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Stayin' Alive

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Stayin' Alive
Lois Weiss
Veteran real estate journalist Lois Weiss has two decades of industry experience and has certainly earned her stripes (subpoenas, lawsuits, keeping top deal secrets). So we dropped by the Cornell Club yesterday for the B'nai B'rith Real Estate Unit luncheon to hear her reflections on the market and how it compared to her early career in the '90s. We faced the same problems then as we do today, she says, but we haven't experienced the massive unemployment and vacancies of the post-Drexel Burnham days. Tenants realize that keeping empty desks is cheaper than re-stacking and subletting. We don't have the overbuilding or sense of overhang, with recent deals such as Proskauer Rose's 400k SF lease at Eleven Times Square.Boston Properties is even re-mulling over starting construction at 250 W. 55th, she notes.
Lois Weiss with B'nai B'rith Real Estate Unit's executive committee
Lois with B'nai B'rith's executive committee. There are some worrisome spaces in the market-take 375 Pearl, which is now in the hands of M&T Bank. The most logical tenants would be the City or State because the proximity to City Hall, she says, but money is an issue. Other buildings with vacancies may not be leased due to litigious building owners. Today, some investment funds are ready to cash out, and recent deals like 600 Lexington and 125 Park generated worldwide interest, she says. REITs have come back, and leasing has picked up. Despite Obama's efforts, there's still worry of a W-shaped recovery. She concluded on this note: "You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough."