NEW YORK—Spreads are tight and properties for sale are hard to find in the hottest investment markets. But there are still ways to make money, even if it's not your dream building (yet). Here are three tips from NYC:
1) Wait for it
RXR president Michael Maturo (second from right, with 60 Guilders' Kevin Chisholm, SL Green co-chief investment officer Isaac Zion, and JLL's Jon Caplan) says his company, which owns interests in $6.5B worth of NYC Tri-State assets, is willing to wait more than a year to get into an asset. (We've done that, but only cause our friend said he'd be down in a minute to let us in, then forgot about us.) It first got involved in Manhattan’s 920k SF 470 Lexington Ave office building (next to Grand Central) in 2010, taking the junior mezz position. Next came the senior mezz, and nine months later, in fall 2012, RXR bought it for $300M. The opportunity arose because the company had stayed with the owner through some troubles until it was ready to sell, Michael says.
2) Redevelop it
NGKF equity capital markets expert Garett Stoffels tells us repositioning plays and capital stack creativity provide ROI opps. Take NYC’s Brill Building, historically a music office and studio building (think Benny Goodman, Carole King, Paul Simon, Neil Diamond, Franki Valli). Invesco bought the building in '06, but nothing came of its plans to turn it into condos. So in '13, Garett's team came in with a buyer that pictured a few floors of retail (to take advantage of proximity to Times Square) and tech-friendly, modernized office space. Garett says the new vision offered opportunity for outsized returns across the new capital stack: Brickman and Allied Partners on equity, Square Mile on preferred equity, and Starwood Property Trust on debt.
3) Boost smaller operators
Garett's team also has found opportunities in originating institutional debt for middle-market investors. In October, he and his colleagues arranged $42M in bridge financing for the acquisition of the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center (heretofore known as the building that needs to wear a high SPF).