Real estate experts speak at brooklyn real estate roundtable luncheon brooklyn, ny

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Media Contact: Gail Donovan

Donovan Communications


BROOKLYN, NY―August 13, 2008―An additional 2,000 hotel rooms are expected to be added in Brooklyn when hotel developments now underway in the borough are completed, Sean Hennessey, CEO, Lodging Advisors LLC, told guests at the quarterly Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable Luncheon held at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Most of the new hotel projects are affiliated with major brands, but about one-third will be unbranded, boutique hotels, Mr. Hennessey said at the August 5, 2008, event. Brooklyn currently has less than 1,000 hotel rooms available.

Mr. Hennessey said that with the exception of the post 9-11 period, the hotel industry has operated at capacity for at least a decade. New York City, however, has had a lower rate of increase in new hotels than other parts of the country. As a result, from Monday through Thursday, New York City hotels are so booked that they turn away travelers, and during peak periods such as the New York City Marathon or the holiday season, people can’t get rooms.

Mr. Hennessey said New York City attracts three distinct types of travelers—corporate travelers who conduct business in Manhattan office buildings; group markets and conventions, which Brooklyn has attracted; and leisure travelers, particularly international travelers. Because of the falling dollar, hotel rates for international travelers haven’t increased since 2001, but international tourism will be hurt if the dollar strengthens, he said.

Jed Walentas, President, Two Trees Management, said young professionals under the age of 35 who work as architects, designers, or in other soft industries are moving into his rental residential buildings in downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO. Although the condo market may have softened, Mr. Walentas said there is still demand for rentals in Brooklyn and he reported that the turnover in his buildings is low. One-bedrooms that are 680 square feet rent for about $2,500 on Atlantic Avenue at Court Street, which features a YMCA in the building.
“There’s no longer a stigma about Brooklyn,” Mr. Walentas said. “Ten years ago DUMBO traded on price. Today, a huge sector of the population wants to be in Brooklyn. People with means are choosing to live in Brooklyn.”
Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner for the New York City Department of Transportation, said that New York City is one of the most transit-rich cities in the world, which in turn makes real estate desirable in areas where residents can walk and get to transportation hubs easily.

She also reported that the city is putting in bike lanes to encourage bicycling. She pointed out that less than 1 percent of New York City residents commute to work by bike compared to 34 percent in Copenhagen. She said she also wants to encourage the development of ferries and said the city will be introducing an East River Ferry next year.

“We’re doing everything we can to improve the streets of New York,” Ms. Sadik-Khan said.

Katie Dixon, Director of Planning and Development at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, which oversees the development of the BAM Cultural District, reviewed the current and future development plans within the district.

The city-owned Strand Theater building, which houses BRIC and Urban Glass, is being renovated, and more than 300 mixed-income residential units will be created in the BAM Cultural District. One development, the Brooklyn Arts Tower, will feature 187 residential units, with more than half set aside for lower, moderate, and middle-income families, and a performing arts theater. Several city-owned parking lots adjacent to BAM will be dedicated to parks, and housing and commercial space will be integrated into the public space.
The third session of the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable was supported by Design Trust for Public Space, a firm that has partnered with the Grand Army Plaza Coalition to launch an international ideas competition, Reinventing Grand Army Plaza.
The remaining Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable luncheon for the year will be held at the Brooklyn Historical Society on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. All proceeds from the real estate group’s quarterly luncheons benefit the Brooklyn Historical Society.

For more information about the Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable Luncheon or to purchase tickets for the November luncheon, please go to

The luncheon series was created in 2007 by leaders in the Brooklyn real estate community who wished to create a forum where the latest developments in the borough could be discussed. Members of the Roundtable Steering Committee are: Eric Brody, The Brody Group; Louis V. Greco Jr., Second Development Services, Inc.; Christopher Havens, CRES; Michael Kaye, Douglaston Development; Timothy D. King, CPEX Real Estate; David Kramer, The Hudson Companies, Inc.; Albert Laboz, United American Land; Sara Mirski, Boymelgreen Developers Inc.; Jason Muss, Muss Development; William Ross, Halstead Property; Jay Schippers, Jay M. Schippers Realty; Joseph Sitt, Thor Equities; Douglas Steiner, Steiner Equities; David Von Spreckelsen, Toll Brothers.
Media Contact: Gail Donovan

Donovan Communications


BROOKLYN, NY―May 15, 2008― MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of Forest City Ratner Companies, provided details of Forest City’s current and upcoming Brooklyn projects before a sell-out crowd at the quarterly Brooklyn Real Estate Roundtable Luncheon on May 6, 2008, at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Douglas Steiner, chairman of Steiner Studios, Ari Milstein, executive director of Automotion Parking Systems, and Ron Soskolne, of Industry City Associates, also made presentations.
Ms. Gilmartin reported that after winning 20 court victories, the $4 billion, 22-acre, mixed-use Atlantic Yards project is moving forward. She outlined the project’s benefits for Brooklyn including the fact that 44.5 percent of the contracts to date have been awarded to Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises; the first residential building will set aside 30 percent of the units for middle-income families and 20 percent for low-income families, with the remainder offered at market rate; and the creation of thousands of jobs.
The project, which she described as a collaboration between Forest City and master planner and architect Frank Gehry, also will include a 34-story, 650,000 square-foot-office building that will be built when an anchor tenant is secured for half the space. The signature office building will be a breakthrough, high performance structure and will be developed using the methods the firm successfully employed when constructing the New York Times building on 8th Avenue in Manhattan. The firm will break ground later this year on the project’s 850,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art sports arena, Barclays Center, which will serve as the home for the New Jersey Nets and host more than 200 events a year.
Ms. Gilmartin also noted that the firm is currently constructing a 34-story residential building at 80 DeKalb Avenue, consisting of 365 units of which 73 will be set aside for low-income residents. She added that Metrotech, which the firm developed in the early 1990s, recently leased more than 100,000 square feet to AIG. The office complex originally attracted back office tenants requiring large spaces but is now attracting firms that are seeking front office space, a trend that has resulted in breaking up floors to create smaller units suitable for the creative class of clients moving in.
Mr. Steiner introduced 80 Metropolitan, a 6-story, 50-unit, condominium project in Williamsburg that features an indoor swimming pool, underground parking, 24-hour concierge service, and other amenities. Most of the buyers are from Manhattan, but some are from the Williamsburg area. Sales have been steady since the sales office opened in November, with the exception of March, which was a slow month, he said.
Mr. Steiner also updated the guests on Steiner Studios, a full-service, state-of-the-art "production factory," built on 15 acres at the Brooklyn Navy Yard that is equipped for start-to-finish production of major motion pictures, independent films, television, broadcast commercials, and music videos. Steiner Studios features five state-of-the-art sound stages and its clients include television shows such as Damages and Flight of the Concords, and movies such as Across the Universe and Inside Man. Mr. Steiner said his firm is seeking to develop the entire 50-acre area and create the equivalent of a full-service lot in Los Angeles.
Mr. Soskolne reported on developments at the Bush Terminal, the industrial district between the Gowanus Expressway, the waterfront, 50th Street, and 25th Street, and the Industry City buildings, 17 major buildings between the Gowanus Expressway, Brooklyn Marine Terminal, 32nd Street, and 41st Street. The occupancy rate in the district, which is the largest privately held industrial complex in the greater New York area, is above 90 percent, he said.
The tenants include hybrid industries, companies that make products they want to sell and show and that need to have access to the markets in Manhattan. The site also has been attracting firms that have been displaced from other areas of the city due to rezoning. While the complex strives to accommodate manufacturing, he said, demand from that sector has fallen and firms seeking storage and warehouse space are now being accommodated. The trend in the last five years has prompted the firm to divide large spaces into smaller units. Upgrades to lobbies and streetscapes are being planned.
Mr. Milstein discussed Automotion Parking Systems, which has designed fully automated parking garages in three projects in Brooklyn, including a 22-story, luxury residential building on the Coney Island/Brighton Beach waterfront called The Sochi that will be available for occupancy in 2009, and L Lofts, a 15-unit condominium project now available in Bushwick.
Automotion Parking Systems customizes parking systems for each development, Mr. Milstein said. Developers value the system because the technology enables them to efficiently develop land by doubling the parking capacity of traditional garages. Customers value the system because it’s efficient. When parking, customers simply have park in the garage, swipe a card, and leave, and when they return they can retrieve their car in two minutes.
The May program was sponsored by Herman Miller and, as with all the quarterly luncheons, the proceeds were donated to the Brooklyn Historical Society. Additional luncheons in 2008 are scheduled for August 5, and November 4 and will address timely issues affecting the real estate industry in the borough. More information is available at

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