Editor’s note:
Thrust into the spotlight

Aug.August 01, 2016 11:00 AM
Stuart-Elliot-The-Real-Deal-200x2031

Stuart Elliott

The quiet players are starting to be heard.

Mega-wealthy private investors, who typically fly far below the radar, are playing a bigger role in bankrolling New York City development today – as institutional money becomes scarcer in an uncertain market. And in a very digital age where it’s harder than ever to avoid the spotlight, we were able to unearth some of the biggest players and also examine how the smaller fish operate. Sometimes, pooling together $250,000 from a bunch of doctors is preferable to one big check from the likes of the Carlyle Group. Check out the story on page 38.

While a growing number of traditional lenders are backing out of the market for now, a once-obscure bank from out of state has become one of New York’s most visible construction lenders, and apparently isn’t concerned about the risks. Arkansas’ Bank of the Ozarks was a tiny community lender with a few branches in the state’s western region for much of its 113-year history, as reporter Rich Bockmann writes. But since entering the New York City market four years ago, it has lent nearly $2 billion to developers such as Tishman Speyer and Extell. And it has no plans to slow down, with its CEO saying the bank “doesn’t run with the herd.” Check out the profile on page 50.

Another once-silent group – the outraged populist voters behind Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy here at home – are beginning to impact New York real estate as well. With Britain voting to cut itself off from the rest of the European Union, London’s pain in a lot of ways has become New York’s gain. In this issue, we take a look at Brexit’s impact on global bond markets and the ways in which that will affect New York real estate – the upshot is more good news for us. See page 60.

Meanwhile, in the early days of the Trump campaign, many of his supporters in New York City real estate were relatively mum about backing the controversial candidate. But as it’s become more acceptable to embrace his inflammatory race- and-religion-baiting rhetoric, a number of real estate bigwigs are pumping millions of dollars into the “Trump Victory” fund. Names including Kalikow, Lorber, LeFrak and Witkoff are among those who want to make America great again. (Still, looking at overall donations nationwide, Hillary Clinton has outraised Trump 4 to 1). See page 46.

Another place where the traditional order appears to have been turned on its head is the Midtown office market. While Midtown South has been popular with TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information technology) tenants for quite a while, and Lower Manhattan has long been seen as a place to go for more reasonable rents, the exodus of big office tenants from Midtown is startling. We tally the numbers in a story on page 54.

An additional problem for Midtown comes on the residential side. We examine Billionaires’ Row in a story on page 48, looking at the large supply of astronomically priced units on West 57th Street still to be sold, and whether there is enough buyer demand. The big question is whether the stretch ever deserved to be called “Billionaires’ Row” in the first place.

In another story in this issue, by reporter Kathryn Brenzel, we look at the tensions between architects and starchitects – a battle that has reshaped the industry, as well as the city’s skyline. See page 32. We also have a profile on page 34 of a relatively new bold voice in architecture, Eran Chen, who has become one of the most prolific architects in the city with his “cubist” designs.

Finally, as we enter the dog days of summer, when more business is done outside of the office than in the boardroom, join us for TRD’s sixth annual golf outing on August 8th at Inwood Country Club. And looking ahead to fall, be sure to pencil in our slate of events: TRD’s inaugural Los Angeles forum in September (date to come); our next big South Florida event (October 20th) and our U.S. real estate forum and showcase in Shanghai (November 17-19th). See TheRealDeal.com/TRD-events for more details.

Enjoy the rest of summer and enjoy the issue.


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