market research

December 2011

December 2011 NYC Commercial Real Estate Market Report

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Office rental volume tapered off from a strong start at the beginning of the year. This coincided with the recent market gyrations since August. Companies are starting to delay decisions until the stock market volatility lessens.

Prime retail property is full while secondary locations languish.

New Residential construction has restarted. Banks are now lending to experienced, well financed developers. As a result, the number of stalled projects has declined 8% from the previous year.

New York Market Overview

  • Total Manhattan Class A Office vacancies decreased from 8.9 % vacant to 8.8 % vacant
  • Total New York City Office vacancy decreased from 7.7 % vacant to 7.6 % vacant
The Manhattan office leasing Leasing for 2011 is expected to reach only 25 million or 26 million square feet, barely ahead of last year's 24 million square feet. The last three months of the year are not expected to help.

The number of stalled construction sites in New York City dropped by 8 percent between October 2010 and October 2011, but remains 40 percent above the number recorded two years ago. An average of 638 construction sites were identified as stalled in October of this year, compared to 693 in October 2010 and 454 in October 2009. The average number of stalled sites in the five boroughs has either fallen or remained consistent in each of the past 11 months. Overall, Brooklyn remains the leader in stalled sites, with a total of 299, or 47 percent of the city's total; Queens is second with 131; Manhattan has just 126 frozen sites.

Fifth Avenue sees increases in asking rents and demand. At least 60 new retailers have opened on Madison Avenue's northern strip since the beginning of 2010, including high-end stores like Bottega Veneta according to the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District. An additional 10 new stores are under construction. Fifth Avenue also makes positive strides, as demand increases. Madison Avenue, lost multiple high-profile tenants in the recession, including Christian Dior and Yves St. Laurent, driving the vacancy rate up to 15 percent at the worst of the market. Rents, which had soared to $1,500 a foot during the boom, also collapsed.

Office condominium sales are on the rise in Manhattan, with particular appeal to foreign business owners. . Indeed, 80 percent of sales at Manhattan's 88 office condos are to foreign buyers. Office condo sales, which peaked at $235 million in 2008, and dropped to around $150 million in both 2009 and 2010, are on the rise as investors, particularly in Europe. The average asking price at a Manhattan office condo has rebounded to $531 per square foot, though before the recession, the average asking price was $879 per square foot.


Manhattan chain stores decrease by 2.1 percent while all other boroughs see some expansion. The uncertain economy may be finally catching up with chain stores in New York City. For the first time in the four-years, the growth of chain stores in the city has slowed. The number of national retail stores grew by 1.6 percent over the past year, as the 307 retailers included in last year's ranking expanded to 6,994 stores in 2011 from a total of 6,883 stores in 2010, the study shows. But a 1.6 percent increase is far below the 4 percent rate of growth in chain stores between 2009 and 2010.
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