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January 30, 2009 
Monday Properties



Jumping over slush, Bisnow made it yesterday to a packed room of the New York Building Congress, gathered for a lunch keynote from MTA CEO Lee Sander. He spoke about the impact if Albany doesn't approve state funds by the end of March to help with the agency's fiscal crisis.


Lee, second from left, with NYBC chair Stuart Graham, president Richard Anderson and Congressman Michael McMahon, tells us could go up as much as 30%, service could be cut, and MTA capital programs, such as the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access projects, could be set back (c'mon, we've been waiting for SAS for 50 years!). He encouraged NYBC members to educate the their politicians on why to move forward with Richard Ravitch's recovery plan.


Lee's not holding a Tony Award. It's actually part of the subway's signaling system, and almost a century old. There's a lot of ancient equipment that needs replacement.


AIA New York State's Edward Farrell, Ames & Gough's Barbara Sable, and Zetlin & De Chiara's Lina Telese. Congrats to Lina, who was just named partner of her firm (Barbara joked that's why Lina can have a glass of wine at lunch). Barbara's been placing insurance coverage in Dubai, while Edward's out saving the world with AIA.


AECOM's Charlie Manning, Parsons Brinckerhoff's Garry Nunes, and Ferreira Construction's Ray Finnegan. Ray, who was with the Port Authority for 35 years, tells us he's enjoying semi-retirement as a part-time contractor, which leaves him plenty of time for golf and travel. He's heading to Antigua next week.


Although we've started to dread economic forecasts, we were eager to learn yesterday from Real Estate Economics chief economist Sam Chandan and Real Capital Analytics founder Bob White, who spoke to a joint Counselors of Real Estate/Appraisal Institute breakfast at Club 101 on Park Avenue. Sam, whose current outlooks are sobering, just returned from D.C. with good news: there's clear indication that the government is aware of the unique issues commercial real estate faces, thanks to industry lobbying. We're glad, because he expects the downturn to be worse than '01 to '03.


Bob and Sam with Cushman & Wakefield's Brian Corcoran, moderator; Fieldstone Advisors' David Fields, CRE's New York metro chair; and Cushman's Matthew Mondanile, president of the Appraisal Institute's New York Metro chapter. Bob tells us that U.S. transactions are down 75% by value, and $100M+ mega-deals only account for 8% total. All property types are feeling the shock, and the rest of the world is in the same boat. Investors are staying in the U.S. with all the distressed opportunities; as of this week, there $87B worth of potentially troubled assets, $23B troubled, and $5.4B that are already lender-owned. Unlike the '80s and '90s, these are quality assets with good owners, he says.


Appraisers and Planners' Ruth Agnese and James Levy (middle) with Leitner Group's Joel Leitner and Brown Harris Stevens' Sharon Locatell. A downside to the transactions decline: no sales data for appraisers to work with, which makes this an extremely challenging time, James tells us. On a happier note, his firm, which was founded by his father in 1933, just celebrated its 75th anniversary.


TIAA-CREF's Terri Rasmussen, CRE's Martin Tessler, Grubb & Ellis' William Picoli, and Hugh Kelly Real Estate's Hugh Kelly. Even in turbulent times, our industry has a heart. Hugh is on the board of the Brooklyn Catholic Charities' Progress of Peoples Development, which provides housing for the low-income, homeless, and elderly; CRE is providing pro-bono consulting work for the charity.

We know there's good news out there. Send story ideas to Amanda@bisnow.com.

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