The Real Deal New York

Posts Tagged ‘insights from trd’

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    A new tenant for the high-profile Takashimaya building at 693 Fifth Avenue will likely pay a ground-floor rent higher than the $2,000 per square foot that Swatch recently signed for in a space nearby, property owner Joseph Sitt, chairman and CEO of Thor Equities, said in an interview with Insights from The Real Deal (see video above).

    Swiss-based Swatch inked a 15-year deal that starts at about $2,000 per square foot in the retail condo at 666 Fifth Avenue owned by Carlyle Group, Kushner Companies and Crown Acquisitions.

    Sitt said there was “no question” he would get rents in the range of $2,500 per square foot. He added there were six tenants looking seriously at the space in the 20-story building.

    In addition, Robert Knakal, chairman of commercial brokerage Massey Knakal Realty Services, told Insights that the first quarter sales for retail property in Manhattan nearly reached the $586 million figure for all of 2010. … [more]

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  • Over the weekend in Albany, legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo hammered out a budget deal, but they have yet to resolve the complex issue of extending the state law covering apartment rent regulations which sunset in June.

    Commercial sales broker Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services, and Maggie Russell-Ciardi, executive director of the advocacy group New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition, spar over rent regulation issues in this week’s Insights from The Real Deal (see video above).

    They debate the idea floated by Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, of raising the $2,000 threshold for decontrolling apartments, as well as the New York State Court of Appeals ruling concerning the tax abatement known as J-51. The decision determined that some landlords had improperly raised rents on their tenants while receiving the financial incentive.

    The current law laying out state rent regulations was last extended in 2003 and is set to expire June 15. Although lawmakers are expected to pass some version of the measure, elected officials are debating which provisions to include.

  • The plan to build a grocery store and retail complex at the six-acre site in the
    Brooklyn Navy Yard, known as Admirals Row, was dealt a blow earlier this month
    after a principal for the designated developer was charged in a federal bribery scandal, and the developer was subsequently removed from the project.
    This week on Insights from The Real Deal, we speak with commercial sales and
    leasing broker Ofer Cohen, president of Brooklyn-based Terra CRG. Cohen, who
    is not involved with the project, talks about the need for a supermarket at the site,
    and why the corruption probe may have come at an opportune time.

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    Brooklyn Navy Yard Development, which oversees the larger 300-acre industrial
    site on the waterfront north of Downtown Brooklyn, removed PA Developers
    two weeks ago after its principal, Aaron Malinksy, was accused by federal
    prosecutors of funneling about $472,500 to Brooklyn State Senator Carl Kruger.

    PA Developers, an affiliate of Midtown-based PA Associates, was picked in
    April 2010 to build the 55,000-square-foot grocery store, 30,000 square feet of
    retail and 125,000 square feet of industrial space, on the space now occupied by
    dilapidated residential and commercial buildings.

    The Navy Yard says it will take over the land use process from PA Developers,
    which is expected to begin in the coming weeks. The city is expected to take
    ownership of the six acres from the U.S. Army National Guard sometime this

    But sources said the process to name a new developer has not yet been

    Kruger’s attorney has said the lawmaker would be “totally vindicated,” and
    Malinsky, through his attorney, told The Real Deal that he intends, “to contest the
    charges vigorously and work to protect his outstanding reputation.” Neither man
    has been indicted and so has not entered a plea.


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    Even as the land sales market has improved in Manhattan overall, the number of developers actively trying to put together sites remains just a handful, far fewer than during the boom. One of the city’s leading professionals in the business, Dov Hertz, an executive vice president at Gary Barnett’s Extell Development, spoke with Insights from The Real Deal about the current number of deals he believed are underway in Manhattan, and about the time someone backed out of a deal to sell air rights.

    Hertz leads the acquisitions arm of Extell, one of the most prolific residential developers in the city. He has led or had a hand in Extell’s major assemblages, including two projects still under development, the 34-story International Gem Tower at 50 West 47th Street and the 74-story Carnegie57, at 157 West 57th Street, spanning the mid-block between Sixth and Seventh avenues and 57th and 58th streets. He has also put together sites for completed residential towers, including the 110-unit Lucida, at 151 East 85th Street; the Ariel East and West; and the 22-unit 535 West End Avenue.

    In addition, Robert Knakal, chairman of investment brokerage Massey Knakal Realty Services, weighs in on how many sites are being assembled now, and where they are located. … [more]

  • The Real Deal takes an exclusive look at Related Companies’ detailed model of the first three office buildings and retail anchor mall planned for its 26-acre site at Hudson Yards. 

    Jay Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards, talks with Insights from The Real Deal in the video above about the rental and sales prices per square foot he is offering to prospective office tenants as the “early-bird special.”

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    The architectural model includes a rendering of a 2.5 million-square-foot office tower, a smaller 750,000-square-foot office building and a mixed-used high-rise with 1.2 million square feet of office space. All are on 10th Avenue between 30th and 33rd streets.

    The model also shows the 500,000-square-foot retail space at the base of the towers. These buildings are expected to be delivered between 2015 and 2017.

    In addition, Robert Knakal, chairman of commercial brokerage Massey Knakal Realty Services, says there was a large amount of activity in the Hudson Yards submarket last year, totaling $1.1 billion in commercial sales.

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    Former Cushman & Wakefield CEOs Bruce Mosler (from 2005 to 2010) and Arthur Mirante (from 1984 to 2005) say the vying among brokerage firms to handle leasing for owners is beginning to look like the boom years, in part because of the renewed sales activity that often leads to a new landlord representative. 

    While the two brokers have created a 14-person team to manage leasing for about 4 million square feet in Manhattan, they say in an interview with Insights from The Real Deal (see video above) they could nearly double that.

    “I would think our team could probably handle 5 to 7 million square feet of agencies in Manhattan. And do so without overstepping our punt coverage,” Mirante, president of global client development, said, using a football comparison. The team also handles investment sales and tenant-side leasing, he said.

    He and Mosler, chairman of global brokerage, spoke about their leasing agency work, Cushman’s loss of the team led by Mitchell Konsker and Paul Glickman to Jones Lang LaSalle, and the firm’s return to profitability in the fourth quarter.

  • Gehry’s 8 Spruce draws 1,000 brokers

    February 22, 2011 08:46AM

    The leasing office at the Frank Gehry-designed 8 Spruce Street opened to renters a few days ago, just about a week after more than 1,000 residential leasing brokers streamed through the 76-story tower near City Hall to get a first peek inside of the building.

    Clad in an undulating stainless steel skin, 8 Spruce Street is the tallest residential tower in the city, and has drawn intense interest through its impact on the skyline and its high-profile architect.

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    Susi Yu, a senior vice president of development at Forest City Ratner, said in an interview with Insights from The Real Deal (see video above) that hundreds of apartment brokers — by invitation only — came over several days starting the second week in February to view the available units.

    The building, being marketed by Citi Habitats Marketing Group and Nancy Packes Inc., is releasing an initial group of approximately 120 units on floors 11, 12 and 14, and 27 through 34. The starting price for studios averaging 500 square feet is $2,630 per month; the one-bedrooms start at $3,580 for upwards of 630 square feet; and two-bedrooms start at $5,945 per month, for apartments1,050 square feet and bigger, Yu said.

    Those figures would amount to a price of $63 per foot for studios and $68 per foot for one- and two-bedrooms, according to calculations by The Real Deal.

    And while brokers began viewing layouts in the 903-unit tower recently — and the leasing office opened last weekend — the very first tenant tour actually took place Feb. 11. It was a special preview for a couple expecting their second child, to firm up their housing plans, Yu said.

    Move-ins are scheduled for next month.


  • Lawmakers in Albany are reviewing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget, and real estate insiders are debating what impact it will have on commercial property in New York City.

    Investment sales broker Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services, says the short-term pain would be outweighed by beneficial effects, in this week’s Insights from The Real Deal (see video above).

    “The positive benefits coming from these budget cuts are very, very significant, the number one being that the governor can keep to his pledge of a cap on real estate taxes,” Knakal said. Such taxes drive down property values, he says.

    But he noted that there were downsides to the cuts as well, including worker layoffs which impact the individuals and add to the available commercial office space. … [more]

  • Commercial firms reported a strong increase in investment sales volume for the city overall in 2010. That activity, coupled with a higher average price-per-square foot for trophy office towers, has given a general impression that prices have risen overall in the city. For example Cushman & Wakefield in January showed a 73 percent increase in pricing from 2009 to 2010 for Manhattan’s prime office towers, even as it noted the sharp rise was based on a limited number of transactions.

    But investment sales brokers Robert Knakal, Marco Lala and Shimon Shkury, tell Insights from The Real Deal (see video above) that not all of New York City is seeing strong increases in pricing, and in some areas of the outer boroughs, values are still falling.

    Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services, says, “The trends in value continue to slide, however, in Queens and Brooklyn.” Knakal says that even in Manhattan values were weak, citing a Kips Bay owner who was converting a retail space to residential because commercial leasing was too slow.

    Lala, an associate vice president of investments at Marcus & Millichap who specializes in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx, tells Insights from The Real Deal that, “There are some areas where I still think there is a lot of pain ahead.” He mentions Melrose, Soundview and the Highbridge areas of the Bronx as examples.

    Parts of Northern Manhattan remain flat, says Shkury, president of Ariel Property Advisors. “I believe areas of East Harlem still have a ways to go up,” he says.


  • Despite the improved lending market, one of the most active purchasers of
    Manhattan office buildings last year, private equity firm Savanna, expects to
    buy up to six properties in the city this year, founder and managing partner
    Christopher Schlank tells Insights from The Real Deal (see video above).

    “We have been seeing quite a good deal flow, so I would assume probably four,
    to five to six deals this year, in New York City,” he says.

    Nicholas Bienstock, also a managing partner, discusses why the firm prefers
    quietly marketed deals, and how it won the bidding to buy Monday Properties’
    386 Park Avenue South.

    Midtown-based Savanna, founded during a previous recession in 1992, bought
    four office buildings last year with 1.4 million square feet for just under $300
    million. The most recent purchase was 1375 Broadway, in December, for $135

    The firm is closing its second fund, which reports say is expected to raise $500
    million. So far about half the investors are foreign entities, sources said.

  • In his first video interview since being hired away last week from Winick Realty Group, veteran retail broker Benjamin Fox, executive vice president at Massey Knakal Realty Services, says discount giant Wal-Mart Stores might look for locations in Herald Square, near Bloomingdales in Midtown, or in Queens, among other places. Fox was speculating, and is not working with Wal-Mart in the search. In addition, Fox and Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal, told Insights from The Real Deal that property values often rise after a major chain retailer moves in.

    But any opening is far off, Fox said, citing a high-level, internal Wal-Mart memo he had seen. “Everyone is getting way ahead of themselves,” he said. The Bentonville, Ark., global chain began a publicity push this month in New York City, as it tries to open its first store, after abandoning efforts twice before due to community opposition.

  • Real estate developer Africa Israel USA made major investments in residential conversion projects during the boom years. Two of its Downtown condominium projects, 111 Fulton Street and 20 Pine Street, hit successful milestones last month, but serious challenges remain for two others, the Upper West Side’s Apthorp and the Clock Tower, formerly the Metropolitan Life headquarters at 5 Madison Avenue.
    This week, Lori Ordover, a sales and marketing consultant to Africa Israel, talks to Insights from The Real Deal about how the company cut prices by as much as 30 percent to attract sales at 20 Pine Street, where prices ranged from a low of $666 per foot in 2009 to more than $1,000 per foot recently. Forty units remain for sale.

    Asked if she thought the company left money on the table as she compared the low $700 per foot deals to the $1,000 per foot deals, she said, “We really try hard to sell at the market. If I were starting sales today in this building, instead of three years ago — right when the market took its downturn — we would be pricing at a higher number.” (Note: correction appended).

    She also addresses why Shvo Marketing, the former exclusive sales agent at 20 Pine Street, was replaced as announced last week by Warburg Realty Partnership, despite hitting the 90 percent-sold mark. She would not discuss any aspects of the 163 condominium units being marketed at the Apthorp at 390 West End Avenue or the 100-unit Clock Tower, which is looking to secure construction financing. … [more]

  • There were more than $6 billion in note sales in New York City last year, much of it in the form of distressed development sites, investment broker Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services said, based on estimates of his firm’s activity and market research.

    “Note sale activity was probably on the order of $6 billion to $7 billion,” in 2010, Knakal said, in an interview for Insights from The Real Deal. (See video above.) He estimated banks, developers and investors lost a total of about $5 billion to $6 billion because of the distressed sales.

    Because note sales are private transactions that are not required to be recorded publicly, in contrast to property sales, there is no government or independent database that tracks them.

    Total commercial property sales in Manhattan for 2010 was $15.3 billion, according to Eastern Consolidated, up 164 percent from 2009, when it was $5.8 billion.

    Several brokers interviewed said they believed the number of note sales grew over 2010.

    J.D. Parker, vice president and regional manager for investment sales firm Marcus & Millichap, which focuses on sales below $50 million, said his office’s volume of distressed mortgage transactions grew from just a few in the fourth quarter of 2009 to more than 10 in 2010. His office’s advisory work quadrupled, to reviewing about $200 million in notes in the last quarter compared with about $50 million in the same period in 2009.

    “Banks are finally coming to grips with taking the loss,” he said, and more are willing to sell their notes.

    Data from Real Capital Analytics indicated there were more note sales in 2010 compared with 2009, based on the number of first mortgage sales that resulted in property sales. But the research company cautioned the numbers were not complete because of the private nature of note sales.

    There were 12 such property transactions worth more than $908 million combined in 2010 that Real Capital tracked, compared with one sale in 2009 valued at $35 million.

    Some of the 2010 sales included CIM Group paying $305 million for the former Drake Hotel site on Park Avenue and 56th Street, and Savanna Partners acquiring 386 Park Avenue South for $42.3 million. … [more]


  • The fourth quarter of 2010 represented the return to more traditional sales activity in the Manhattan condominium and cooperative markets, Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, told reporter Adam Pincus in the latest Insights from The Real Deal above. For example, the two-bedroom market, “essentially returned to a normal, historic, market share, similar to what we saw year-over-year last quarter,” said Miller, who compiles residential market reports for Prudential Douglas Elliman, including one released today (click here to see the report). In addition, the very high-end market for apartments that sold for $10 million and up, was flat at 25 units in the fourth quarter, the same as the previous period, again representing a decline in volatility. TRD

  • Rentals in the Frank Gehry-designed tower 8 Spruce Street located near City Hall are going to start next year at about $80 per square foot. One real estate insider said the blended price for the entire 900-unit building — which will be the tallest residential building in the city — could be more than $90 per square foot. This week in Insights from The Real Deal, we spoke with investment sales broker Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services, about comparables that may be used to determine leasing prices in the tower, and what impact the building could have on land values going forward. The project, formerly known as Beekman Tower, is being built by Forest City Ratner, with marketing and leasing by Citi Habitats Marketing Group. The building’s rental website lists prices for studios through three-bedrooms from $2,000 to $15,000-plus. TRD[more]

  • Brokers anticipate a rise in foreign companies opening their first retail stores in New York City in 2011, increasing from the approximately dozen that debuted this year.

    “I would say there are 20 to 30 brands that are actively looking and will potentially open next year,” Robin Abrams, executive vice president at commercial brokerage firm Lansco, said. She spoke about the trend of foreign retailers opening new stores in the accompanying video segment Insights from The Real Deal (see video above).

    Brokers mentioned several retailers that were looking in New York, although most of them could not be confirmed. Possible new stores for New York City include Pull & Bear and Massimo Dutti, both owned by the world’s largest retailer, Spain-based Inditex, which also owns Zara; British apparel firm Jack Wills; and French clothing maker Vanessa Bruno. Abrams said Swedish clothing store Polarn O. Pyret, which opened this fall in Greenwich, Conn., has been looking in New York City as well.

    Beth Rosen, a senior director at retail brokerage Robert K. Futterman & Associates, said she recently returned from a trip to Italy to look for new stores that could be interested in opening in New York.

    In addition, she met in New York with a shoe retailer based in Russia that has about 50 stores in that country and in Italy, but no American presence. The company hopes to open 100 stores in the United States over the next five or 10 years, but she would not disclose the company’s name.

    And her firm is also looking toward Asian retailers as well.

    “Our office is definitely targeting and calling these Chinese retailers and Japanese retailers to look for the next Uniqlo,” she said, referring to the brand opened by Japan’s largest clothing retailer Fast Retailing, which signed a blockbuster nearly $300 million lease at 666 Fifth Avenue this year. She said her firm is looking to other booming markets as well.

    “Brazil is huge. Everyone is looking to Brazil for new retailers,” Rosen said.

    Retail leasing agents said they no longer depended so heavily on Western European countries such as France and Italy to be the sources for new stores in New York.

    “Australia is starting to look like a good training ground now,” Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of retail leasing and sales at Prudential Douglas Elliman, said, with companies such as clothing chain Cotton On, based there, considering a move here.

    Some brokers want to encourage manufacturers or wholesalers to break into retail game in New York.

    Michael Glanzberg, a principal at Sinvin Real Estate, said his office is representing about a half-dozen Chinese designers and manufacturers who are considering opening stores in North America, including New York.

    “They feel they can skip the middleman and market themselves,” he said.

  • Ailing Anglo Irish Bank underwrote hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate debt in New York during
    the boom and is now unloading a $51.5 million mortgage secured by a package of apartment buildings
    in Upper Manhattan, owned by Vantage Properties.

    Anglo Irish, based in Dublin, is in financial distress after billions of dollars in global real estate loans went
    bad. Ireland’s central bank reported last month that the bank, which provided financing for projects
    such as the Apthorp and 225 Rector Street, is winding down operations. A
    representative of the New York office said the bank declined to comment.

    The Vantage Properties loan is being marketed by investment sales firm Massey Knakal Realty Services.
    Company CEO Robert Knakal declined to comment on the offering, but said in this week’s edition of
    Insights from The Real Deal that currently demand for note sales is higher than for actual properties (see
    video above).

    The Vantage loan was being offered for the face value of the unpaid balance of the loan. Marketing
    materials distributed earlier this month by Massey Knakal, and obtained by The Real Deal, said the note
    was performing as of November.

    The sale of the note highlights the wide variety of loans that are on the market and the complexity of
    selling them. Loan sales now make up an ever growing proportion of commercial transactions, yet the
    market remains shrouded in secrecy because note sales are rarely recorded in government records and
    both the lenders and borrowers often don’t want the offering made public because acknowledging a
    property is in distress can further reduce values.

    The 474-unit Vantage Properties note, secured by buildings such as 90 Ellwood Street in Fort George and
    248 Sherman Avenue in Inwood, has 414 rent-stabilized units and estimated annual gross revenue of
    $5.5 million, the marketing materials say.

    Neil Rubler, president and CEO of Vantage Properties, declined to comment via e-mail, but added
    that, “I also can’t comment on our interest in buying the note, as it’s our policy not to discuss acquisition

    Massey Knakal is active in the Bronx as well, marketing two purchase options on notes for major
    properties there. The firm is offering an option to buy the $36.5 million note secured by two buildings
    with 490 units — Robert Fulton Terrace at 530-540 East 169th Street in Morrisania and Fordham
    Towers at 480 East 188th Street in Belmont. Those properties, purchased by a group of investors led by
    Mark Karasick in 2007, are
    being foreclosed on by special servicer LNR Partners.

    The other Bronx asset is a $35 million loan in foreclosure controlled by LNR, that is secured by 10
    owned by Milbank Real Estate.

    The Milbank portfolio has attracted particular scrutiny from the city and housing advocates who believe
    the loan is too high for the 531-unit property, which has estimated gross revenues of $5.9 million for
    2010, the marketing materials say. The properties are plagued by housing code violations, with a total of
    4,372 in the 10 properties, city officials said.

    In fact, today Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Raphael Cestero
    announced subpoenas to order executives of Milbank and LNR Partners to appear at HPD’s offices in
    January to discuss the Bronx properties.

    Knakal, in his interview with Insights from The Real Deal conducted before the subpoena was
    announced, said owners were not deterred by housing advocates.

    “Buyers have to have a lot of intestinal fortitude to deal with properties that have rent-regulated
    tenants in them from the beginning, so a little bit of pressure from housing advocates doesn’t really
    dissuade investors,” he said.

    Knakal said activity on note sales was high.

    “I would say on the notes we have sold this year, where the collateral has been Manhattan-based
    properties, we have gotten a minimum of 50 offers,” he said.

    Harold Shultz, senior fellow at the non-profit research center Citizens Housing and Planning Council, said
    lenders and special servicers in many cases have been reluctant to sell notes, because they have to mark
    down their value.

    “But presumably they can’t hold on to them forever. Perhaps this is the beginning of the big sell off,” he


  • During the real estate boom, buyers such as Vantage Properties and Urban American snapped up large multi-family portfolios, and real estate moguls like Harry Macklowe made eye-popping office building acquisitions.

    With the downturn, that activity largely stopped as overall sales declined and financing large deals became even more difficult.

    Yet in recent weeks, two significant portfolios have been brought to market, signaling a shift in expectations, brokers said, but bringing risks as well.

    “There is a real belief that pricing has returned in many instances,” David Schechtman, senior director at Eastern Consolidated, said in the latest edition of Insights from The Real Deal (see video above).

    The larger portfolio, asking $276 million, is a package of 26 mostly residential properties owned by landlord Steven Croman, which is being marketed by Massey Knakal Realty Services. The other is a smaller collection of six mixed-use properties and a parking lot on the Upper East Side owned by the estate of Arthur Brown, listed by Schechtman for $26 million. The six walk-up buildings have 45 apartments and seven retail locations along First and Second avenues.

    The 26-building Croman portfolio is being offered as a single package or in 16 smaller groupings. As a package, it is believed to be the most expensive portfolio put on the market since the downturn began in 2008, several brokers said.
    “These are mature assets that are turnkey and probably have, give or take, 20 to 25 percent more upside,” Croman said. “We have done a lot of work on these, we have done the heavy lifting.” He said he would use proceeds from individual sales or a bulk sale to buy new properties, in what is referred to as a 1031 exchange.

    Croman, who said he owns approximately 100 buildings in New York City, is considered by brokers to be an aggressive landlord who maximizes the value of his properties before returning them to the market, meaning it was unlikely a buyer could expect to improve rental income substantially from what he has achieved.

    The Croman portfolio is concentrated on the East Side in neighborhoods such as Kips Bay, Gramercy Park and the East Village.

    Schechtman said there were risks with bringing such a large portfolio to market today, as real estate sales activity remains soft.

    “I think the two greatest risks are one, finding financing and two, the amount of equity you are going to put up,” he said.

    Others were skeptical Croman would be able to achieve the $276 million asked.

    Timour Shafran, an investment sales broker at Capin & Associates, speculated that European investors anticipating a decline in the euro might pay such a relatively high amount, as an investment strategy. But he did not think local investors would pay anywhere near that much.

    “Short of that, I don’t see anyone stepping up to the plate to pay this number,” he said.


  • Experts say the weak commercial real estate sales market was supported in part over the past year by low interest rates. But that environment began to change two weeks ago when interest rates jumped by nearly a quarter of a point. In this week’s installment of Insights from The Real Deal, Robert Knakal, chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services, said the rise in interest rates will push real estate prices down. “A buyer is going to have to offer less money if they still want to maintain the rate of return that they need to achieve on that particular property,” Knakal said. And although interest rates were by no means the only factor in selling a property, it is possible higher rates could lead some sellers to pull properties off the market. “If a seller can’t achieve the price that they need to achieve in order to sell,” he said, “they may take the properties off the market.” (Have a comment about The Real Deal’s new Web feature? E-mail Lauren Elkies at[more]

  • What will get high-end developers in Manhattan moving again? In this edition of Insights from The Real Deal, appraiser Jonathan Miller, co-founder of Miller Samuel, addresses how the luxury market is readapting in the wake of the recession. “We just went through a feast and now I think we have to work that off,” Miller said, noting that high-end sales momentum comes in “clusters,” rather than showing steady momentum. “You’ll see a burst of activity on the high end and then it stops.” TRD