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June 18, 2008


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No, the title's not an anagram for oy vey. We just think superstars are entitled to be known by one name like Madonna, so what we're referring to is Cushman senior director Yoav Oelsner, a six year veteran who helped sell the Plaza back in 2004 for $675M. (We'd also write about his superstar colleague in the deal, EVP Scott Latham, but we can't have as much fun with his name.) The Plaza's been officially re-opened for four months now, and although the market's a little shaky and the buyer pumped in $400M for redevelopment, some estimate the Plaza's now worth more than twice as much.


Yoav, here pretty in pink in front of a New York Times ad commemorating the deal, explains that the Plaza was losing serious money due to the post 9/11 decline in tourism, but was not actually for sale. But he'd heard rumors Plaza co-owner Al-Waleed bin Talal, the billionaire Saudi prince, might listen. The other half of the Plaza was in the hands of the Millennium & Copthorne group, one of the many ventures of Singaporean hotel king Kwek Leng Beng. A bit of audacity led Yoav and Latham to go straight to El-Ad Properties front man Miki Naftali. The brokers had been working on several deals with Naftali (they closed a $125 M deal earlier that week), and they knew his eager personality would lead him to jump at the opportunity to own the Plaza. After seven weeks of negotiations, and a quick trip to Singapore for an eight-hour meeting with Kwek, the keys were handed over to Naftali.


Today about 50% of the hotel rooms are open for business, and the 152 residential condominium units on the Central Park South side of the building are entirely sold out. Top-notch retailers like Vertu and Ghurka leathers have officially started to move into the 180,000 SF of retail space running between $3,000-6,000 per SF. Things have cooled down a little from that heyday: Yoav tells us the Cap Market group's 1st quarter '08 activity of $5.1B is down from 1st quarter '07 activity of $28.B. But CushWake recently closed another big hotel deal. They transferred The Hilton Garden Inn Times Square at 790 Eighth Ave. and the Hampton Inn Times Square at 851 Eighth Ave., from Rockpoint Group & Highgate Holdings to Michigan Retirement for $475 M.


Yoav's secretary was MIA, so we snapped a photo with the CushWake receptionist instead, who was also looking forward to the summer months. Yoav is headed off to his native Tel Aviv in July, where he plans to hit the Israeli beaches with his wife and two kids (a third one's on the way).  Yoav is trying to escape all the pesky tourists that invade New York in the summertime-but he can't really complain, he says, as they have created a huge demand for hotel development over the past two years. Yoav estimates that in the next 3 years, 20,000 hotel rooms will be added in the city, esp. as budget hotels are popping up left and right. Hopefully he'll get some good deals out of this surge, but at the moment, he tells us the only thing that could keep him away from Israel is another Plaza.

Arent Fox
Leo A Daly
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