New DevelopmentsThe number of small- to mid-size medical and bio-pharmacy companies in the city has quadrupled to 120 from 2002, due to the city's recruitment and the accessibility of academic centers in the area.
The Upper East Side girls' prep school has cancelled its expansion into the nearby apartment building. The Brearley School, at 610 East 83rd Street, had been angling to buy half the building at 85 East End Avenue, for use as additional teaching space but has fallen through.
Extended Stay Hotels may accept a $905 million investment offer from Starwood Capital Group and associated investors in order to exit bankruptcy, after turning down a recent proposal from Centerbridge Partners. The deal will allow Extended Stay to reduce its debt load exponentially, to $2.8 billion from $7.4 billion.
City Center at 131 West 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues will undergo a $75 million renovation. City Center, a landmarked venue, must complete an approval process from the Landmarks Preservation Commission before it can sign off on any exterior changes. The project will be completed in two phases.
Bovis Lend Lease is working overtime at 130 Liberty Street, where the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building has been plagued by delays. The crew has added an extra shift each day to the project, extending the workday by seven hours. As of late last year, the crew had demolished just two of the remaining floors, raising doubts over whether the job would be completed by the end of 2010, the set deadline for the job. The cost of the demolition is around $300 million.
The StayBridge Suites rendering InterContinental Hotel Group is to open a 310-room hotel in Times Square next month. Units at the Staybridge Suites, located at 340 West 40th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues, are decorated like studio apartments. The opening of the 32-floor Staybridge marks the final brand in the company's repetoire to have a Manhattan location.
Skidmore Owings & Merrill will be the architecture firm for the Moynihan Station, a project that would transform the James A. Farley Post Office adjacent to Penn Station, into a main railway hub. Skidmore has long been involved with the project. They have taken a key role in the station's evolving design since the 1990s. The project received $83.3 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, and is set to begin this year.
Defaults among hotel loans backing commercial mortgage-backed securities could double by 2012, reaching a 30 percent default rate. This has contributed to the negative outlook rating for the industry, as the loans facing default comprise of more than $8 billion in the total hotel loan balance. Hotel property values are currently down about 50 percent from their peak in 2007 and hotel revenues have declined by 20 percent since 2008.
The Trump Soho has scheduled its first round of unit closings by mid-April. The high-rise condo-hotel has been delayed due to years of legal wrangling with community opponents that have challenged the property's zoning, a fatal 2008 crane collapse at the site and a weak credit environment that slowed financing. The 46-story property at 246 Spring Street, at the corner of Varick Street, was previously scheduled to open in the fall of 2009, then in 2010.
The new Limelight Marketplace, which was once a church, then nightclub, seem to be emerging. The 12,000-square-foot space on the corner of West 20th Street and Sixth Avenue in Chelsea is brighter after a $15 million gut renovation.
99-cent stores are proliferating all over the city because of the down economy. Encouraged by recession-friendly rents, local 99-cent stores are spreading in the outer boroughs and looking at Manhattan. Other discount stores, from Costco to outlet store Nordstrom Rack are also in a New York City growth spurt. Now rents have come down, and people have traded down in terms of what they are purchasing.
Simon Property Group may up the ante in its bid to buy out rival shopping mall owner General Growth Properties over its competitors. General Growth, filed for the biggest real estate bankruptcy in U.S. history last year with $27 billion in debt. Simon had offered $10 billion, or $9 per share, to buy out its bankrupt rival, but General Growth balked at the low-ball offer. Meanwhile, General Growth has praised another $2.5 billion offer from Brookfield Asset Management that amounts to $15 per share. The deal, which is pending bankruptcy court approval, would also split the company in two and give Brookfield a 30 percent stake.
Images from the new $60 million Frank Gehry-designed Signature Theater, is to open at 440 West 42nd Street between Dyer and 10th avenues. The Signature Theater Company was initially intended to be built in the Financial District.
Boutique burger joint BRGR is set to open its second location at 1026 Third Avenue. The new chain, whose flagship location is on Seventh Avenue in Chelsea, is seeking more locations as part of its 2010 expansion. The 1026 Third Avenue lease, between 60th and 61st streets, is for 1,700 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 1,100 square feet in the basement. The franchise is also looking at the Upper West Side, Union Square, Hell's Kitchen, Flatiron, Midtown East, Soho and parts of Chelsea for its next outposts, which will range in size from 1,500 to 2,000 square feet each.
Struggling real estate investment trust Anthracite Capital filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. The BlackRock affiliate made real estate loans and bought debt from other lenders, defaulted on its debt and was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. BlackRock, a publicly-traded asset management firm based in Midtown, expected to lose $53.2 million on two Anthracite loans for five present and former Macklowe Properties office buildings, including 1330 Avenue of the Americas, which Macklowe has since lost to foreclosure, and 527 Madison Avenue, which Macklowe sold.
Broadway Triangle Court hearings over the controversial Broadway Triangle rezoning began with plaintiffs contending that the city left key community groups out of the planning process before handing the development rights over to Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and the United Jewish Organizations. The city, on the other hand, claims that the plans moved more quickly not because of bias but due to a funding deadline. Louise Moed, an attorney for the city, said that blocking the project would be a detriment to the community.
Extell's upcoming International Gem Tower has 100,000 square feet worth of contracts, plus another 50,000 to 75,000 square feet of space that's in negotiation. The 34-story project at 44 West 47th Street was designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill as a new home for the gem business and is being sold as commercial condos. The Gemological Institute of America took on one floor, or 30,000 square feet, and several Israeli companies have signed contracts. The foundation is complete and construction is to finish in 2012.
NYU Langone Medical Center has decided to audit its current office space. The center, which is one of the biggest hospital operators in New York City, presently uses approximately 400,000 square feet of space.
The owner of One and Two Times Square is behind Mayor Bloomberg's decision to make the pedestrian plazas below a permanent fixture. Further east, Sherwood is near-completion on its $20 million capital improvement at its Grand Central retail center, 370 Lexington Avenue.
Park Avenue Bank has been shut down with its deposits sold to Valley National Bank. This is the second seizure and asset sale of a New York City bank in two days. The State Banking Department closed the bank citing ineffective management and inadequate capital as well as a high volume of non-performing loans. The FDIC entered into a loss-share transaction on $379.8 million of Park Avenue Bank's assets. Park Avenue Bank had assets of $520.1 million and deposits of $494.5 million. The bank's four branches will reopen as branches of Valley National Bank. Last night, state regulators shut down and sold the assets of LibertyPointe Bank, the struggling lender owned by Brooklyn-based developer Shaya Boymelgreen., FDIC officials acknowledged that commercial real estate lending is playing a larger role in bank failures.
Stuyvesant Town Investment banking group Moelis & Company is set to become a financial advisor to the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, throughout the complex's coming restructuring plan. The move is being made in an effort to ensure than the tenants' needs are being weighed with the same consideration as creditors' and potential investors'. Doyle said he's "confident that Moelis & Company can help protect tenants' interests," so they will "come out on top of this complex restructuring."
As of December, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. still had yet to spend much of the $2 billion it received from the federal government after Sept. 11, 2001.. LMDC has earmarked $1.87 billion of the funds for specific projects, like the $140 million reconstruction of the East River Waterfront and the new, $23 million Spruce Street School. But it has spent only $1.33 billion of those earmarked funds so far, and the remaining $135 million is not committed to any project yet. The LMDC had also received another $783 million from the government for utility repairs, of which $159 million is not yet committed. Even more money could be left over if projects are completed ahead of schedule, or if Bloomberg's calls for the LMDC to cease operations are heeded: the organization has set aside $14 million for its future administrative costs.
SL Green Realty is angling to buy back as much as $250 million by issuing bonds in an effort to consolidate its assets. The company hopes to raise capital through a tender offer, set to expire April 7 this year, through which it will issue debt bonds, issued by partner company SL Green Operating Partnership. "This is prudent and further strengthens SL Green's liquidity position by effectively extending maturities," Michael Knott, an analyst with Green Street Advisors, told Crain's. "While the company's overall leverage remains on the high side relative to some key peers, that is not impacting SL Green's ability to run its business and make investments."
The U.S. hotel industry posted increased occupancy and revenue per available room numbers for the week ending March 6, a rare bright spot in what has been a shaky couple of years for the hospitality sector. The 0.9 percent revenue per available room, or increase, to $52.75, was the third in 18 months and the first that wasn't holiday-related. Luxury hotels had the largest increase up 10.2 percent to $160.19. Occupancy was up overall to 54.9 percent from 50.9 percent one week earlier, while the average daily rate dropped 3 percent to $96.05. Luxury hotels also were most-improved in terms of occupancy, up 16.5 percent to 66.4 percent. While the size of the revpar increase is not significant, it is a clear sign that the outlook for the industry is improving.
Groundbreaking of the new Barclays Center at the Atlantic Yards development has begun. The 18,000-seat arena, which will serve as the home of the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets, is expected to open in 2010. The Barclays Center as will be one of the largest private investments and job generators in Brooklyn's history and "a boon to Brooklyn. The arena, is also expected to host upwards of 200 events annually, including concerts and non-NBA basketball games.
There could be more trouble brewing for the Jean Nouvel-designed MoMA tower at 53 West 53rd Street. Word has gotten out that the West 54-55th Street Block Association has filed an official petition to the New York State Supreme Court, citing environmental violations and the improper transfer of development rights. Although it's not yet clear when the court might make a decision on the petition, the document could put a temporary wrench in the works for the development.
Larry Silverstein’s building at 575 Lexington Avenue on the corner of 51st Street is facing imminent default, as the $325 million loan that he and the California State Teachers Retirement System jointly hold was transferred to a special servicer. A Silverstein Properties statement said that the company requested the transfer as a part of ongoing negotiations between the lender and the loan holders.
The Intercontinental Times Square is set to open in July. Just as New York City's painful and protracted hotel sector slump finally seems to be hitting bottom. The industry is about to be have a dramatic increase in new hotel rooms. At least 28 new hotels are slated to open this year or next. The largest is the more than 600-room Intercontinental Times Square; the smallest is the boutique 56-room Habita Hotel on the High Line on the West Sid and another nine are in the works with unknown completion dates. The increase of rooms in New York are 5.%, while the increase at a possible 8 %, with 5,000 to 6,000 new rooms set to be added to Manhattan's roughly 72,000 existing rooms available per night. The jump is the largest annual increase in hotel supply in Manhattan since 1987.
The Empire Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt New York hotel at 109 East 42nd Street between Park and Lexington avenues has just completed a $12 million renovation for the 18,000-square-foot space.
While foreign investors with billions of dollars of capital sit on the sidelines, a few new Israeli investors are testing the Manhattan commercial real estate waters. With prices at record lows, these investors hope to capitalize on the record low prices of property in New York City. Later this month, Israeli company, IDB Holdings, controlled by Nochi Dankner, and partner Joseph Cayre plan to close on the purchase of the HSBC Bank Tower headquarters at 452 Fifth Avenue.
The Public Theater has started its $35 million renovation of the non-profit organization's landmark 19th-century building at 425 Lafayette Street. The theater company, which will continue to offer programs in two of its theaters while construction is ongoing, announced at the groundbreaking that it has raised $28 million of the $35 million necessary to complete the project.
Gary Barnett's Extell Development partnered with investment firm Angelo, Gordon to buy the Helmsley Carlton House at 680 Madison Avenue for about $170 million from the Helmsley estate. The hotel is a 160-unit hotel and apartment building at Madison Avenue between 61st and 62nd streets. There were six bids made for the property. The retail portion of the building is considered a particularly valuable asset.
Emigrant Savings Bank, the struggling Milstein-owned institution and the lone major city holdout in the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program, received $30 million in capital infusions from the Milsteins during the fourth quarter of 2009. The Milsteins' fourth-quarter contribution brings the total to $200 million injected into the unprofitable bank over the past three years. Emigrant continues to post losses on real estate and business lending and failed private equity investments. Its parent company, New York Private Bank & Trust Corp., posted a net $256 million loss last year and took $267 million in federal bailout money. the bank's capital position seems to improving But may need even more donations from the storied Milstein dynasty in order to absorb future losses. Emigrant has only 3 percent of tangible capital, compared with the 5.6 percent average of its peer group.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement of a City Charter revision recently, which will evaluate the current New York City constitution, as promised two years ago, could spark a revamp of how property is controlled, sold and built on, according to a report from the Pratt Center. The Pratt Center report outlined key problems that it believes the commission must address, including an allegedly inactive City Planning Commission, and the city charter's failure to support community-based planning. "Community involvement should be an asset to New York City's planners, not an obstacle to overcome," the report says. "Meaningful participation in a process typically builds support for its results."
Delta Air Lines is in talks with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to demolish the 1960s-era building and build a new terminal, for which it is hoping to find $1.5 billion in financing. That financing is unlikely to come from the state agency, which is already tangled in the expensive effort to rebuild the World Trade Center, but it could come through plane ticket fees that would require approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. "There's reasonable speculation that Delta Terminals 2 and 3 would be razed, and a new terminal would be built in its place.
Zales wants to sell the leases on up to 12 of its New York City stores, including those in prime locations like Fifth Avenue and Herald Square, in an attempt to raise capital. The jeweler, which has been plagued by declining sales and market share, is also looking to unload leases on two stores each in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Whether the jeweler will leave the stores or merely reduce its obligations through the sales was unclear. Zales, which has only $67 million left on a $600 million line of credit that requires $50 million in reserves. Zale closed 187 stores in 2009.
The city's School Construction Authority bought the Upper East Side school building at 213 East 63rd Street near Third Avenue from an affiliate of developer World-Wide Group for $32.2 million, or about $767 per square foot.
Tourneau, is ditching its long-time Penn Station digs at the corner of 34th Street and Seventh Avenue,. While Tourneau said its looking for another space in the city, it has yet to decide where. Tourneau currently has a lease at at 510 Madison Avenue, where it's trying to get out of its contract.
Banks are contracting their retail branches for the first time since 2002. After a decade of visibly aggressive expansion that pushed the number of bank branches up more than 15 percent nationwide, their parent corporations are reining things in. In particular, JPMorgan Chase and PNC Financial Services Group, which have each swallowed up the operations of smaller financial institutions since the downturn began, are closing hundreds of branches in order to limit overlap. Birmingham, Ala.-based Regions Financial is closing 121 branches in the first quarter of this year in a move that should save $21 million per year. JPMorgan had 5,154 branches nationwide at the end of 2009, a 5.9 percent decline from a year earlier.
World Capital, the investment arm of the Dubai government, has defaulted on its $300 million mortgage on the former Knickerbocker Hotel site in Times Square and turned the property over to its lender. Istithmar had been planning to convert the site's 300,000-square-foot office building back into a high-end hotel. Vulture investors are chomping at the bit to take the helm at a steep discount. The lender, Danske Bank A/S, plans to market the property, and the. Istithmar had stopped renewing leases in the office building there, known as 1466 Broadway, and had also purchased an adjacent vacant lot for $76 million, as part of its hotel conversion plan. The building is now almost 50 percent vacant. The first mortgage note is valued at $290 million, though the property could be worth less than that because it is in need of renovations.
Kent Swig, whose $75 million loan backing Art Deco office conversion 80 Broad Street was transferred to a special servicer because of "imminent default". Swig purchased the skyscraper in 2004 and he was turning it into a "luxury boutique office building." The hitch at 80 Broad is just the latest in a string of personal and financial woes for kent Swig. He is already ensnared in several lawsuits with lenders after defaulting on millions worth of mortgage and mezzanine loans related to his Sheffield57 conversion, and earlier this week, rumors surfaced that he was splitting with his wife of more than two decades, Liz Macklowe, daughter of developer Harry Macklowe. In January he was hit with lawsuits over allegedly unpaid bills on his would-be new offices at 770 Lexington Avenue.
The New York School of Interior Design has signed a 20-year lease for two full floors at 401 Park Avenue on the corner of 28th Street, totaling 40,000 square feet. The school said that a growing enrollment motivated it to pursue more space, which it will move into beginning in the 2010-2011 academic year. The school is keeping its current space in two buildings on 70th Street between Third and Lexington avenues.
Harry Macklowe of Macklowe Properties and Marc Holliday of SL Green will face off in court April 14 to block SL Green from foreclosing on 510 Madison, amid claims that the company is engaged in a predatory attempt to buy his new office tower after it was damaged in a 2009 fire. Macklowe, was granted a hearing next month to determine whether SL Green can move forward with a scheduled April 20 auction of the property's mezzanine debt. Lawyers for Macklowe claim that SL Green wants to cash in on the property despite an agreement he had to extend his original construction deadline. SL Green acquired the senior mortgage and mezzanine loans in December and called in a new default after a new appraisal showed the building was underwater.
The Environmental Protection Agency has named the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site, a move that places the polluted waterway among the agency's top priorities and allows it access to federal funding. The designation is a hit to the Bloomberg administration's agenda. Mayor Michael Bloomberg had raised concerns that a federal cleanup would raise legal problems between polluters and agency officials. Of concern, also, has been the negative connotation of a Superfund label - - city officials had complained that the Superfund status would put off potential area developers. The EPA's most recent assessment puts the cleanup cost between $300 million and $500 million, and projects that the project could last upwards of a decade.
A Manhattan Supreme Court judge issued a summary judgement on tax credits against the Ground Zero developer. Fine first brought his complaint against Silverstein last summer, alleging that Silverstein had reneged on a prior contract to purchase the development rights at 99 Church Street due to the financial downturn. Fine claimed that Silverstein's backing out was a breach of contract and in the suit said that the move had made it impossible for Fine's company, Atlantic Development, to move forward on a planned South Bronx affordable housing development., Atlantic has been awarded more than $3 million in credit and attorney fees
Federal judge calls city's closure of 19 schools illegal, overturns planned shutdowns
Designer Michael Kors to open new store in failed Ungaro space on corner of Madison Avenue and 67th Street
In a tentative agreement announced yesterday, the construction of two towers at Ground Zero could receive around $1.6 billion in funds, ending a long-time impasse between developer Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. "
Citigroup wins $85.7M judgment over Solow's East River site after a New York State Supreme Court Judge granted the bank's request for a summary judgment for his 10-acre East River development site, where he is planning six waterfront apartment buildings and a 1.4 million-square-foot office tower. Solow had argued that the bank had sold the initial collateral on the property for less than its market value and denied his offer to provide more.
One of the developers of Williamsburg's Warehouse 11, the 120-unit luxury condominium at 214 North 11th Street, has exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The deal cut down the debt load of developer Isack Rosenberg and his partners at McCaren Park Mews to $35 million. The partners, who defaulted on their $50 million mortgage with Capital One Bank last summer, hope to pay off their remaining balance through sales of the remaining 36 units.
The city's efforts to house the homeless have resulted in millions of dollars in "handshake deals" with landlords who inflate prices while letting families live in squalor, according to a new audit from City Comptroller John Liu. City officials spent $153 million in fiscal year 2008 on such deals,
Japanese retailer Takashimaya to close 693 FIfth Avenue store and sell the building
Fannie Mae has backed out big time at Battery Park City, ceasing its purchase of individual mortgages on apartments,..
The city's building boom resulted in 170,000 new housing units between 2000 and 2008,. Of those, 46 percent were apartments in multi-family buildings, 40 percent were either single-family or two-to-four-family homes. Condominiums accounted for 14 percent of all new units. Building activity rose by an average of 7 percent each year between 2000 and 2003, and 17 percent each year between 2003 and 2006. In 2007 alone, 25,659 new units were added --. Staten Island saw the most growth during that time: the borough's housing supply grew by 12 percent between 2000 and 2008. Meanwhile, housing stock rose by 7 percent in Manhattan, 5 percent in the Bronx and 4 percent each in Brooklyn and Queens.. New building permits fell by 90 percent during 2009, to 3,275, from 30,947 in 2008, indicating that activity in the near future will be all but stagnant.
There were just 106,500 New York City construction jobs in January, marking the industry's worst performance in nearly five years and a 22 percent decline off the August 2008 peak of 136,900 jobs. This year's numbers represent a 12 percent dip from January 2009, when there were 121,300 city construction jobs, and a 16 percent decline from January 2008, when there were 127,500. Average earnings for the city's construction workers dropped to $63,300 during 2009, down from $68,800 in 2008.
There is a new law allowing New York City developers to speedily regain permits to restart stalled projects. The Department of Buildings says it's seeing results. Dozens of development firms are in negotiations with the DOB, officials say, to take advantage of the program. This could be a boon to the city, which currently contains over 500 stalled construction sites.
New York State Senate Democrats are riled over possible subpoenas from the state Inspector General's office in relation to the recent Aqueduct racetrack contract controversy. John Sampson, the senate conference leader, said that the inspector has no jurisdiction over the legislature and shouldn't be allowed to access to private documents related to the selection of the Aqueduct Entertainment Group for the racetrack contract selection last month. The Inspector General's probe follows massive public outcry over the contract award to AEG and accusations of impropriety on the part of local lawmakers.
Even amid a sluggish retail market, single-tenant net lease deals are on the rise nationwide as investors look to take advantage of their relatively inexpensive price points. Because single-tenant leases tend to be long-term and lower risk, lenders, too, are finding these kinds of acquisitions more attractive to finance. The result, thus far, has been a noticeable year-over-year increase in volume for deals of this type during the first quarter of 2010, plus a decline in cap rates for some of the most desirable properties.
Deteriorated City Hall roof could cave in. It is in such bad physical shape that the City Council and its staff will be vacating the building in July for up to a year.
New Manhattan condos see rise in foreclosures. One in every 13 homes is in pre-foreclosure. Half are listed for rent or sale. This is happening in Manhattan at a luxury condo. The building is one of dozens in Manhattan where multiple owners have fallen behind on their mortgages.
Queens landlord Vantage Properties was already hit with a $1 million settlement last month after the state accused the company of harassing its rent-regulated tenants. Vantage has been in negotiations for over a month in a separate case in which tenants sued for abusive business practices. The 21 plaintiffs, who filed the class action lawsuit in 2009, are asking for between $1,000 and $5,000 each in civil penalties.
Extell's Riverside Center inks refi deal. Gary Barnett of Extell Development is raising funds for his West Side development site that would stretch between 59th and 61st streets and between West End Avenue and the West Side Highway. With a refinancing deal with an Oman limited liability company. Extell and the Carlyle Group have a mortgage out on the land with Cigna and ING, which now allows for a mezzanine loan from Orange Sands LLC. It is unclear whether the Oman investors are a private or government entity. Barnett wants to rezone the spot, located just south of Trump Place, and to ultimately obtain more construction financing for a five-building complex. The approved plans so far, by architects SLCE, call for a 73-story, 953-foot tower that is residential from the 21st floor up.
The new owners of the W New York-Union Square hotel threw the troubled property into bankruptcy protection, the day before senior lender DekaBank was scheduled to auction off a loan on the hotel. LEM Mezzanine, previously bought the 270-room property in December for $2 million, plus the assumption of $212 million in debt, in a so-called mezzanine foreclosure auction. The W, located at 201 Park Avenue South, was auctioned off after the Dubai financial crisis left Isithmar.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously today to extend the Upper East Side Historic District by 74 buildings and to grant landmark status to Times Square's famed Brill Building, a Midtown townhouse, a former East Village firehouse and a Staten Island church. The commission also held public hearings on Coney Island's former Shore Theater, Gramercy House on East 22nd Street and a proposed historic district in Addisleigh Park in St. Albans, Queens, among others. Click here for a full recap of today's meeting.
Former chief crane inspector pleads guilty on bribery charges. James Delayo, the one-time acting chief inspector for Cranes and Derricks for the New York City Department of Buildings, pleaded guilty today to charges of second-degree bribe receiving.. Delayo had been accused of accepting more than $10,000 in payments from Nu-Way Crane in exchange for signing off on cranes that hadn't been inspected and for granting false licenses to Nu-Way employees who hadn't passed all necessary exams.
Borough President Ruben Diaz announced the creation of a new task force that will recommend a new use for the Kingsbridge Armory and craft a request for proposals from developers. "A retail mall was not the best use for this space, given the traffic issues and its proximity to the Fordham Road shopping district.
U.S. commercial real estate prices continued their modest rise in January, up 1.0 percent during the month. It was the third month in a row of price increases in the commercial sector, which has brought prices back 6.3 percent from their October 2009 low, when they were 43.7 percent off of their October 2007 peak. There were 376 sales during the month totaling $4.9 billion, representing an 8 percent drop in activity year-over-year, but a 9 percent increase in dollar volume. Higher transaction volumes are needed to enhance the price discovery process." New York performed worst out of Moody's major office markets -- New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C. -- during 2009, with prices dropping 32.7 percent during the year. In Florida, apartment building values dropped 38 percent over the year.