have risen by $40 or $50 per square foot for affordable and middle-income housing in the last eight or nine months, developer Jonathan Rose said.

Astoria City Councilman Costa Constantinides and other members of the City Council are criticizing the five-building, 1,700-unit Astoria Cove development for not including enough affordable housing, DNAinfo reports. “The developer has the option to build only 10 percent of the units at 80 percent AMI, while the other 20 percent remaining affordable units could go up to 175 AMI. That’s the equivalent of paying $2,700 a month for a one-bedroom,” the councilman said, adding that such rents aren’t affordable in his community. The developer has promised 345 units of affordable housing for the project, which was approved by the Planning Commission and is now being reviewed by the City Council.

The office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. brokered a deal that will extend Barnes & Noble’s current lease at the Bay Plaza Shopping Center for two years. Barnes & Noble, which is the only bookstore in the Bronx, was planning to close the site in January after it reached an impasse in its lease negotiations with owner Prestige Properties. The renewed lease saves 50 jobs and allows both companies more time to develop a long-term agreement.

Since 2001, the South Bronx Waterfront Partnership has funded 75 projects to restore the Bronx and Harlem Rivers, educate local communities about the waterways, and increase public access to the waterfront, the Huffington Post reports. The Partnership shared its expertise on urban river restoration and community engagement at a recent symposium Reclaiming a River: Conservation and Community held in the Bronx.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation is sharing with the community proposals from developers seeking to transform the vacant 138,000-square-foot Bedford Union Armory, at Bedford Avenue and Union Street in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, DNAinfo reports. The agency, which hasn’t selected a developer yet, is reviewing proposals for a hotel, residential housing (either sales or rentals), a performing arts space with ticketed events, office space for local businesses, and retail space for a pharmacy or a grocery store. While community input is being requested, EDC reps stress that the plan for the armory must be financially viable in the long term.

More than 50 Brooklyn pastors are exploring partnering with private developers and collaborating with city agencies to build affordable housing on their land, DNAinfo reports. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hosted a recent conference on “faith-based property development” for hundreds of religious leaders who are seeking ways to develop their properties in order to better serve their congregations and communities.

The Coney Island section of Brooklyn has seen improvements such as the refurbishment of the Stillwell Avenue subway terminal, the development of a baseball stadium for the Brooklyn Cyclones, and 2009 rezoning of a 19-block zone around the amusement area, but city efforts to revitalize the neighborhood stalled because of the recession and superstorm Sandy, which wiped out thousands of apartments, the WSJ reports. Recently, however, restaurants have opened up on Surf Avenue, including an Applebee’s, and several national tenants are planning to move into the neighborhood, signaling that the area is poised for a turnaround.

New York City Multifamily Dollar Volume Rises 16 Percent In August 2014 Compared To August 2013

The dollar volume of New York City multifamily sales rose 16 percent in August 2014 compared to August 2013, while transaction volume fell by 19 percent, according to Ariel Property Advisors’ Multifamily Month in Review for August.

Multifamily Month In Review

For the month, New York City saw 54 transactions comprised of 81 buildings totaling $601.172 million in gross consideration compared to August 2013, which saw 67 transactions comprised of 103 buildings totaling $518.247 million in gross consideration. The August 2014 figures declined compared to July 2014, which saw 74 transactions over 113 buildings and $702.277 in gross consideration.

“Multifamily trading in August was characterized by single asset transactions rather than institutional sales,” said Shimon Shkury, president of Ariel Property Advisors. “This continues the trend seen in June and July as strong pricing suggests a lack of supply throughout the city.”

The following is a breakdown of the August 2014 volume by submarket:

Northern Manhattan. With 16 transactions comprised of 31 buildings totaling $186.231 million in gross consideration, Northern Manhattan was the most active submarket across all metrics. An 86-unit elevatored, mixed-use building located in Hamilton Heights anchored the region’s strong month as the property sold for $32.5 million, which translates to $326 per square foot. In East Harlem, a 46-unit mixed-use building located on 2nd Avenue and 108th Street sold for $8 million, or $324 per square foot.

Brooklyn. Dollar volume in Brooklyn rose to $185.885 million, which is a 56 percent increase compared to August 2013 and a 66 percent increase compared to July 2014. Brooklyn saw two large single assets trade for over $50 million including 100-116 South 4th Street, a newly-constructed elevatored building located in Williamsburg, which sold for $52 million, or $662 per square foot. In Sunset Park, a 32-unit elevatored building sold for $8.87 million, translating to $197 per square foot.

Manhattan. Manhattan saw mostly single assets trade as nine buildings traded across eight transactions totaling $155.801 million in gross consideration. A 71-unit elevatored building in Kips Bay stood out as the month’s largest transaction, selling for $43.625 million, or $702 per square foot. On 5th Avenue in Flatiron, a 25-unit mixed-use building sold for $24.726 million, or $1,893 per square foot.

The Bronx. The Bronx had a quiet month with 13 transactions comprised of 16 buildings totaling $64.255 million in gross consideration. A walk-up, mixed-use building located in Kingsbridge Heights just off of the prime Fordham Road retail corridor sold for $13.3 million or $268 per square foot. In Riverdale, a 55-unit elevatored building sold for $11 million, or $229 per square foot.

Queens. Queens saw three buildings trade across four transactions totaling $9 million in gross consideration. A 16-unit mixed-use walk-up building located in Astoria sold for $4.3 million, or $299 per square foot, while a 12-unit mixed-use building in Ridgewood transacted at $3 million, or $328 per square foot.

For the six months ended in August 2014, the average monthly transaction volume remained steady at 64 transactions per month. The average monthly dollar volume decreased slightly to $781,443,744.

The multifamily transactions included in the analysis occurred at a minimum sales price of $1 million, with a minimum gross area of 5,000 square feet, and with a minimum of 10 units.

More information is available from Mr. Shkury at 212-544-9500, ext. 11, or sshkury@arielpa.com. For a copy of the report, please see http://arielpa.com/newsroom/report-MFMIR-Aug-2014.

Our Observations For the Week

New York City’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.8 percent in September from 7.8 percent in July, which is the city’s largest two month rate drop recorded since the state began keeping records in 1976, the NY State Labor Department reports. Between September 2013 and September 2014, New York City showed a net gain of 95,400 private sector jobs. Statewide, unemployment insurance benefits dropped in September to 125,437, the lowest level since November 2007, compared to the peak of 680,000 in February 2010.

The Department of City Planning is conducting “visioning” sessions with people who live or work in East New York and Cypress Hills to ensure that the city’s re-zoning proposal addresses their priorities, Brooklyn Bureau reports. Pratt Institute’s Ronald Shiffman, who proposed the concept of inclusionary zoning in 1983, said inclusionary zoning is good for income integration but isn’t an effective tool for creating affordable housing. One local affordable housing developer said that rezoning and tax credits won’t be enough because what is needed is a massive infusion of funds to pay for the subsidies needed to build affordable housing.

JPMorgan Chase is seeking to build two towers at Hudson Yards on the north side of 33rd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, the NY Times reports. Chase approached city and state officials in June with a proposal to build a 62-story tower and a 40-story tower in exchange for incentives, the article said. The complex would house 16,000 employees.

More than 75 percent of the $210 million developer SL Green Realty Corp. has pledged for Grand Central transit improvements will be used to upgrade the Lexington Avenue line, which is the most congested line in the city, Crain’s reports. The transit upgrades are part of a deal to allow the developer to build One Vanderbilt, a 65-story tower adjacent to Grand Central. SL Green presented its plans in a 63-page report submitted to Manhattan’s Community Board 5.

Nearly three-quarters of all Airbnb rentals in the city are illegal, according to a report issued by NY State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Large-scale operators managing from three to 272 units earned $168 million, or 37 percent of the city’s Airbnb revenue. This is in contrast to the company’s marketing materials that claim, “Airbnb allows longtime residents to stay in their homes by earning just a little extra money to help make ends meet.” Forty percent of the rentals were concentrated in the Lower East Side/Chinatown, Chelsea/Hell’s Kitchen, and Greenwich Village/SoHo.

The appellate division of the New York Supreme court reversed a lower court decision and ruled that New York University can proceed with its 2-million-square-foot expansion plan, the WSJ reports. Backers of the lawsuit sought to protect the Mercer Playground, La Guardia Park, and La Guardia Corner Gardens from the university’s development. The appellate division ruled that these city-owned plots weren’t intended to be used as parks.

The Housing Partnership, a nonprofit affordable housing advocate, is proposing creating a new special district in West Harlem in which to develop 2,000 units of affordable housing, DNAinfo reports. The proposal also includes selling unused air rights over the Amtrak rail lines that run along the West Side Highway to buildings on Broadway for $170 million and using the proceeds from the sale to create the Harlem Promenade, an elevated park over a portion of the Amtrak rail lines. The Harlem Promenade would connect Hamilton Heights to existing parkland on the other side of the West Side Highway.

Several development projects on East 125th Street are expected to transform the commercial corridor in East Harlem, Crain’s reports. At East 125th Street and Park Avenue, Ian Bruce Eichner’s 352-foot-tall residential tower will open, and across the street work crews have topped out the seven-story Corn Exchange Building, which has been vacant for decades. In addition, developer Gary Barnett purchased the Pathmark at East 125th and Lexington for $39 million.

Advocates seeking to transform 3.5 miles of abandoned railroad tracks in Queens into a recreational green space called QueensWay released a study detailing their plans, DNAinfo reports. The project, which extends from Rego Park to Ozone Park, would cost about $120 million. Attractions would include a climbing wall, adventure playground, cafe, cultural facilities, and bike and pedestrian paths.

The Bronx Brewery has opened a tasting room to accompany its brewing operation on 136th Street in the Port Morris section of the Bronx, the Daily News reports. The company is brewing borough-centric beer in a former lace factory and will soon open an outdoor beer garden. The Bronx Brewery is the second beer operation that has opened in the borough with the Gun Hill Brewery opening a facility in Williamsbridge in January.

New Policy Allows Sale of Market Rate Rentals in 80-20 Buildings

This week we’re highlighting a new policy implemented by the Attorney General’s office, an update on major transportation projects and developments, and the latest property sales reports.

The New York State Attorney General’s office has implemented a new policy for 80-20 buildings that will allow owners to sell up to 80 percent of their market rate rental units, in exchange for preserving the remaining 20 percent as affordable housing or expanding the low-income apartments they own. The policy applies to existing rental buildings receiving incentives such as tax exemptions, low-income housing tax credits, and bond financing. Previously, the restrictions for affordable units expired after a fixed period of time, often 30 years or more.

Six major transportation projects are expected to be completed in New York City between 2014 and 2022, the Commercial Observer reports. The article highlighted the Fulton Center, the Lower Manhattan transportation hub that will open in the third quarter of 2014; the 7 Train Expansion to 11th Avenue and West 34th Street, which is expected to be completed in February 2015; the World Trade Center Path Station, which is expected to be fully open at the end of 2015; the first phase of construction on the expanded Moynihan/Penn Station Redevelopment Project, which is expected to be completed by 2016; the Second Avenue Subway, whose first phase is scheduled for completion in December 2016; and the East Side Access, which will transport Long Island Railroad commuters from Queens’ Sunnyside Yards station to Grand Central Terminal and is scheduled for completion in 2022.

Residential brokers are increasingly catering to foreign clientele who are seeking luxury apartments in New York City, the NY Times reports. Many foreign investors are buying New York City apartments because they want to park their money in a stable economy like the U.S. The article noted that investors from Kazakhstan and Brazil are among those investing in luxury condos and that one Brazilian executive recently bought a $60 million apartment at One57.

If the state repeals the Urstadt Law, foreclosures will rise and the city will be “back in the ownership business,” Charles Urstadt, who advocated for the 1971 law that gave the state power over rent regulation, said in an interview with the New York Observer. “In 1971, there were 72,000 vacant apartments and New York was in danger of becoming the biggest landlord in the city,” he said. “Since we passed the Urstadt Law and vacancy decontrol, foreclosures went down and the value of apartments has gone up.” In private he said that elected officials are grateful for the law because, “They don’t want to be responsible for what happens when taxes, water and electricity go up, but the rent doesn’t—and then the buildings go into foreclosure.”

Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright, chairman of the Assembly’s Housing Committee, has joined Rep. Charles Rangel in calling for a moratorium on subsidized, 80-20 luxury development, the New York Observer reports. Instead he is advocating for funding more new low- and middle-income housing. The article also noted that Assemblyman Wright will not commit to supporting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to repeal the Urstadt Law.

Public Advocate Letitia James released a list of the “worst landlords” in the five boroughs. The buildings on the list have multiple violations in each apartment and are located in the poorest neighborhoods like Brownsville, East Harlem, and Morris Heights. The public advocate’s office is recommending more severe HPD penalties against repeat offenders.

Since development sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and parts of Queens have become scarce, developers have started looking to the Bronx for new projects, the Commercial Observer reports. Last month, Youngwoo & Associates purchased the landmarked Bronx General Post Office at 558 Grand Concourse between East 149th and East 150th Streets for $19 million. The building, which sits amidst 13,000 students in the area, including students from Hostos Community College, thousands of professionals at Lincoln Medical Center, and three subway stations and bus stops, may be converted to a retail complex.

Two new affordable housing complexes are planned for Community Board 6 in the Bronx. Mastermind Development is building a $90 million, 13-story, 256-unit, below-market residential building at East Tremont Avenue between Webster and Park Avenues. Developer Pravin B. Anajwala Tower and the Best Development Group are scheduled to break ground in January on a $70 million, two-building complex at West Farms Road, Boston Road, and Longfellow Avenue. Compass Residences, former City Council Speaker Gifford Miller’s 10-building, 1,300-unit project, is currently under construction on a former industrial strip along the Sheridan Expressway.

Several residential sales reports were released last week:

REBNY’s Third Quarter Residential Sales Report covering all five boroughs shows that sales prices for homes throughout New York City posted significant, double-digit increases in the third quarter of 2014 as the overall number of sales declined year-over-year. , the Commercial Observer reports. Last month, Youngwoo & Associates purchased the landmarked Bronx General Post Office at 558 Grand Concourse between East 149th and East 150th Streets for $19 million. The building, which sits amidst 13,000 students in the area, including students from Hostos Community College, thousands of professionals at Lincoln Medical Center, and three subway stations and bus stops, may be converted to a retail complex.

The third quarter Elliman Report for Brooklyn shows that the median sales price rose 4 percent year-over-year to a new record of $587,515, which is 8.8 percent above the pre-financial crisis record set seven years ago. Year-over-year, the average sales price also rose 4.5 percent to $726,100, number of sales declined 2 percent to 2,077, and listing inventory increased 3.4 percent to 4,990. The median sales price of North Brooklyn, which includes Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and East Brooklyn, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York, increased 15.5 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively.

The third quarter Elliman Report for Queens shows that the median sales price increased 6.2 percent year-over-year to $395,000. Year-over-year, the number of sales fell 19.4 percent to 2,213, and the listing inventory fell 8.5 percent. The luxury market increased 12 percent to $840,000, the highest level in the seven years of tracking this metric.