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— The City Planning Commission is slated to move the proposed SoHo rezoning into the formal land use review process during a meeting today, as the de Blasio administration fights a new lawsuit from community groups seeking to block the plan.
— A new City Council bill would give retail tenants a one-time option to extend their leases by up to a year even if a landlord declines to renew, with a rent hike of no more than 10 percent.
— A new CBRE report predicted occupancy levels at city hotels will average 43 percent for the first half of 2021.
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IN THE ZONE — Soho groups file lawsuit to block rezoning plan, by POLITICO’s Janaki Chadha: SoHo community groups filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to block the de Blasio administration’s proposed rezoning of the neighborhood, which the city is slated to move into the formal land use review process next week. The complaint from the SoHo Alliance, the Broadway Residents Coalition and a few individuals alleged the city’s plan to move ahead with the review process would be “in violation of the City Charter and City Rules,” due to the fact that meetings would be occurring virtually. The proposal is currently on the City Planning Commission’s agenda for Monday. The lawsuit comes less than two weeks after a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge permitted the city’s Gowanus rezoning to move into public review following a monthslong delay caused by a similar complaint. In that case, a local group likewise argued the plan should be halted until public meetings can occur in person, and were able to obtain a temporary restraining order from the judge — who had indicated she was not inclined to halt the process until the pandemic is completely over.
WHAT’S IN STORE — “New bill would mandate retail lease renewals in NYC,” by The Real Deal’s Sasha Jones: “A new bill seeks to reform the lease renewal process for retailers by giving businesses the opportunity to extend their leases — regardless of what their landlord says. The City Council bill, introduced by Helen Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat, would mandate that for leases greater than one year, landlords notify tenants whether or not they intend to renew 120 days before it expires. If the landlord declines to renew, tenants will have the one-time option to extend the lease by up to one year with a rent increase of no more than 10 percent, as long as they have not previously breached the lease. This applies even if the landlord already has a new tenant lined up, although the current tenant may stay for only 90 days instead of the full year. If a landlord fails to give a tenant the required notice, the amount they can raise rent during that one-year extension can drop to as low as 7 percent.”
CAMPAIGN WATCH — “Andrew Yang Promised to Create 100,000 Jobs. He Ended Up With 150,” by The New York Times’ Brian M. Rosenthal and Katie Glueck: “The idea was as simple as it was ambitious: help struggling American cities by recruiting promising college graduates, finding them jobs at start-ups in those cities and training them to open businesses of their own. That plan formed the backbone of Venture for America, a nonprofit organization founded in 2011 by Andrew Yang, who waged an improbably durable campaign for president last year and now has surged to the front of the pack in this year’s race for New York City mayor. Mr. Yang has undeniable star power, helping to fuel his rise as a political newcomer with big ideas and boundless optimism about the future of the city. Unlike most of his opponents, he has not worked in government or managed any large organization. Indeed, the most extensive leadership experience of his life was at the helm of Venture for America….
“With the zeal of an evangelist, Mr. Yang raised tens of millions of dollars for the organization with the goal of creating 100,000 jobs in cities where they were most needed, such as Detroit. The aim led the Obama administration to declare Mr. Yang a “Champion of Change” and paved the way for his political career. But a review by The New York Times of Mr. Yang’s tenure at Venture for America found a yawning gap between his bold promises and the results of his efforts.”
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HOTEL WOES — “NYC Hotels Predicted to Hit Normal Occupancy Rates by 2025: CBRE Report,” by Commercial Observer’s Celia Young: “New York’s hotel industry is inching its way to recovery after being decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, with normal occupancy rates predicted to return by 2025, thanks to vaccinations and COVID-19 relief money, a CBRE report found. CBRE’s report predicted an average occupancy level for hotels of 43 percent for the first half of 2021, an increase from the average 35 percent occupancy recorded in 2020. The speed of vaccinations, which outpaced CBRE’s previous predictions, along with the reduction of lodging supply — due to closures and fewer new projects — and the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill approved in March are expected to boost the hotel and lodging industry at large. ‘Since we developed our February 2021 forecast, the pace of vaccination distribution has topped two million a day, more than we originally foresaw,’ Bram Gallagher, a senior hotel economist at CBRE, said in a statement.”
BIG DEAL — “Columbia Property Trust ponders $2.2B takeover offer,” by The Real Deal’s Akiko Matsuda: “The board of Columbia Property Trust is seriously considering an unsolicited proposal to acquire the real estate investment trust for about $2.24 billion. The Manhattan-based REIT allocated $2.4 million in strategic review costs for that purpose, according to its quarterly financial report. CEO Nelson Mills said during an earnings call Thursday that Arkhouse Partners, which made the bid in mid-March, is ‘very much part of the process.’ ‘They have access to the data room and access to us and our advisers,’ he said. ‘It’s always been a friendly, open dialogue.’ No timeline has been set for how long the review will take as it depends on how the process evolves, Mills said. ‘We certainly don’t want to drag it out for months and months,’ he said, adding that the best guess may be a few months.”
LOOKING AHEAD — “Influencer co-working, Knicks practice space: The future of NYC real estate?” by The Real Deal’s Sydney Winnick: “Wondering what could become of unused commercial space in Manhattan? Hype house-esque influencer co-working spaces and an esports facility were among the ideas pitched by students in Columbia University’s Real Estate Development Program. The projects were the close of a semester-long course, Real Estate Media and Marketing, taught by The Real Deal Publisher Amir Korangy. For the competition’s judges — Lightstone Group CEO David Lichtenstein and JDS Development Group CEO Michael Stern — the winning concept was Stephen Steckel, Oliver Schwalbe and Jeff Adler’s ‘Friday Piers.’ Donning Steve Jobs-inspired black turtlenecks, the students made a mock pitch seeking a $266 million investment for the conversion of Manhattan’s empty Pier 40 into a Knicks practice facility.”
MARKET WATCH — “Brooklyn real estate market off to slow start for 2021,” by Crain’s Eddie Small: “The first quarter was a rough one for Brooklyn’s real estate market, with the impact of the pandemic and low supply contributing to drops in dollar and sales volume, according to a report from brokerage TerraCRG. The borough saw about $619 million worth of investment sales across 206 transactions, respective declines of 59% and 22% compared to the first quarter of 2020, most of which took place before Covid-19 upended real estate in the city. Both figures were also down compared to those in the fourth quarter of 2020, with dollar volume declining by 60% and transaction volume declining by 18%, the report says. Sales were down across all different property types, and the decline was especially steep in the retail sector, where year-over-year dollar volume fell by 82% from $236 million to $43 million.”
— “Leslie J. Garfield’s former townhouse sells for $15M,” by The Real Deal’s Cordilia James
— “Life science sector will be key to city’s economic recovery, Partnership Fund says,” by Crain’s Shuan Sim
— “Elion Partners snaps up $58M Queens warehouse,” by The Real Deal’s Rich Bockmann
— “Cuomo ups NYC indoor dining capacity to 75%,” by The Real Deal’s Sasha Jones