AN EXCITING REAL ESTATE TALE OF NEW YORK CITY
The winners selected at this week's Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)'s 72nd Sales Brokers Most Ingenuous Deal Of the Year Awards reflects the extent to which today's real estate industry is interwoven into the fabric of New York City. It is also solid proof that, in a place like New York, when the quest for a profitable deal is accompanied not only by ingenuity, but also combines social conscience and good will, it can result in a situation that is beneficial to local government as well as two of the most revered NY institutions: Hunter College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
For years the parking lot at 525 East 73rd Street at Manhattan's Upper East Side was a cause of frustration for many of the local residents. In 2008 the Department of Sanitation demolished their ageing and underbuilt truck depot with the intent of building a more modern and larger facility but the project was forced to a halt due to the economic crisis. In 2010 a team of real estate brokers led by Mark S. Weiss of Cushman and Wakefield, then of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, including Justin Di Mare and Howard Kesseler (of Newmark) approached the Sanitation Department about selling the E73rd street site. The proceeds would be used to help fund construction of a new facility elsewhere. Without a viable alternative the city was reluctant to consider any proposal. Luckily this team identified several alternative locations.
The City issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) stipulating that the redevelopment uses of the site be limited to healthcare, education or scientific research, thus, constraining the initial enthusiasm and interest of investors and developers which the availability of a unique Upper East Side waterfront property had generated. Nevertheless, the team awarded the tender masterminded an ingenious solution. They brought together two of the most prestigious institutions of NYC: Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Hunter College as joint applicants. In 2011 the site was awarded to the partnership
As a matter of fact both institutions needed to expand their facilities without changing neighborhood, while neither required as much space as could be built on the site. Furthermore Hunter College would train nurses via Memorial Sloan Kettering. Hunter College would provide the 'swapped' property from its existing real estate portfolio while Memorial would procure the funds ($215 million to build the facilities). This joint venture would provide a 1,1 million square foot campus, nursing school and hospital.
Mr. Weiss says:
Both Hunter College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering were relatively proximate to the site. It wasn't terribly difficult which of the prospective candidates would make the best combination. Hunter had an importance currency in hand: its property. The department of Sanitation needed to house the facility somewhere. Money alone would not have made this work
By 2015, a relatively short time for such a large-scale project, the rezoning ordinances were ratified allowing transfer to take place. The contribution of Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab in the negotiations was crucial to the advancement of the process. Having served in one of the city's most distressed ares (as special projects manager for the South Bronx Development Organization) and later as director of public affairs for the New York City Planning Commission, Miss Raab was not only experienced in government affairs but had also left a legacy among her former colleagues
Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab,states:
"Building the Hunter School of Nursing and Health Professions is a game-changer for Hunter, where many minority students receive the very best in Nursing education, taught by talented faculty. Construction of this state-of-the-art building enables us to unlock the value of our real estate and ultimately improve tomorrow's health care
In a time when hospitals and health care institutions are teetering on the edge of the precipice (global valuation and corporate finance advisor Duff & Phelps has reported that approximately ten New York City hospitals have folded since 2006), the green light for construction to begin in May 2015 was greeted as welcome news across New York.
Christine Hickey, Vice President Strategic Communication and Public Affairs for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center says:
We are the world's oldest and largest private cancer center, home to more than 14,000 physicians,scientists, nurses, and staff who are united by a relentless dedication to conquering cancer. As anindependent institution, we combine over 130 years of research and clinical leadership with the freedom to provide highly individualized, exceptional care to each patient.
It is our ardent hope now that the new Center for Cancer Care will transform cancer treatment worldwide, with the utmost emphasis on the needs of patients and their families
Asked about the further advantages that the East 73rd street location has to offer Miss Hickey concludes:
While the new center will be home to the most advanced technology and state-of-the-art cancer treatment, great care has been taken in creating interior spaces that accommodate the needs of patients, families, and caregivers, freeing them from feeling tethered to waiting rooms and providing more control over individual treatment spaces, from privacy to lighting and temperature
Waiting rooms will look out over the East River, providing engaging views and abundant natural light; set-backs on several floors will allow for green-roofed terraces and a garden. Inside the main entrance to the building will be a spacious lobby, with a graceful sweep and welcoming atmosphere that will give vivid expression to the unsurpassed quality and commitment to excellence that characterize the facility as a whole.
With its opening scheduled for 2019, The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care will usher in a new era at MSK, helping to meet the rising demand for advanced treatments while providing patients with the confidence and hope such care can bring
With more than 1,000 design, professional, and construction jobs and approximately 100 subcontractor awards anticipated for the completion of construction, the beneficial social implications of the project for the city were the main reason for the project being the recipient of the Henry Hart Rice Achievement Award , the most prestigious award of the Commercial Real Estate Category
Former recipients of the Henry Hart award include 1946 winners John A. Dunbar and H. Thornley Martin, brokers responsible for the assemblage of parcels of land for the creation of the United Nations site, In 2011 Tara Stacom and Michael Rotchford of Cushman and Wakefield were awarded for the leasing of 1 World Trade Center.
John H. Banks III, President of the Real Estate Board of New York explains :
Completing such complex transactions as those submitted for our Ingenious Deal of the Year Award competition requires tremendous creativity, professionalism and persistence. We are proud to honor the best and brightest in our industry and congratulate the winners on their exceptional accomplishments that attest to the depth and importance of their expertise
Having a choice between a sanitation garage and a state of the art health care facility along with a brand new academic center the neighborhood of the Upper East Side is also thrilled.
The gains from this rezoning are manifold: NYC is gaining a new site to house its sanitation trucks . At the same time a much needed new hospital wing is on the process of being created as is a new nursing school, all of which will be generating jobs for the City.
In times when government is constantly under attack, the "525 East 73rd Street Land Swap project" provides an example of how the City (NYCEDC in this case ), can move in an efficient and exemplary way, working for the benefit of the ....City!