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January 29, 2009 
Monday Properties



Last night, Bisnow was in the packed crowd at Time Warner Center’s Stone Rose to hear sobering thoughts from real estate vet Francis Greenburger, chairman of Time Equities: the downward cycle is still picking up steam and potential victims are yet to be identified. NYC is a minefield: retailers are hurting, vacancies are up, and some streets will go dark.


But Francis, left, with party organizer Aaron McCann, tells us that transactions are still occurring, so now’s not the time to make excuses like “there are no good deals” or “there’s no financing.” He says It’s our job to find the exceptions to the rules; if the market were easy, everyone would be successful. Proof? In the ‘90s, TEI purchased an office mortgage for 35¢ on the dollar, now it’s worth seven times as much.


Thor’s David Morrison, Citigroup’s James Bozza, Newmark Knight Frank’s Ji Won Sin, Commonwealth-Lawyers Title’s Cathy Quinn, and RAIT Financial Trust’s Ron Wechsler. This is Ji Won’s first down cycle, and she’s decided to take a positive spin: once you’ve hit bottom, the only way is up, she says.


We heard optimism from executive search firm The Bachrach Group: Eric Barker, Alexandra Roth, and Richard Bachrach tell us ‘09 is shaping up to be a strong year, because real estate companies are hiring again, particularly in residential and construction.


Are perks back? Blue Star Jets’ Kathryn Bitterly, with HSBC’s Tej Brahmbhatt, can sell you a private plane. She used to be a pilot for Hollywood and music stars, but you won’t get any juicy stories out of her.


When not seeking retail opportunities, Aaron McCann, with TIAA-CREF’s Steven Bardzik, leads a colorful double life: he just launched Knock Out, a new cosmetics line, with friend and make-up artist Mike Potter (Hedwig & the Angry Inch) on Monday with a counter at Henri Bendel.


Quinn & Co.’s Tiffany Iwankiw and Li Wang with MSF Capital Advisors’ Michael Felman. If Li looks familiar, he was in IBM’s recent commercial on traffic congestion (they were looking for “normal people” and a casting agent friend got him an audition).


Brown Harris Stevens’ Brenda Powers, ING Real Estate’s Edward Rotter, and independent broker Rachel Rivkind. Brenda tells us her firm is working on a very big deal that will be one of the most exquisite hotel/condo projects in Manhattan.


We stopped in to see Francis the other day also (that's why he's wearing a different shirt and tie) at his Fifth Avenue office. He told us about a recent TEI deal: a $4.3M, 40k-SF garage purchase in Arris Lofts at 27-28 Thomson Ave. in Long Island City. It’s a stable investment because it comes with a long-term lease to a garage operator, which tends to absorb changes in the market. There's also more demand than supply, so if the operator goes out of business, another should take its place. This is TEI's second garage; it owns the largest in Pittsburgh and Francis says he will consider others. But will he consider neckties?

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