Commercial market report

From Manhattan’s office leasing highs to Brooklyn’s I-sales rebound, a look at the biggest trends

Feb.February 01, 2019 09:00 AM

Leasing activity hit 32.4 million square feet in Manhattan. (Credit: iStock)

Office leasing hits record levels in Manhattan

Although 2018 was rough for some segments of the real estate industry, it was a record-setting year for Manhattan’s office market. Leasing activity, which includes new deals and expansions, hit 32.4 million square feet, the highest annual total since 2000, according to CBRE. The gains were driven by a strong economy, expanding office employment and, until recently, a surging stock market. Financial services firms accounted for 28 percent of leasing activity. Co-working firms, which usually make up 2 to 4 percent of the market, had 18 percent of the leasing activity last year. Downtown leasing activity totaled 2.12 million square feet — a 192 percent increase from the same period in 2017, according to CBRE. While that growth came despite tenants such as Deutsche Bank relocating to Midtown, average Downtown asking rents were $60.23 per square foot, down 3 percent from 2017. CBRE noted that the Midtown market closed out 2018 in a strong spot, with 6.29 million square feet of leasing activity, its highest quarterly total since 2001, although average asking rents remained flat at $78.43 per square foot.

A titan rises, even as real estate fundraising slows

New York-based buyout giant the Blackstone Group is closing in on a massive real estate fund after a year in which real estate fundraising cooled. The private equity firm is targeting a $20 billion investment vehicle, according to the Wall Street Journal, which noted that such funds typically use $2 of debt for every dollar of equity, thereby giving the new fund about $60 billion in buying power. That’s more than all of the commercial real estate traded in Chicago, New York and San Francisco in 2018. According to research firm Preqin, 298 private real estate funds closed last year, raising a total of $118 billion. That amount was down from the $132 billion raised by 406 funds in 2017. Infrastructure, however, had a record year. Sixty-seven unlisted infrastructure funds raised $85 billion in 2018, up from the 94 funds that raised $75 billion in 2017. New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners is currently trying to raise a $20 billion infrastructure fund.

Brooklyn I-sales follow citywide turnaround

Brooklyn property trades have gone in the same direction as the city’s broader investment sales market: up. The borough saw $7.4 billion in total dollar volume last year, a 15 percent increase from 2017, according to TerraCRG’s annual Brooklyn report. That increase put an end to a two-year decline in dollar volume in the borough. Transaction volume continued to slide, though, with 1,197 deals closing throughout the year, a 12 percent drop from 2017 and a 37 percent drop from 2015 — the peak of the market. The largest sale of last year was Spring Creek Towers at 1255 Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York, which went for about $870 million. The building is part of Starrett City, which Brooksville Company and Rockpoint Group purchased from Starrett City Associates. That portfolio sale made up almost 12 percent of the borough’s total dollar volume last year. TerraCRG founder, Ofer Cohen, said that the Starrett City deal had a big impact on the Brooklyn sales market, but he noted that the borough generally sees at least one massive trade each year. “It was the Jehovah’s Witnesses portfolio, and now it’s Starrett City,” he said.

REITs poised to reap industrial, retail benefits

Real estate investment trusts had a tumultuous time in 2018 — but this year could be a good one thanks to industrial demand and an evolving retail sector, according to a report by the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. The trade association said that growing online sales are increasing the need for logistics space, and rental rates are on the rise. Over the past four years, industrial rent growth has averaged 6 percent or more, said NAREIT, noting that most large spaces near major population centers and transportation hubs have already been developed. Going forward, less opportunity for new construction will see new facilities arise out of infill locations such as multistory warehouses and logistics centers. The retail sector should also improve as property owners progress in re-leasing space following a string of retail bankruptcies and many retailers choose to keep physical storefronts in addition to relying upon online sales, the NAREIT report said.

Related Articles

Cammeby's International Group founder Rubin Schron and, from top: 194-05 67th Avenue, 189-15 73rd Avenue and 64-05 186th Lane (Credit: Google Maps)

Ruby Schron lands $500M refi for sprawling Queens apartment portfolio

Wendy Silverstein, co-head of WeWork’s real-estate fund, is out

WeWork’s side businesses are fizzling

CoStar reaches $11M settlement in copyright infringement suit against Xceligent

620 Sixth Avenue and RXR Realty's Scott Rechler (Credit: Getty Images, RXR Realty)

RXR gets $400M+ from Goldman Sachs to refi Sixth Avenue building

A New York court’s greenlight of a class action against Big City Realty could change the dynamic of class action suits. (Credit: iStock)

“Nightmare” for landlords: Court OK’s class action against Harlem owner

WeWork founder scrambled for $100M loan before $1.7B bailout

The Daily Digest - Tuesday

WeWork’s cash flow troubles, selling NYCHA’s air rights and more: Daily digest