Banks Vacate Towers Pushing Empty NYC Office Space to Record Highs

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by ByLoSellHi, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. Future Forecast
    Banks Vacate Towers Pushing Empty NYC Space to Record (Update1)
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    By David M. Levitt

    Feb. 26 (Bloomberg) --
    New York’s biggest banks and securities firms may relinquish 8 million square feet of office space this year, deepening the worst commercial property slump in more than a decade as they abandon a record amount of property.


    JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and industry rivals have vacated 4.6 million feet, a figure that may climb by another 4 million as businesses leave or sublet space they no longer need, according CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., the largest commercial property broker.

    Banks, brokers and insurers have fired more than 177,000 employees in the Americas as the recession and credit crisis battered balance sheets. Financial services firms occupy about a quarter of Manhattan’s 362 million square feet of office space and account for almost 40 percent now available for sublease, CB Richard Ellis data show.

    “Entire segments of the industry are gone,” said Marisa Di Natale, a senior economist at Moody’s in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “We’re talking about the end of 2012 before things actually start to turn up again for the New York office market.”

    The amount of available space may reach 15.6 percent by the end of the year, the most since 1996, according to Los Angeles- based CB Richard Ellis. Vacancies are already the highest since 2004 and rents are down 5 percent, the biggest drop in at least two decades.

    In 2003, the city had 14.8 million square feet available for sublease. If financial firms give up as much as CB Richard Ellis expects, that record will be broken.

    ‘Wild Card’

    CB Richard Ellis’s figures don’t include any space Bank of America may relinquish at the World Financial Center in lower Manhattan, where Merrill Lynch & Co., the securities firm it acquired last month, occupies 2.8 million square feet. Brookfield Properties Inc., the second-biggest owner of U.S. office buildings by square footage, owns the Financial Center.

    Merrill “is a wild card right now,” said Robert Stella, principal at Boston-based real estate brokerage CresaPartners.

    Manhattan’s availability rate -- vacancies plus occupied space that is on the market -- was 12.3 percent at the end of January, up more than 50 percent compared with a year earlier and almost 9 percent from December, according to CB Richard Ellis.

    Commercial real estate prices dropped almost 15 percent last year, more than U.S. house prices, Moody’s Investors Service said in a Feb. 19 report. The decline returned values to 2005 levels, according to the Moody’s/REAL Commercial Property Price Indexes.

    SL Green

    The Bloomberg Office REIT Index fell 25 percent since the start of January, with SL Green Realty, the biggest owner of Manhattan skyscrapers, slumping 50 percent. Vornado Realty Trust, whose buildings include One and Two Penn Plaza in Midtown, has fallen 36 percent.

    SL Green of New York gets 41 percent of its revenue from financial firms, including 13 percent from Citigroup, according to its Web site.

    Bank of America plans to give up 530,000 square feet at 9 West 57th St. as it completes a move to 1 Bryant Park. New York- based Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is leaving 1.3 million square feet of offices at 1 New York Plaza and 77 Water St. as it prepares to move to new headquarters near the World Trade Center site.

    JPMorgan put 320,000 square feet of Park Avenue offices on the market after scooping up rival Bear Stearns Cos. last year along with the company’s 45-story headquarters tower at 383 Madison Ave.

    Citigroup has put 11 floors, or 326,000 square feet, on the market at the 59-story Citigroup Center at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street, bank spokesman Jon Diat said in an e-mail. The tower is owned by Mortimer Zuckerman’s Boston Properties Inc.

    Moving Out

    “We’ve been having conversations for two and a half years with Citigroup, and it’s been very clear to us that for the right economic transaction, they would move out of virtually any space in midtown Manhattan that they have,” Boston Properties President Douglas Linde said on a conference call last month.

    Boston Properties is also expecting to receive about 490,000 square feet back from Lehman Brothers at 399 Park Ave. as part of the bank’s liquidation.

    That space “will be a monumental challenge” to fill, said Michael Knott, senior analyst at Newport Beach, California-based Green Street Advisors. “They’re going to have to really bend over backwards on rate, or make the strategic decision to sit on it for an extended period of time.”

    Zuckerman said in an interview he doesn’t expect the increase in sublets to be a long-term problem for landlords.

    “You’re not going to be able to get for the space what you were able to get a year ago,” he said. “But in a year or two, in my judgment, the space will be absorbed.”

    Landlords must be prepared for a slow recovery, said Di Natale of Moody’s Commercial vacancy rates climbed for almost a year and a half after the last recession ended in late 2001.

    Still, CB Richard Ellis Tri-State Chairman Robert Alexander said New York’s financial community will regenerate.

    “In the late ‘80s, we lost Drexel Burnham Lambert and we lost Salomon Brothers, and we lost Thomson McKinnon,” Alexander said. “New York City survived.”

    To contact the reporter on this story: David M. Levitt in New York at
    Last Updated: February 26, 2009 11:23 EST
  2. Cracks me up. I wonder if lower Manhattan is an example of "shovel ready" project after 8 years?
  3. “In the late ‘80s, we lost Drexel Burnham Lambert and we lost Salomon Brothers, and we lost Thomson McKinnon,” Alexander said. “New York City survived.”

    LOL. I think this guy is leaving out the part about how we were still in the early stages of a massive, super credit bubble where any joker could throw money against a wall and double it. Financial services is dead.

    NYC in three years will resemble the movie Escape From New York.
  4. Nahh, NYC will bounce back. We're just gonna to have a harsh recession to offset the boom years. Think of it as reverting to the mean.
  5. Which mean, the 1970's, 1930's, or the 1900's?
  6. !930's Rockefeller Center was built as well as the Empire state building, late 70's Trump came on the scene. Bloomberg is no slouch.
  7. The Great Depression unwound the credit bubble known as "The Roaring 20s".

    This credit bubble began in 1982. Will the markets unwind all of it? Stock market too? If so, Dow <1000.
  8. No, it won't. What will survive in NYC is the playground for the ultra rich. But it will become similiar to a third world country. Think Brazil. There are ultra rich who are in constant danger of being killed or kidnapped for ransom.

    There will be lot of vacant space. The city is very overbuilt, there simply was never enough demand to sustain this many "luxury" condos or storefronts.

    The City reverting back to the mean requires demolishing the high rises and scaling back the high end commercial. That just is not happening.
  9. I lived in NYC for 2 years, and although having a good time going out and being with people, the living conditions were deplorable. Why the fuck people pay so much for old crappy apartments is beyond me. I came to hate living in the overpriced rathole towards the end of my tour of duty and couldn't wait to get back to Texas. Don't get me wrong, I will always view my time with fond memories, but the reality is it's a rathole.
  10. Harsh recession is an understatement by a factor of 5x or 10x.

    We're in a world of shit.

    People that are buying anything right now, including equities, are thinking this is a cyclical rather than secular, steep downturn.

    They couldn't be more misdirected.
    #10     Feb 27, 2009