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PWC developers' forum details RE investment.

Spotting emerging neighborhoods. Reconfiguring developable land. Seeking--not shying from--complex deals. Having fair market and affordable housing co-exist.

These were some of the strategies for success revealed by a quartet of Manhattan's foremost owners/developers, the featured speakers at "Reinventing the Bricks: From Ground Up & Inside Out," a breakfast developers forum presented by Professional Women in Construction (PWC) on Wednesday, January 26 at the General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen in New York City.

The prestigious group was assembled by Lois Weiss, reporter for the New York Post and various real estate publications. Weiss, who has moderated PWC's developers forums for the past three years, noted as she introduced the guests, "Each one of the women and men here today knows how to take a property and, whether it's prime or significantly underperforming, find a way to substantially add to its value. Therein lies their genius."

Weiss called Leslie Wohlman Himmel, managing partner with Himmel + Meringoff Properties, LLC, "one of the only women" to reach her level in the field. The real estate investment firm has over three million s/f of office/retail/industrial space in holdings and assets of over $ 500 million.

Himmel explained that the company succeeds by identifying and evaluating undervalued properties in emerging neighborhoods and often structures difficult transactions.

"We purchase properties that need repositioning, renovating and re-tenanting." We look to create "the best building on the block" by upgrading it with large capital expenditures to put in new lobbies, common areas and state of the art mechanical systems.

Saying that the firm is "bullish on buying in Manhattan," she noted that the leasing market will continue to improve in 2005.

Though there are some clouds on the horizon with interest rates expected to rise more rapidly in 2006/ 2007 and a growing national deficit, prospects augur well since the general economy is on an upswing; there are major new space commitments taken by Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citibank, and commercial properties are converting to residential "which places our space more in demand."

She discussed the recent purchase of 521-533 West 57th St., a 275,000 s/f office building. In 2010, when the tenant leases expire, the firm will be able to upgrade it into a first class office building with significantly higher rates. Himmel noted that it is located in an emerging neighborhood inhabited by the Hearst Publishing tower and the Time Warner Center.

As director of leasing & marketing for the Kipp/Stawski Group, Faith Ryan is responsible for the New York properties of the real estate investment and development firm that owns, builds and manages offices in New York City, London and Frankfurt.

She discussed Kipp/Stawski's ability to "reconfigure developable land," and noted that rather than selling its properties, "We focus on what today and tomorrow's tenants will want."

Kipp/Stawski has just completed work on 360 Madison Avenue, a 25-story, 360,000 s/f glass office building winch is already completely leased, and is now transforming three recently acquired lots at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street into a 28 story glass Class A office building through a Kohn Pedersen Fox, Assoc. design. Reinforced concrete was chosen over steel as the main building material for safety reasons in a "city where tenants are mindful of structural stability and speedy evacuation in an emergency," and an 11 ft. curtain wall of windows will maximize the sunlight and the views of nearby landmarks such as Bryant Park, the NY Public Library the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. "Beauty is an important part of the process," she said.

William Macklowe, president of Macklowe Properties, which has initiated the development and investment of commercial and residential transactions containing over 20 million s/f and valued in excess of $6 billion, said that "we're a nuts and bolts real estate company, a solid operator who takes pride in our buildings.
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Title Annotation:Associations: events, awards; Professional Women in Construction; Real Estate
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 9, 2005
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