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  • Penney shines image with Lafayette lease

    Last Updated: 12:24 PM, May 2, 2012 Posted: 11:50 PM, May 1, 2012   Lois Weiss BETWEEN THE BRICKS: EXCLUSIVE JCPenney just got a fair and square deal of its own with a lease for all 130,000 square feet of 200 Lafayette St. at Broome Street. The move is designed to attract a hip workforce and continue the corporate culture shake-up under relatively new CEO and former Apple executive Ron Johnson. “They will build out a spectacular rooftop deck,” said our SoHo spy. The fate of the 11,500-square-foot retail space being marketed by Susan Kurland of CBRE is still under discussion. A CapitalOne branch is in the building, which is otherwise vacant and being renovated. Kurland did not return calls for comment, although she worked on the office deal along with leasing agents David Falk, Jason Greenstein and Daniel Levine of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, who also declined comment through a spokeswoman. The SoHo building was snapped up by Jared Kushner and CIM Group in January for $50 million from John Zaccaro, who was the husband of the late vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. Marketing brochures say the new owners are doling out $30 million more to upgrade every corner of the seven-story building and its numerous arched windows. Kushner and CIM did not return calls for comment, and JCP declined comment via e-mail. While others saw residential condos, Kushner, from his experience with the nearby Puck Building, had an eye on renovating the loft building and renting updated offices to the techies being drawn to Midtown South. Indeed, Falk, who spoke at Bisnow’s Silicon Alley Real Estate Summit yesterday without revealing the tenant, said they were conducting about seven space tours a week before a lease went out for the entire building. Sources said the fully signed 15-year lease took just 45 days to complete and had an asking rent of about $68 a square foot. The net effective rent will be less as Penney will be responsible for all expenses, including property taxes that are running now at about $280,000 a year. Among the companies that kicked the sandy-colored bricks were Restoration Hardware, Facebook, Armani and ad agency Droga5, which has 23,000 square feet at 400 Lafayette St. and is growing rapidly. Penney was headquartered in New York from 1914 until they fled to Dallas in 1987, and sold their 1.5 million square-foot tower at 1301 Sixth Ave. Go to New York Post  

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  • Preservationists upset about series of Landmarks bills to go before City Council

    May 01, 2012 04:30PM By Katherine Clarke

    From left: City Council member Leroy Comrie, who chairs the City Council's land use committee, Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairman Robert Tierney and Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council
    The New York City Council is set to review a package of 10 bills relating to the workings of the Landmarks Preservation Commission tomorrow morning, according to the council’s website, some of which have garnered significant support from the Real Estate Board of New York but elicited concern from preservation groups. A few of the bills seek to impose a timeline on the LPC’s deliberation of potential landmarks and historic districts, including one that introduces a time limit of 180 days for LPC to respond to requests for evaluation and another that institutes a fixed deadline of 33 months for landmark and historic district designations. Detractors such as Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council said the restrictions are “almost ensured to create paralysis at the agency.” It’s not all bad, the Historic Districts Council said. If passed, three of the bills would empower LPC to intercede in cases where unused Department of Buildings permits are still active on landmark buildings and require better monitoring of construction near landmarked buildings — both bills supported by the Historic Districts Council. But other bills, which address the timeline for designation, mandate a publicly accessible online database of requests for evaluation and allow for replacement materials on landmark buildings to be those present at time of designation, have caused some discontent within the preservationist community. “If these bills are adopted in tandem as written, they would risk overwhelming the LPC’s scant resources and could result in thousands of potential buildings in dozens of historic districts being rejected,” Bankoff said in an email blast to members of the Historic Districts Council yesterday. He argued that the success of the bills “would result in thousands of buildings being permanently prevented from becoming landmarks based on a mandated schedule rather than merit.” A spokesperson for the Real Estate Board of New York, which supports a selection of the bills, argued that the proposals, including one which mandates the City Planning Commission to analyze the potential economic impact of designation on the development potential of proposed landmarks, are necessary in order to prevent the LPC from becoming a tool for preservationists in regards to planning. Preservationists are inclined to use the bill to prevent new development in prized areas, he said, as opposed to protecting existing beauty or history. “The landmarks laws are in place to protect cultural heritage, but we’ve been seeing [the landmarking] of properties of questionable merit,” said Michael Slattery, a senior vice president at REBNY, referencing the recent designation of an “unexceptional” gas station at West Houston and Lafayette streets. “[The laws] are being exploited by the preservationist community. It seems clear to us that planning agendas have been directing [the activities of Landmarks.]” In a statement issued earlier this month to the New York Post, Landmarks spokesperson Elisabeth de Bourbon defended the move to designate the gas station: “As the gateway to Soho, West Houston Street was determined to be so critical to its character that the vacant lots there… ought to be under [LPC's] purview,” she said. The replacement materials bill proposes revoking an LPC requirement stipulating that building owners making changes to their properties use historically appropriate materials even when those materials were not in place at the time the owner purchased the building. It has been particular contentious, sources said. Preservationists argue it undermines the basic benefit of LPC oversight in helping to gradually return areas to their historic condition, while building owners and some members of REBNY contend that the provision currently in place makes it too costly for owners to renovate or alter their properties. While De Bourbon declined to comment on the bills pre-hearing, she said the commission would discuss the merits of the legislation at tomorrow’s event. Meanwhile, City Council member Leroy Comrie, who chairs the Council’s land use committee, did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
     

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