The Real Deal New York

Editor's note: When every day feels like April Fools’

By Stuart Elliott | April 01, 2017 01:00PM

Stuart Elliott

The truth is stranger than fiction these days. And satire is as hard to come by as getting Obamacare repealed.

But in honor of April Fools’ Day, I’d like to share some of the fake news headlines inspired by the past year of covering the always-over-the-top world of New York City real estate. After all, the industry rules the world, for the time being — but who really thought we would have our first developer in chief this time last year (besides Vladimir Putin)? It seems like only yesterday that people joked about Trump’s hair instead of his role in saving or destroying the planet.

Now, politics — the highly partisan kind where you are afraid to discuss your views with a family member — is seeping into so much of our lives, and real estate is no different. With that in mind, here are some headlines at the intersection of the two that we may see soon:

• Group protests “highly partisan” Miller Samuel market report

• Manhattan luxury residential market sees “too much winning”: Trump

• HUD’s Ben Carson and architect Bjarke Ingels team up to build inner-city pyramids to store grain

• Paul Massey narrowly leads mayoral poll among family members

• Coal industry boom fuels NYC residential market

• Developers get ready for “Trillionaires’ Row” development projects after Trump tax cuts

• Analysts say “deconstruction of the administrative state” to cut down on wait time for building permits

• Actually, building permits will no longer be required

• Tech-savvy brokerage Compass unveils new communication device for agents, dubbed “email”

• Angbang says “666” not a lucky number in Chinese, either

• De Blasio unveils new supportive housing program for illegal immigrants with two murder convictions or less

• Congressman Devin Nunes silent about alleged leaks at 432 Park

• Money launderers confused about prospects for buying U.S. real estate

• Robert Durst selected for key Trump administration post

• Editor displays smug self-righteousness of liberal elite in monthly column

In terms of real stories this month, we’ve got a lot worth checking out in the issue (and none of it was written by a roomful of Macedonian teenagers looking to make a quick buck).

In our cover story, we break down a key battle shaping the future of the residential brokerage world in New York. Listings behemoth Zillow bought StreetEasy in 2013 and is slowly reshaping the city’s most popular property website to fit its own mold, but the changes have led to a war with residential agents. Read about the drama on page 36.

On the commercial real estate front, we’ve got a ranking of Manhattan’s top office-leasing brokers, which also sheds light on the state of the office market. There have been fewer blockbuster leases these days, but the sector hasn’t suffered nearly as much as the building-sales side of the business. See page 66.

We also have a veritable billion-dollar boys’ club of profiles in the issue.

First, check out our “Closing” interview with Robert Merck, the global head of real estate for MetLife, who flies pretty much under the radar for someone with a $67 billion property and mortgage portfolio (page 154).

Next, we’ve got a look at Rob Speyer, the CEO of Tishman Speyer, whose $5.4 billion of purchase of Stuy Town in 2006 famously went down in flames, but who is busier than ever with several massive bets that will test his true real estate prowess. See page 60.

We’ve also got a sit-down with the ever-ambitious developer Gary Barnett, who is looking for $1 billion or so for his supertall projects, on page 84. And get the inside story on Douglas Eisenberg’s A&E Real Estate, which is quickly becoming one of the biggest multifamily players in NYC — with some 12,000 units, worth $3 billion — on page 96.

Finally, if you haven’t seen our revamped website at TheRealDeal.com, check it out. Same in-depth and breaking news coverage day in and day out, but with a cleaner home page, easier navigation and more prominence for our biggest stories.

Enjoy the issue.