New York real estate had a sizzling 2013, and The Real Deal was there every step of the way with breaking news, features and analyses of the industry’s most important trends. As we march into 2014, we look back at which web stories resonated most strongly with readers over the past year.
The top stories – determined by the number of page views between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 – run the gamut. From the rise and fall of the latest celebrity broker, to an analysis of a major retail deal, to a look at the newest power play in the East Village, the stories reflect both the breadth of our coverage and the diverse interests of our readers. Check out the list below, and be sure to look at our list of the most popular magazine stories of the year here.
In May, Puerto Rican-born Luis D. Ortiz announced himself in style with a starring role in “Million Dollar Listing New York,” a show in which he gained admirers for his passion and chutzpah, as well as for holding his own in clashes with co-star Fredrik Eklund. But a month before the show aired, Ortiz sat down with The Real Deal to discuss his life story, his move to New York and his aspirations in the nation’s most cutthroat market.
In 1978, the city passed a law meant to curb the proliferation of erotic massage parlors, remnants of a seedier New York that are thought to be hotbeds of prostitution. But early this year, our analysis showed that the law was mostly being used to regulate gyms and health clubs, creating a bureaucratic nightmare for owners of these establishments.
Keller Williams NYC initially lapped up the attention that their broker Luis D. Ortiz commanded through his starring role in “Million Dollar Listing New York.” But by August, the firm had had enough and fired Ortiz, telling The Real Deal that his on-air shenanigans were to blame. Ortiz was caught completely unawares – in fact, he heard about his fate from The Real Deal reporter who broke the story. The dismissal came on the heels of a discussion among top industry folk about whether reality television was a pox upon the profession. Ortiz landed at Douglas Elliman, where he remains today.
One prime Soho retail building, multiple heavyweight suitors. And in the end, a record-breaking $150 million deal. Going behind the scenes, we chronicled how some of the biggest industry players – including Vornado Realty Trust, Invesco and SL Green Realty – lost out to a partnership between Jeff Sutton, Joe Sitt, Bobby Cayre and the Adjmi family. The story also crunched the numbers on what the new owners would look to milk from their latest trophy asset.
The era of the juicy distressed opportunity — in Manhattan at least – is coming to a close, and real estate investors are ruing the end of a lucrative asset class. Nevertheless, there remain a few big debt buys, and we reviewed data from analytics firm Trepp to find the borough’s 10 most distressed assets.
Jared Kushner’s been a big name in New York City real estate for some time. But this year, he took it up a notch with some mammoth deals, including this $130 million play on the East Village for a portfolio of 17 walk-up apartment buildings. The portfolio – which was sold by Westbrook Partners and Magnum Real Estate Group’s Ben Shaoul — includes 267 apartments and 25 retail shops.
The shot heard around the (real estate) world. In June, superbroker Dolly Lenz decided to part ways with Douglas Elliman after a 14-year tenure. Top industry brokers speculated that Lenz was leaving in order to set up her own shop and leverage her considerable brand, and that the decision had been some time in the making.
In the world of espionage, double agents aren’t treated too kindly. There’s no love lost for them in real estate either. In March, we broke the news that Kathryn Korte, the president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty, and Ellie Johnson, the manager of the firm’s Upper East Side office, may also face disciplinary action as the result of a state probe into allegations that top-producing broker Roger Erickson acted as an undisclosed dual agent.
Extell Development’s One57 is the priciest new development building in Manhattan — and probably the most controversial one too. In July, about a year and half after One57 units first hit the market, we looked at records from the New York Attorney General’s office to determine who was actually splashing down cash on these extravagant apartments. We found that several of them were apparel magnates, and that one purchaser put down a mere five percent deposit for a $47 million unit.
In June, Rubin Schron, president of Cammeby’s International and one of the city’s major property owners, offered to pay an eye-popping $2 billion for the Empire State Building, an icon of the New York skyline. Schron’s play for the trophy asset came almost a month after the Malkin family, which controls the building, secured the necessary investor votes to take it public as part of a new real estate investment trust.