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Brooklyn Leads City With 884 Investment Property Sales In 1H2014

In the first half of 2014, total investment property sales in Brooklyn rose 38 percent from the first half of 2013 to 884, nearly twice the number of investment property sales in the city’s second most active submarket of Queens, according to Ariel Property Advisors’ Brooklyn 2014 Mid-Year Sales Report.

Brooklyn 2014 Mid-Year Sales Report

In addition, the number of transactions increased 34 percent to 646 and the dollar volume of those trades jumped 73 percent to more than $3.033 billion in gross consideration in the first half of 2014 compared to the first half of 2013, which saw 640 properties trade over 482 transactions totaling $1.757 billion in gross consideration. The Brooklyn 2014 Mid-Year Sales Report tracks development, multifamily, industrial, and other commercial property sales over $850,000.

Highlights from Brooklyn report:

“With strong fundamentals driving steady demand for multifamily properties and development sites, this uptick shows no signs of abating,” said Jonathan Berman, vice president of Ariel Property Advisors.

“Multifamily portfolio sales were particularly active in Brooklyn during this period, especially in Crown Heights, Bedford Stuyvesant, and Bushwick, three neighborhoods where about a quarter of the borough’s total investment property transactions were concentrated,” Mr. Berman continued.

As a further indication of the strong multifamily market, the average cap rate compressed from 5.75 percent in the second half of 2013 to 5.19 percent in the first half of 2014. Additionally, the average gross rent multiple grew from 11.24 to 11.9 over that same period.

One notable multifamily transaction was Colony 1209, a 126-unit rental building at 1209 DeKalb Avenue in Bushwick that sold for $58 million, which equates to roughly $570 per square foot and over $450,000 per unit. Another was 76 Meserole Street, a newly-constructed 49-unit rental building in Williamsburg that sold for $35.6 million, which represents a price per unit of over $725,000.

The development market remained strong as well, with the dollar volume increasing 20 percent year-over-year to more than $878 million, while the number of transactions and property sales stayed relatively stable at 125 and 234, respectively. The majority of the development properties were traded in the neighborhoods of Bed-Stuy (19), Crown Heights (16), Downtown (16), Gowanus (13), Greenpoint (17), and Williamsburg (31).

“Sites in primary and secondary locations of the borough saw high demand from developers and users alike, pushing up land values resulting in an increased number of transactions approaching or surpassing the $300 per buildable level,” said Daniel Tropp, vice president of Ariel Property Advisors. “The success of several recent new construction projects now coming online, both in Brooklyn and beyond, only further drives these numbers.”

Notable development sales include the sale of the Dupont Realty Greenpoint Development Portfolio, which was a $48.5 million transaction with 261,000 buildable square feet site as-of-right with the potential to add an additional 100,000 square feet with affordable housing. Another notable transaction is the sale of 564 St. Johns Place, a 135,000 buildable square foot site in Crown Heights that traded for $24,000,000 or $177 per buildable square foot.

Ariel Property Advisors Vice President Mark Spinelli also noted that retail is expanding in Brooklyn with national chains opening this year along Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn. “The dollar volume of commercial and retail properties nearly doubled between 1H14 and 1H13, rising to $175.6 million from $97 million a year ago,” Mr. Spinelli said. “New retail and office properties in the pipeline are adding strength to this market and further illustrate that Brooklyn is evolving into a 24/7 live/work environment.”

Lastly, special purpose, user, and other industrial properties accounted for a growing share of all transactions as increasing rents and reduced inventory drove demand. Additionally the potential rezoning of certain areas such as East Williamsburg, Gowanus, and East New York has driven up these values due to higher offers based on speculation.

A copy of Ariel Property Advisors’ Brooklyn 2014 Mid-Year Sales Report is available at http://arielpa.com/newsroom/report-APA-Brooklyn-mid2014-Sales-Report.

Our Observations For the Week

REBNY’s Broker Confidence Index declined slightly from 9.21 in the first quarter to 8.88 in the second quarter of this year. The Commercial Broker Confidence Index was 9.45 in the second quarter down from 9.62 in the last quarter due to concerns among commercial brokers about rising land prices and the sustainability of growth in the tech industry six months from now, but overall the outlook was positive. “The growth in tourism, jobs and the continuing improvement in the local and national economy is bolstering the commercial real estate market,” the report said. The Residential Broker Confidence Index dropped from 8.80 in the first quarter to 8.30 in the second quarter because of the general lack of residential inventory, lack of product for mid-market buyers, and concern about financing sales.

A plan to redevelop the long-vacant Kingsbridge Armory into the world-class Kingsbridge National Ice Center is resulting in spikes in retail rents in the surrounding area, the Norwood News reports. More than a dozen merchants with stores across from the Kingsbridge Armory were informed that their rents will double on August 1. At a recent Community Board 7 meeting, the affected businesses were invited to consider relocating to vacant storefronts within the borders of the Jerome Gun-Hill Business Improvement District and Webster Avenue.

Permits have been filed for a 10-story, 92-unit building at 2065 Walton Avenue in the Fordham section of The Bronx, New York YIMBY reports. The land was purchased for $1.15 million last November. The property, which will be 100 percent below market, is being developed by Alan Bell and the Jericho Project, which is involved in supportive housing projects for the formerly homeless in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. Homeless veterans will be offered 60 percent of the apartments and homeless young people between the ages of 18 and 25, with a focus on LGBT youth, will be offered the remainder.

The quarter-mile bike and pedestrian path linking the South Bronx to Randall’s Island is scheduled to open in 2015, DNAinfo New York reports. As part of the $48 million South Bronx Greenway project, the pathway will link Randall’s Island to the Bronx at 132nd Street and run south under the Amtrak trestle and over the Bronx Kill. Currently pedestrians walk to Randall’s Island using the Triborough Bridge or the pedestrian Bridge at 103rd Street in Manhattan.

Although it’s located in The Bronx, North Riverdale feels more like the suburbs, according to a NY Times profile of the area. The neighborhood features views of the Hudson River and the Palisades cliffs of New Jersey, the 70-acre College of Mount Saint Vincent, and Van Cortlandt Park. In the first six months of 2014, eight single-family homes sold for an average $653,000, and 46 co-ops sold for an average $184,000.

The WSJ profiled another area of the Bronx, Bedford Park, pointing out that residents priced out of Riverdale are finding value in the neighborhood. The area is surrounded by the New York Botanical Garden and Bronx Zoo on the east, Lehman College on the west, Montefiore Medical Center to the north, and Fordham University to the south. Webster Avenue has been rezoned to attract new residential and commercial buildings, and a new, 122-unit apartment building is being developed at East 201st Street and Webster. One- and two-bedroom co-ops sell for between $100,000 and $200,000, and single and two-family homes sell for between $375,000 and $475,000. One-bedroom rentals start at $1,000, and two-bedrooms at around $1,350.

Individuals working in creative industries who have been priced out of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Dumbo are seeking more affordable live/work spaces along the subway lines in neighborhoods like Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and North Flatbush in Brooklyn, Sunnyside and Astoria in Queens, and some areas of the South Bronx, Crain’s reports. Between 2003 and 2012, the number of design firms in Brooklyn increased by 101 percent, increased 45 percent in Queens, but only increased 6 percent in Manhattan.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plans for East New York may not end up being affordable for local residents, the Gothamist reports. “As it’s written, the [citywide] unit percentage breakdown amounts to a median rent of between $1,050 and $1,670, with 8% of the 200,000 units for rent at $630,” says Shai Lauros, the director of community development for Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation. “Affordable rents for this community typically range from $375-625, so there is a discrepancy here. This could contribute to displacement.” Purnima Kapur, executive director of the Department of City Planning, acknowledged that what works in Greenpoint and Williamsburg will not work in East New York, but added that the community needs to become more “economically integrated” and not be treated as only “a poor people’s residence.”

In June, Brooklyn had 27 hotel projects with 2,416 rooms in the pipeline. Of these, seven with 544 rooms are in the planning phase, six hotels with 493 rooms are in the final planning stage, and 14 with 1,379 rooms are under construction, the Commercial Observer reports. The $80 million, 246-room Holiday Inn Brooklyn Nevins Station topped out recently at 300 Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn, a 183-room luxury Level Hotel Brooklyn is being planned in North Williamsburg, a 200-room Starwood hotel is being developed at Pier 1 in Dumbo, and a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel is being planned in Fort Greene.

Dollar Volume of NYC Multifamily Trades Up 33 Percent in May 2014 vs. May 2013

New York City multifamily building sales rose 15 percent and the dollar volume of those trades jumped 33 percent in May 2014 compared to May 2013, according to Ariel Property Advisors’ Multifamily Month in Review: New York City for May.

Multifamily Month In Review

For the month, New York City saw 52 transactions comprised of 102 buildings totaling $645.876 million in gross consideration compared to May 2013, which saw 61 transactions comprised of 89 buildings totaling $484.966 million in gross consideration.

“May figures bolster our expectations that market reports covering the first half of 2014 will show strong year-over-year gains in multifamily pricing and sales volume,” said Shimon Shkury, president of Ariel Property Advisors.

Transaction volume was unchanged month-to-month but building volume declined 8 percent from 111 In May compared to April and the dollar volume of those trades declined 9 percent from $711 million, primarily because of fewer deals in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

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

Manhattan. Manhattan rebounded in May after a slow April with 13 transactions totaling $239.218 million in gross consideration, a 31 percent increase in dollar volume from the previous month and an 88 percent jump in dollar volume compared to May 2013. Despite leading the city in transactions and dollar volume, only one notable portfolio traded in Manhattan as individual properties made up the bulk of transaction volume for the month. Manhattan’s activity was anchored by the $68.167 million sale of 277 West 10th Street, a 144 unit core asset located in the West Village. The transaction represented $495 per square foot and the new owner plans to reposition the asset by reconfiguring the building to larger units.

Northern Manhattan. Northern Manhattan experienced very strong month-to-month and year-over-year gains as it saw 31 buildings trade across 10 transactions totaling $133.478 million. This represents a 107 percent increase in building volume and a 68 percent increase in dollar volume from April, and a 138 percent increase in building sales and an 80 percent increase in dollar volume compared to May 2013. Northern Manhattan can attribute its strong month to portfolio sales, which accounted for 24 of the buildings traded. A notable transaction was the sale of a portfolio of properties owned by Yeshiva University for $72.5 million to Cammeby’s International. The sale represented $192 per square foot and $179,000 per unit.

The Bronx. Although the Bronx saw month-to-month decreases after an unusually strong April, the borough experienced solid year-over-year gains as the number of buildings sold increased 40 percent to 28 and dollar volume of those trades increased 32 percent to $131 million from May 2013. Pricing remained strong as ever in the Bronx, as the average price per square foot for multifamily transactions in May was $129.

Brooklyn. After seeing several very active months, Brooklyn multifamily sales calmed down in May with 12 transactions trading for $107.455 million in gross consideration, a decrease of 20 percent and 52 percent, respectively, from the previous month. The sale of a newly-constructed building located at 76 Meserole Street in East Williamsburg $35.6 million, or $584 per square foot, stands out as a testament to strong pricing throughout the borough.

Queens. With $34.7 million trading across five transactions, Queens’ May multifamily sales picked up from a sluggish April. A 66 unit elevatored building in Kew Gardens sold for $14 million, or $212,000 per unit, demonstrating the region’s strong pricing.

Trailing 6-Month Sales Averages: For the six months ended in May 2014, the average monthly transaction volume remained steady, dropping slightly to 63 transactions per month. For the first time since February, the dollar volume fell below $1 billion and averaged $937.6 million in May.

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-May-2014.

Our Observations For the Week

The MTA and labor unions representing the LIRR settled their four-year-old contract dispute and averted a strike. The agreement gives existing LIRR employees a 17 percent wage increase over 6 and a half years, but the contract will have no impact on MTA fares. To ensure the long-term affordability of the wage increases, all employees will for the first time contribute to their health insurance costs, and new employees will have different wage progressions and pension plan contributions.

New York City had a net gain of 94,300 jobs from June 2013 to June 2014, bringing the city’s job count to 4,067,500, the New York State Labor Department reported. The city’s unemployment rate in June remained unchanged at 7.9 percent, while the state’s unemployment rate dropped slightly from 6.7 percent in May to 6.6 percent in June, the lowest level since November 2008. The U.S. unemployment is 6.1 percent.

Kuafu Properties and Siras Development have purchased five adjacent parcels on the southeast corner of 38th Street and 11th Avenue across from the Javits Center in Midtown for $62 million, Forbes reports. The investors are planning to build a 20-story, 380,000-square-foot tower that will include 50 luxury condos, a 400-room, high-end hotel, office space, ground-floor retail, and a three-story Shanghai Club. According to the article, Kuafu Properties is a New York-based “full-service development platform established with the vision of bridging Chinese capital with prominent U.S. real estate projects.”

A city proposal to upzone five blocks of the Vanderbilt Corridor north of 42nd Street, which would allow SL Green to build a 67-story tower adjacent to Grand Central Terminal without purchasing 1.3 million square feet of air rights over Grand Central Terminal, would “cause an unconstitutional taking of our client’s property,” Duane Loft, a lawyer for Grand Central Terminal argued at a City Planning hearing. “The development rights above Grand Central are property rights, and the Constitution protects those rights from being taken from their owners without just compensation,” he said, the Commercial Observer reported. The Grand Central legal team has threatened to file a $1 billion lawsuit over the unused air rights.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership released a report that chronicles the growth of Downtown Brooklyn in the 10 years since the area was rezoned in 2004. The rezoning and $400 million in public investment has resulted in more than $4 billion of private investment leading to the creation of 5,200 residential units, more than 1,000 new hotel rooms, almost a quarter million square feet of office space, and 625,000 square feet of retail. The original plan anticipated more commercial than residential development so today the vacancy rate of Downtown Brooklyn’s 17 million square feet of commercial office space is close to 4 percent, which means businesses are running out of room to expand.

Ten years after Downtown Brooklyn was transformed by the rezoning, Mayor Bill de Blasio is proposing to redevelop the 21-acre Brooklyn Strand, a series of disconnected parks, plazas, and greenways between Borough Hall and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The mayor’s other downtown initiatives include investing in three new and revitalized spaces at Fox Square at Flatbush and Fulton Street, Willoughby Square, and BAM Park; launching the Brooklyn Cultural District BID; making Jay, Tillary, Adams, and Willoughby Streets safer and more inviting; and creating a consortium of Downtown Brooklyn’s 11 colleges.

Operators of the Mall at Bay Plaza in the Bronx are hoping to attract wealthier Bronx shoppers and even Westchester residents when the $270 million mall opens at the Hutchinson River Parkway and I-95 in mid-August. The mall will be anchored by Macy’s, which last opened a store in the Bronx in 1941, and will house newcomers to the borough H&M, Victoria’s Secret, and Aeropostale. In recent years, suburban residents that previously commuted to Midtown Manhattan for shopping have been staying closer to home and patronizing high-end malls in Westchester.

The Bowery Residence Committee, a provider of social services, is reportedly proposing to build 132-units of affordable housing and a shelter for 200 single homeless adults at 233 Landing Road, between Cedar Avenue and the Major Deegan Expressway in the University Heights section of The Bronx, the Daily News reports. The building would be the first of its kind to offer both affordable housing and a shelter. Three homeless shelters housing 140 families and at least 15 supportive housing developments for people with disabilities and substance abuse or mental health issues are located in Community Board 7, the article said.

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation is seeking proposals to build a mixed-use, mixed-income development with approximately 200 new affordable apartments on a municipal parking lot in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. The development site is bordered by 41st Avenue, College Point Boulevard, Main Street, and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Flushing-Main Street Station. The deadline for the proposal is October 10, 2014.

Young professionals and families seeking affordable housing in a diverse community can find it in the Briarwood neighborhood of Queens, according to the NY Times. Although single-family homes are scarce, one- and two-bedroom co-ops are plentiful. One-bedroom co-ops now sell for around $145,000, compared to $160,000 to $165,000 before the recession. Rentals range from $1,000 to $1,200 a month for studios to up to $2,300 to $2,600 for a three-bedroom. The neighborhood is accessible to Manhattan via a 40-minute commute on the E and F subway lines.

Landlord Group Calls on City to Cap Expenses at 1 Percent

This week we’re highlighting the Rent Stabilization Association proposal to rein in building costs, second quarter New York City residential sales, the June rental report for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and updates on local developments.

The Rent Stabilization Association is calling on the de Blasio administration to cap increases in property tax assessments and water and sewer rates at 1 percent, which is equal to the rent increase the Rent Guidelines Board approved for 1 year leases on rent stabilized apartments. “If City Hall is going to cap the income side of the equation at 1 percent, there must be an equitable 1 percent cap on the expense side – particularly on city-mandated expenses,” Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, said. The cost of maintaining regulated buildings increased 5.7 percent from last year, the Rent Stabilization Board said.

The number of homes sold in New York City in the second quarter 2014 increased 2 percent to 10,722 and the total value of those sales increased 7.78 percent to $8.858 billion compared to the second quarter of 2013, according to REBNY’s Second Quarter New York City Residential Sales Report. In quarter two 2014 compared to quarter two 2013, average home prices in Brooklyn increased 19 percent to $715,000; in Queens average home prices increased 3 percent to $431,000; in the Bronx average home prices fell a slight 2 percent to $341,000; and average home prices increased 6 percent to $1.491 million in Manhattan.

The median rent in Manhattan was $3,300 in June 2014, a 3.3 percent increase compared to June 2013, but unchanged from the previous month, according to the Elliman Report. Year-over-year in Manhattan, the number of new rentals fell 12.3 percent to 4,158, and the vacancy rate fell to 1.64 percent. In Brooklyn, the median rental price increased 2.3 percent to $2,800 in June 2014 compared to June of last year, but was unchanged from the previous month, and the number of new rentals increased 62.4 percent to 669 during the same period. In Queens, the median rental price dropped a slight 0.5 percent to $2,830 in June 2014 compared to June 2013, and the number of new rentals increased 29.8 percent to 161.

In September, a steering committee headed by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilman Daniel Garodnick will begin reviewing plans to rezone Midtown East. Members of the committee that will conduct a ground up study of the area will include representatives from Community Board 5, Community Board 6, East Midtown Multi-Board Task Force, Municipal Art Society, Landmarks Conservancy and Historic District Council, Regional Plan Association, Real Estate Board of New York, Grand Central Partnership, and East Midtown Partnership. The goal is to give the Department of City Planning recommendations by the spring of 2015. The city announced last month that Vanderbilt Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets would be rezoned to allow a 1.6 million-square-foot building adjacent to Grand Central Terminal.

Six of the 10 largest projects for which developers filed permits in June are located in Brooklyn, The Real Deal reports. The Brooklyn projects include: 340 Flatbush Extension where JDS Development Group and the Chetrit Group have proposed a 555,734-square-foot, 70-story tower with 495 residences and 108,799-square-feet of commercial space; 436 Albee Square where a 28-story residential building with 150 units and 23,740 square feet of retail is planned; 752 Bedford Avenue where a seven-story building with 104 residential units is planned near the Brooklyn Navy Yard; 937 Bergen Street in Crown Heights where developer 608 Franklin LLC is planning an eight-story, 100,629-square-foot residential building with 119 units; 237 11th Street, where a 12-story, mixed-use development with 79,212 square feet for 105 residential units is proposed; and 8 Rockaway Avenue where a 67,626-square-foot, six-story, mixed-use building is planned. The Manhattan projects planned include: 242 West 53rd Street, a 452,896-square-foot, 62-story building with 426 units on the former Roseland Ballroom site; 138 East 50th Street, a 220,638-square-foot, 52-story, hotel; and 50-51 98th Street, a 107,555-square-foot, four-story school building. At 98-32 Queens Boulevard in Rego Park, Queens, a 66,863-square-foot, eight-story, commercial, community, and residential building with 68 units is planned.

Crown Heights, Brooklyn, is rapidly changing and much of the transformation has taken place in the last two to three years, the NY Times reports. Developers have targeted the northwestern section of the neighborhood around Franklin Avenue and are planning more than 1,250 units in about two dozen residential projects primarily west of Nostrand Avenue and north of Eastern Parkway. Specifically, developers have been drawn to the community’s abandoned and underused industrial buildings, blocks of row houses and brownstones, reasonably priced land, and strong rental rates. In addition, families priced out of Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, and Prospect Heights are buying $1.5 million townhouses or $1.2 million apartments. The article credited the neighborhood’s turnaround to effective leadership in the black and Hasidic communities following the 1991 riots and local groups like the Crow Hill Community Association, which has worked to improve Franklin Avenue.

The Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, which boasts about 8,800 buildings built before 1900, also is undergoing a renaissance and real estate prices are escalating as a result, according to a NY Times profile of the area. The article said one19th-century townhouse on Jefferson Avenue has nearly tripled in value since it was purchased for $775,000 four years ago. From the mid-1900s to the mid-2000s, a large number of African-American professionals moved into the area, and in recent years investors have been buying townhouses, renovating them, and flipping them or creating apartments and renting them.

Blumenfeld Development Group is planning to add up to 1,000 residential units above the East River Plaza mall at East 116th Street and FDR Drive in Harlem, DNAinfo New York reports. The residential plans haven’t been finalized yet, but the company expects to make more than 20 percent of the units affordable. Blumenfeld and Forest City Ratner Companies own the five-story, 500,000-square-foot East River Plaza mall whose tenants include Costco, Target, Burlington Coat Factory, Planet Fitness, and discount grocer Aldi.

IT consulting company Doran Jones and IT job training nonprofit Per Scholas plan to open a software testing center at 804 E. 138th Street in the Port Morris section of the Bronx this fall that will bring 150 jobs to the area. The jobs will pay a starting salary of $35,000 with benefits and of those hired, 80 percent will be Per Scholas graduates. In addition, Doran Jones will plans to move its office to the Bronx and hopes to eventually expand its software testing center to 500 employees.

Developer ASH NYC is planning a 70,000-square-foot, mixed-use development in a former glass factory at 330 Himrod Street in Bushwick, according to Wyckoff Heights.org. ASH NYC founders Ari Heckman and Jonathan Minkoff worked on “housing for hipsters” in Williamsburg and Bushwick for Cayuga Capital Management before starting their own firm in 2008; the company has completed several projects including revival of a stalled residential building in Greenpoint, and The Dean Hotelin Providence RI,” the article said.

U.S. Unemployment Rate Falls to Six-Year Low

This week we’re highlighting the positive national jobs outlook, estimated property tax revenue in the NYC 2015 budget, a report on housing development in NYC Landmark districts, the NYPD’s “Summer All Out” program, and updates on local projects.

The U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs in June, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent, the lowest level since September 2008, the Labor Department reported. Jobs were added in manufacturing, health care, financial services, and transportation. Although GDP contracted by 2.9 percent in the first quarter, economists believe in the second quarter that the economy improved and are estimating 3 percent growth.

Because the assessed value of NYC properties has risen, the city estimates it will collect 3.6 percent more in property taxes this year compared to last year – about $20.8 billion in FY 2015 up from $19.9 billion in FY 2014, Capital NY reports. The amount of property taxes collected will increase even though on paper, property taxes have dropped slightly on most classes. The article said, “the tax rate for Class 1 (one-, two-, three-family homes) dropped slightly, from $19.191 per $100 of assessed value in F.Y. 2014 to $19.156 this year. The rate for Class 2 (co-ops, condos, and rental buildings) went down from $13.145 per $100 to $12.855. Class 3 (utilities) decreased the most, from $11.902 per $100 to 11.125. Class 4 (commercial and industrial) went up, from $10.323 per $100 to $10.684.”

New York City’s Landmark districts are creating “unforeseen barriers to the creation of housing, including affordable units, in all five boroughs,” a REBNY study concludes. Out of the 206,819 total new housing units constructed citywide from 2003 to 2012, 17 percent-or nearly 35,000 units-were affordable. Only 0.29 percent (100 units) of the affordable units were built on landmarked properties, according to the report. Of the 100 units, 95 were built in one project at Cedars/Fox Hall in the Bronx. The other five units were part of a project on Historic Front Street, built on land sold by the City. There were no new units of affordable housing constructed on landmarked properties in Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island.

Police Commission William J. Bratton announced the “Summer All Out” program, which will deploy about 400 veteran uniformed officers and detectives currently assigned to desk jobs to public housing projects and precincts for 90 days. The program is being implemented to address concerns over the rise in shootings, which have increased by 8 percent in the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period last year. In addition, the 600 officers that recently graduated from the Policy Academy will be assigned to high-crime precincts.

The number of complaints against landlords by tenants living in rent-regulated apartments fell 9 percent in the 12 months ended March 31, compared to the 12 months ended March 31, 2013, and fell 19 percent in the 12 months ended four years earlier, the WSJ reports. Apartments deregulated by landlords dropped to the lowest level in 10 years. Tenant complaints about overcharging also have been falling.

The median sales price of condos and co-ops in Manhattan was $910,000 in the second quarter of 2014, a 5.2 percent increase compared to the second quarter 2013 but a 6.4 percent decline compared to the first quarter 2014, according to the Elliman Report. The number of sales increased 6.3 percent to 3,342 in the second quarter 2014 compared to the same quarter last year, and the listing inventory rose 18 percent to 5,659 year-over-year.

The median sales price of all homes in Brownstone Brooklyn jumped 26.6 percent to $905,000 in the second quarter of 2014 compared to the second quarter of 2013, and increased 7.2 percent compared to the first quarter of 2014, Ideal Properties Group reports. In the second quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter last year, the median sales price of one- to three-family townhouses increased 95.5 percent to $1.935 million, co-ops jumped 56.1 percent to $640,000, and condos rose 29.6 percent to $907,500.

F&T Group broke ground on the $1 billion Flushing Commons project, which will transform Municipal Lot 1 at the corner of Union Street and 39th Avenue into a massive, multi-use complex that will include residential, office and retail space. It will also house a 62,000-square-foot YMCA and 1,600 parking spaces to preserve the available parking on the municipal lot. The first phase is scheduled for completion in 2017. The project stalled during the recession as funding dried up, but the partnership of developers (Flushing-based F&T Group, the Rockefeller Group, AECOM Capital, and Mount Kellett Capital Management LP) secured $235 million from Starwood Property Trust in March to help finance the first phase of the project, F&T Group said in its announcement.

Rockrose development is planning a 970,000-square-foot mixed-use project at 43-25 Hunter Street in the Court Square section of Long Island City that will feature two buildings – a 14-story building next to a 50-story tower, NY YIMBY reports. The complex will include 19,400 square feet of ground floor retail, and 974 apartments, of which 20 percent will be affordable, basketball courts, a billiard room, yoga studio, and roof deck. The completion date is tentatively set for 2017.

Rent Guidelines Board Approves Historically Low Rent Increase

This week we’re highlighting the Rent Guidelines Board’s vote, downward revision in first quarter GDP, and updates on local initiatives.

The Rent Guidelines Board voted to increase rents on stabilized apartments by 1 percent for one-year leases, the lowest in history, and 2.75 percent for two-year leases effective October 1, 2014. Organizations representing owners said the increase was too low because it won’t cover rising building costs.

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located U.S. — decreased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in the first quarter of 2014 according to the third estimate released by the Commerce Department. The third estimate is based on more complete source data than were available for the second estimate, which showed a decrease of 1 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2013, real GDP increased 2.6 percent.

NYC Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod has named Purnima Kapur executive director of the Department of City Planning. Ms. Kapur has served as director of City Planning’s Brooklyn Office since 2006, and prior to that she was director of The Bronx office. She joined the department in 1989 and throughout her career has been involved in 40 department-initiated area-wide rezonings. Her major initiatives include the Comprehensive Plan for Coney Island, as well as the review of developments on the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront, Downtown Brooklyn, and Gowanus.

The opening of the Fulton Street Transit Center in Lower Manhattan has been delayed by 60 to 90 days because of elevator problems and testing delays. In addition, the opening of the No. 7 train extension to 34th Street and 11th Avenue, which was originally scheduled for the end of the year, has been pushed to February 2015 at the earliest because of a number of technical issues. The completion of the Second Avenue subway, however, is still scheduled for December 2016.

A digital interactive media space, restaurants, and two Harlem-based nonprofits focusing on journalism and documentary film-making are planning to move into the long-vacant Mart 125 building on 125th Street between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevards, according to representatives from the 125th Street Business Improvement District. The cultural site will be developed by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone. In addition, a Banana Republic Factory Store will open across the street from Mart 125 on the ground floor of a building that houses a Red Lobster.

Developer Forest City Ratner signed a formal agreement with the state to finish construction on 2,250 units of affordable housing at Atlantic Yards by 2025. Construction of housing at the site, where the Barclays Center opened in 2012, was delayed by lawsuits filed to block development of the complex and by the financial fallout from the Great Recession. Construction must begin on the next two buildings with 600 affordable units in the next year or the developer will be fined of up to $5 million. Greenland Holding Group, a Chinese company, is buying a 70 percent stake in the project.

A partnership led by Jamestown Properties is investing $100 million to renovate 16 buildings on 30 acres in Sunset Park’s Industry City, formerly known as Bush Terminal. The Brooklyn Nets are moving the team’s practice facility and team offices to the complex for the 2015-16 season, Rooftop Films is hosting rooftop movies overlooking NY Harbor, and loading docks have been transformed into courtyards. New businesses are setting up shop in the complex including a vodka distillery, vintage furniture store, and food companies that will open retail spaces in a 40,000-square-foot food hall. The complex is 70 percent leased and the number of workers has increased from 2,400 to 3,000 since August.

The 129-acre Parkchester residential complex in The Bronx, featuring 171 buildings with 12,271 residential and condominium units, was profiled in the WSJ. In 1998, an investment group led by the Community Preservation Corp. purchased more than 6,000 unsold condos, rented them out, and invested $250 million in renovations at the complex. Monthly rents in Parkchester start around $1,100 for one-bedrooms and one-bedroom condos start at $105,000.

The Bronx was touted as a tourist destination in a recent article in the Toronto Star. Accompanied by a Big Apple Greeter tour guide, the Star’s travel writer highlighted visits to the Opera House Hotel; Wave Hill, a 28-acre garden above the Hudson River that was once home to Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, and Toscanini; City Island, described as “Martha’s Vineyard with a New York accent,” and The Bronx’s Little Italy.

NYC Multifamily Transactions Increase 16 Percent in April 2014 vs. April 2013

New York City multifamily transactions increased 16 percent and the dollar value of those trades rose 32 percent in April 2014 compared to April 2013, Ariel Property Advisors’ Multifamily Month in Review for April shows.

Multifamily Month In Review

For the month, New York City saw 50 transactions comprised of 108 buildings totaling $693.875 million in gross consideration, compared to April 2013, which saw 43 transactions comprised of 69 buildings totaling $524.071 million in gross consideration. Month-to-month, however, sales volume declined in April compared to March, which showed 121 buildings sold over 78 transactions totaling $1.36 billion.

“A surge of Brooklyn and Bronx multifamily sales in April drove the year-over-year gains in New York City’s multifamily market,” said Shimon Shkury, president of Ariel Property Advisors. “Rising prices in those boroughs as well as in other submarkets led to several significant portfolio sales during the month, which pushed building and dollar volume higher citywide.”

The following is a breakdown of April 2014 volume by submarket:

Brooklyn. Brooklyn led the way in April, even outpacing the transaction and dollar volume in Manhattan, with $222.500 million in sales taking place across 16 transactions. Year-over-year, this represents a 273 percent increase in dollar volume. The sale of a newly-constructed 127-unit building at 1207 DeKalb Avenue in Bushwick for $58 million, or $569 per square foot, helped anchor Brooklyn’s strong month.

The Bronx. The Bronx also outpaced Manhattan across all metrics in April, a rare occurrence with 35 buildings selling over 17 transactions totaling $209.6 million in gross consideration. Several large portfolio sales took place, boosting the number of units sold in The Bronx to 1,638, almost exactly half of all units sold in New York City in April. Notable sales included two Jerome Park portfolios that sold for a combined $84.350 million, representing $150 per square foot.

Manhattan. Despite a strong average price per square foot of $761 and with average cap rates coming in under 4 percent, Manhattan had a relatively sluggish month with $182.874 million in sales taking place across eight transactions. These figures show modest decreases in both month-to-month and year-over-year figures. A transaction highlight was the sale of a 12-building Upper West Side portfolio comprised of 174 units that sold for $60 million, representing $517 per square foot.

Northern Manhattan. Northern Manhattan also had a somewhat slow April, as it saw 14 buildings trade across eight transactions totaling $75.425 million. Year-over-year, this marks an 11 percent decrease in transaction volume, a 26 percent decrease in building volume, but a 26 percent increase in dollar volume. Pricing is stronger than ever, however, as seen in the sale of a portfolio on West 111th Street that traded for $24.25 million, or $445 per square foot.

Queens. Following a transaction heavy March that saw $243 million in sales taking place, Queens had a quiet April, with only one multifamily sale. The lone sale was a 12-unit walk-up building located in Astoria for $3.45 million, representing $357 per square foot.

Trailing 6-Month Sales Averages: For the six months ended in April 2014 the average monthly transaction volume slightly decreased to 63 transactions per month. Continuing the trend since the start of 2014, the six-month average dollar volume increased and reached $1.052 billion in April.

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-Apr-2014.

Our Observations For the Week

The Board of Directors of the NYC Housing Development Corporation approved the issuance of $372.56 million in bonds and $88.7 million in subordinate financing from HDC to fund 2,226 units of affordable housing in 16 developments in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Among the projects that can now move forward are 11 buildings with 1,259 units in new construction and seven projects with 967 units that will preserve and protect existing affordable housing. In addition, the Board authorized $40 million in corporate reserves to renovate and preserve as affordable two Mitchell-Lama developments with 569 units in Brooklyn.

Only 39.1 percent of New York City’s 2.17 million rental units are rented at market rate, while 45.4 percent are rent stabilized, 1.8 percent are rent controlled, and 13.7 percent are governed by other housing programs including public housing, HUD-regulations, or Mitchell-Lama, a study by the NYU Furman Center shows. The median rent of a rent stabilized/controlled apartment in all of NYC in 2011 was $1,155 compared to $1,510 for a market rate apartment, with the gap widest in core Manhattan where 166,961 units are rent regulated–$1,465 for a regulated apartment compared to $2,700 for a market rate apartment. Between 1981 and 2011, the number of rent stabilized units rose by 34,000, the number of rent controlled units fell by 247,181, the number of public housing units rose by 19,473, and the number of owner units increased by 260,195. Washington Heights/Inwood had 56,173 rent regulated units in 2011, more than any other NYC neighborhood.

Between 2005 and March 2014, 2,500 units of supportive housing were created in The Bronx, 1,711 units in Manhattan, 1,644 units in Brooklyn, 52 in Queens, and 19 in Staten Island. Some Bronx community boards argue that supportive housing should be more evenly distributed throughout the city, but providers say the cost of land makes finding locations in other boroughs difficult. Supportive housing offers services to individuals who need additional assistance, such as victims of domestic violence, and individuals who were formerly homeless or suffer with addictions.

New York City had a net gain of 75,000 jobs from May 2013 to May 2014, bringing the city’s job count to 4,057,400, the NY State Labor Department reported. The city’s unemployment rate remained 7.9 percent in May, unchanged from the previous month. NY State had a net gain of 23,400 jobs year-over-year and the May unemployment rate for the state remained 6.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate is 6.3 percent.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council announced a $75 billion budget, about $1 billion higher than the executive budget announced in May and a 7 percent increase from the city’s budget enacted last year. The budget ushers in a “more compassionate era for New York City, with investments in public housing, expanded prekindergarten programs, and summer jobs for youth, but with no tax increases or major cuts,” according to the NY Times.

The developers of Astoria Cove plan to submit revisions to their development plan to Community Board 1 in Queens to comply with conditions board members said must be met before they would consider approving the project on the Astoria waterfront. The Community Board’s four-page recommendation includes demands to increase the affordable housing units from 20 percent to 35 percent, disperse it throughout all five buildings, and include it in every construction phase; increase parking spaces; give local residents and youth priority for construction and permanent jobs; and set aside space for recreational and medical facilities.

Working with the environmental nonprofit Grow NYC, developer John Crotty and his firm, Workforce Housing Group, secured more than $300,000 in grants to create the Kelly Street Garden in a formerly derelict courtyard behind 920 Kelly Street in the South Bronx. It’s estimated the 8,500-square-foot area with 2,000 square feet set aside for 11 growing beds, will produce $43,000 worth of produce for the 81 units with access to it. The developer rehabbed four buildings on Kelly Street for affordable housing.

Manhattan will add 9 million square feet of new office space at nine development sites between 2013 and 2015, according to a report by the NY Building Congress. More than two-thirds of the new space will be located at 1 World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center, and 10 Hudson Yards. Between 2016 and 2018, another 10 million square feet of new space is expected to come online in six buildings including 30 Hudson Yards, 1 Manhattan West, and 2 and 3 World Trade Center.

A Chinese development group reportedly plans to build a mall, office building, hotel, and residential complex at 6208 8th Avenue in Brooklyn on the border of Sunset Park and Dyker Heights. The project will consist of five buildings totaling 1.1 million square feet. The developers purchased the site, a 160,700-square-foot parking lot along the N subway line, for $51.5 million.

Fortis Property Group has been selected to develop the LICH Hospital site in downtown Brooklyn. The developer will pay $240 million for the property and plans to build luxury condos with an outpatient facility that will include an ER and clinics run by NYU-Langone. The community and elected officials went to court seeking to maintain the facility as a full-service hospital, but no feasible proposal was submitted.

City Seeking to Improve Certification Process for New Projects

This week we’re highlighting new city initiatives in the development arena, an update on the future of Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village, and an ad campaign by the Rent Stabilization Association.

The Department of City Planning is introducing measures to reduce the time it takes to get a project certified. The department will begin certifying project applications when they are complete, rather than demanding that applicants make minor changes before they can begin the seven-month public review process. In addition, the department is planning to add 31 new staff positions; establish clearer standards and expectations; create metrics to measure progress, and eventually accept applications online.

The City Council has created a new unit called the Economic and Community Development Division that will negotiate with developers in a process separate from the Department of City Planning, which is under the jurisdiction of the mayor’s office. The goal of the department is to help City Council members better understand the development process so that they can be proactive about projects in their districts rather than reactive. The department will serve as the council’s in-house consulting group and is expected to have a staff of 10 employees.

A new law has been passed authorizing HPD to implement a program to help to build the capacity of M/WBE developers and provide opportunities for them to lead city-supported affordable housing programs. HPD will establish a pre-qualified list of M/WBE developers and joint ventures that will be eligible to compete for a designated pipeline of new construction and preservation projects. Firms on the pre-qualified list will be selected based on responses to a Request for Qualifications to be issued later in 2014, and those selected will be matched with a mentor who is a member of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH).

CWCapital Asset Management, which represents the senior creditors in control of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, have given the city at least two months to assemble tax breaks and other incentives that would keep more than half of the 11,200 units in the two complexes affordable. Many tenants, however, earn too much money to qualify for traditional affordable housing subsidies, the WSJ reports. About half of the apartments are below market and the rest have been converted to luxury apartments. The senior creditors, which have controlled the properties since 2010 when the owners defaulted on their total $4.4 billion debt, are positioning the property for a possible sale.

With owners of rent regulated apartments facing the possibility of a rent freeze, the Rent Stabilization Association is launching an ad campaign called “A rent freeze hurts everyone.” The association represents 25,000 landlords, of which more than 70 percent are small-property owners who put rent increases back into their buildings for repairs and maintenance. More than 40 ads a day will air on radio and TV through June 23 when the Rent Guidelines Board is scheduled to vote on rents.

NYC Councilman Mark Levine has introduced a bill that would provide low-income tenants facing eviction or foreclosure free access to an attorney. The Manhattan lawmaker estimates the services would cost about $100 million, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has allocated nearly $10 million for the proposal. Nearly 30,000 residents were evicted last year.

Median rents in Brooklyn increased 8.6 percent to $2,800 in May 2014 compared to May 2013, according to the Elliman Report. The report showed that there were 225 new rentals on the market in the borough in May, which was a 53 percent drop from May of last year. The median rental price in Manhattan rose 3.1 percent year-over-year to $3,300 in May. The number of new rentals on the market during the month dropped 22.6 percent from the previous year to 3,205. The Manhattan vacancy rate during the month was 1.58 percent.

Representatives for Astoria Cove, the 1.7-million-square-foot, mixed-use development that Alma Realty is planning for the Astoria waterfront, presented the developer’s proposal to Community Board 1 in Queens in the first phase of the public review process. Three of the project’s five buildings will be located on the waterfront and range from 26 to 32 stories high. The project will include about 300 affordable units, a 456-seat public elementary school, and 84,000 square feet of public space.

Starbucks plans to open this fall in the ground floor of a new, eight-story residential building at 341 Eastern Parkway off Franklin Avenue in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. Other nearby neighborhood coffee shops include The Breukelen Coffee House, The Pulp and The Bean, and Little Zelda, all on Franklin Avenue, but the nearest Starbucks is on Flatbush Avenue off of 7th Avenue in Park Slope.