Real Estate Weekly
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REBNY is a strong advocate for NYC retail sector


By Joanne Podell, Vice Chairman, Cushman & Wakefield

As the new year takes hold, it is privilege for me to assume an exciting new role with one of America’s most respected business organizations, the Real Estate Board of New York.

I was recently selected to take the position of vice chairman on the REBNY Commercial Board of Directors.

Under the remarkable leadership of our outgoing president, the universally respected Steve Spinola, REBNY has consistently been a valued resource and advocate for New York City’s retail sector.
In addition, all of us working with REBNY in the retail sector have been benefiting from the leadership of Eileen Spinola, and her unwavering support of the Big Apple real estate community.

Many positive forces are converging to make 2015 a highly promising year for the New York City retail world. People want to visit here, to work here, and to live here. And that all benefits our retailers.

Visitors are shoppers. And NYC & Company expects 56 million visitors this year.

For context, some 54 million tourists spent an estimated $38.8 in 2013 billion on lodging, food and beverage, shopping, entertainment, transportation and other expenses in all five boroughs. Visitor spending that year generated $57.3 billion in total economic impact.

Downtown is booming as a global center of business and commerce. With the recent arrival of Condé Nast at One World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan became the fourth-largest CBD in the country.

Saks Fifth Avenue will open an 85,000-squarefoot store at Brookfield Place, a Saks Off 5th outlet will open Downtown at One Liberty Plaza, and the Westfield World Trade Center will soon bring some 365,000 square feet of world-class shopping, dining and amenities to the area.

Times Square remains one of the world’s great retail and entertainment locations. During the last week of December, Broadway experienced its highest gross and best attendance on record. More than 350,000 pedestrians walk through Times Square every day. Midtown is also reaching new heights when it comes to retail, with the presence of Apple and now Microsoft.

Neiman Marcus plans to open a 250,000 s/f venue at the future Shops at the Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side.

And when the world’s major retail shops — such as Zara, H&M and UNIQLO — look to enter the US marketplace for the first time, New York City is where they open their flagship stores. They know this town is a global tourism magnet — and that we offer flexible commercial space in highly visible areas.

And residential construction continues at a brisk pace. The New York Building Congress forecasts a total of 23,250 new dwelling units in 2015 and 24,000 units in 2016.

And we attract a skilled and upscale workforce. As described by the NYC Partnership, our city is a “global capital of business and finance … well established as the destination of choice for professional, entrepreneurial and creative talent from across the nation and around the world.”

One key reason why New York City is a global capital comes down to the accomplishments of former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who last March became president of Cushman & Wakefield’s Risk Management Services, the first comprehensive service of its kind in the real estate industry. He was instrumental in making this a safe city.

More broadly, we have seen a tectonic shift in the way retail brokers do business.

In an earlier time, finding the best space was basically driven by intuition. We “just knew” that a space was right for a retailer.

No longer. Now our counsel is driven by both intuition — and technology.

With the help of information provided by invaluable institutions like REBNY, and – here at my office — with the support of the unparalleled research team at Cushman & Wakefield, we can quantify our advice with hard numbers. Our instincts are bolstered by data. And clients appreciate that.

We all have tremendous confidence in REBNY’s future under the leadership of John Banks. He recognizes the essential role retail plays in keeping New York a global business icon, and we look forward to working with John to build upon REBNY’s past successes.

And with a hand of eternal gratitude to Steven Spinola, we are all ready to make 2015 a truly stellar year for the Big Apple’s retail sector.

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