The Real Deal New York

National Cheat Sheet: Compass hires CTO, Brookfield set to buy Forest City … & more

By Maya Rajamani | December 07, 2018 08:00AM

Clockwise from top left: Brookfield Asset Management set to close on combination with Forest City Realty Trust, Compass taps AI expert Joseph Sirosh to be its new chief technology officer, FAO Schwarz to open toy store at Chicago Midway International Airport, and a Malibu home designed by Frank Sinatra and his wife lists for $12.9M.

Compass taps AI expert to be new chief technology officer
Nine months after Compass’ chief technology officer left to start his own company, the SoftBank-backed brokerage has picked a new one. Before landing at Compass, Joseph Sirosh was the CTO of artificial intelligence at Microsoft and the vice president of Amazon’s global inventory platform, where he helped build up the the e-commerce company’s machine learning applications. Sirosh and Compass’ engineering team will develop AI-powered products for the firm’s agents to use. He will also help build out the the industry’s “first-ever end-to-end [real estate] platform,” Compass chairman Ori Allon said in a statement. [TRD]

Brookfield Asset Management set to close on Forest City Realty Trust deal
In November, Brookfield Asset Management shareholders voted to go through with a $6.8 billion purchase of Forest City Realty Trust, and the merger is now poised to close by week’s end. Forest City’s former CEO Albert Ratner tried to stymie the deal by filing a lawsuit, calling the deal a “shameful value giveaway,” but that wasn’t enough to deter it. Once the sale is finalized, the Toronto-based global investment giant will be the largest commercial property owner in New York City, said its senior managing partner Ric Clark, who serves as chairman of Brookfield Property Group. The deal will expand Brookfield’s portfolio by 5 million square feet of office space and 2,500 apartments. [TRD]

Former eBay chief product officer takes the helm at real estate VR tech firm
A real estate technology firm that offers 3D virtual reality tours of homes has tapped the former chief product officer at eBay to take the helm. Matterport hired R.J. Pittman as outgoing CEO Bill Brown’s replacement, the company said. Brown will still serve Matterport in an advisory role. Before Pittman landed at Matterport, he led the global e-commerce platform for Apple’s online store. Pittman also co-founded an advanced search engine technology company called Groxis. [TRD]

Renters Warehouse to expand services with OwnAmerica Real Estate acquisition
Property management company Renters Warehouse, which manages approximately 22,000 rental houses across the country, announced this week its purchase of OwnAmerica Real Estate. The single-family rental home marketplace will allow Renters Warehouse to expand the services it provides to customers. The company is currently the biggest third-party manager of single family rental homes in the U.S., and has sold $490 million worth of homes, according to Bloomberg. The deal will allow Renters Warehouse to “go after an emerging class of large investors who want a passive role in managing homes,” the outlet reported. [TRD]

MAJOR MARKET HIGHLIGHTS

WeWork-affiliated fund partners with Meridian Group to buy DC office building
Meridian Group and WeWork Property Advisors — a fund managed by WeWork and Rhone Group — are shelling out $136.5 million for a Boston Properties-owned office building in Washington, D.C., Bisnow reported. The outlet reported that Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, a global law firm that currently occupies the 350,000-square-foot building in Dupont Circle, is moving out. WeWork plans to lease 100,000 square feet of space in the building and launch a co-working space. WeWork Property Advisors is the entity that entered into a contract to buy Lord & Taylor’s flagship store in Manhattan for $850 million last year. The fund will contribute half of the equity to the deal, according to Bisnow. [TRD]

Malibu home designed by Frank Sinatra and his wife lists for $12.9M
A home in Malibu that Frank Sinatra and his wife designed with architect Ted Grenzbach has hit the market for $12.9 million, the Los Angeles Times reported. The 5,800-square-foot home has seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, and a master suite with a hair salon, lounge and sauna. It also has “floor-to-ceiling windows that take in ocean views,” according to the outlet. The home, which was built in 1992 — six years before Sinatra died — was previously listed as a $110,000-per-month rental. Friends of Sinatra such as Dick Van Dyke, Gregory Peck and Jack Lemmon often spent time at the property. [TRD]

Smaller IKEA store opening in Manhattan as part of broader expansion
Manhattan-based shoppers will no longer have to trek to Brooklyn or the suburbs to shop at IKEA. The Swedish furniture retailer plans to open a smaller “concept store” in Manhattan that will allow customers to browse products aimed at smaller living spaces. Customers will be able to order items at the store and have them shipped to their homes. IKEA’s Manhattan store, which will be located at the Zucker Organization-owned 999 Third Avenue in Lenox Hill, is expected to open next spring. The company plans to roll out 30 concept stores in various cities over the next three years. [TRD]

Paul Manafort transferred Florida mansion to his wife after guilty plea
President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort Jr., transferred a Florida home he owns in Palm Beach Gardens to his wife for $10 in October — a month after he forfeited several properties as part of a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller III, Forbes reported. Manafort was in a Virginia prison when he signed the deed that transferred ownership of the mansion, according to the outlet. Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade told Forbes that Manafort was likely trying to take care of his family by transferring the property, but David Pelligrinelli, a real estate transactions expert, told the outlet that federal prosecutors could still try to void the deed. Manafort, who was once detained in the home, was recently accused of breaching his plea agreement by Mueller’s team. [TRD]

FAO Schwarz to open toy store at Chicago Midway International Airport
Having just reopened its flagship store at Rockefeller Plaza, FAO Schwarz is now setting up shop in Chicago. The toy store plans to open a store at Chicago Midway International Airport as part of a revamp that will bring 70 new retailers to the airport by 2020. It is not immediately clear how big the new store will be. FAO Schwarz will be part of a mix of local brands and retailers from elsewhere heading to the airport on Chicago’s South Side. Passengers want “more things that look like Chicago” at the airport, but also appreciate “some of the bigger household brands,” a city aviation department spokesperson said. [TRD]

Head of mortgage company snaps up Aretha Franklin’s Detroit mansion
Aretha Franklin’s last Detroit mansion has sold for $300,000, the Detroit News first reported. Anthony Kellum, the head of a Michigan-based mortgage company, bought the late singer’s 6,200-square-foot home and plans to carry out “major renovations to restore its original beauty,” according to the Associated Press. The home, which hasn’t been occupied for a decade, was the only home Franklin still owned in Detroit, a spokesperson for her estate said. Franklin, who died at 76 on Aug. 16 from pancreatic cancer, purchased the five-bedroom, six-bathroom home in 1993. It came with a three-car garage, a backyard adjacent to a golf course and an empty half-acre lot. [TRD]