ASKED & ANSWERED RXR chief on the importance of returning to the office PAGE 14
BUILD ON The takeaway from recent decisions supporting controversial development projects PAGE 3
SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
NEW RULES FOR GIVING Institutional donors are lifting restrictions on gifts in the age of Covid BY GWEN EVERETT
or many years arts donors have acted as beneficent godmothers to the city’s arts institutions. Admission fees pay for rent and utility bills, but donors typically bestow indulgent gifts, such as new wings, or pay for elaborate gala events. See DONORS on page 18
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
State antitrust bill splinters tech industry Proposed law targeting bigger companies could jeopardize job growth in city BY RYAN DEFFENBAUGH
bill proposed in Albany could have a chilling effect on the city’s technology industry, one of the few sectors that is adding workers during the pandemic.
VOL. 36, NO. 31
Queens Sen. Michael Gianaris—one of the top critics of Amazon’s abandoned HQ2 plans in Long Island City—wants to update the state’s antitrust statutes to enforce stricter penalties on monopolies. New York would adopt a definition for abuse of market domi-
© 2020 CRAIN COMMUNICATIONS INC.
nance based on European law. In Europe, tech giants have faced more antitrust fines than in the U.S. At a hearing last Monday, Tech:NYC, a city-focused lobbying group, warned in presubmitted testimony that the bill threatens
BLUE APRON CO-FOUNDER’S NEW CHICKEN BIZ PAGE 23
the tech industry at a time when Amazon, Facebook and Google are the rare companies committed to expanding in the city. “We do believe [the bill] would result in See BILL on page 5
Manhattan’s biggest retail leases PAGE 12
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Chetrit Group goes after El-Gamal over unpaid rent at Midtown synagogue BY NATALIE SACHMECHI
had paid rent. Fattal said he was surprised to see the lawsuit. There’s been a frustration of purpose and force majeure as early as March, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned New Yorkers from congregating in houses of worship, he said. “It’s a pretty extreme scenario,” Fattal said. “The world is upside-down.”
he Chetrit Group is going after real estate developer Sharif El-Gamal for overstaying his welcome at 1384 Broadway and accruing nearly $500,000 in unpaid rent, according to a lawsuit filed by Juda Chetrit in state Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wednesday. The developer, who founded Soho Properties, subleased the space to the Garment Center Congregation, a Midtown synagogue, in 2014, the complaint said. Both leases were set to expire at the end of June, but El-Gamal has not surrendered the space or paid any rent to Chetrit since April.
Dragged into dispute Although the synagogue, which is closed until further notice because of the pandemic, is occupying the space, Chetrit’s rent comes directly from an entity owned by El-Gamal, 560 Seventh Ave. LLC, which is the primary tenant, and not from the synagogue, said Chetrit’s lawyer, Brett Theis. The landlord doesn’t deal with the synagogue at all, he added. “The Garment Center Congregation was named as a defendant for purely legal reasons,” Theis said. “Our client has no ill will or direct
relationship with the congregation, which unfortunately has been dragged into this dispute because it is our tenant’s subtenant.”
gregation directly, he added. The Garment Center Congregation did not respond to a request for comment. Houses of worship, many of which closed because of the pandemic, have been allowed to reopen recently but with restrictions on how many people are allowed inside. In observant Jewish temples, a quorum of at least 10 men is required to conduct
“OUR CLIENT HAS NO ILL WILL TOWARD THE GARMENT CENTER CONGREGATION” If El-Gamal paid up or surrendered the space, Chetrit would be happy to strike a deal with the con-
prayers, and women, who worship separately, are excluded. Before the lease expired in June, the synagogue asked for more time because it would be too risky for its disproportionately elderly congregants and staff to move their belongings out of the space during the pandemic, said Jack Fattal, ElGamal’s attorney. “They’re at high risk of death due to Covid-19.” Theis said the tenant, El-Gamal, never had the right to ask for an extension, but Chetrit might have continued the relationship if he
City’s tourism agency looks to entice New Yorkers to spend money in their own backyard BY GWEN EVERETT
EXAMINING RACIAL DISPARITIES DURING THE PANDEMIC Crain’s will examine how Covid-19 has disproportionately affected minority communities and businesses from Upper Manhattan to Chinatown to many parts of Queens. The summit will feature the leaders of two chambers of commerce, the head of the city’s Small Business Services agency and a Harlem business owner. They will discuss the coronavirus-related challenges that small businesses have endured and what’s to come. Virtual event Sept. 24, 4 to 5 p.m. CrainsNewYork.com/septnycsummit
he city’s top tourism agency is turning to residents to get the multibillion-dollar industry churning again. In what will be the longest campaign since 9/11—it began Tuesday and will run through the end of the year—NYC & Company’s neighborhood getaways program will offer deals to encourage city dwellers to spend more money in their own hometown. “We want people from Brooklyn to come into Manhattan to vacation” and vice versa, said Chris Heywood, executive vice president of global communications for NYC & Company. “It’s a different approach, but it’s a necessary one.” The campaign has enlisted 195 hotels, restaurants, tour companies and other leisure-oriented businesses to offer deals to entice New Yorkers to undo their purse strings. Hotels, including The Benjamin
The developer’s relationship with the synagogue dates back six years, when he planned to tear down the Times Square building it was originally in to build a hotel and retail space where the synagogue also would have a home. The Garment Center Congregation temporarily moved into the second floor of 1384 Broadway while waiting out construction on the new building. The synagogue is expected to move into the new site as early as February, Fattal said. El-Gamal created a stir when he planned to turn property he owned at 45 Park Place near Ground Zero into an Islamic center. The proposal was met with controversy and protests, and by 2014 the project was dead. El-Gamal built a luxury condo tower in its place. ■
and Dylan, are offering reduced rates on rooms. Restaurants are offering prix fixe three-course meals or free glasses of Champagne. “My thought is that restaurants and many New Yorkers are in dire straits,” said Luca Di Pietro, owner
of Tarallucci e Vino, one of the participating restaurants. As part of the program, he is donating 5% of dinner sales to Feed the Frontlines NYC. Donating is a win-win for everyone, he said, because doing so helps New Yorkers and gets people
to come to the restaurant. Eateries typically rely on tourists, who are largely staying out of the city, so they are facing bleak realities in light of the pandemic. Some of the fallout can be avoided if New Yorkers who have the money will spend it in restaurants, Di Pietro said. Mastercard also is helping New Yorkers spend by offering up to $100 in credit on their cards. New York City’s tourism industry—which generated nearly $70 billion in economic activity last year after growing for 10 years straight, according to NYC & Company’s annual report—has been crippled by the pandemic. The agency has not yet issued a new tourism forecast, but hotel occupancy rates, a bellwether, given that just over half of domestic tourists stayed in the city overnight in 2019, are at 38.6%, a 57.1% decline, according to STR, which specializes in hotel market data. ■
Vol. 36, No. 31, September 21, 2020—Crain’s New York Business (ISSN 8756-789X) is published weekly, except for bimonthly in January, July and August and the last issue in December, by Crain Communications Inc., 685 Third Ave., New York, NY 10017. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Crain’s New York Business, Circulation Department, PO Box 433279, Palm Coast, FL 32143-9681. For subscriber service: call 877-824-9379; fax 313-446-6777. $3.00 a copy; $129.00 per year. (GST No. 13676-0444-RT) ©Entire contents copyright 2020 by Crain Communications Inc. All rights reserved. 2 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | September 21, 2020
9/18/20 5:19 PM
Council OKs Covid-19 eatery surcharge Restaurants can add fee to customers’ bills to help pay for equipment, rent BY GWEN EVERETT
bill allowing restaurants to tack a pandemic-era fee onto patrons’ bills was passed by the City Council last week. Eateries can take an additional 10% of a customer’s bill as a “Covid-19 recovery charge” after a 46-2-1 vote in the council. The bill now heads to the desk of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who needs to sign it for the law to take effect. “I just want to commend my colleagues and the staff who helped to push this bill to hopefully help save some of the restaurants that make New York City the place we’ve chosen to live,” said Staten Island Councilman Joe Borelli, the bill’s sponsor. “What we’re temporarily allowing our restaurants to do, what just about every other restaurant in every other city around the United States can do, [is] add a surcharge to supplement some of their costs.”
IN THE ZONING: Court decisions and political support have cleared the path for development projects in (clockwise from top) Inwood, Industry City and Two Bridges.
TUNING OUT THE NIMBY MOB T
he latest big defeat for New York’s real estate industry seemed to arrive on Twitter shortly after 9 a.m. July 28. “I’ve made a decision on the Industry City rezoning proposal: I oppose it & will vote NO if it comes to the @NYCCouncil,” local Councilman Carlos Menchaca tweeted. “De-
velopers should remove their application before the Mayor restarts the ULURP clock next month. It’s time for a new beginning.” The post appeared to doom the major Sunset Park project that landlords including Jamestown, Belvedere Capital and Angelo Gordon had long been trying to get off the ground because of the City Council’s tradition of member deference. But Menchaca’s opposition to Industry City has not yet stopped the project.
Rather, three councilmen announced soon after his post that the city should move forward with the project anyway, and the City Planning Commission recommended its approval in August, setting up a likely showdown in the City Council. The effort to push through Industry City has taken place alongside two court rulings that
ers in recent weeks. On Sept. 9 city restaurants got the green light to restart indoor dining Sept. 30, although at a much reduced capacity. In August the City Council extended laws banning excessive charges from third-party delivery apps through the end of the Covid-19 crisis. “The passage of the Covid recovery bill will help struggling restaurants generate additional revenue to help pay for expenses like PPE for their employees, outdoor dining setups, rent, labor and other expenses to give them a fighting chance of survival,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality
See ZONING on page 22
See SURCHARGE on page 4
Here’s the takeaway from recent decisions supporting development BY EDDIE SMALL
The law helps restaurants, which are facing dire financial realities after Covid-19 required them to shut down normal operations, recoup some lost revenue. It’s the most recent win for the sector, which is widely seen as one of the industries hit hardest by the pandemAMOUNT ic. that can be The secadded to tor’s situation patrons’ bills has captured as a “recovery the attention surcharge” of policymak-
September 21, 2020 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | 3
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Police commissioner takes aim at bail reform at Crain’s forum BY GWEN EVERETT
NY ATTORNEY GENERAL NEXT UP AT CRAIN’S FORUM
Violent crime Shootings soared in the city this summer and murders were also up
Want to hear more from New York leaders? Join Crain’s Business Forum with Attorney General Letitia James on Oct. 14 for a conversation about her accomplishments and the challenges the coming year poses. Register at crainsnewyork.com/ octbusinessforum.
law against chokeholds, for making it harder for police to do their jobs. He particularly took issue with that part of the law that makes it a crime to apply pressure to a suspect's diaphragm.
DERMOT SHEA BUCK ENNIS
olice Commissioner Dermot Shea blamed bail reform for an uptick in crime in New York City at a forum last week with Crain’s. In 2019 New York eliminated bail for people accused of misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes. After the law was criticized for allowing repeat offenders to return to the streets to commit more crimes, it was amended to give judges more discretion in setting bail for those types of offenders. But Shea said the law is still putting too many criminals back on the streets. “[Police] are going into harm’s way, putting themselves at risk, taking dangerous guns off the street,” he said at the forum last Wednesday. But many of those arrested are being released, he added. “That’s gotta change if we want to turn this tide,” he said. “That bail reform law, on top of an already lowest incarceration rate, has been a challenge — there’s no other way to say it.”
Law too broad compared with last year, but groups such as the Citizens Crime Commission and Legal Aid Society say there is no evidence that the bail reform law is responsible. Shea talked with Crain’s at a moment when businesses see the eco-
nomic future of New York City as closely tied to its crime rate. The Partnership for New York City, a powerful business group representing corporate CEOs, penned a letter of concern to Mayor Bill de Blasio Sept. 10 about the increase in crime
SURCHARGE FROM PAGE 3
Alliance, a top trade group for the industry. But critics of the law say it fails to protect the industry’s workers. Restaurants are not required to pass on any of the proceeds from the surcharge to employees. And those workers have some of the lowest guaranteed wages in the state. Like in most of the country, New York restaurant workers make below minimum wage and rely on tips to cover the difference. Tips are already down as much as 75% in light of the pandemic, said Saru Jayaraman, president of the national worker-rights organization One Fair Wage, which has
urgency to help the employers” but not employees, said Jayaraman. “Employers might lose their business, but workers right now are frankly losing their homes. They’re losing the ability to feed their children.” Brooklyn Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who voted in favor of the bill, said he planned to submit an amendment to the law to support tipped workers but withdrew the amendment at the vote on the basis of a verbal agreement with Speaker Corey Johnson that he would pursue a solution. Johnson said he directed council staff to search for ways to support lowwage workers in the hospitality industry. But so far the council has been slower to enact protections for workers than for businesses. Legislation dubbed the Essential Workers Bill of Rights, which was meant to ensure whistleblower protections and hazard pay for essential workers at the height of the virus, stalled in committee after the business community slammed it as overly expensive.
“WORKERS ARE LOSING THEIR HOMES, THE ABILITY TO FEED THEIR CHILDREN” been pushing the council to revise the bill so that restaurants that use the surcharge must pay their employees minimum wage. “My deep frustration is that somehow the council feels deep
cil members alongside Borelli, sunsets 90 days after restaurants have operated at full capacity. “Here’s what I think we’re doing for workers today: We’re keeping their jobs alive,” said Brooklyn Councilman Kalman Yeger, who voted in favor of the bill. The restaurant industry is still hurting despite accommodations like outdoor din-
ing, which hardly made up for lost revenue this summer, he said. “What the reason for this bill, in my view, is so that restaurants can clearly identify that they’re back, they’re not raising their prices,” he said. “They have a temporary surcharge that they can put on to tell their customers ‘Look, stand with us.’ ” ■
Crain’s acknowledges the presenting sponsors of the business forum, Hornblower Cruises & Events and United Airlines, as well as its corporate members, Brown & Weinraub, BTEA, Cozen O’Connor, GCA, George Arzt Communications, Greenberg Traurig, Kasirer, Nicholas & Lence Communications and Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates. Without their support, this business forum would not have been possible.
and the deterioration of essential services such as sanitation. “We’re facing a lot. And we certainly have a crime turnaround in the last four or five months, like I’ve really never seen in 30 years,” Shea said. “I’ve had meeting after meeting this week with people from business communities, representatives from New York City that, above all, say that they’re concerned.” Before the recent crime spike, New York City was seeing historically low rates of incarceration, shootings and homicides, said Shea. The police commissioner blamed police reforms, like a city council
“It [the law] is extremely broad. It doesn’t require an injury, it doesn’t talk about intent,” he said. Shea said it puts officers who are struggling with a suspect during an arrest at risk because they could be arrested if their knee comes into contact for even a brief period of time with the suspect’s diaphragm. “I think that any time we’re passing laws, the more transparency the better, the more thoughtfulness the better,” he said. “Haste and rush to get something passed — I think usually in hindsight we take a look back at that and it turns out to be something we should have spent a little more time thinking about.” ■
Repackaged as a pandemic-time measure, the bill was first proposed in 2018 as a way to help restaurants cover the rising costs of doing business in the city. Borelli was its sole sponsor, and it languished in committee for years before building support because of the pandemic. The reworked law, now sponsored by several Democratic coun-
4 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | September 21, 2020
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other companies that have accused tech giants of anticompetitive behavior in recent weeks. Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said last month that Amazon was trying to “wipe out” all competitors by muscling through consumer-protection legislation in California that is opposed by smaller e-commerce players. Airbnb reportedly spoke with House lawmakers about the 30% commissions Apple collects on sales through its app store.
FROM PAGE 1
careful reconsiderations of expansions and investments made in the state, and that small startups would be encouraged to consider locating elsewhere,” the group’s testimony read. Amazon in the spring purchased the Lord & Taylor building in Midtown and has pledged to hire 2,500 people in engineering, marketing, sales and other roles to fill the office by 2023. Facebook has leased more than 700,000 square feet for a new office near Hudson Yards, while Google is building a nearly 2 million-square-foot campus to the south in Hudson Square.
TechNet, a national industry group, similarly said the bill risks “a chilling effect on innovation and new company creation when we need to be fostering both.” The technology industry, however, did not present a united front against Gianaris, who is pledging to open up corporate behemoths to antitrust lawsuits. A representative from Yelp used the virtual hearing to blast industry groups he said are taking the positions of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple over its smaller members. The company for years has been waging a battle against Google, which Yelp believes is unfairly directing search results toward its
own pages and products, as described by Yelp Policy Chief Luther Lowe. Yelp is based in San Francisco but employs about 700 people in New York, Lowe said. He offered a withering criticism of TechNet in particular for opposing the bill. “I think this is connected to the overall problem that these larger
entities, such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, are … putting forward consumer groups that purport to represent consumers, small businesses or startups,” he said, “when actually they are just sophisticated Astroturfing organizations, as far as I am concerned.” TechNet, which is based in Washington, D.C., did not respond to a
request for comment. Tech:NYC’s name was left out of the spat, but Lowe’s comments show the separate interests the group must balance in responding to the bill. Dues-paying members of Tech:NYC include Google, Facebook and Amazon. Yelp is not a listed member of Tech:NYC, but the group represents
Tech:NYC believes the bill could threaten smaller startups as well, particularly if they launch a business in an emerging sector where competition is limited. The group acknowledged in testimony that “antitrust practices are a serious threat to economic viability.” State Attorney General Letitia James, whose office is already leading an antitrust probe into Facebook, offered support for the bill. Federal court decisions in the last several decades have weakened the ability of federal regulators to take on unilateral anticompetitive behavior, she said, such as Google allegedly directing search traffic to its own products. “The last significant case was the Microsoft case, which occurred almost 20 years ago,” James said. “We are handicapped because of the limitations in the law, and that’s why it is critically important we update our laws to reflect the 21st century.” ■
September 21, 2020 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | 5
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IN THE MARKETS
IPO market parties like it’s 1999 amid busiest September in years Startups offering pandemic-related services are seeing the most success raised, according to Renaissance Capital. Last Wednesday marked the debut of software company Snowflake, which started trading at about $280 a share after pricing the night before at $120, for a valuation of $33 billion. And to think, all it took to revive this moribund market was a pandemic.
tors to collect any yield from bond investments without taking on considerable default risk. Pension funds and insurance companies abhor ultra-low rates, but for nearly everyone else, it’s one big beach party, with vast waves of cash flooding into the stock market in search of returns. Some of that cash Floods of cash washes into IPOs, with Renaissance Capital’s exFor years pundits complained that the market change-traded fund that AARON ELSTEIN tracks for IPOs was shackled by the IPO market excessive regulation and gaining 59% this year and frivolous litigation. Congress even 140% since mid-March. That creenacted the Jump-start Our Busi- ates more demand as momenness Startups Act of 2012 to jolt tum-chasing investors pile into the IPOs back to life. market. But nothing “As long as returns hold up, exchanged. Until pect IPOs to remain active,” said now. Kathleen Smith, principal at ReAs with almost naissance Capital. everything conThe most successful IPOs are cerning the econo- from companies that benefit from my and markets the pandemic in some way. Snowflake provides cloud-based these days, the frenzy’s source ultimately goes back to the Federal Re- data-management services, a useserve. ful thing when millions of people By setting interest rates at zero, are working remotely. the Fed makes it difficult for invesUnity Software, whose IPO is ex-
“WAR, TERRORISTS, CHAOS AND PANDEMICS ARE GOOD FOR THEIR BUSINESS” because this is shaping up to be the busiest September for initial public offerings since the halcyon days of 21 years ago. Last month was the best August ever in terms of money
pected to price this week, makes tools for video games. Amwell is in telehealth. Palantir specializes in surveillance software. “ Un f o r tu nat e l y , war, terrorists, chaos and pandemics are good for their business,” a Palantir investor told Bloomberg. Even Airbnb, which at first was devastated by the lockdowns, is planning to go public soon because it has benefited from city dwellers seeking long-term country rentals. As the weather grows colder, there’s every reason to think the same people will hunt for temporary housing in the South. Edison Trends, a research firm, said Airbnb has not only recovered all the business it lost but has grown by an additional 41% since early March, while Marriott, Hilton and
y email inbox is stuffed with pitches like this again: “Wall Street IPO expert and former hedge fund manager ... says now is your time to secure a lifetime of wealth. This year we’ve witnessed some of the fastest and largest gains in stock market history. ... With IPOs surging 20% ... 56% ... 75% ... 153% ... even as high as 201% ... in just one day. Now, these are extraordinary gains and not the norm. ... But they are happening RIGHT NOW.” Ladies and gentlemen, we officially have an IPO frenzy on our hands. Time to cue up the classic Prince tune about partying like it’s 1999
InterContinental have recovered only about 38% of their bookings. Few, if any, of these soon-to-beprime-time players are profitable or will be soon. Ordinarily that’s a problem. But as everyone knows, these are no ordinary times. ■
De Blasio, about 500 staff to take weeklong furlough SPORTS
Madison Square Garden changes goals for sports executives’ bonuses BY AARON ELSTEIN
adison Square Garden has taken a step that could make it easier for sports executives to collect bonuses. Last week MSG Sports Corp. amended the goals that officials must meet to qualify for “performance stock units,” a significant source of their pay. Last year Executive Chairman James Dolan was awarded $15 million worth of units on top of his $1 million salary.
MSG said in a regulatory filing that the bonus plan was changed because the enterprise was divided into separate sports and entertainment companies in April. It also was changed because Covid-19 has hurt business, as no Knicks or Rangers games have been played at the Garden for six months, and none are scheduled. MSG officials strongly dispute that bonuses will be easier to collect as a result of the change. “This story misrepresents our fil-
ing,” MSG said in a corporate statement before this story was published. MSG is one of at least 25 companies reassessing the way executive bonuses are determined in light of the pandemic, compensation consulting firm Semler Brossy said. Companies typically say they make changes to keep top people happy and motivated during difficult times. But investors aren’t pleased when they move the goalposts. ■
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO ordered a weeklong furlough for about 500 members of his City Hall staff, including himself. Employees can take the unpaid leave any week during a six-month period beginning in October, de Blasio said Sept. 16 at a press briefing. The policy will affect everyone from administrative assistants to the mayor’s top aides, including the office of his wife, Chirlane McCray, which is working on the mayor’s mental health initiative. De Blasio said he would work without pay during his time off. The mayor had projected a $9 billion revenue shortfall through the fiscal year ending in June 2022 because of lockdowns ordered amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He has said he may lay off 22,000 city employees if the city doesn’t get federal fiscal aid or state authority to borrow $5 billion to pay for operating expenses. The mayor said the furlough order would reduce his office’s bud-
get by 12%. “We have to make tough choices to move this city forward to keep our budget balanced,” de Blasio said. “As of Oct. 1, every mayor’s office employee will be taking a furlough, and that obviously includes myself. This is a step you never want to see for good, hardworking people.” The move, he said, is “showing that at the top of the operation, more important actions are being taken every day, and we will make the choices we have to, to keep this city moving forward.” ■
6 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | September 21, 2020
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Helping hand INTERVIEW BY CHRISTINE DARE-BRYAN
rad Weekes, 25, is a senior associate at public affairs firm Kivvit, where he focuses on criminal justice issues. With his client FWD.us, Weekes has attempted to change cash-bail practices in New York and Mississippi by placing stories about the issue in news outlets that resonate with legislators. Crain’s New York Business recently named him a 20 in Their 20s honoree. He will speak about mentorship during a celebratory webcast Sept. 22.
Who are your mentors?
First and foremost I just want to thank the leaders of Kivvit’s New York office. I came to Kivvit with very little background in that actual trade. They took me in from day one and really showed me the ropes. I also want to thank the mentors who have helped guide me as a Black man in this country, who have really nurtured my growth and helped me navigate my identity in the workspace. Specifically, Keni Thacker is a public relations expert whom I was introduced to over the course of Covid19 and the Black Lives Matter protests across the country. He is someone I have been
What’s your take?
I think there’s a little bit of both to get out of it. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of a handful of fellowships during my life, including the Teak Fellowship and the Coro Fellowship, that have been able to connect me with people who have lived my story. The Teak Fellowship is a nonprofit that helps low-income but talented students across New York City attend top-tier high schools and colleges across the country. I was with a group of peers who had lived my story to a certain extent. We had grown up in low-income communities. We had strived for greatness and wanted to pay it forward for our communities. Sometimes there’s a “THERE’S A PUSH FOR need to explain yourself to get people to know FOLKS TO BRING THEIR where you came from. FULL IDENTITY TO WORK” There was a shared experience that didn’t have to be translated. able to really identify with The same thing was true of the and see myself in as a Black Coro Fellowship, which was about man, not only navigating the connecting 12 gifted and talented world of public relations, but young professionals who wanted also grappling with identity in to make a difference in New York this very focal moment in our City and New York state. country’s history.
How has your definition of mentorship changed in recent months?
One thing that has happened, especially with my generation of millennials, is I think there has been a push for folks to bring their full identity into the workspace. The question I hear a lot from prospective applicants is, “Do you feel as though you can bring your full self into the workplace?” I think now that has made its way to mentorship. Before, when it wasn’t encouraged to bring in those identity markers, I think mentorship was strictly about professional development and career development. I think it has evolved to be not only finding people whose career trajectories you align with but who also have identity markers that speak to you.
There seems to be differing views on the benefits of formal mentoring programs.
What do you think people are seeking from work environments right now?
Covid and the Black Lives Matter movement, and really what has happened in this country, has forced us to take a much more holistic perspective. I think the George Floyd murder and [the killings of] Breonna Taylor and countless others have forced us to have normal conversations about race in the workplace and the environment. This unique moment we are living in has made things that used to be taboo front and center. It’s important to remove the stigma from these things so we can have these honest conversations. I think I have done the best work in the past couple of months because of the workplace, which was already becoming incredibly inclusive. The more I am able to bring in my true self, the more productive and positive a workspace
40 UNDER 40 AND 20 IN THEIR 20S JOIN Crain’s New York Business as we celebrate the honorees of our 40 Under 40 and 20 in their 20s recognition programs with a webcast Sept. 22 from 4 to 5 p.m. In addition to toasting these rising stars, there will be a speakers’ program featuring some of the honorees. Reserve your complimentary seat at CrainsNewYork.com/ 40sand20s.
we’re entering. The silver lining to come through this is we’re beginning to normalize things that traditionally have been taboo in the workspace. ■
BRAD WEEKES Kivvit
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president K.C. Crain senior executive vice president Chris Crain group publisher Mary Kramer
associate publisher Lisa Rudy
Mayor, biz leaders must band together to ensure city is safe for workers’ return employers want to make sure the mayor is doing everything he can to make the city as safe, secure and inviting as possible. Headlines about homelessness and shootings and photos of overflowing trash cans on street corners are problematic for the business community, not to mention potential tourists, and companies want the mayor’s help. De Blasio and the city’s business leaders have never had a cozy relationship. Businesses feel ignored or worse, especially when the mayor rails against the wealthy not paying their fair share of taxes. But both sides must realize they need each other, particularly now. Many business leaders want to see their workers return. CEOs including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase have said they believe employees are more productive in the office than at home and have already begun to require that some get ready to come back. The mayor, meanwhile, needs workers in the city to spur economic activity. Unemployment
LANDLORDS WOULD LIKE TO SEE CORPORATE EMPLOYERS BRING THEIR WORKERS BACK him to set an example by requiring his staff to return to their offices; right now most are working from home. These same landlords would like to see corporate employers bring their workers back to the city as well. But before they do so,
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et’s talk trash. Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t mention the Partnership for New York City last week when he announced that he was restoring some 65 litter basket trucks across the city. But the fact that he did less than a week after the business group called the mayor out in an open letter signed by 163 CEOs for letting essential quality-of-life services such as sanitation and police protection deteriorate was more than coincidental. The mayor is under increasing pressure to reopen the city to get the economy moving again. Last week commercial landlords urged
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is still rampant, and for every person who works in an office building, five service jobs are created, says real estate executive Scott Rechler. But it’s not only jobs that the mayor needs. He’s desperate for the tax revenue that comes along with them. When the Partnership for New York City criticized the mayor in its letter, he said business leaders could help by appealing to federal officials for funds to close the city’s budget gap. A few days later, the business group was one of
several in the region to send a letter to President Donald Trump asking for that aid. An olive branch to the mayor? Perhaps. And maybe that is why de Blasio reversed sanitation cuts a day later. If so, it may represent a thaw in relations between the two sides. The city needs the support of the business community and vice versa. A lot is at stake, and it’s better to support each other than to cut each other down, especially when everyone wants the same thing: a successful and vibrant city. ■
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City Council’s effort to cancel rent will come back to haunt it
Ana Jimenez, ajimenez@crainsnewyork
BY RUDY WASHINGTON
property owners struggle to make mortgage payments, leading to a spike in foreclosures. But more immediately, owners will not be able to make their property tax payments, which make up nearly 50% of the city’s revenue and help pay for teachers, firefighters and municipal hospital workers. Meanwhile, the council is considering extending the cancellation of personal guaranties to March 31, effectively doubling down on its ill-advised strategy. We will see the other side of this pandemic, just as we saw the other side of 9/11. I know because I was there. But it is critical to know that we are all in this crisis together. We can’t shift the burden to one group at the expense of another as we begin to rebuild, resuscitate and reinvigorate our city. Seems like common sense. We just need the City Council to realize that. ■
Rudy Washington is the former deputy mayor of Community Development and Business Services under the Giuliani administration.
chairman Mrs. G.D. Crain Jr. [1911-1996]
o doubt about it: The pandemic is testing landlordtenant relationships across our city. Tenants have lost jobs and customers, making it difficult for them to meet rent payments. But canceling rent is not the answer. Without rental income, landlords cannot pay their mortgage and property taxes, and could face foreclosure. Seemingly, though, the City Council has embraced the “cancel rent” movement, as witnessed by its May enacting of three laws affecting real estate as part of a larger Covid-19 relief package. Three small-property owners are challenging these laws in federal court. One law cancels personal guaranties in certain commercial leases, ostensibly violating the U.S. Constitution’s contracts clause, which prohibits laws that impair contracts. For many owners of commercial properties, these personal guaranties—under which third parties promise to pay the rent if a tenant fails to do so—rep-
resent the sole mechanism to collect rent if the tenant does not pay. By canceling these guaranties, the city deprives owners of their ability to collect rent from businesses. Personal guaranties, moreover, are the primary motivation for property owners to lease to small businesses with limited or no assets. Without such guaranties, owners would be reluctant to rent to businesses lacking strong credit, leaving startups out in the cold. The other two laws extend the coverage of residential and commercial tenant harassment to include a range of businesses and individuals that have been affected by Covid-19 or that have received rent concessions. While this may be a worthy goal, the council drafted these laws in such sweeping terms that landlords are left worrying that merely explaining the consequences of failing to pay rent constitutes a prohibited threat. As one small-property owner put it: “The law needs to be clear as to what accounts for harassment because some tenants may report asking for rent more than once as
harassment.” Understandably, the council enacted these laws to address the pandemic’s crushing economic impact on small-business owners and vulnerable residential tenants. But in doing so, the council shifted the economic burden entirely onto property owners. Many property owners are working with tenants to keep them in their space. A survey by the Small Property Owners of New York shows that nearly two-thirds of respondents have granted some kind of rent concession since March. Yet these owners are now subject to possible harassment claims for having done right by their tenants. In a clear example of how overly broad these new laws are, national retail chains, such as the Gap and Old Navy, are using them to avoid paying rent. And commercial tenants are surrendering their leases, knowing that no one will be on the hook for their unpaid rent.
Spike in foreclosures The council’s efforts to cancel rent will come back to haunt it as
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8 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
9/18/20 4:43 PM
Democracy got a boost from virtual public meetings during the pandemic
positive evolution in the city’s democratic governance is taking place before our eyes in the form of virtual public hearings and meetings. The virtual format, born of the necessity for social distancing, has the potential to increase the quantity and quality of engagement on land-use review, an arena desperately in need of both. We should embrace this development as a silver lining in the pain of
through platforms, such as Zoom and Webex. On Aug. 3, the city Planning Commission followed suit and started conducting remote hearings, including those for the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. This was a welcome development; 59 projects were in ULURP, with many more in the queue, when the procedure was suspended because of the shutdown. City building is a necessarily complex and often messy process, where concerned residents, passionate community activists, thoughtful public servants and responsible elected officials collaborate for hours on end. For many New Yorkers, zoning and landmarks review is their most direct and impactful point of engagement with city governance. The process, however, is far from perfect, and it's often marked by contentious discourse, groups talking past each other and theatrics. What's most unfortunate about it is a lack of broad participation from
VIRTUAL COMMUNITY MEETINGS HAVE HAD ATTENDANCE OF MORE THAN 500 the pandemic. On March 12, Gov. Andrew Cuomo relaxed the requirements of the state’s Open Meetings Law, enabling virtual hearings. Since then the City Council, the Board of Standards and Appeals, the Landmarks Preservation Commission and community boards have convened and executed their business
city residents. In the past few months, there have been many unexpected, positive consequences from holding these meetings in virtual settings. The meetings are generally more rigorous; following the Rules of Order is more critical. Presentations are crisper, with a greater premium placed on the verbal and visual argument and less on the presenters’ personas. The “chat” and “raised hand” functions support parallel, informal dialogues. From the charming (kids on laps) to the disconcerting (occasional quaffs of chardonnay), there are refreshing, humanizing aspects to the format.
BY DAN KAPLAN
Attendance Most important, there appears to be greater involvement. The virtual format enables attendance for those not able to take the time to travel to (and sit through) evening community board meetings or workday agency hearings. It promotes accessibility and makes participation easier for parents, elders and people with medical issues or mobility limitations. Virtual community meetings
have had attendance of more than 500, BetaNYC reports. The organization, dedicated to improving lives through civic design, technology and data, has provided support for community boards and the Manhattan borough president. That's far greater than the crowds of 150 or so that usually pack into small meeting rooms with poor audiovisual infrastructure and often challenging sight lines. Surely these ad-
ditional participants will bring greater richness and diversity to the discourse. As Winston Churchill famously said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others.” Virtual meetings and hearings present a rare chance to make it better. ■ Dan Kaplan is a senior partner at FXCollaborative Architects.
Keeping attractions closed is causing economic harm BY RYAN D’AMICO
ov. Andrew Cuomo’s reopening plan has ignored a key economic driver for New York — the attractions industry — for far too long and to the detriment of the state’s residents and businesses. Under the governor’s plan, one of the most restrictive in the United States, places of recreation, including family entertainment centers, amusement parks and water parks, among other attractions, must remain closed.
appreciate the governor's thoughtful approach to reopening New York, but now it is time to allow our industry to reopen to our guests, so they can once again enjoy safe, memorable experiences at their favorite local attractions.
Guidance Our industry has come together to develop new protocols and procedures for safe operation in the wake of the pandemic. The International Association of Amusement Parks has developed indepth Covid-19 reopening guidance that has successfully been used in countless state reopening plans. Operators of attractions, particularly indoor attractions and gated attractions, have total control over the number of guests that are admitted on any given day. Attractions facilities around the country have received approval for reopening plans that include significant daily attendance caps, both to ensure compliance with social distancing recommendations and to prevent the kind of uncontrolled crowds that have been experienced at other locations. The governor need only
THE ATTRACTIONS INDUSTRY IN NEW YORK HAS BEEN FORGOTTEN The continued closing of the attractions industry is inconsistent with the Centers for Disease Control's public health recommendations and may reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the attractions industry and its ability to operate safely — now – within the scope of CDC recommendations. Safety is the attractions industry’s No. 1 priority. It always has been, and it always will be. We
look to attractions in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania and New Jersey — all of which have recently reopened — for evidence that these attendance caps and controls work, with reports finding that distancing was generally maintained and crowd size effectively managed. The attractions industry in New York has been forgotten. We employ thousands of people in our communities and contribute to our communities. Our employees are ready to work. Our guests are ready to return. And we are ready to work with the state to present our plans on how we can do all of this — safely. The governor's reluctance to similarly move New York toward the safe reopening of the attractions industry is denying New York jobs, revenue and — just as importantly given the stress of recent months — an escape. The governor should reconsider his stance and engage with attractions leaders in New York before it is too late for the industry and the state. ■
Redefining what you should expect from your accountant. grassicpas.com
Ryan D’Amico is the owner and general manager of Laser Bounce– Family Fun Centers in Queens and Levittown. September 21, 2020 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | 9
9/17/20 1:19 PM
SMALL- BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
Getting by on more than a wing and a prayer Takeout feathers bottom line for chicken franchise BY GWEN EVERETT
hen brothers Zak and Ray Omar took a meeting with the founder of Atomic Wings in 2014, they had no idea they would be running the company one day. At the time of the meeting, the pair, Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees, were just interested in opening a few locations of the chicken wing restaurant first conceived by founder Adam Lippin in 1981 and opened in 1989. But two years later, the whole company was theirs. “[Lippin] saw what we were able to offer, and he’s like, ‘Hey, do you guys want to just buy the business from me?’ ” Zak Omar said, adding that Lippin admired their passion. “He says, ‘I think it will be in better hands if you guys take it over.’ ” Zak Omar became chief executive officer. Ray Omar took the role of president, overseeing construction and development. Atomic Wings prides itself on high-quality ingredients and a preparation process that follows the tradition of what it dubs the wing capital of the world: upstate New York. It competes with Wingstop and Wings Over but looks to differentiate itself by serving fresh, never frozen, fare. The pair had to get to work immediately. The new CEO consolidated suppliers to one vendor. He implemented a consistent marketing strategy across Atomic Wings’ two brick-and-mortar locations. The company invested in advertising. And he set about finding a way to get those franchise locations to grow while marching in the same direction. “When you’re new and you come on board and you try to standardize, you try to bring order to the Wild, Wild West,” Zak Omar said. “For us, the biggest thing was just building the infrastructure around the brand,” Ray Omar noted. “The brand was really distinguished in New York City, but in terms of supply-side management, back-of-the-house operations and just professionally updating the brand, it needed a newer image.” Their experience with Dunkin’ Donuts franchises helped them understood the mindset of the franchisees they were now managing. “I had to show them ‘Hey, you know, I understand that you’ve been doing it your way, but this is the correct way, and this is how you’ll increase your business,’ ” Zak Omar said. “I had to show them that I was in the trenches with them.” The company has grown its footprint: When the Omars took over, Atomic Wings had two locations. It now has 11, which sprawl across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens as well as locations upstate and in Connecticut and Maryland, with six more set to open later this year. And at a moment when the pandemic is slamming most food establishments, Atomic Wings’ business, centered around takeout, is thriving. It’s grossed $8 million so far this year. Average store sales are more than $850,000, with sales at some locations exploding by 100%, according to the company.
“WE WANT TO BECOME A GREAT DESTINATION”
Tenacity has helped get the brothers through some tough times. In 2013 their father passed away. That same year Zak Omar was diagnosed with leukemia. He credits his wife, family and the franchisees for their support in getting him through it all in the ensuing years. Their next mission: expansion. The duo want to have 100 locations in five years. “We want to become a regional brand and focus on the New York tristate area, as well as the surrounding areas, and become a great destination for wings that rivals some of our competitors,” Ray Omar said. “We’d like to be mentioned in the same category and space” as Buffalo Wild Wings, he added. “I like what the future holds for us,” Zak Omar said. ■
Sights on expansion
WHEN ZAK OMAR got involved with Atomic Wings in 2014, it had two locations. It now has 11.
FOCAL POINTS COMPANY NAME Atomic Wings ESTABLISHED 1989 LEADERSHIP Zak Omar, CEO; Ray Omar, president
2020 YTD REVENUE $8 million AVERAGE UNIT SALES Over $850,000
FRANCHISE LOCATIONS 11 across Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens as well as upstate, Connecticut and Maryland, with six more opening this year
10 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
9/17/20 6:14 PM
LiveOnNY, MediSys kick off new Medical system organ-procurement process expands house calls BY JENNIFER HENDERSON
iveOnNY, the nonprofit organ-procurement organization for the greater New York area, told Crain’s exclusively that it has partnered with Queens-based MediSys Health Network to implement an automated organ-donation referral system. The new platform, from Santa Monica, Calif., medical software company Transplant Connect, went live locally at the end of July. Called iReferral, its use at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, part of MediSys, marks its first use in New York and third nationwide. Hospitals are mandated by the
To speed up the communication, the viability of organs and especialthe iReferral system allows for pa- ly tissues, Irving said. The iReferral tient data to be transferred in real system allows for automatically time from a hospital’s electronic prescreening patients for precludmedical records to those ing conditions, such as of a procurement organicancer or sepsis. “We know that when zation, said Helen Irving, we have an earlier referpresident and CEO of NUMBER of LiveOnNY. In turn, the orral, we have a better oporgans LiveOnNY portunity of a family sayganization is able to send was hoping would ing yes to donation,” she a representative to the be transplanted added. hospital without first havin 2020, from more Nationwide, ing to speak with a doctor 400 organ donors than 70% of procureor nurse. The system is expected ment organizations use to help improve the effiTransplant Connect’s ciency of the overall donation pro- electronic medical records softcess, Irving said. ware. “It really automates the referral LiveOnNY, based in Hudson process,” Irving Yards, received a small grant to imsaid of iReferral. “In plement iReferral, and the hope is the future we to expand its use to additional area should all be con- hospitals, Irving said. This is important because the nected.” Initial calls from pandemic devastated local organ hospitals to organ- donation in the first half of the year, procurement organizations can be on the heels of a record 2019. Before delayed during peak times. Once Covid-19, LiveOnNY was targeting made, it can take between 10 and 30 about 400 organ donors and 1,100 minutes to source information organs transplanted this year. In about whether an organ is suitable June it recorded 25 organ donors and nearly 70 transplants, starting for donation, she said. Time is critical when it comes to its way back up to normal levels. ■
THE PANDEMIC DEVASTATED LOCAL ORGAN DONATION IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE YEAR Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to refer all deaths to their local organ-procurement organization. However, the notification process currently involves hospital staff placing a call to such organizations, LiveOnNY said.
BY SHUAN SIM
ollis Health, a members-only concierge medical system, last Monday announced the expansion of its house-calls service into Long Island, the lower and mid– Hudson Valley as well as parts of Connecticut and New Jersey. Sollis, based in Manhattan, promises no waiting time at its two local clinics and offers 24/7 telemedicine capabilities and home visits. The regional expansion of its house calls would extend Covid-19 testing and management services, including X-rays and medication, in addition to non-Covid-19-related services, to members in those areas. House calls in the Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Connecticut would be served by staff from the company’s clinics in Tribeca and the Upper East Side, and calls from Long Island would be served either by staff from the Manhattan clinics or doctors in the Hamptons, said Sabine Heller, chief commercial officer of Sollis Health. The expansion was driven by the company’s observation of a significant increase in demand for house calls as clinic visits declined during
the pandemic. House calls to patients increased by 50% in March and April and steadily increased in the next few months. The expansion is expected to provide a 15% increase in such encounters on an annualized basis, Heller said. “What we’re doing here is providing our members with an alternative to clinic visits” Heller said. Sollis brought on an additional 30 staffers, including doctors, nurses and physician assistants, as part of the expansion. The house-calls team of 50 will provide medical service within 48 hours of the booking of an appointment, according to a press release. Sollis has approximately 4,000 members and works with 30 corporations across the nation, including Hudson Yards-based real estate firm The Related Cos., Heller said. She declined to provide revenue figures but noted that individual membership costs range from $3,000 to $5,000 per year for those under 45 and over 45, respectively, and family memberships on average cost $8,000 per year. The firm also entered the Los Angeles market in July and expects to open a medical center there in late September. ■
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September 21, 2020 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | 11
9/17/20 2:08 PM
THE LIST TOP MANHATTAN RETAIL LEASES Biggest transactions in the first half of 2020, ranked by square feet
THE TOP FOUR
30 32 33
34 35 36 37
FROM THE LEFT 620 Sixth Ave., 151 E. 85th St., 560 Broadway, 350 Fifth Ave.
1 2 3 4
620 Sixth Ave.
Bed Bath & Beyond
Ripco Real Estate
151 E. 85th St.
Ripco Real Estate
Vornado Realty Trust
Vornado Realty Trust
Upper East Side
Newmark Knight Frank
GFP Real Estate
Newmark Knight Frank
350 Fifth Ave.
The Shopping Center Group
Empire State Realty Trust
Cushman & Wakefield
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
795 Columbus Ave.
Ripco Real Estate
Winick Realty Group
36 E. 57th St.
Cushman & Wakefield
11 Penn Plaza
Newmark Knight Frank
Vornado Realty Trust
Vornado Realty Trust
564 W. 181st St.
Newmark Knight Frank
445 Fifth Ave.
The Dartmouth Co.
Newmark Knight Frank
601 W. 26th St.
Newmark Knight Frank
Cushman & Wakefield
Allied Partners/ ABS Partners Real Estate/ Feil Organization
Cushman & Wakefield
30 W. 26th St.
Hill Country Barbecue Market
Armano Real Estate
Himmel & Meringoff Properties Direct deal
13 14 15
626 First Ave.
Cushman & Wakefield
JDS Development Group
Winick Realty Group
130 Fifth Ave.
Newmark Knight Frank
Newmark Knight Frank
100 E. Broadway
King of Party Karaoke
Cushman & Wakefield
Yeung Real Estate Development
Cushman & Wakefield
60 E. 42nd St.
Cushman & Wakefield
Empire State Realty Trust/ Qatar Investment Authority
124 E. 14th St.
City Economic Development Corp.
17 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
630 Fifth Ave.
Cushman & Wakefield
129–131 Greene St.
Cushman & Wakefield
139 Spring St.
4 Union Square South
Crown Retail Services
Vornado Realty Trust
Vornado Realty Trust
241 E. 86th St.
Newmark Knight Frank
Newmark Knight Frank
Upper East Side
1 W. 34th St.
Cushman & Wakefield
Crown Retail Services
538–552 W. 181st St.
312 Food Corp.
Won Merchandise Corp.
250 Park Ave.
AEW Capital Management
Cushman & Wakefield
545 Madison Ave.
114 Mulberry St.
Kassin Sabbagh Realty
Wonder Works Construction
Kassin Sabbagh Realty
625 W. 55th St.
Real Life Ninja Academy
Nationwide Management Corp.
Newmark Knight Frank
12 W. 48th St.
One Medical Group
Cushman & Wakefield
212–216 E. 57th St.
12 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
9/17/20 1:44 PM
38 39 40 40 42 43 44 45 46 47
48 49 50 50 50
30 32 33
40 W. 17th St.
Optimal Mind Care
Metropolitan Property Services
100 Park Ave.
SL Green Realty
450 Sixth Ave.
Manhattan Skyline Management Corp.
34 35 36 37
1481 Third Ave.
Sage & Sound
Newmark Knight Frank
200 E. 84th St. Owners Inc.
Kassin Sabbagh Realty
Upper East Side
12 W. 48th St.
Cushman & Wakefield
36–38 E. 12th St.
Jack Vogel Associates
Rice & Associates
717 Madison Ave.
Eight Points Asset Management
Newmark Knight Frank
38 39 40 40 42 43 44 45 46 47
Himmel & Meringoff Properties JLL
142 W. 26th St.
2nd Street USA
Newmark Knight Frank
142 W. 26 St. Owners Corp.
171 E. 84th St.
Evans Tower Condominium
Cushman & Wakefield
Upper East Side
330 Lafayette St.
Slowear New York
Newmark Knight Frank
330 Lafayette St.
Newmark Knight Frank
19–23 Saint Marks Place
UBS Realty Investors
Rutgers Presbyterian Church
Upper West Side
47 Wooster St.
Dresner & Henle
MHP Real Estate Services
355 Greenwich St.
Walter & Samuels
Winick Realty Group
512 W. 22nd St.
Galeria Nara Roesler
Vornado Realty Trust/Albanese Organization/Olayan Group
Vornado Realty Trust
48 49 50 50 50
99 University Place
BDN New York Management
12 W. 48th St.
SRS Real Estate Partners
Cushman & Wakefield
Newmark Knight Frank
AB & Sons Group
Winick Realty Group
284 Fifth Ave.
Meridian Capital Group
Meridian Capital Group
417 Lafayette St.
The Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Art Gallery
440–458 Columbus Ave.
The Strand at Columbus Avenue
Quinlan Development Group
Walker Malloy & Co.
Upper West Side
460 Broome St.
Cushman & Wakefield
Venture Capital Properties
Source: CoStar Group with additional research by Gerald Schifman. This list includes leases with terms of more than two years. In cases of ties, deals are listed with the same ranking number in alphanumeric order of address. CoStar Group conducts research to maintain a database of commercial real estate information. For more information, visit costar.com or call 800-204-5960.
WANT MORE OF CRAIN’S EXCLUSIVE DATA? VISIT CRAINSNEWYORK.COM/LISTS.
A BIG ASK
Asking retail rents have been sliding since 2015, and the pandemic has accelerated the recent trend.
The number of available ground-floor retail spaces in prime Manhattan corridors peaked in the second quarter of this year.
Average asking rent
208 201 208 200 196 195
Ground-floor availabilities 235 229 226 216 219 214 219 216
DECLINE in average asking rents on Prince Street from Broadway to West Broadway, the largest drop of any prime corridor in Manhattan
Q2/ Q3/ Q4/ Q1/ Q2/ Q3/ Q4/ Q1/ Q2/ Q3/ Q4/ Q1/ Q2/ Q3/ Q4/ Q1/ Q2/ 2016 2016 2016 2017 2017 2017 2017 2018 2018 2018 2018 2019 2019 2019 2019 2020 2020
NUMBER of ground-floor availabilities on Madison Avenue between 57th and 72nd streets in the second quarter, most of any retail corridor surveyed
SOURCE: CBRE Research
RETAIL TRADE EMPLOYEES working in the city as of July, a 13.2% decrease from 2019 SOURCE: State Department of Labor
September 21, 2020 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | 13
9/17/20 1:44 PM
ASKED & ANSWERED
SCOTT RECHLER RXR Realty
INTERVIEW BY NATALIE SACHMECHI
WHO HE IS Chairman and CEO of RXR Realty
XR Realty, run by chief executive Scott Rechler, owns more than 25 million square feet of office space in the city, but most of it sits empty now, thanks to the pandemic. The day after Labor Day, the buildings were only 12% occupied, but Rechler isn’t waiting idly by. He’s been hitting the phones, telling tenants it’s safe to come back to work and the city needs them. He is also on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York Forward Task Force, where he works with elected officials and industry leaders on best practices to get the city back up and running.
What has occupancy looked like in your buildings during the pandemic?
We started off in the 5% range, got up to about 8% and climbed to about 10%. Our current assessment from talking to tenants is that we’ll end the year somewhere in the 25% to 50% range. If we are able to sustain the low infection rate and we don’t have another surge, that will help people want to come back to the workplace. The other piece would be schools being able to stay open. Assuming those work out, we’ll be closer to 50%.
Safety has become an issue in the city. How are you addressing this?
If you walk through our lobbies today, they probably have two and a half times more security and concierge support there than they did pre-Covid. Part of it is for security
What efforts have you taken to get tenants to come back to the office?
GREW UP Port Washington, Nassau County RESIDES Long Island and New York City EDUCATION Bachelor’s in economics and political science, Clark University; master’s in real estate, NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate PREVIOUS WORK Rechler got his start in real estate working with his family at Reckson Associates, which his grandfather founded in 1958. After it was sold to SL Green Realty for $6 billion in 2007, Rechler and his partners formed RXR Realty.
I make it a point every day to speak to three or four tenants, both to hear what’s happening with them and to communicate what we’re doing. We’ve been proactive about providing our tenants with playbooks about what it means to come back to the workplace. We do videos of each of our buildings so that you can actually see what it would be like when you go to the Thermoscan or how you have to touch those elevators.
Why is it important for workers to return?
For every one person who works in an office building, five service jobs are created, whether that’s the dry cleaner, the deli person, the shoe shiner, the people cleaning the spaces or the restaurants you’re going to be going to. To me, it’s a civic duty to responsibly come back to work and actively engage in being part of the community. I make the analogy that, post-9/11, people didn’t flee and hide in fear of another act of terrorism, even though that risk existed. It was almost a patriotic duty to come back to the city, knowing that there’s a higher degree of risk but that there were new measures of safety that were put in place.
CAUSES HE LOVES He is active in many initiatives around the city and state, including his service as chair of the Regional Plan Association, vice chair of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and a member of the Real Estate Board of New York, to name a few.
What are the conversations with the governor’s task force like?
TWO PASSIONS Rechler is a die-hard New York Giants fan. He also is an avid chef. He enjoys making risotto and pizza with caramelized onions and goat cheese.
The governor has been pretty clear that he’s very focused on science and data driving his decisions. He also realizes that if we do not find a way to start getting the economic engine moving again, we’re going to have a major problem on our hands. We need to all recalibrate how we operate our businesses and everything we do. I think he’s trying to encourage innovation and getting to a point where businesses can survive and reinstate the quality of life New Yorkers expect. ■
measures. The other part is to make sure they’re complying with social distancing and face mask wearing, and to answer questions.
VIRTUAL EVENT • COMPLIMENTARY TO ATTEND • SPACE IS LIMITED
Wednesday, October 14 | 4-5 p.m.
Letitia James New York State Attorney General
New York Attorney General Letitia James has been an advocate for environmental issues, women’s rights and equal opportunity. As the state’s top law enforcement officer, she has dismantled President Donald Trump’s charity, halted the auctioning of property tax liens and cracked down on pandemic-related price gouging. On Oct. 14 James will join Crain’s New York Business Forum to discuss her accomplishments and the challenges the coming year poses.
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14 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | September 21, 2020
9/17/20 2:17 PM
Firms embrace remote work, but for how long?
inancial District startup Better.com has gotten so good at hiring remotely— adding 1,500 people to its staff during the pandemic—that the company plans to keep on doing it after the crisis has passed. That means some jobs that used to require a presence in the company’s World Trade Center, Oakland, Calif., or Charlotte, N.C., offices will now be open to workers across the country. “Six months ago I never would have thought we would be hiring remote engineers,” said Elana Knoller, Better’s chief product officer. If the fast-growing startup can withstand a huge surge of mortgage refinancings and grow its staff by more than a third with its office closed, what is so bad about remote work? That is the question CEOs and management experts are grappling with. Just 5% of workers who were not self-employed worked from home more than half the time in 2018, according to census data. Now companies have operated for months without an office and are becoming more open to letting employees stay home. About 83% of companies plan to allow more people to work from
home beyond the current crisis, according to a survey of about 800 employers by Mercer, an HR and workplace benefits consulting firm. But management experts warn that a new era of working from home may not be upon us just yet. “It is possible we are rushing to conclusions based on seven months of experiences,” said Anna A. Tavis, a professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies. “It is not clear yet how many people truly want to stay home. People may not miss their commute, but not everyone is ready to abandon the urban office.” IBM, Yahoo and some other companies ditched work-fromhome benefits in the years before the pandemic, finding the arrangement slowed down productivity. Remote work has the potential to slow advancement opportunities for new hires—and also raises thorny issues around pay. Salaries often are based at least in part on an employee’s cost of living. Facebook made waves earlier this summer when it said it would adjust remote employees’ pay based on the cost of living where they are. “You can imagine the headaches around recalibrating an entire pay system,” Tavis said. “Designing compensation for New York, Michi-
“But these are the companies that over the next five to 10 years will go from 20-person teams to 200-person teams, and that will have a significant impact on how many jobs are remote,” he added. Casebook, a startup with 41 employees that provides management software for nonprofits, permanently closed its office in Manhattan last month to go fully remote. CEO Tristan Louis said the stories of IBM and Yahoo shouldn’t scare leaders away from the concept. “IBM and Yahoo were large organizations that made the switch and then pulled back,” he said. “You also have companies like Automattic, the makers of WordPress, that started remote and now operate that way with thousands of people.” Casebook is committed to working remotely for at least the next year. But Louis acknowledged that it is possible the company may find itself missing the workplace once offices are able to fully reopen. “We are waiting until there is a vaccine,” he said. “At that point we will see what the data indicates we should do.” ■ ISTOCK
BY RYAN DEFFENBAUGH
gan, Hawaii—that is a big overhaul that goes beyond just eliminating office space.”
Increasing flexibility Knoller said Better hasn’t made any decisions yet as to whether pay or benefits will change for remote workers. She said the firm is focused on the concept as a way to increase flexibility. The company is still “very much a New York City startup” and hopes to reopen its 40,000-square-foot office at 3 World Trade Center by March. “But in the past we have had people who are all-stars for us here but
had to leave New York for specific reasons,” Knoller said. “Now we maybe don’t have to part ways.” Other startups are beginning to think that way as well. Union Square Ventures, one of the city’s top tech investment firms, reported last month that remote job listings in its portfolio companies have tripled since the beginning of the pandemic, with such listings now representing about 10% of jobs. Many of those jobs are for young companies without “a long-standing office culture,” noted Matt Cynamon, a network program manager who authored the report.
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9/17/20 2:59 PM
Big-business leaders urge Trump to bail out the city and transit system
eaders of the city’s top local business groups urged President Donald Trump last week to bail out the city government and transit system, appealing to his instincts as a businessman. “We are writing to respectfully request that the federal government responds to the unprecedented economic fallout caused by Covid-19 by appropriating essential funding to major transit systems, including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority,” reads the letter from the Partnership for New York and business groups from Westchester and Long Island. The city and the state “are on the brink of having to lay off police officers, firefighters, emergency service personnel and others from the public workforce,” the missive reads. “That could consequently jeopardize public safety and thus our economy.” It was signed by Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester; Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association; and Kathryn
ylde of the Partnership for New W York City. There’s good reason for these three business leaders to combine their interests under one heading. The letter notes that the city, Long Island and Westchester together represent 63% of the state’s population and 75% of the state’s gross domestic product; combined, they represent 4% of the nation’s population and 6% of the nation’s gross domestic product. “As a businessman yourself, you understand that superior public safety leads to more private investments and business expansion, and that a lower crime rate is an asset for economic development. And, thus, if state and local governments lay off employees and reduce services, this will negatively impact our economy and the national recovery,” the letter says. The missive calls downstate New York the nation’s most important economic region. “The MTA service region, which represents 10% of the nation’s economic output, is the lifeblood of that economic vitality,” the letter reads. “Without federal relief, this will further devastate businesses that rely on mass transit and
through debt—a risky procedure that would see interest payments eat into future operating budgets— and possibly generating revenue through the sale of holdings on land and air rights across the city. This is the second letter in recent weeks addressed by the New York business community to a top public official. Two weeks ago more than 150 CEOs signed a scathing letter addressed to Mayor Bill de Blasio citing their reasons for a lack of confidence in the direction of the city.
BY BRIAN PASCUS
also constrain the national economic recovery.”
Dire situation The MTA has requested $12 billion from the federal government to fund operations this year and next. The agency has said its using up of the entire $3.9 billion in funding it received in April under the federal Cares Act and a lack of revenue because of drastic drops in ridership have created a situation of insolvency for the agency. “If we don’t get federal aid, and that’s really incumbent upon the Republican Senate leadership to move that bill and move that funding, we may have to cut subway and
bus service up to 40% and lay off about 7,400 employees and [have] up to [a] 50% service reduction on Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road,” MTA Chairman Patrick J. Foye said last Monday. The possibility of vast service cuts would cause tremendous harm to the city’s economy, transportation experts say. Last month the Riders Alliance published a study that showed the New York subway map with half the lines eliminated. The MTA faces a narrow path toward fiscal recovery if it doesn’t receive the $12 billion from the federal government. Its limited choices include going to the Federal Reserve and funding its operations
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Return to the table A Senate vote on a Republican- crafted $1 trillion stimulus package failed without the necessary Democratic support. The terms of that federal assistance package did not include any federal funding for public transit or local governments. Last Monday’s letter appears to be another bid to compel Washington to return to the table. “As the business organizations representing our regional economy, we urge you to come to the aid of our business community and lead Congress to a deal that paves the way for this necessary funding,” the letter to the president concludes. ■
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16 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | September 21, 2020
9/17/20 2:40 PM
Ahead of the curve Wellington Chen Chinatown Partnership INTERVIEW BY GWEN EVERETT
s head of the Chinatown Partnership, Wellington Chen saw the pandemic devastate businesses in the neighborhood he advocates for long before Covid-19 was a household term. Chinatown businesses saw their revenue plummet in January, making their recovery even more challenging than those in other parts of the city. Chen, who will deliver a keynote address this month at a Crain’s summit on how the pandemic hit minority-owned businesses harder than others, spoke with Crain’s about the devastation Chinatown has endured. Most people think of midMarch as the time when Covid-19 hit city companies, but you point to a much earlier date for businesses in Chinatown. Why?
The restaurateurs noticed around Feb. 6 or Feb. 7 that there was a precipitous drop that was just off the cliff. People stopped coming. We crossed the milestone in early February. And then it got worse, because by early March the outbreak happened. Chinatown was really caught off guard.
What’s behind that?
Since there was anti-Asian harassment and bashing, we and our board took the initiative
to consult a crisis-management expert. He said: “Watch, you guys. No matter what you do—you can donate 10 million masks or personal protective equipment—you will still be bashed, because historically after a pandemic, it is a blame game. People need to find a scapegoat.” And sure enough, it happened. They spit on a homeless Chinese lady in Penn Station. They beat elders with umbrellas. They harass American-born Chinese that are donating food to our workers. It’s not a pretty picture.
How do you think President Donald Trump’s
GIST E R O CE T
characterization of the pandemic—calling it “the China virus” and “the Kung Flu”—affected the situation?
There’s no question about it, it certainly did not help. It contributed to this misdirecting of anger. So many people are out of jobs. So many people are hurting. So many people have died. And who’s to blame? Anybody with an Asian face. So that is really, really unfortunate. Because that’s what we were led to believe, and the crisis-management expert warned us, and we agree with him: “You are going to be the first to suffer, and you are going to be the last to recover.” And that’s why Chinatown needs to be careful.
How did that racism affect businesses in Chinatown?
The 300 restaurants that we had [open in February] dropped to 117 by early March. Then April was really the bottom of the pit. We dropped to something like 29 restaurants.
What happened during the summer?
CRAIN’S FORUM ON COVID-19’S IMPACT ON MINORITY SMALL-BUSINESS COMMUNITIES CHEN
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Gradually, little by little, the numbers started coming back. We are now up to at least 237 restaurants that have reopened that we are aware of. It’s a very slow process, because people didn’t feel confident coming back out.
What does Chinatown need to make a full recovery? Safely, to the degree that you can, you need to have people come back to Lower Manhattan, have them come back to work. Because right now you’re down
to less than 10% that are back to work. And we are counting on the 300,000 daytime workers to come in for a lunch meal. Chinatown is basically a daytime crowd. The golden rule is, there’s no substitute for live bodies, and you need live customers, and those numbers simply do not exist. We believe in a comeback story. We believe that Chinatown will sparkle and dazzle again in the coming years, but it’s a long road back from this darkness, this once-in-a-century storm. ■
T CH S A L
Thursday, September 24 | 4-5 p.m.
Examining racial disparities during the pandemic
Crain’s will examine how Covid-19 has disproportionately affected minority communities and businesses across New York City. Keynote Speaker: Wellington Z. Chen, Executive Director, The Chinatown BID/Partnership Panelists: Jonnel Doris, Commissioner, NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Randy Peers, President and CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Jessica Walker, President and CEO, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Melba Wilson, Founder and Owner, Melba’s Restaurant in Harlem, President of the NYC Hospitality Alliance
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September 21, 2020 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | 17
9/18/20 5:09 PM
FROM PAGE 1
But since March, when the Covid-19 crisis shuttered the city’s arts institutions, donors have become a vital financial lifeline keeping many of the city’s biggest visual and performing arts destinations afloat. “We raised over $30 million from our trustees for emergency relief, which was to help us pay our staff,” said Max Hollein, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “In normal times most donors are not drawn to do that funding. They’re much more interested in program initiatives, capital projects.” The change is borne out of necessity because ticket sales and space-rental income, which typically pay the bills, are a fraction of their previous size. With earned income gone, institutions have had to turn to philanthropists if they want to survive. But museum and theater leaders, foundations and philanthropists have predicted to Crain’s that this change to their overall relationships with donors may outlast the pandemic. Top institutions are asking for help covering basic costs, and donors are increasingly willing to give it, hastening a trend toward paying for unflashy operational expenses.
Changing the rules In the past donors often gave out funds with strict rules about how institutions could spend the money. But in the past six months, many donors have agreed to limit restrictions to help institutions adjust to the constantly changing financial realities, said Kara Barnett, executive director of American Ballet Theater. “Foundations have been very understanding about loosening restrictions and allowing ABT to prioritize use of funds,” Barnett said, so that gifts can be used for general operating support. The shift is deeply appreciated, she said, because it gives ABT the flexibility to respond to a rapidly changing environment. Case in point: When the pandemic first shut down arts institutions across the five boroughs, philanthropic names in the city, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation and the New York Community Trust, organized the Covid-19 Response and Impact Fund, now worth more than $100 million, to dole out
emergency grants to cover payroll, rent and other day-to-day costs of arts and social-service organizations. “Our leaders recognized we have to do something now, because this community is on fire,” said Margaret Morton, director of the creativity and free expression team at the Ford Foundation. That was a unique emergency fund, Morton said. But since Darren Walker took over as president of the Ford Foundation in 2013, she said, the organization has been increasingly willing to cover the operational costs of the theaters, museums and other arts institutions it sponsors. The foundation gives to a number of theaters, for example, that won’t be able to host programs for quite some time, Morton said. “We’ll be much more thoughtful about helping these organizations stabilize, to give them funds to just be stable,” Morton said, “not necessarily for new fancy programs. That’s not the priority right now.”
Growing need As the arts world largely continues to wait to reopen, other foundations have recognized that they are one of the few sources that can respond to these institutions’ specific needs. “Cultural organizations are businesses that need the flexibility and faith to do the best kind of possible work,” said Kate Levin, head of the arts program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “To the extent possible, [former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s] philanthropy has been about providing general op-
PHILANTHROPIST Adrienne Arsht (center) with Max Hollein, director of the Met (left), and Limor Tomer, the Met’s general manager of concerts and lectures (right) funding to institutions after the city passed an austerity budget. Philanthropy is the last source left standing. But it’s also an unlikely savior.
Uneasy money By and large, acting as the sources of emergency aid and cash infusions is not the typical role that donors fill on a museum’s balance sheet. Foundations often have visions and missions of their own; they prefer to give grants that directly align with those missions instead of open-ended checks. At the same time, p h i l a n t h ro p i s t s, who have reasons of their own for giving, may prefer to finance a wing that bears their name or finance an exhibit that highlights a value they find important. “It is the case that talking about general operating support is a lot less sexy than talking about a particular program,” Bloomberg’s Levin said. “You’re still talking about the same animal,” but it’s like talking about the digestive tract, she said, rather than the fabulously colorful feathers. Unlike foundations, individual philanthropists are showing less willingness to throw out the old way of doing things. “Individuals, I would say, have been more … perhaps restricted in
“FOUNDATIONS HAVE BEEN VERY UNDERSTANDING ABOUT LOOSENING RESTRICTIONS” erating support.” That comes as the city’s arts institutions—particularly ones without eight- and nine-figure endowments—confront the possibility of permanent closure. More than a half-billion dollars has drained out of the arts sector in the city, according to a June report commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs. Small institutions saw revenue fall at double the rate of large institutions. Meanwhile the department itself, the largest municipal funder of the arts in the country, slashed
the way that they are giving,” said Barnett of the American Ballet Theater. Individual donors have initiated more conversations around posthumous giving, she said, but they are generally less willing to write a blank, unrestricted check to ABT. That’s possibly because philanthropists give money to further their philosophies and values. “An institution, board or others see a value in an entire institution, or a city, whereas individuals value the institution but then really believe in the music of Chopin,” said Adrienne Arsht, a Miami-based philanthropist who’s made large gifts to the Met and Lincoln Center, among other Manhattan cultural institutions. Arsht sticks to restricted gifts because she decided on her philanthropic agenda, which includes the theme of resilience, a long time ago. For that reason the coronavirus has not changed her approach to giving, she says. “My involvement with these institutions is ongoing, from advice to participation, to going on Zoom and sharing a particular event with friends,” she said. In August, for example, Arsht announced a $5 million donation to the Met so that it could pay its interns. “The things that I have funded are not shut down during this time, and so I’ve stuck to that, in the way of giving to the institutions where I
have a deep interest,” she said.
SAC Capital Advisors, pleaded guilty to securities fraud in 2013 and paid a record fine as part of a U.S. crackdown on insider trading on
Wall Street. Sportico previously reported on the deal, saying it values the Mets at about $2.4 billion. ■
Middle ground But even with foundations’ gifts becoming more flexible, it remains essential that institutions make a strong case for donors to fund the arguably less glamorous needs, Levin said. “You have to meet them where they’re interested and talk about something that fires up their vision,” she said. “So covering the cost of the boiler? Not so attractive.” Instead, Levin said, institutions should play up the things that the boiler makes possible because of temperature control. “How do you capture the interest of someone whose support you’re asking for?” she continued. “A lot of that does get programmatic.” At the American Ballet Theater, that has meant launching funds that are restricted but hit on core themes the institution is concerned about at the moment: a fund dedicated to diversity and inclusion, for example, or a crisis-relief fund that pays for dancer salaries. Technically, those funds are addressing operational costs. But philanthropists who are concerned about artists’ livelihoods in the time of Covid-19 find these donations compelling, Barnett said. “It’s absolutely fine that those gifts are restricted to supporting and sustaining artists, because that’s what we want to be doing,” she said. ■
Billionaire investor Cohen clinches deal to acquire Mets
fter a nine-month odyssey, Steve Cohen finally got what he wanted: a deal to acquire the New York Mets. The billionaire reached an agreement with Sterling Partners, a firm backed by the families that own the Mets, to purchase the baseball
team, according to a statement. Terms of the transaction, which still needs approval from Major League Baseball’s other club owners, weren’t disclosed. “I am excited to have reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to purchase the New York Mets,” Cohen said in the statement. Cohen, already a Mets investor,
was in talks to acquire the team late last year, but the negotiations broke down, and the owners went looking for other prospective buyers.
Big money Cohen, the owner of Point72 Asset Management, is worth $10.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His former firm,
18 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | September 21, 2020
9/18/20 1:44 PM
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Nomination Deadline: October 16 Crain’s Notable Women in Law will publish as a special section within Crain’s New York Business’ December 14 issue. This feature is a celebration of women executives working in law and will honor their professional, civic and philanthropic achievements.
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Notice of Qualification of EIGHTEEN LLC, FICTITIOUS NAME: 18 CONSULTING LLC. Authority filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 07/21/20. Office location: NY County. LLC formed in Delaware (DE) on 05/04/20. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: Eighteen LLC, 94 Grand St., Fl. Three, NY, NY 10013. Address to be maintained in DE: c/o Corporation Service Company, 251 Little Falls Dr., Wilmington, DE 19808. Arts of Org. filed with the Secy. of State, Division of Corporations, John G. Townsend Bldg., 401 Federal St., Ste. 4, Dover, DE 19901. Purpose: any lawful activities.
Notice of Qualification of IKEGUCHI HOLDINGS LLC Appl. for Auth. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 07/20/20. Office location: NY County. LLC formed in Delaware (DE) on 03/31/16. Princ. office of LLC: 109 Greene St., Apt. 4A, NY, NY 10012. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to the LLC, Attn: Edward Ikeguchi at the princ. office of the LLC. DE addr. of LLC: Corporation Service Co., 251 Little Falls Dr., Wilmington, DE 19808. Cert. of Form. filed with DE Secy. of State, Div. of Corps., John G. Townsend Bldg., 401 Federal St., Ste. 4, Dover, DE 19901. Purpose: Any lawful activity.
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NOTICE OF FORMATION of O’Neil Enterprises, LLC. Arts of Org filed with Secy. Of State of NY (SSNY) on 6/23/20. Office location: NY County. SSNY designated as agent upon whom process may be served and shall mail copy of process against LLC to 455 Central Park W, Apt 7D, New York, NY 10025. Purpose: any lawful act.
CARLEIGH’S SWEET TREATS, LLC, Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 0 6/17/2019. Office loc: NY County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against the LLC may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: Johniece D. Erby, 502 West 177th St., Apt. 2D, NY, NY 10033. Purpose: Any Lawful Purpose.
Notice of Formation of D & B/Ebrani LLC. Arts of Org filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 1/29/20. Office location: NY County. SSNY designated as agent upon whom process may be served and shall mail copy of process against LLC to 19 Drury Lane, Great Neck, NY 11023. Prin. bus. addr: 50 W 47th St, NY, NY 10036. Purpose: any lawful act.
NOTICE OF FORMATION of TOIV CONDO LLC. Art. of Org. filed with the Secy of State of NY (SSNY) on 4/ 16/2020. Off. Loc.: NY County. SSNY has been desig. as agent upon whom process against it may be served. The address to which the SSNY shall mail a copy to is: 28 Liberty, New York, NY 10005. Reg. Agent: National Registered Agents, Inc., 28 Liberty, New York, NY 10005. Purpose: Any lawful act
Notice of Formation of TWJ Ventures LLC. Articles of Organization filed with the Secretary of State of NY (SSNY) on 8/17/2020. Office location: New York County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against it may be served. The Post Office address to which the SSNY shall mail a copy of any process the LLC served upon him/her is: JoAnne Kao. The principal business address of the LLC is: 305 Columbus Ave., #51 NY, NY 10023. Purpose: any lawful act or activity
Notice of Formation of MEDICAL WELLNESS PRACTICE, PLLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 07/23/20. Office location: NY County. Princ. office of PLLC: 133 E. 58th St., NY, NY 10022. SSNY designated as agent of PLLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to the LLC, P.O. Box 103, Hillsdale, NJ 07642. Purpose: Medicine.
NOTICE OF QUALIFICATION of KYNECT HOLDINGS, LLC. Authority filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 3/ 23/2020. Office loc: NY County. LLC formed in TX on 2/7/05. SSNY designated agent upon whom process may be served & mailed to: CT Corp. System, 28 Liberty St., NY, NY 10005. Principal business address: 14675 Dallas Parkway #150, Dallas, TX 75254. Cert. of LLC filed with Secy. of State of TX loc: PO Box 13697, Austin, TX 78711. Purpose: Any lawful activity.
Notice of Formation of 1559 Boone Avenue L.P. Certificate filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 8/ 12/20. Duration: 8/31/2180. Office location: NY County. SSNY designated as agent of LP upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: 1559 Boone Avenue L.P. c/o The Bridge, Inc., 290 Lenox Ave., 3rd Fl., NY, NY 10027. N ame/address of each genl. ptr. available from SSNY. Purpose: any lawful activities.
NOTICE OF FORMATION OF BEDNERS ACCOUNTING AND TAXES LLC. Articles of Organization filed with the Secretary of State of NY (SSNY) on 04/ 27/2020. Office Location: NEW YORK County. The principal business address of the LLC is 17 STATE ST 40TH FLOOR, NY, NY, 10004. Purpose: any lawful act or activity.
KENNETH STILES ADVISORY, PLLC, a Prof. LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 07/14/2020. Office loc: NY County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: The LLC, 111 N. Gardner Ave., Charlotte, NC 28216. Purpose: To Practice The Profession Of Legal Services & Consulting Services.
COLOR BY LAISAM BOWEN LLC, Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 03/ 02/2020. Office loc: NY County. SSNY has been designated as agent upon whom process against the LLC may be served. SSNY shall mail process to: Laisam Bowen, 30-62 12th Street Apt 2R, Astoria, NY 11102. Purpose: Any Lawful Purpose.
SOMERSTONE CAPITAL LLC. Arts. of Org. filed with the SSNY on 06/22/20. Office: New York County. SSNY designated as agent of the LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to the LLC, 480 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022. Purpose: Any lawful purpose.
Notice of Formation of MINH HOLDINGS II, LLCArts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 08/04/20. Office location: NY County. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to Corporation Service Co., 80 State St., Albany, NY 12207. Purpose: Any lawful activity.
Notice of Formation of Baked to Order LLC. Arts of Org filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) On 5/4/2020. Office location: NY County. SSNY designated as agent upon whom Process may be served and Shall mail copy of process Against LLC to 620 W 143 St, #9C, NY, NY 10031. R/A:US Corp Agents, Inc. 7014 13th Ave, #202, BK, NY 11228. Purpose: any lawful Act Notice of Formation of JVR ART ADVISORY, LLC Arts. of Org. filed with Secy. of State of NY (SSNY) on 07/23/20. Office location: NY County. Princ. office of LLC: 156 E. 79th St., #6A, NY, NY 10075. SSNY designated as agent of LLC upon whom process against it may be served. SSNY shall mail process to the LLC at the addr. of its princ. office. Purpose: Art advisory.
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SEPTEMBER 21, 2020 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | 21
9/18/20 6:04 PM
ZONING FROM PAGE 3
cleared the way for the Inwood rezoning and four towers in Lower Manhattan to move forward, reversing verdicts from the winter that halted both projects. While some have written off these three events as a simple coincidence of timing, others say they collectively represent a growing realization of how important it is to invest in New York, especially as the city seeks to recover economically from the devastating pandemic.
had properly analyzed the potential socioeconomic impacts of the rezoning on the neighborhood. Northern Manhattan Is Not for Sale, an advocacy group that launched the legal challenge to the rezoning, had argued that the city did not properly consider issues, among them how the rezoning would affect Inwood’s demographics. The Appellate Division’s Two Bridges decision arrived Aug. 27, when the court unanimously ruled that the large towers JDS Development Group, Starrett Development, L&M Development Partners and CIM Group hoped to build in the neighborhood did not need a special permit to move forward and did not violate any local zoning laws. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and the City Council had challenged the City Planning Commission’s approvals of the project applications, and Judge Arthur Engoron in state Supreme Court in Manhattan initially ruled in their favor in February. Maddd Equities and Joy Construction are planning a major project for Inwood, and the companies had supported the city’s appeal of the initial court ruling that overturned the rezoning. Its reinstatement, combined with Industry City and Two Bridges, represents good news for real estate, and the city’s need for investments to help with its pandemic recovery may
“THESE DECISIONS HAVE NOW REAFFIRMED THAT THERE IS A RULE OF LAW” “If you want a progressive city, it’s got to be a prosperous city. You’ve got to grow because that’s how you generate the tax revenue to pay for government services,” said James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “That is what Industry City is all about. That is what Two Bridges is all about. That is what the Inwood rezoning is all about, and this all gets woven together.”
Reverse, reverse The Appellate Division of the New York court system handed down its Inwood decision July 23, unanimously ruling that the city
have been at play in each of them, said Eli Weiss of Joy Construction. With the Inwood and Two Bridges decisions, however, the main factor was simply the Appellate Division’s not letting a pervasive anti- development attitude override the law, Weiss said. “I think that the sentiment had gotten so negative that the city was going to be run by the court of public opinion rather than the rule of law,” Weiss said. “And I think these decisions have now reaffirmed that there is a rule of law and that the laws have been applied appropriately.” Roderick Hills, a law professor at New York University, echoed these comments. There is a strong political vibe in the city that is hostile to developers because they symbolize money, Hills said, and if you’re a judge with a strong opposition to income inequality and moneyed interests dominating politics, it follows that you would want to join in that. The Appellate Division decisions were based on solid legal argument, Hills said, but he cautioned against viewing them as a sign that New York is going to become markedly less hostile to developers, whether about Industry City or other projects. “The Appellate Division simply told the courts to stop joining the mob, and that’s great,” he said, “but that doesn’t say anything about whether the NIMBY mob will continue to oppose new housing. I assume that they will continue to oppose any change to the status quo.”
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
Northern Manhattan Is Not for Sale has appealed the Inwood rezoning’s reinstatement, and the Court of Appeals has not yet said whether it will hear their case. Brewer and the City Council are still determining whether to appeal the Two Bridges verdict. The developers behind the Two Bridges projects declined to comment on the case. Inwood Legal Action Co-Chair Cheryl Pahaham disputed the premise that an anti-real estate sentiment had truly taken hold in the city, maintaining that even her group wants to see more development come to New York. It just comes down to the details of the individual projects and making sure the community has a voice in them, she said. “I think if the city really took a long-term view, it would be wise for decision makers to really bring the public into the planning process,” Pahaham said. “We are the people who are going to be here.”
Weak links While the Industry City push and the Two Bridges and Inwood decisions represent good news for real estate, their similarities more or less begin and end there, said Mitchell Korbey, chair of the land-use and zoning group at law firm Herrick Feinstein. “It may seem that there’s a connection, but I think each of these matters is distinguishable,” Korbey said. “They’re all different from each other, and I’m not quite sure that you can read a common thread
in them.” The Inwood decision could ultimately affect other rezoning efforts in the city, he said, but the Two Bridges ruling in particular is unlikely to have any major implications outside of those specific projects. “The Two Bridges decision is not a citywide decision, if you will,” he said. “It’s very narrowly focused.” Despite this recent spate of good news, no project is completely out of the woods yet. The New York Court of Appeals could rule to halt once again the Inwood rezoning and the Two Bridges towers— although it is more difficult to mount a successful appeal when the Appellate Division has issued a unanimous ruling—and the City Council could still vote down the proposal to rezone Industry City. Councilman Robert Cornegy has already come out in favor of the Industry City rezoning, citing the economic benefits it would bring to New York. He maintained that it was largely distinct from the two court rulings, and the city’s overall support for responsible real estate and development projects had not changed in recent months. “I think the only nuanced one in that trifecta is Industry City, which has to be painted with a nuanced brush because of the potential for it to add to the quality of life with jobs and opportunities,” Cornegy said. “I think the sentiment remains the same. Some of my colleagues who are in the districts where these projects have happened are still not happy.” ■
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New York Edge
Avery Hall Investments
Tommy Dwyer has been promoted to President of Clune Construction’s New York office. He has over 39-years of experience working in the construction industry, and he co-led the New York office as its Executive Managing Director prior to his promotion. Dwyer has an in-depth knowledge of construction, having managed projects and client relationships for global law firms, media corporations, financial services firms and an array of Fortune 500 companies. He studied mechanical engineering at the Regional Technical College in Galway Ireland.
Sean Clune has been promoted to lead Clune Construction’s New York Operations. With 16 years of construction management experience, he has played an integral role in establishing the company’s growth in the New York area. He started his career in the firm’s Chicago headquarters and has traveled throughout the U.S. to lead several Mission Critical projects. Over the last seven years, he has been instrumental in establishing Clune Construction’s culture in New York. Clune is known for his ability to establish strong relationships with clients and subcontractors. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Tulane University.
Payoneer, a global digital payment platform has hired Charles Rosenblatt as Chief Strategy Officer. In his new role, Charles will help Payoneer grow its end-to-end solution, aiding in developing market strategies for its core payment products as well as newer offerings like working capital, merchant services and more. He will focus on the company’s cross-organizational vision, strategic resource prioritization and key corporate partnerships and acquisitions.
New York Edge, New York City’s largest provider of on-site afterschool programs, has appointed Nancy Guida as its chief advancement and communications officer. Ms. Guida will oversee communications strategies, lead fundraising initiatives and corporate partnerships, as well as strategy, management and culture within the organization. Most recently, Ms. Guida served as a consultant at New York Edge and previously was VP of communications and marketing at The New York Women’s Foundation.
Steven Spektor has been named a Principal at real estate, design, and development firm Avery Hall, formerly Avery Hall Investments. He joined in 2017 as Director of Construction to oversee all aspects of construction for the company. Under his leadership, Avery Hall recently topped out One Boerum Place, a 250,000 square foot residential building in Downtown Brooklyn. In his new role, Steve will expand his existing responsibilities to include setting and executing strategic priorities and goals for the firm. Before joining Avery Hall, Steve worked as a Project Executive at HFZ Capital Group, overseeing numerous highprofile projects. He earned an MS in Construction Management from NYU and a BA in Political Economy from Georgetown University.
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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
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9/18/20 1:51 PM
MATTHEW WADIAK GREW UP Houston, Texas RESIDES West Village BIG MAN ON CAMPUS Wadiak graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1999 and was invited back in 2016 to give the fall commencement speech. NAME GAME Wadiak is responsible for renaming the company Blue Apron. It was originally Part & Parsley. Blue Apron pays homage to the attire of French chefs in training. SLOWING DOWN The pandemic has paused Wadiak’s travel schedule, which he said put him on the road for business roughly 200 days each year. WALK THE PLANK Wadiak launched Plank Pilates on the Lower East Side in 2009 in an empty retail space under his old apartment. He decided this summer there was no way to safely reopen the small fitness studio, but he is leaving the door open to relaunch it in the future.
COURTESY OF COOKS VENTURE
WADIAK is offering consumers a third breed of chicken through Cooks Venture.
Fixing the fowled-up food chain Blue Apron co-founder launches eco-friendly chicken firm BY RYAN DEFFENBAUGH
s Blue Apron was attracting hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, Matthew Wadiak was traveling from farm to farm, seeking ingredients for the meal-kit company he co-founded. What he discovered was a broken system. “How we breed animals, how we compensate farmers and how we are treating the soil—all of that is what goes into a recipe,” he said. Wadiak, now 42, left Blue Apron shortly after it went public in 2018 and put his money into a new company he hopes will revolutionize the system that creates the ingredients Americans consume. Cooks Venture produces heritage chickens that are more eco-friendly and, Wadiak says, tastier than the typical grocery fare. The company is on the rise after Covid-19 caused nationwide meat shortages and put the nation’s agricultural practices
under greater scrutiny. E-commerce sales have jumped, he said, driven by an increasing interest in cooking at home as well as newfound consumer comfort with ordering groceries online. The company landed $10 million in venture funding in July, bringing the total it has raised to $26 million. Two breeds of bird account for about 99% of chickens consumed in the U.S., Wadiak said. His firm offers a third option. It’s raised for a longer period and consumes a diet that is more environmentally sustainable than the corn and soy given to chickens on large-scale farms. “People are now paying a lot more attention to where their food is coming from,” Wadiak said from Arkansas, where he has spent the past few weeks overseeing the company’s 800-acre farm. Wadiak trained at the Culinary Institute of America and was working as a catering chef when he met future Blue Apron co-founders Matt
Salzberg and Ilia Papas. Wadiak designed the first recipes out of a small industrial kitchen in Queens. Cooks Venture has deals with online food sellers FreshDirect, Thrive Market and CrowdCow. Don’t expect the firm to work with Blue Apron, however. Wadiak said the meal-kit pioneer is run by a new team, and he is keeping a “separation of church and state.” The company has a long way to go if it wants to challenge industry giants such as Tyson and Purdue. Wadiak plans to use the new investor money to expand operations, which he said are near capacity. Cooks Venture is looking to capitalize on what he says are shifting consumer concerns. “When you read about giant [production] plants that are euthanizing animals and workers are getting sick, those are not the systems people want to support,” Wadiak said. “I think we are done turning a blind eye.” ■
“PEOPLE ARE NOW PAYING A LOT MORE ATTENTION TO WHERE THEIR FOOD IS COMING FROM”
SEPTEMBER 21, 2020 | CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS | 23
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