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November 6, 2008



New York City received yet another shot of optimism, this time from a panel of top retail brokers at a REBNY luncheon at the Harvard Club yesterday (positive thoughts, good food—we can get used to this). They said that although the overall real estate market is challenged, the retail sector still holds strong. Even though we’ll have to wait until after the holiday sales to see the economy’s true impact on the market, asking rents are not expected to fluctuate greatly.


Panelists, from left to right: Winick Realty prez Ben Fox, W&M Properties Fred Posniak, Sierra Realty EVP Peter Braus, Cushman & Wakefield’s Joanne Podell and David Green, and Robert K. Futterman EVP Karen Bellantoni. They said: Prime retail locations have seen a tremendous spike in asking rates, and although some submarkets have dropped, rents remain sticky. Tenants should see concessions, like improvement allowances and free rent, come back to the table. And even though the post-holiday first quarter 2009 will reveal the economy’s effect on the sector, we should still see activity. “There will be fallout, but not a true drop,” Ben noted. “Secondary markets will feel a speed bump, but we’re bullish in ’09.” Overall, retailers need to grow in order to remain profitable and survive, so expect some sizable transactions in the near future. (Karen told us that she’s going on a yoga retreat in Tulum soon, and hopes that her BlackBerry isn’t confiscated so she can continue to do deals. Now, that’s dedication.)


The dapper group of Picken Real Estate’s Kevin Gould, Ben, Retail Strategies’ Mark Finkelstein, Rose Associates’ Bruce Spiegel, Peter and Staubach Retail’s Patrick Smith seemed in good spirits—especially Mark, who recently signed a 4,000-SF lease with UGG Australia at 160 Columbus Ave. We were disappointed to see that he wasn’t wearing the ubiquitous brown boots.


Isaacs & Co.’s Joel Isaacs (right, with Judson Realty’s Stuart Ellman and Madison Retail Group’s Christine Jorge and Virginia Pittarelli) reports that even in these volatile times, his company is still busy, especially with high-end retail clients. Numbers talk: a newly released REBNY retail report notes that TriBeCa’s rents have jumped 60% to $120 PSF; Herald Square, 38% to $643 PSF; and Upper West Side on Broadway, 17% to $309 PSF—all prime spots where retailers want to be.


It’s too early to tell what kind of impact the presidential election’s outcome will have New York City’s retail sector, but Cushman & Wakefield’s Gene Spiegelman wants to tell Obama that capital gains work for real estate, so keep those tax rates low. Greco Sackeim Realty’s Stephanie Greco, CB Richard Ellis’ Annette Healey and ZE Realty’s Linda Wolff-Adler offer dashing smiles instead of advice.

Arent Fox
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