January 15, 2015

Forest City Star Developer Melissa Burch Leaves for Lend Lease

Melissa Burch, formerly in charge of Forest City Ratner's massive 22-acre Atlantic Yards project, will now lead development for real estate giant Lend Lease as executive general manager for New York for the Americas Development business. She will be replaced by former Howard Hughes exec Susi Yu.

Melissa, a Bisnow power woman, landed her first gig at FCR via a cold call 11 years ago and ascended to the high-profile role of EVP in 2013, replacing MaryAnne Gilmartin, who became CEO. (We also profiled Melissa as part of our New Gen Leaders series, which spotlights under 40 execs.) While there, she oversaw commercial and residential development of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards and supervised leasing of Forest City Ratner's office and residential operating portfolios. The New York Daily News reports that Melissa leaves amid delays and cost overruns at B2 BKLYN, slated to be the tallest modular high-rise in the world at 32 stories. An FCR spokesperson told the Daily News Melissa's departure wasn't related to the building's problems. At Lend Lease, she'll help the company find new development sites in New York and nationally.

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Howard Hughes exec Susi Yu will replace Melissa as FCR EVP. It's her second stint at the company, where she's already a 12-year vet, having played a major role in projects such as 8 Spruce, the downtown tower designed by Frank Gehry. Susi, who immigrated to the US from Korea at age 10, has a background as a trained architect and has worked for Robert A.M. Stern on hotel, public, multifamily and single-family projects.

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5 Networking Bars in 2015's
Hottest New 'Hoods

Gallow Green from website

2015 is going to be good to Lower Manhattan, Dumbo, Bushwick, Prospect Heights and Midtown West. With their business growth comes the important question: “Where's happy hour?” Well, Bisnow has you covered with some favorite bars in the up and coming business areas of 2015.

Gallow Green
Neighborhood: Chelsea

The vision is finally becoming a reality as Hudson Yards begins to take shape on the West Side. The $20B project will bring over 100 shops and five new office towers. So where will all these people drink when they get off work? We imagine a number of bars will pop up in the area, but for now try Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel. The rooftop bar is lush…with greenery of course, and the theatrical vibe is good for brainstorming.

Where: 542 W 27th St, Chelsea

68 Jay Street Owners in Bar from website

68 Jay Street Bar
Neighborhood: Dumbo

From Kingdom Hall to Jared's Kushdom: Jared Kushner is converting the former Watchtower Buildings into 80k SF of retail spaces and high-tech offices for creative and cutting-edge technology businesses. Leases include Etsy and WeWork with many more to come. After a long day of brainstorming, try 68 Jay Street, already a favorite networking spot among design execs and creatives in the area. 

Where: 68 Jay St (naturally), Dumbo

Full Shilling from website

Full Shilling
Neighborhood: Downtown

Time Inc, Revlon and Conde Nast are just a few leaders of the exodus downtown. And Westfield Group's massive 16-acre, 365k SF multi-level retail mall at One World Trade Center will only bring more. Not to mention, Essex Crossing, the new six-acre, 1.9M SF LES mixed-use project is expected to break ground this spring. You should check out authentic Irish pub Full Shilling, a Wall Street favorite for winding down after a long day of…making boatloads of money.

Where: 160 Pearl St, FiDi

Hot Bird Sign from Brooklynian

Hot Bird Bar
Neighborhood: Clinton Hill

It might seem too touristy already, but you almost can't avoid the boom downtown Brooklyn is experiencing. And the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project is still to come. Hot Bird Bar is apparently so popular it had to ban babies. (Because Reese Witherspoon isn't the only one who thinks it's odd to bring a baby in a bar.) This new detail may have angered some mothers, but young, childless professionals are rejoicing. Stop by at the end of the day to fill your belly and collaborate with co-workers. But bring cash. No credit cards accepted.

Where: 825 Atlantic Ave, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights 

Forrest Point from website

Forrest Point
Neighborhood: Bushwick

Last week, we talked about Savanna getting in on the hot Bushwick market, bringing 165K SF of office space for creative and tech companies. Add that to the 977-unit mixed-use project across the street and you have a lot of employees who are going to need a watering hole. Take a load off at Forrest Point where a giant painted elephant at the door says it all. (Actually, what does it say?) This bar has the perfect quirky, Bushwick vibe with a décor straight out of the Swiss Family Robinson. Outside, there's enough room for you and 69 of your closest co-workers to brainstorm, collaborate or just reflect on the day in landscaped bliss.

Where: 970 Flushing Ave, Bushwick

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NES Financial: Protecting You Against Fraud

In today's financial environment, the complexity involved with many types of transactions has risen to scary levels - opening the opportunity for fraud and abuse. NES Financial EVP Reid Thomas tells us that the company, which offers fund administration, EB-5 and 1031 Exchange solutions, is stepping up with purpose-built technology to eliminate fraud and increase transparency. The products are created to protect investors and serve those who have significant compliance requirements. For example, its EB-5 application manages and tracks investments through a complex immigration process into many real estate projects. With over 300 EB-5 projects worth $11B in capital and about $85B 1031 Exchanges processed annually, Reid says the company's clients have saved over $800M in financing charges, and deferred over $33B in taxes. The next step: revolutionizing the traditional real estate fund administration industry with unique tools and capabilities that make complex processes simple for organizations of all sizes. For more info on our sponsor, click here.

Stephen Schwarzman

Blackstone Dabbles in Venture Capital, Invests in VTS

The deal, which reportedly values VTS at $35M, is one of a few investments the company has made in startups that provide products it uses a lot. VTS, launched in 2013, has since become valuable to landlords and brokers who want to track leasing data and performance in real time. VTS CEO Nick Romito says the company is tracking over 1B SF in the US and internationally, and he expects that number to double by the end of the year. Other Blackstone investments include CloudTheory, Cylance and iSight.

Photo: Wikimedia commons user Ogrebot

Forest City Ratner Goes REIT

Cleveland-based Forest City Ratner announced today that it plans to convert to a REIT structure starting in January 2016. EVP and CFO Robert O'Brien says the move allows Forest City to maintain a tax-efficient structure to drive shareholder value. The restructuring comes as the company begins to unload assets in several other markets and put increasing emphasis on acquiring, managing and selling assets in the New York, LA and DC markets. Among Forest City's highest-profile holdings is the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, where it controls a 55% stake, which the company announced an intention to sell back in October. No word on whether the Nets will start playing like a real basketball team if and when the ownership stake changes hands.

Photo: Leif Knutsen

Eight More Floors, New Address for 380 Madison Ave

L&L Holding Co. has unveiled plans for a reincarnation of 380 Madison Ave as a taller, sleeker building with a new address: 390 Madison Ave, the New York Post reports. L&L, commissioned to oversee and manage the redesign by building landlord Clarion Partners, worked with KPF Architects on the ambitious redesign. The building's base will mostly remain, and its usable square footage of 900k SF won't change. But here's the crazy part: eight additional stories and 82 feet will be added to the building. There's more: whole floors and parts of others in the lower part of the building will be removed completely. By some estimates the whole thing could cost close to $1B, the Post reports.

Bloomberg Building at One Beacon Court from Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

High Line to Receive Bloomberg-esque Transformation

Real estate developer Ziel Feldman plans to take the High Line to new heights with a 400-foot tall, Bloomberg Building-inspired, mixed-use tower that would be one of the tallest buildings in the area, reports NY Daily News. His company, HFZ Capital, is under contract to buy an $800M block-long site of a parking lot at 518 W 18th St. (So they're basically paving a parking lot and putting up a paradise.) Provisional plans for the new 800k SF tower include a driveway/courtyard combo much like the Cesar Pelli-designed Bloomberg tower, ground-floor retail (presumably high-end), a hotel concept inspired by Larry Silverstein's Four Seasons at 30 Park Place and condos on the higher floors. Projected prices for the condos are as high as $6k/SF, way higher than the median price of $2,212/SF in the area.


Holiday Season Retail Sales Weaker Than Expected

Disappointing December retail sales interrupted what had been a steady stream of cheery economic news, with a report today showing a 0.9% decline for the month compared to November. The figure dramatically outpaced economists' predictions of a 0.1% downtick and countered conventional wisdom about plunging gas prices and a strengthened job market lifting consumer spending.

November's 0.4% gain was also smaller than expected, according to the Commerce Department report. The stark decline in oil prices did play a role in the fall as Americans spent less money refueling their cars. But retail numbers slipped 0.3% even after excluding that downturn. Analysts summed up the report by saying that continued consumer caution made for an "OK...but not great" holiday season.


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